“What kind of spirit is nourished by fancy dresses of this kind ? Certainly not a Christian spirit. And how little regard is there not often paid to tender and Christian modesty and purity ! O Christian mothers, do not act so cruelly with your children f Do not so deliberately nourish vanity in them to their ruin ! Observe a certain modesty and moderation in the manner of dressing your children, not neglecting the requirements of your state of life ? Accustom your children early to know that the true and most beautiful ornament of a person consists in the possession of a pure, sinless heart, enriched with Christian virtues. Woe to you if you yourselves practise vanity along with your children, by adorning them immoderately in order to make them outshine others. Is it not imperiling the true welfare of your children in order to satisfy your own vanity ? Is it not causing damage to your children’s souls in order that you may natter the vanity of your own hearts ? Indeed, you are something like those heathen mothers, who throw their children- sacrificing them— into the red-hot arms of Moloch.”
“The Christian mother insists also on modesty and decency in dress. There is no question about fashion ; immodest dresses are never permitted by a conscientious mother. We speak here only of that bad habit, which is met with in many houses, of appearing before others, for instance in the morning after rising, or in summer when the weather is hot, or at certain occupations, without being sufficiently covered. By this decency and good morals are undoubtedly violated. Mothers ought to insist that their children never leave the bedroom without at least being dressed in such a manner that decency and modesty may not suffer; that they may not have good reason to blush when seen by strangers. How much it is to be deplored to see children in the morning almost half naked, and even outside the house ! If this is dangerous for their health, it is far more so for the tenderness of their sense of modesty, which is of so great importance, but which under such treatment will by and by disappear. So also, in summer, comfort or convenience can never be a sufficient reason for a mother to allow her children to take off their clothes in a manner that may be prejudicial to decency.*
*It is very desirable that ladies should appear in the morning as they wish to be dressed during the day. Should this not be possible, then they should at least appear dressed so as not to be ashamed of being seen by people out of the house. Nor can greater comfort or ease give any right or title to appear before others in a dress that could be considered as not according to the requirements of holy modesty. These are hints which undoubtedly merit to be considered in many houses ; hints the con- tempt and disregard of which are followed by many sad falls.”
“But, besides, how little respect and care is paid to modesty in many homes ; how many things are done and permitted by which it gradually becomes tarnished ! We would not venture to speak of this were we not certain that the importance of the matter gives us a right to do so. It is then, for instance, wrong for a mother to allow indecent uncovering of her children when they are sitting, lying down, or playing. The children may have no evil thought when doing so, but the sense of modesty will always suffer by it. What great want of shame is often seen among grown-up persons, among even fathers and mothers, in regard to such matters! It is simply unintelligible; it shows how much the sense of modesty has become blunted in them. But in truth, this sense of modesty has been planted by God in man’s heart that it may be fostered and be- come strong, and be, as it were, a barrier against the floods of impurity, a wall of defense for innocence against all that could endanger and injure it. If this wall has been pulled down, this barrier been swept away ; if this sense of shame has disappeared from man’s heart, then it will stand open to the spirit of uncleanness and to all those vices that accompany it; then the heart will be ripe for every sin, and, if occasion offers, will certainly fall. It is therefore of the greatest importance that this sense of holy shame be preserved intact in children ; that it be fostered with all possible care ; that it be kept tender, and that everything be avoided in the house that might endanger it.
Would to God that what has been said might be everywhere received and attended to with due regard, so that holy modesty, innocence, and chastity would find in Christian families a place of refuge and in the case of the mother a kindly protection 1 The more the spirit of impurity reigns and threat- ens to destroy all holy living and all real happiness on earth, the more should holy discipline reign in our homes ! Then, with God’s help, it will be verified that in such a house a chaste generation dwelleth ; chaste, honest parents, innocent children, and modest servants ; and of such families what the Holy Ghost has said will also be verified :
” Oh, how beautiful is the chaste generation with glory! for the memory thereof is immortal, because it is known both with God and with men. When it is present they imitate it, and they desire it when it has with- drawn itself ; and it triumpheth, crowned for- ever, winning the reward of undefiled conflicts.” (Wisd. iv. i, 2.)
From, “The Christian mother ; The education of her children and her prayer. With an account of the Archconfraternity of Christian mothers.” by Cramer, W. (Wilhelm), 1815-1903; Schleuter, J. P. M., S.J. With an introduction by the MOST REV. JAMES GIBBONS, D.D., Archbishop of Baltimore.
Imprimatur + James Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore
Imprimatur + John, Cardinal McClosky, Archbishop of New York
Printed in 1880 by the Benziger Brothers – printers of the Holy Apostolic See.
Let us note the high regard in which Bishops of the Church wrote about this very book!
From the Pastoral Letter of Right Rev. S. V. RYAN, D.D., Bishop of Buffalo.
“The sanctity of the marriage state, the indissolubility of the marriage tie, the re- mote preparation for the duties and responsibilities attaching to wedded life, the immediate preparation for the reception of a holy sacrament, may be seasonable and useful subjects of instruction, and in this connection I would recommend a little volume lately published in English by Benziger Brothers, entitled : “A Sure Way to a Happy Marriage.” This together with, “The Christian Mother,” I would like to see in the hands of all who have entered or propose to enter the holy state of wedlock.” —Pastoral, Feb. 20, 1882.
From the Pastoral Letter of Right Rev. M. J. O’FARRELL, D.D., Bishop of Trenton.
” For parents we recommend The Christian Father and The Christian Mother, in which they will fully learn all their duties to their children.” — Pastoral, 1883.
The book also has four pages packed with praise from 10 more Bishops from all over the United States, and 15 Catholic and secular Publications as well!
You can read it online for free here.