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The Catholic Church on Dressing for Mass: A Timeline

It may seem at times that when a pastor dares to add a snippet in his sermon about dressing appropriately for Mass, or a paragraph in the Sunday bulletin on what attire is considered respectable for the Holy Sacrifice, it doesn’t usually go down well. Some parishioners may complain, or a visitor may become angry, the Bishop may even be called. But a pastor giving proper guidelines to his sheep on what the Church deems appropriate wear for THE Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not new, nor is it something the Church has ever condemned. In fact, it has been a longstanding tradition to guide the faithful in appropriate wear, and has been so for hundreds of years. And it is a part of the job of the pastor to guide his flock in all things moral, especially when it comes to the Mass.

The Church has always taught the importance of Christians dressing properly, specifically for inside the Church in front of God Himself truly Present in the Eucharist. There are numerous Saints, Doctors and Fathers of the Church, Popes and holy priests that have spoken on this very topic. Though because of the volume of information on this subject, we will only be focusing on the 19th to 21st centuries here, and focusing mostly on Bishops, Cardinals and so on. Not priests or saints.

The Outlines of the Dress Code which we can see is still promoted even today, we can trace back to Pope Benedict XV.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS TIMELINE IN PDF FORMAT:

Our Lady Breastfeeding // Maria SS. della Lavina: Torrents of Water and Drops of Milk

This is an article by FSSP priest Fr. William Rock. We thought it an excellent addition to our plethora of jewels here at OfficialCatholicModesty.com. Read original article here.

If one were to visit Cerami, Sicily on September 7, one would encounter young women wearing red tunics, harkening back to the time the island was Greek, and young men wearing blue shirts and black pants.  Dressed in this festive attire, they are assisting at the annual Maria SS della Lavina celebration.

The original icon of Maria SS della Lavina.

Devotion to the Maria SS della Lavina image is traced back to a Byzantine icon which was brought to the area at some unknown time in the past (several theories exist which attempt to explain the arrival of this Byzantine icon in Sicily).  The icon, as it shows Our Lady suckling Our Lord, is interpreted by the locals as an image of Our Lady of Graces [la Madonna delle Grazie].  Such depictions of Our Lord and Our Lady are ancient.  “The earliest images of Mary nursing the Child are of Coptic [Egyptian] and Palestinian origin…From the Monastery of Saint Sabas in Palestine, the composition spread to Italy (Rome, Santa Maria in Trastevere) and, via Serbia, reached the monasteries of Mount Athos. In the seventh century, during the struggle with the Iconoclasts, Pope Gregory II (d. 731) wrote to his adversary, Emperor Leo III the Isaurian: ‘Among the icons to be worshiped there is also an image of the Holy Mother holding our Lord and God in her arms and nursing him with her milk.’” (Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church, pg. 183)

The original Maria SS della Lavina icon was, according to the harmonized, pious local tradition, housed in a convent of Benedictine nuns.  During a time of danger and iconoclasm, the icon was nailed to a beam in the ceiling in order to protect it.  When that danger had passed, the icon was left in its hiding place. Eventually the nuns moved to a different location, leaving the icon behind, and the monastery fell into disrepair.

The 17th century painting, which is the one carried in procession.

In the mid-seventeenth century, it is held that Our Lady appeared several times in a dream to one of the Benedictine nuns and directed her to request that the local Archpriest unearth from the ruins of the old monastery the sacred icon.  The request was received with skepticism by the priest.

During the third apparition, Our Lady stated that because of the skepticism of the priest, she herself would bring the icon to light.  Soon, a torrential rain fell which caused flooding.  The day after, a farmer was leading his mule near the torrent caused by the rainfall.  Inexplicably, the mule then stopped and, after striking the mud with his hoof, knelt.  The farmer, struggling to get his mule to move, drew by this commotion the attention of those who were nearby.  After digging, and to the astonishment of those present, the icon of the Blessed Virgin and the Christ Child was found buried in the mud.  (It is claimed than an imprint of the mule’s hoof can still be seen on the sacred icon.)

