Respect Sacred Places, Dress Properly for Church, South African Catholic Bishop Says

Bishop Sylvester David, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cape Town, South Africa. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Auxiliary Bishop of South Africa’s Cape Town Archdiocese has cautioned the people of God in the Archdiocese against disrespecting sacred places in their manner of dressing and inability to maintain silence while participating in religious functions.

In his Friday, November 19 reflection, Bishop Sylvester David says that the church in the 21st century seems to have lost her sacredness as people have become so careless that silence is not observed by some faithful even during worship.

“We have lost our sense of sacred places, forgetting that there is a difference between worship and entertainment. While we do not demand extremely formal dress codes for liturgical celebrations, it is not good to come into the worshipping assembly haphazardly dressed,” Bishop David says.

The South African Bishop adds, “There is a difference between going to Mass and going to the beach. Also, our attendance at the liturgy is not meant to be accidental. We prepare for Mass through prayer and recollection. We are not meant to roll out of bed and into the chapel.”

Addressing Catholic Priests, Bishop David says that there are two types of preparations that must be considered before a member of the Clergy appears in a sacred place.


“For priests there ought to be two types of preparation: a remote preparation during which we allow ourselves to be nourished and transformed by the Word; and …a brief period of silence prior to our encounter with Christ in the liturgy,” he says in his November 19 reflection.

He explains, “We have become careless in that even our churches are no longer places of silence. Jesus stated quite clearly that his disciples were to be in the world but not of the world. To be of the world means to be possessed by the world.”

“We sometimes like to think that we possess the world, but in reality, the opposite is true – the world possesses us,” he asserts.

The South African Bishop says that people must measure their self-worth in relation to the gospel values and not by the standards set by the world.

He makes reference to St. Paul’s letter to Ephesians, which he says articulates the need to keep one’s body holy as it represents God’s temple.

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Bishop David further speaks about anger and the effect it has in the lives of the people of God.

“There are two types of anger in the bible. One is the righteous anger we show when the innocent suffer. Jesus showed this type of anger when he called Herod a fox. The prophets did so when they raged against injustice,” Bishop David says.

He adds, “The second type of anger is a negative force and can be destructive. It is the type of anger, which keeps us awake at night plotting the downfall of the neighbor.”

In his reflection, the South African Bishop makes reference to St. Paul who, he says, calls upon all Christians to avoid the anger that is associated with negative forces because it is “an unhelpful emotion in which we plunge a dagger into our own hearts and expect others to bleed.