"Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that search his testimonies that seek him with their whole heart."- Ps 118
There are many different ways in which we can sin or cause others to sin such as: our words, actions, neglects and immorality; however, in this day and age the most frequent way we cause ourselves to sin is by our immorality by being immodestly dressed.
Sexual self-consciousness, shame and the covering up of the body follow the Fall in the Garden of Eden (Gn 2:25; 3:7; 3:10-11). The wisdom of biblical literature warns against the snares of feminine shamelessness (Prov.2:16;5:3; 7:5-27). In the New Testament modesty in looks, words and general behavior is inculcated (Matt. 5:28; Eph. 5:3-20; 2 Peter 2:14). General sexual modesty - "a gentle and quiet spirit" - sshould characterize the Christian woman (1 Tim. 2:9-12; 1 Peter 3:1-6)
Saint Thomas treated modesty (pudicitia) as a part of chastity, not a distinct virtue from it. All kinds of things could be and were considered in St. Thomas' context - words, looks, touches, embraces, kisses, fantasies, the nude in art, dress, reading, bathing, dancing, theatrical shows in recent times, movies and television shows (Before Vatican II, each year we had to stand up in Church and Make a vow to God not to go to indecent movies which consisted of anything that was on the Banned List at the back of the Church which would now be ratings such as PG, R, X, XX, XXX. Are these vows being made in any Church now?)
There is a saying that in proportion to the amount of flesh mortal sin seems to increase. This being the case, one would assume that at least our Catholic women and girls would have the good sense to ALWAYS wear clothes that tend to conceal, rather than reveal or call attention to the body. This moral dress code should be Universal, just as our Church is Universal or Catholic. There should be no excuse for moral dress codes being different just because a person lives in a different country; either a person is dressed decently or he is not! True Roman Catholics should wear decent clothes that would show they are conscious to the fact their bodies are "temples of the Holy Ghost".
Women often deny that their semi-nude attire is the source of numerous and serious temptations to the opposite sex. Some reject any responsibility for leading others into sin. Others try to cover their own guilt by such statements as: "He must have a dirty mind. Scanty attire in men doesn't affect me at all. Why should men be tempted by the scanty attire of women?" When a woman is dressed immodestly, she becomes the temptress for men. Remember Our Lord's words to men who fall prey to such allurements: "Whoever shall look on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matt. 5:28) Indirectly, immodest woman are included in this indictment, being cooperators with the sins of men. God has made woman beautiful and attractive to men so as to fit with His plan for procreation in lawful wedlock. As a result of Original sin, mankind must constantly struggle to regulate this attraction. Unless both men and women fortify themselves by prayer, sin quickly enters their immortal souls.
Many women will say they wear the modern fashions because they are more comfortable, and the weather is hot (Remember, it is very hot in Hell). This brings us to the area of sports. Regretably, all too many sports are taboo for us Catholics, not that they are in themselves a sin or a near occasion of sin, but because of the skimpy attire that such sports "require". Think of these sports and the clothes people usually wear when playing the following sports or activities: swimming, baton twirling, tennis, basketball, dancing (disco dancing and little girls who take dancing lessons) and gymnastics. Let us tak swimming for an example, since people usually wear less clothes when swimming than any other sport. Swimsuits have no sleeves, have very low necklines, no coverings for the legs and usually has the whole back exposed. When we think of the saying, "in proportion to the amount of flesh exposed mortal sin seems to increase", shouldn't we avoid the bathing suits like the plaque? Do you think this suggestion is crazy? You say yes, then let us ask another question. Do you prefer to have the mortal sin of immodesty on your soul and the untold number of mortal sins of your being a temptress or tempter and causing others to sin?
One might say that our little girls can't do anything. You are wrong, because, if you modify the costumes and attire that the girls wear, in most cases they can still participate if you are Catholic enough to stand up for the proper moral dress code. In addition to the modifications, our girls can go bicycle riding and horse back riding if they have a full skirt and the skirt reaches at least to the middle of the calf; and, of course, skating can be done in a skirt. Our girls should be pursuing lady-like activities and hobbies which will prepare them for marriage and their proper role as mother and wife. They should be learning to sew, embroider, knit, crochet, cook, make rosaries, sing good Catholic songs and other decent, patriotic songs, play musical instruments (we'll need an organ player eventually for our chapel), paint and draw. Above all they should be learning to talk, dress, sit, walk, stand, kneel, stoop and act like a lady at all times. Our girls have many options open to them, if they will only pursue them in a moral decent manner.