As soon as the Archpriest heard of the episode, shaken and repentant, he made the bells ring out and, together with a large crowd of faithful, went to the site and the sacred icon was recovered with great devotion.  In memory of this event, in May, Cerami celebrates the Feast of the Encounter and the icon is carried in procession.

From this time, the image received the title of “Lavina” from u lavinaru, which means in the local dialect “torrent,” a reference to how the image was discovered after the torrential rainfall carried the image out of the ruins and buried it in the mud caused by the flooding.

The pious tradition also tells us that the discovery of the icon was crowned by some miraculous events: one of the best known is of a certain Giuseppe, blind for thirteen years, who, as soon as the news of what had happened reached him, was led by his relatives to the image, and, having kissed the holy icon, regained his sight.

The chapel as it currently stands.

While the miraculous icon itself was placed in the church of the new covenant, a chapel was built on the site where the icon was found.  Due to damage received over the years, especially during the Second World War, this chapel has gone under several renovations since its original construction.  Within this chapel was placed a newly produced painting (17th century) which depicted the same scene written on the icon, that of Our Lady nursing Our Lord.  The new image along with the new chapel received the name of Maria SS della Lavina also, thus linking them with the devotion shown to the miraculous icon.  It is this second image, the painting, which is carried in procession during the September celebration.

Procession in honor of Maria SS della Lavina. Caldwell, New Jersey, 1914.

Devotion to this image of the Virgin and Christ Child was brought to the United States by Italian immigrants.  A Maria SS della Lavina Society was organized at St. Aloysius Church in Caldwell, New Jersey by the early 1900s which was legally chartered in 1912.  This Society held yearly processions in the town originally with a banner and later with a painting.  This painting, which still currently hangs at the church, was undertaken in 1934 by Mr. Onorio Ruotolo, founder of the New York City Leonardo da Vinci Art School.

Maria SS. della Lavina, painted by Onorio Ruotolo, 1934.

Some may object to this presentation of the Virgin and Child on grounds of modesty.  In our overly immodest culture, it is tempting to retreat into a puritanical position in this regard.  Faithful Catholics, however, must ensure that they do not simply take a reactionary position, but should rather allow themselves to be formed in this matter by the perennial liturgical and devotional traditions of the Church.  Such would do well to consider, for example, the Epistles read on the Thursday of the First Week of Lent and the Saturday of the Third Week of Lent and the Gospel assigned for the Saturday Mass of Our Lady during the Time After Pentecost in order to see what the Church allows to be read in her public liturgy and which she does not view as degrading to the dignity of the sacred action.  Such should consider also the Marian hymn O gloriósa vírginum which is sung in the Divine Office.  The first verse is as follows:

O gloriósa vírginum,
Sublímis inter sídera,
Qui te creávit, párvulum        
Lacténte nutris úbere.
O glorious of Virgins,
Exalted among the stars,
He Who created you, as a little one
You suckle by your milk-filled breast.

Drawing from the letter of Pope Gregory II, we can see that the practice of depicting the Virgin suckling her Child has existed in the Church for over 1,000 years.  In Bethlehem, one can even find a Chapel under the name “Milk Grotto of Our Lady.”  According to pious tradition, the Holy Family stopped at this site during the Flight into Egypt, and there, while Our Lord was feeding, a drop of Mary’s milk fell, and the floor of the cave turned white.  Let faithful Catholics then allow their position on this matter, as in all others, be formed according to the mind of the Church as perennially expressed in her approved liturgies and devotions.

May God bless you all and may you have a happy and blessed Maria SS della Lavina Feast Day!

Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Mater Lavinæ!

Fr. William Rock, FSSP was ordained in the fall of 2019 and is currently Assistant Pastor at Mater Misericordiae parish in Phoenix, AZ.  Thanks are due to Msgr. Robert Emery, Pastor of St. Aloysius Church in Caldwell, New Jersey, for his support and permission to use parish media, Mr. Fabio Sturchio for his translation work, Mr. Antonino Casabona for granting permission to use his photographs, Mr. Franco Digangi for providing historical information and review, and Mrs. Santa Rock and Ms. Ashleigh Grenci for photography.

