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.

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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.

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!

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