Our Sorrowful and Immaculate Mother, whom God has presented to us as the Perfect Model of Modesty and Purity, is being terribly saddened by the immodest and the impure. However, it has not all happened by accident. Satan planned it this way. As he has done with such evil movements as Feemasonry, Atheistic Communism, Socialism, Modernism and Liberalism, so also has he planned out a program of gradual, not sudden, destruction of the sense of modesty and purity. A mere look at the past 50 years or more shows us very plainly how gradually it was all done, first by apparently innocent abbreviations of garments and by slight revelations of bare flesh and by subtle little displays of the figure, and then, as protests died down, by more and more abbreviations and displays until the crude immodesty of our day became a shocking reality.
Many living today have seen it all happen before their very eyes. They have lived through it and, if they have managed to retain their God-given moral sense, they find the barbarian immodesty of this day intolerable and they look upon it as a sin crying to Heaven for the vengeance that must inevitably come if sinners continue to refuse to amend their ways.
Several Popes have spoken out with authority on the subject of modesty. Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) and his two successors, Popes Pius XI and Pius XII, have promoted modesty in dress. These are a few words of Pope Benedict XV: "One cannot sufficiently deplore the blindess of so many women of every age and station. Made foolish by a desire to please, they do not see to what degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for such apparel as for a grave fault aginst Christian modesty. Now it does not suffice to exhibit themselves on public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of churches, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Holy Altar, where one receives the Heavenly Author of Purity."
It is necessary for us to promote standards of attire for Catholic women and girls, standards such as Pope Pius XI had in mind when he said: "A dress cannot be decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breath under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarecely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper." Ladies, men, girls and boys should always wear underwear and no beige material (it leaves the impression at a distance of having no clothes). If a skirt is snug, it should reach well below the knees; no shorts, no bathing suits, and no pants (for females).
Christ's words are very clear. His teachings about wearing about wearing apparel leave no doubt as to what He meant ("A woman shall not be clothed with man's apparel neither shall a man use woman's apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God.") If Christ said that the sexes should not wear each others clothes and they understood Him, it stands to reason that there was a distinct difference in the men and women's clothes. If the people of Jeus' day could tell a distinction in the clothes, how much more so can we tell a distinction in the pants and dresses of the men and women of today? Many people lament the terrible state of immorality that is prevalent in our society, wondering what can be done about it. Among other things such as praying the rosary daily and reading the Holy Bible and the lives of the saints we can promote modesty by burning bathing suits and shorts and converting pants into decent skirts. Let us always keep in mind that the ultimate success is gaining heaven and nothing else really matters.
We are all born with a fallen nature and, consequently, we must keep our
bodies covered in order to avoid the dangers of concupiscence. This fact, a
result of original sin, is deliberately ignored each time that naturalism attempts to insinuate itself into our Christian customs. Then it is that
the purpose of clothing is lost sight of, and instead of being an invitation to virtue, it becomes an incitement to sin. The Church, like a vigilant
Mother, full of tender care for the holiness and eternal salvation of Her children, has often been obliged to warn the faithful so that they might
avoid the errors of fashion, and to take the measures necessary to ensure that the holy places and sacred things should not be profaned by immodesty
Unfortunately, we are living in times that have lost the sense of sin and, as a result, we see around us an eruption of styles of dress which are, in
every way, contrary to Christian modesty. Christian people must not allow themselves to be carried along by the spirit of the world but must firmly
resist such deviations... Jacinta Marto, one of the little seers of Fatima, although she was only eleven years old at the time, had a wisdom taught her
by the Mother of God.
She merits, therefore, our attention. Here is what she said with regard to styles of dress: "Fashions will arise which will greatly offend God." When
we consider the fashions of our day, we are led to conclude that the times foretold by the little seer have arrived. Indeed, the styles of dress of
the women and girls of today such as: very tight clothing; dressing like men, including slacks and tights; low necklines; skirts with hemlines or
slits which do not cover the leg below the knee, are absolutely contrary to the norms of Christian modesty.