September 7, 2020

Athletic Wear: Inexpensive Options and Where To Find Them! (For Women Only)

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Athleticwear isn’t cheap, especially modest ones. Most companies are small buisnesses and need to keep their prices relativly high to compensate for that (or also if they create pieces from locally made products!). It’s great when you can afford these but sometimes its just not possible to buy a $50 exercise skirt!!!

Here are some inexpensive options for athletic wear (for women!!

1. Know Your Fabrics!

What sort of fabric is active wear usually made of? (Spandex / Stretch Knit, Jersey Knit, Poly Stretch Jersey, Nylon, even cotton!) Buying clothing with the same fabric, even if it may not be sold exactly as “activewear” but is wearable, can be an option. (It can also help, if you are looking to SEW your own activewear! Which is also an option!).

2. BUY THRIFTED!

I cannot hype this enough. Thrift shops are THE BEST places to get active wear. Just make sure it is pretty good quality and not filled with holes or dirty-looking. My personal favorites are Goodwill, Savers / Value Village, and sometimes Salvation Army. There are also some online thrift stores such as ThredUp, Swap, Worn Wear, Poshmark, Ebay, Thrifted.

3. Shop From These Stores

These companies are not paying me, and I do not earn any commission for any of these links!

Sometimes active wear can be found in different places other than actual “active wear” stores and shops. Try these!

Try Capri leggings with an exercise skirt (try searching for nylon / spandex / jersey skirts too!) from Amazon!

Amazon also has modest skirt & leggings together for cheaper than $50

4. You Don’t Have To Buy Marketed “Workout Clothing”

An old / new t-shirt can work just fine! These can be thrifted, accessed pretty cheaply at most stores or your favorite Tee that you already own.

And you don’t have to wear LuLuLemon’s! Wide pants, shorts or a wide midi skirt with shorts underneath are good options! Here are some ideas:

Tunics can be a good option too to wear over pants that are a little tight:

Just keep this good rule of thumb in mind: Depending where you are exercising (at home or in public / the gym), your exercise wear should never be less modest than your swimwear. See also our videos on these two topics.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, happy shopping! And God bless !

Men In Skirts: Historical or Homosexual?

(From the book “Catholic Modesty: What It Is, What It Isn’t And Why It’s Still Important”)

This year, 2020, popular singer Harry Styles donned a dress305 for the cover of Vogue magazine and quickly became a hot topic. Conservative author and commentator Candace Owens rightly called it out as “an attack on real men.”306 Of course, she was promptly attacked and slandered by the mob and the mass media.

The leftist secular media kept repeating, “men wore dresses in the past so this is OK and not emasculation.” Some even dared to call it “masculine” for a man to wear a dress, as Styles did. Aside from the fact that all of the “men” wearing dresses today are practicing sodomites and pedophiles (leaving aside Cultures such as the Scots, the Bhutanese, etc.), we are leaving a very, very big something out of the picture here. There are a few things of which we need to remind ourselves before we can even attempt to dive into the twisted mindset of secular society and their “definition and redefinition of masculinity.”

First, the radical Left does not even understand what authentic masculinity is, as they promote godless practices in the name of “freedom” and try to punish men who dare to live as real, strong, Christian men, calling them “homophobic, bigots, sexists, rapists, haters, unfeeling” etc.

Secondly, secular society is ridiculously immoral; Men dress in “drag” in over-the-top makeup and dresses, and it’s supposed to be cool. Gay men dress in women’s clothing, and it’s supposed to be normal. Pedophiles are now being called just another “sexual preference.”307 Gay men are wearing ball gowns, and it’s supposed to be historical and masculine.

