Monday, June 20, 2022

The Unspeakable, Unthinkable Horror of an AC/DC T-shirt at Mass

Over the weekend I was really irritated at this video from Brian Holdsworth, the Canadian Catholic YouTuber. He complains about a member of the congregation, one of the people who brought the gifts to the altar, wearing an AC/DC t-shirt. (He backtracked a bit in the comments, but not very convincingly.)

Before I launch into my rant, let me concede that I don't think it's a good thing to wear a heavy metal t-shirt to Mass. I've never worn a t-shirt to Mass myself, as far as I can remember.

I go to Mass wearing work clothes. There was a time I used to attend Sunday Mass in a suit and tie. Right now that's not very practicable for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that wearing a suit every week is going to wear it down.

Enough about that. What really upsets me about the video is the sheer negativity it reflects-- not only on its own, but in a pattern with so many videos by so many other YouTubers, bloggers, and professional Catholics. It's become endemic among the Catholic commentariat.

It almost seems as though many people go to Mass primed to be offended by something that somebody else doesn't or doesn't do. If they can find one person wearing an AC/DC t-shirt, or doing something else they can gripe about, they fixate on that.

It really seems a way of taking the liturgy, which should be joyous as well as solemn, and weighing it down with angst, sourness and bitterness. Isn't this what Satan does-- taking something good and poisoning it?

I completely sympathise with what Pope Francis said recently: "It’s not possible to worship God while making the liturgy a battleground for issues that are not essential, indeed, outdated issues, and to take sides starting with the liturgy, with ideologies that divide the Church."


  1. This issue cannot be treated separately from norms of social behavior. We have lost the sense of public space where you are responsible for yourself but for other people also. You say it takes only one person wearing an AC/DC shirt to annoy some people. Well, the raising of the host last Sunday at my Mass was interrupted by 'only' one mobile phone. It is just one phone, you might argue: but one phone is all that is needed to wreck things for everyone else. And at the bottom of it lies, I'm afraid, plain old-fashioned rudeness and lack of consideration. I cannot walk in my town without being run down by cyclists on the pavement (and the town is plentifully provided with cycling lanes). And since we are on this subject, here is Holdsworth's video on dress modesty which is another aspect of the same question.
    The AC/DC shirt-wearer thinks that what he wears is 'his business.' In a church it is not. And this in a nutshell is our problem. Individualism is so rampant that people cannot even understand when you make a point about politeness and decorum.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Anonymous. I must admit that after years of watching Holdsworth's channel, I've decided I'm done with him. He used to be very open-minded and imaginative, now he's just an oppositionalist.

      I actually think Holdsworth's video shows the very individualism you're decrying. What is he basing it on? The words of Jesus? The words of the apostles? The teaching of a particular saint, ecumenical council, or Church document? None of these things. At least, he mentions none of them. So many of these talking heads have set themselves up to be a sort of alternative Magisterium, not only presenting their own ideas as Catholic teaching but often contradicting the actual privileged interpreters of the Magisterium, the Pope and bishops.

      I agree with you about the cyclists, though!

    2. Well, I'd say he is basing it on common consideration. I am sure there is nothing in the Gospel or Church documents about someone coming into the church in a bikini. But if someone did, we'd all be quick enough to notice. For me, Holdsworth is voicing the legitimate collective view and not individualism: if you are in a public space (and church is one) behave (dress/speak/use technology) in a way that respects others as well as yourself. I agree that we cannot turn into policemen all of us. Putting up with inconsiderate behavior is part of the human condition, including others having to put up with ours.