For this reason, in order to conform to the recommendations of the Holy See, and in particular to the instructions of the Sacred Congregation of the
Council, we urge our faithful people to refrain from following such ways of dressing.
"Those who keep the Law of God", Jacinta said, "should not follow fashions". Our priests must try to apply the instructions of the Sacred Congregation of
the Council, without violence or rudeness, but with firmness. They must not let persons, dressed in the styles described above, receive the Sacraments
and, as far as possible, must not allow them access to the Temple of God. Furthermore, they must frequently remind the faithful of these regulations.
Also, when couples present themselves for marriage preparation, the priests must tell them to inform their wedding guests of the rules for dress in
church. People dressed in these unacceptable ways must not be accepted as witnesses to the marriage and, after due warning, they must not be admitted
to Holy Communion.
It is highly recommended that these prescriptions be posted at the entrance to the church.
-Bishop Antonio de Castro-Mayer-
On January 12, 1930, the Sacred Congregation of the Council, by mandate of Pope Pius XI, issued emphatic instructions on modesty of dress to all
bishops, directing them to insist on these prescriptions: "We recall that a dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth
under the pit of the throat, which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows, and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knee. Furthermore, dresses of
transparent material are improper. "Let parents keep their daughters away from public gymnastic games and contests; but, if their daughters are compelled to attend such exhibitions, let them see to it that they are fully and modestly dressed. Let them never permit their daughters to don immodest garb."
Rufino J. Cardinal Santos, Archbishop of Manila, also quotes these standards as "The Church's Stand concerning Modesty in Dress" in his Pastoral of
December 6, 1959. The feminine loss of the sense of modesty was indicated by Pope Pius XII who said: "Now many girls do not see anything wrong with
following certain shameless styles (fashions) like so many sheep. They would surely blush if they could only guess the impressions they make and
the feelings they evoke (arouse) in those who see them." (July 17, 1954.)
"O Christian mothers, if only you knew the future distress, peril and ill-restrained shame that you prepare for your sons and daughters by
imprudently accustoming them to live barely clothed, and permitting them to lose the sense of modesty, you would be ashamed of yourselves, and of the
harm done to the little ones entrusted to you by Heaven to be reared in a Christian dignity and culture."
And, men also are held to the virtue of modesty; witness the admonition of Canadian bishops in May of 1946: "Man himself does not escape from the inclination of exhibiting his flesh: some go in public, stripped to the waist, or in very tight pants or in very scanty bathing suits. They thus commit offenses against the virtue of modesty. They may also be an occasion of sin (in thought or desire) for our neighbor."
The opinion which allows custom to dictate the question of modesty was refuted by Pope Pius XII in one short sentence: "There always exists an
absolute norm to be preserved."
Custom, of course, pays no attention to absolute norms; but, it is a follower of this false principle: "... the majority cannot go wrong."
To say that "... modesty is a matter of custom\" is just as wrong as to say that "... honesty is a matter of custom. "What about those who teach "What is customary does not affect us?"
Pope Pius XII calls this application of an ancient principle to the virtue of modesty, "the most insidious of sophisms." He calls attention to the
fact that some people use this sophism "...in order to brand as 'old fashioned' the rebellion of honest people against fashions they consider too
The Pope's pronouncements make no distinctions for various types of garments. Pius XII states "...an unworthy, an indecent mode of dress has prevailed" without any distinction of place, "on beaches, in country resorts, on the streets, etc." (Aug. 29. 1954) His quotation: "Vice necessarily follows upon public nudity," applies as well to the beaches, or the streets, or resorts, or elsewhere.
Cardinal Pla y Daniel, Archbishop of Toledo, Spain, stated in 1959: "A special danger to morals is represented by public bathing at beaches... Mixed bathing between men and women, which is nearly always a proximate occasion of sin and a scandal, must be avoided."
Modern Catholics may now consider themselves "far too adult" and disdain such directives, but nevertheless they remain the wise counsels of our Holy
Mother the Church.
The saintly stigmatized Padre Pio was always a merciless enemy of feminine vanity: he never tolerated low-necked dresses, short and or tight fitting
skirts, and forbade his spiritual children to wear transparent stockings. In the last few years of his life, his severity increased enormously, as
fashions became more and more immodest.