Thirdly, society is literally backward and is becoming so in every facet of life. The height of “femininity” in the eyes of secular society is a Feminist. And not just a feminist: a witchy, bisexual (preferably lesbian), pant-wearing, workplace dominating, child-killing feminist. One who is constantly whining about made-up reasons to be insulted and angry (like manspreading308, mansplaining309, pregnancy310, periods311, bras312, abortion bans, mistletoe313 the list is endless). In this society, abortion is a sacrament. A man in a dress is great because it signifies the freedom of “men” to become more and more emasculated, more in touch with the homosexual spirit, more open to letting the moral fabric of society fall into decay and insanity. This society embraces men believing that they are women inside, and women believing they are indeed men, and that there are 112+ genders314, and that children should be raised gender-neutral315. Where convicted pedophiles316 in dresses and an obscene amount of makeup read pro-LGBT filth to children in libraries, it’s the humane thing to ban guns, but a ban that would allow babies born alive317 after an attempted abortion from taking place is inhumane.

Fourth, secular society wants men without chests. They want men without the wits, muscle, spiritual or physical strength to provide and protect their wives and children. Men without guns, a solid and steady faith life and moral backbone, without leadership and a steady job. Leaving children without a father and wives without a husband. No foundation, no rock, nothing solid. And are we surprised at the number of broken families318? Have we taken a look at the corroborating numbers of fatherless homes and crime? What about the number of same-sex attracted and gender-confused people who almost all have a past that includes problems with their fathers.319

This whole idea that men in dresses (men cross-dressing rather) is cool and masculine and in tune with history is coming from a society that is so sick and twisted that it holds murdering an innocent child in the womb and during birth as the highest form of currency, power, freedom, and yes, religion. A society where women dressing and acting like “men” is the norm and has been for decades. A society where sexually-perverse men and women (and children!320) parade the streets, online, in the news, and libraries. A society where one can do anything, as long as it is immoral, where one can say anything as long as it is immoral and blasphemes God and the natural order.

St. Ambrose, in his commentary on Deuteronomy 22:5321, writes,

If you consider it truly, there is an incongruity that nature itself abhors. For why, man, do you not want to appear to be what you were born as? Why do you put on a strange guise? Why do you ape a woman? Or why do you, woman, ape a man? Nature arrays each sex with its own garments. Men and women have different customs, different complexions, gestures and gaits, different sorts of strength, different voices.

We as a society have lost any true sense of gender: True masculinity and true femininity. Both genders have become mutilated and enmeshed together into what we have today. We have forgotten the importance of the little things that remind us of who we are and why we are. Today we have prided ourselves that we have changed what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man. So much so that simple actions towards rediscovering how to act feminine as women, or masculine as men, have become taboo. Such as a strong, solidly religious man raising a large family with his wife who does not work outside the home. “Breaking barriers” and doing “what is taboo” has been the cool thing to do for decades. And it has become so old and so overplayed, yet the Left never ceases to amaze in what other “taboo” or “glass ceiling” they propose to break.

The Catholic Church has and will always call for men with courage, a strong moral backbone, and the ability to protect the vulnerable (yes, even using guns if necessary322). The effect of strong men is a safe, well-functioning society. Strong men take care of their wives and children and do not let them come to harm in any way, and do not leave them. Strong men make sure their cities elect good officials who will make the dignity of human life a priority and work honestly. Strong men notice and fix problems in the home, society, and yes, in the Churches. Strong men are there when times are tough and help improve it. A society that is broken is one with broken families, single mothers with nowhere to live or go for help, unwanted children aborted in the womb, unfair and unjust economic systems that are based on debt and interest and not true wealth, ill-functioning laws, and political systems that are only focused on greed and avarice; I can go on. Good, moral, strong men are an essential piece in a Christocentric, healthy society. This is what secularists are continually hammering in the ground with their filthy heels while crying against so-called “toxic masculinity.”

The Catholic Church is not against “men in robes.” Cassocks, Judges robes, Old Royalty. Cultures that include men wearing kilts and togas are not condemned by the Church either. But these are and were not worn to “prove something” to society, to show off their ability to be “out and proud homosexuals,” to promote severely immoral and broken ideologies and lifestyles that have been made the norm in society. The Left has taken the beauty of robes and has done what they always do to everything: made it all about sex and breaking with tradition and so-called “taboos.”

