James R. Celoni is a music director for his parish and, for a living, he’s a “technical evangelist”for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, helping parishes, schools and other church organizations find the best ways to use technology to achieve the mission of spreading the Word of God.
Of course, at daily Mass everywhere around the world, Catholics are fed Scripture, with readings from the Old and New Testaments and the Acts of the Apostles. Unfortunately, many Catholics don’t go to daily Mass or even take a peek at the cycle of daily readings.
Celoni decided to do something about that. The answer came out of the closet — literally.
Over lunch at the Archdiocese headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, Celoni says, “I thought this was a good idea to do on a daily basis, and of course, I have the best of intentions, but it’s hard to make time to do things like that. I”m a firm believer that there are things that you can do that take time, but make more time for you than they take.
“One of those is praying; one of those is working out; and one of those is taking a nap. That doesn’t mean any of those actually happen — not necessarily.
“So, I thought, ‘How am I going to do this on a regular basis? I already wear purple during Advent … if I dress to the readings, then I have to know the readings and spend time with the readings. I dress every day, so I dress to the readings.’
“So, someone at work said, ‘You should start a blog about this.’ I thought, ‘What a waste. How silly.’ Then I realized, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to do a blog. That’s how I started.”
Considering his love for music, Celoni says, “Then I thought, ‘Well, if I have the readings, I can summarize the readings and have a little connection with the clothing. Since I do music, if I find music that fits with the readings, I’ll put that in. Then I’m saying something about the saints, so it grew that way.”‘
The result is a blog called “Dress to God’s Word: Liturgical Dress.”
In each post, Celoni provides the daily Mass readings, a summary (sometimes from Pope Francis), a reflection and a “word cloud” presented in an appropriate shape. This was the one for Oct. 31.
Celoni works in an office, so he’s not showing up in an outrageous costume each day. Instead, he combines colors, ties, suspenders and pins to reflect the theme of each day’s Scripture excerpts.
(The Church places great emphasis on color at the Liturgy, reflecting different seasons and holy days throughout the year. Here’s a guide to all that.)
You can click here to see the angel pin, white shirt, abacus tiepin, tie with faces, eyeball tiepin and “peace sign” tie bar that Celoni chose to wear on Nov. 1, All Saints Day, or just look below …
“My wife finds ties at thrift shops,” Celoni says. “She knows what I do, so she finds tie pins. I have over 100 ties.”
The way we dress not only reflects how we’re feeling about ourselves but also our attitude about the places we choose to go in the clothes.
People might not think it’s acceptable to show up at a fancy dinner party or an elegant classical concert in a tee shirt and shorts, if you’re a man, or if you’re a woman, in a skimpy halter dress.
But, especially in Southern California, these are often considered perfectly fine outfits to wear to consume the Eucharist and hear the Word of God. And they’re not always reserved just for the congregation.
“I don’t consider myself a liberal or a conservative when it comes to the Church,” Celoni says, “but when I go to a Mass, and the reader is wearing cutoffs or shorts, I don’t like that. So I write that.
“One of the things I put on my About page, there’s a lot of imagery in Scripture about dressing, like ‘put on the armor of God’ and ‘put on the shield of Faith.’
“So I have a picture of what I’m wearing, but the real challenge is to dress to the Word of God. I’m hoping that’s what it says — ‘Dress to God’s Word: Liturgical Dress.’ I’m hoping that this will be an encourager of that.”
Celoni is also on Twitter @jrceloni.