To conclude, a “man in a dress” isn’t just about a man wearing a feminine-styled dress; it isn’t a hat tip to men in history wearing robes and tunics, it isn’t a show of masculinity, nor is it even a salute to men of different cultures like the Scots. It is a blatant result of Toxic Feminist, homosexual, anti-family, anti-life, anti-gender role, anti-God ideology and practice. A grossly homosexual deviant wearing a dress is not masculine. A traditional, spiritually strong man in a cassock giving his life to Christ and serving others is indeed masculine. There is a difference, and I can assure you, the Left knows it.

Also posted here.

Update On and Preview of Our Book! 2021

So, its been a hot minute!

I’ve finished writing the book on Catholic Modesty a few months ago (YAY!). I have since sent it to two Catholic publishers, both were very polite but both declined. One said they don’t work with people they’ve never worked with before and the other said, while its well written, its just not a good fit for them. I really appreciate your prayers and patience in this endeavor! Although I am still looking for more publishers, my last resort will be to self publish. However, its not my favorite option. I was really hoping to have this book professionally polished and edited for you guys. I am doing all this right now, and let me tell you, I’m not a pro!

Right now I am double checking all my footnotes, (THERE ARE 462 SO FAR!), and editing what I can, but its a daunting task. I am also looking to send the manuscript to a faithful Catholic priest I know to check the theology in the book.

Pin this on Pinterest to share the news!

My questions for you, my dear patient and amazing friends, are:

  1. Should I bite the bullet and self publish? It may not get as far and widespread then if I found a Catholic publisher, and I will need to edit, format and design the book myself. It will not be at its best.
  2. Should I use my real name on the book? I don’t really want to. My reasoning is that the book will be judged by who the author is, instead of the content, which is what I really don’t want. But who knows?
  3. Are you guys still interested in this book!? I honestly can’t wait to get it out there to you!

This book has 241 pages so far, packed full of information on Catholic Modesty and all it entails. My goal is to answer the questions that I myself had been searching for and couldn’t find anywhere, with charity and clarity. The title, though liable to change is, “Catholic Modesty: What It Is, What It Isn’t, And Why It’s Still Important”.

While I am so hopping excited for you all to read it, I still have a 2/3 of the book to run over, quickly edit, and polish. So PLEASE pray for me! Pray for this endeavor! I am hoping to have it available for you all soon – if I end up self publishing, you will be able to download the book for FREE, and pay only for paperback copies. I want this information to be available for everyone.

Here is the PREFACE of the book and the TABLE OF CONTENTS as it is right now!!!


It must first be noted that I am not a professional writer; I have no college degree, this is my first real book, and I cannot promise to have perfect Grammar. What I can promise you, dear reader, is a dedication to absolute Truth, a great love for souls, and a penchant for clear answers. But this book isn’t about me, it’s about answers, it’s about clarity, it’s about countless women (and men!) who just want to know what Modesty really means. It’s about the woman who is ostracized for wearing immodest clothing unknowingly, the Father who is criticized for raising his children to wear modest clothes, the Parish Priest who is persecuted because he dares to speak about dressing properly for Mass, the girl feeling left out because she only wears skirts. It is for people of goodwill who are searching, who want to do the right thing, who may have gone about things the wrong way before.

The virtue of Modesty is only one part of the beautiful web of Catholicism, it is not the “be all end all”. Though the enormity of confusion among Catholics concerning this subject is grounds enough to write about it in depth. “Catholic Modesty” is a touchy and oftentimes avoided topic, because of well-meaning, but overzealous and uncharitable remarks made by many Catholics, and their puritanical views on the matter. We are called to strive for holiness in all things, including modesty, so it is almost ironic that the virtue, which is also called “temperance”, is sometimes implemented in the most imprudent and intemperate way by those meaning to spread its use. Squabbles over dress codes, standards, scruples, strap width, shoulders, and “tone” have risen to such a state that some feel it best to just call off the whole thing and encourage the idea of “just, don’t be naked in public and love Jesus” kind of attitude, or the Protestanized, relativistic “You have your belief of what modesty means to you, and I have mine; there is no one right answer.” Truth has been twisted, new ideas and theologies have arisen, and one can say that we have become very divided with no end in sight. Catholics may all agree that modesty is important, but to progress further than this, no one can seem to agree on what constitutes a modest outfit and what doesn’t.

As a concerned Catholic woman, searching for answers on the topic of modest dress was not easy; finding exact standards for Mass was shady, and many good, prominent Catholics contradict each other in word and deed. One finds themselves asking many questions that seem to go unanswered.

Is it “two inches above the knee” or “ankles always covered”? Or does it even matter? If one man thinks mini skirts are immodest and one doesn’t, does that mean women can wear mini skirts or is it simply not about men at all? If only Men are visual then why am I visual as well? Is there something wrong with me because of that? If this woman promoting modesty gets so upset about women wearing low-cut shirts, then why isn’t she following her own rules for low-cut shirts? And perhaps the biggest question of them all, “does it even matter in the end?”

In the spirit of brotherly love and hope for unification and a proper understanding of the entirety of the subject of Catholic Modesty, this book was written. As a few other books concerning this same subject were also written prior, the focus will also be on specific answers to questions I had that I previously could not find anywhere else. It is also the hope that this book does not hold itself upright as the “be all end all”, but more so as a sort of primer to answer many questions that I had, and that I noticed so many other Catholics also have concerning this virtue of modesty. This book was not written to somehow show that, “Hey! I have all the answers!” because I do not. If one were to follow me around, one would certainly note many areas of modesty that I continue to fail in, and that’s normal! We are all striving for holiness, and will never be completely perfect in this life.

Now, to be clear, this book was not written to condemn, but to encourage, to enliven, and to educate. What the reader does after reading this book is entirely between them and God. May God be glorified by this unprofessional piece of work, and may this bring you closer to Christ through Mary.

The author of this book fully accepts the entire Magisterium of the Catholic Church and is obedient to the Chair of Peter in Rome.

“(I)t will be the fault of ignorance, not malice, if I say anything contrary to the doctrine of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, may be held as certain. By God’s goodness I am, and always shall be, faithful to the Church, as I have been in the past. May He be for ever blessed and glorified. Amen.” St. Teresa of Avila (1)

(1) Interior Castle, page 15 Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library Print Basis: London: Thomas Baker, 1921. 3rd ed


TABLE OF CONTENTS:

PREFACE

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER ONE: 

Modesty: What is it?

CHAPTER TWO: 

What has the Church always taught about Modesty? And has it changed?

CHAPTER THREE: 

The Decline of Morals: Feminism, Freemasonry and The Persistence of the Church Part I

CHAPTER FOUR: 

The Decline of Morals: Feminism, Freemasonry and The Persistence of the Church Part II

CHAPTER FIVE:

Conclusion: Modesty, Merit, and Our Lady 

CHAPTER SIX: 

Frequently Asked Questions

EPILOGUE

BONUS / APPENDIX: 

The Catholic Church on Dressing for Mass: A Timeline


So that’s that for now. Again, I really appreciate your patience and prayers. I will keep y’all updated as this continues.

#PantlessLent – Worth a Try!

Claire Dodge from LittleLightFamily shares some practical insights on wearing skirts and dresses (no pants!) for Lent on Instagram!

” … if you’re planning on fasting from pants, wearing skirts and dresses exclusively for Lent this year, you might need to need to add a couple of inexpensive, “workhorse,” comfortable options that are versatile with your existing wardrobe.

Here’s a quick list to get us started, and please share more places you love to find thrifty, budget-friendly skirts and dresses!

@thredup
@poshmark
@thriftedskirts
@everthrift
@thegoodlifethrift
@themainstreetexchange
@roolee
@hm

St. Francis on Custody of the Eyes

St. Francis on Custody of the Eyes

Elaine Marie Jordan —- SOURCE

St. Francis of Assisi used to exhort his brethren frequently to guard and mortify their senses with the utmost care. He especially insisted on the custody of the eyes, and he used this parable of a King’s two messengers to demonstrate how the purity of the eyes reveals the chastity of the soul.A certain pious King sent two messengers successively to the Queen with a communication from himself. The first messenger returned and brought an answer from the Queen, which he delivered exactly. But of the Queen herself he said nothing because he had always kept his eyes modestly cast down and had not raised them to look at her.

The second messenger also returned. But after delivering in a few words the answer of the Queen, he began to speak warmly of her beauty. “Truly, my lord,” he said, “the Queen is the most fair and lovely woman I have ever seen, and thou art indeed happy and blessed to have her for thy spouse.”

At this the King was angry and said: “Wicked servant, how did you dare to cast your eyes upon my royal spouse? I believe that you may covet what you have so curiously gazed upon.”

Then he commanded the other messenger to be recalled, and said to him: “What do you think of the Queen?”

He replied, “She listened very willingly and humbly to the message of the King and replied most prudently.”

But the Monarch again asked him, “But what do you think of her countenance? Did she not seem to you very fair and beautiful, more so than any other woman?”

The servant replied, “My lord, I know nothing of the Queen’s beauty. Whether she be fair or not, it is for thee alone to know and judge. My duty was only to convey thy message to her.”

The King rejoined, “You have answered well and wisely. You who have such chaste and modest eyes shall be my chamberlain. From the purity of your eyes I see the chastity of your soul. You are worthy to have the care of the royal apartments confided to you.”

Then, turning to the other messenger, he said: “But you, who have such unmortified eyes, depart from the palace. You shall not remain in my house, for I have no confidence in your virtue.

The Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi,
London: R. Washbourne, 1882, pp. 254-255

Posted on September 27, 2008

A Modesty Proposal: Father Thomas Morrow

Source

Christian commitment seems to be catching on with young singles. And the acid test of that commitment is chastity. Are we willing to truly live the Gospel, including its sexual morality?

As people think more this way, they begin to think about the root causes of unchastity. One that comes to the fore is immodesty. The recovery of modesty is a key factor in the effort to return to a decent, biblical sexual ethic.

The issue of modest dress seems to rest mostly with women since they have more sexual values to conceal than men. Men, too, must be modest, although they have fewer sexual values about which to be modest. (T-shirts with the arms cut deep into the center of the shirt would be an example of immodest dress for men.)

Since women are more integrated than men, and see the whole person they are often unaware of how men are looking at them. Yet, at the same time, since the woman does not experience sensuality to the same degree as the man, she who should be more concerned about modesty does not feel the need for modesty. Pope John Paul II, in making this point in his book “Love and Responsibility,” concludes that, “The evolution of modesty in woman requires some initial insight into the male psychology.”

There are other problems in trying to talk about feminine modesty. First, one must be very careful in criticizing the way a woman dresses. Many men have learned this the hard way. Second, women generally dress to impress women, not men. Many women are not as sensitive to immodest dress (in women) as are men. And third, since men are the ones affected, it would seem appropriate that they be asked their thoughts about modest dress in women. Unfortunately, not all men have ever even given this a thought.

When I was a young bachelor, living on the beach in California, I believed in chastity, and tried hard to live it, but the idea of modest dress in women never crossed my mind. If I saw a woman dressed in a tight mini-skirt, or a minuscule bikini, my interior response was something like “Ooooeeh.” (Alas, an all too typical male response.) I was perfectly ready to visually exploit her, even though I had no intention to exploit her physically. Only later, when I began to think about the root causes of lust, did I realize that this sort of dress was having a negative effect on me.

Few men take the time to reflect on just what is happening when they face a sexily dressed woman. One who has is Father David Knight. He wrote the following:

“In the measure that a particular style of dress is consciously and deliberately provocative — whether the deliberate intent is on the part of the designer, or the wearer, or of both—this way of dressing must be recognized as a mild form of reverse rape by which a person arouses unsolicited sexual desire on another person who may not want to be aroused. Whenever this happens to men (who are more subject to this kind of arousal than women) it always causes some anger, whether recognized or not. This may explain some of the hostility and aggressive behavior that men are guilty of toward women.”

After reading Father Knight, I began to observe my own reactions. I noticed that I did feel uncomfortable when I saw a woman walk into a room provocatively dressed. I noticed, too, that when a woman was modestly dressed, I felt quite comfortable. I can’t say I felt anger over immodestly dressed women, but I did feel a certain concern for the woman, whom I feared would perhaps be the object of exploitation by men.

So what are the elements of dress that cause reactions in men? The most common one I hear is short skirts. Several times I have heard from men, who were religious but in no way square, that they could not believe how short some of the dresses were on women coming in to Church for Mass. They saw such dress and devotion as somehow contradictory. I had to agree. Dresses or skirts more than a couple of inches above the knee do affect men sexually, at least in a mild way, but perhaps even more psychologically. Their opinion of the woman as a whole is affected more. Women wearing mid-calf dresses often look quite sharp, feminine and appealing to the man looking for a good, solid wife. Many men who have been burned before will shy away from a woman who wears short skirts.

Other things typically stir a certain sexual reaction in men: breasts partially clothed, tight dresses, “sexy hair.” Sometimes women are truly surprised to hear the way men are reacting to them, while at the same time other women are deeply aware of all this.

What it comes down to for a woman is this: Do you want to be remembered for your legs, your chest, or your curves? Or do you want to be remembered for your warmth, your femininity, your personality, your decency, your goodness. If a woman accentuates her physical values, she will surely drown out her other, more personal, more significant and more lasting values.

Some women respond, “Well, what will become of me if I don’t wear short skirts? Won’t I become a hopelessly outdated old maid?” There are several flaws in this argument. First, the same women will wear longer skirts from time to time and look quite fashionable.

Second, a good Christian woman has so much going for her, that even if short skirts were a benefit (which they aren’t), they would be of minimal importance. A woman living in the state of grace has a bit of an aura that far exceeds any fashion statement. As one person put it, “There is nothing more attractive than holiness.” Christian women sometimes underestimate their inner beauty, perhaps because the fashion designers have such a strong influence, placing so much stress on the exterior.

Now some may argue, “Well, we’ve come a long way (baby). Styles are much more revealing today than 60 years ago. It used to be risque for a woman to show her legs at the beach. The things that are called immodest today may seem quite commonplace 30 years from now.” True, but generally those who are committed to the Lord are not at the cutting edge of revealing styles. That sort of groundbreaking could be left to the pagans.

Others may argue, “Well, it’s too hot out.” Hot as it may be, there are modest clothes that allow you to be cool (those from India wear them). And, furthermore, which is more important, being comfortable or helping people avoid sin (and being treated better)?

When I see a woman modestly dressed, I think, ‘There’s a woman who doesn’t play up to the media, to the designers or to any man. She’s her own woman, or, better yet, she’s God’s woman.”

There are plenty of modest, chic women, who dress sharply, but not sexily, women who are in control of their own styles, to the extent that they are decent. These women are also in control of their social lives, and get less pressure for sexual favors.

Let’s face it, our world has virtually lost any sense of decency. Granted, it’s time for men to step forward and take part in the moral renewal of our culture. But women have their part to play as well, not only for the sake of the men who are trying to do the right thing, but for their own sakes as well. Women have the most to gain from chastity, and modesty is a good way to begin.

Endnote

Father Morrow is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, D. C.

© New Covenant, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750-9957 or call 1-800-348-2440.

This item 2626 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org

Modest Workout Looks (from Madeline Gramling)

Stylish, gorgeous and modest fashionista, Madeline Gramling over at “YourCoolGrandmasCloset” on Instagram has the best content and if you’re not already following her I highly suggest you do so!

Also go check out her website!

Here is a video she just posted, sharing some MODEST WORKOUT LOOKS:

Finally, Ratings for BOOKS!

Have you ever begun reading a book and right away regret wasting your time with it ? Solely because it plops an inappropriate scene (or story in general…).

Here are 5 websites that can help you figure out which fiction books are worth reading, morally, without having to worry about stumbling upon garbage no one needs to read.

The standards of morality that these books rating websites hold are not usually as high as ours as Catholics are (or rather, should be), but they explain enough about the book that one gets the general idea, and can decided whether or not to just leave the book or take a chance.

Our favorites in order:

Commonsense Media Book Review

Focus on the Family’s PluggedIn Book section

Compass Book Ratings

Rated Reads

Novel Book Ratings

Did we miss one? Let us know in the comments below!