He unrelentingly dismissed from his confessional, before they could step inside, all women he judged to be incorrectly dressed. By 1967, on some
mornings, he turned them away one after another, until he ended up confessing very few. His brethren noticed this with a certain unease, then
decided to post on the door of the church a warning: "By Padre Pio's explicit wish, women must enter the confessional wearing skirts AT LEAST 8
INCHES BELOW THE KNEE. It is forbidden to borrow longer dresses in church and to wear them to confession."
The beginning of the struggle with no concessions whatsoever coincided more or less with the advent of the mini-skirt, launched by the English girl Mary
Quant. It had not yet reached Italy as Padre Pio was thundering against short skirts. As fashion houses announced: "Eight inches above the knee",
Padre Pio warned: "Eight inches below the knee".
When Summer is Here
When summer comes, a pastor of souls worries a little more than usual about the salvation of the flock that Our Lord has confided to him. He knows that, in the summer season, souls are more exposed to occasions of offending God, "of attacking God with His won gifts", especially through sinful fashions of dress.
Our Lady said to Sister Lucy at Fatima: "There will be fashions which will greatly offend My Divine Son". Today's fashions prove Our Lady's words
true, for these fashions are occasions of sin, occasions, alas, of serious sin, by reason of the sinful thoughts and desires which they provoke. In
the Gospel, Our Lord warned us about such evil desires: "But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mt.5:28).
In the life of Saint Frances of Rome, we read of a vision of Hell which was granted her, and which lasted for four hours. God willed to show her, in
the fires of Hell, certain ladies whom she had known in Roman society. For what sins had these souls been damned? They had been damned:
for guilty desires, even though these had not been put into act. for indecent styles of dress, which were the fashion of the day, and which had been a cause of seduction and of sin, for dances, considered inoffensive by the world.
This vision of Hell so marked Saint Frances of Rome, that she had it painted on the murals of her chapel, as a constant reminder of the judgments of God.
God then gave her the mission of drawing the Roman ladies out of their luxury and their vanity.
Our society is much worse than the society of Renaissance Rome. What can we do in order not to yield to the corruption which surrounds us, especially in
the matter of dress? Let us, first of all, recall certain Catholic principles. It was with the help of such principles that Father Emmanuel,
at Mesnil Saint-Loup, was able to make his Parish a truly Christian society once again.
Christianity is stable and solid only insofar as it permeates the whole being of the baptized person. It must, first of all, penetrate the inner
man, and transform him into the image of Jesus Christ, in order to then regulate, according to this image, his exterior actions, words, and attitudes. It is not sufficient, Saint Paul tells us, for the heart to believe; we must also confess with our mouth, if we wish to be saved. And this external confession must extend to all our gestures, movements, habits, and relationships.
From this, it is easy to understand the importance of modesty for women. A woman who is vain gives the lie to her baptismal promises. A woman who
tries to attract men's glances to herself, shows by this conduct that she has no desire to please Jesus Christ.
In Holy Communion, Our Lord takes possession of our whole being, so that the soul becomes subject to Him in humility, and the body in modesty and restraint. From which it follows that a person who goes to Communion must be different, even exteriorly, from one who does not.
Modesty in a woman is the sign that Jesus Christ dwells in her heart. It is a sweet perfume of edification which she is called upon to diffuse.
Modesty in dress and behavior is, therefore, an indispensable way of making us more attentive to the obligations which we contracted at our Baptism. It is a consequence of that dogma of Faith which tells us that the baptized soul is the dwelling of the Blessed Trinity and that the body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost. Saint Paul, infallibly inspired by God, tells us: "Know you not that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, Who is in you,
Whom you have from God, and you are not your own?... Glorify and bear God in your body". (1 Cor.6:19-20).
Today's fashions, on the contrary, dishonor and corrupt the Christian woman. Their aim is to seduce and to arouse concupiscence, to the detriment of the soul's spiritual beauty, which is the true goal of our lives. All of this is a strategic Masonic maneuver. The destruction of Christian society, for which the Lodges have been working for two centuries, is to be realized through the destruction of the virtue of modesty in those who are baptized.
This corruption, which has been deliberately and carefully programmed, is being systematically brought about.
It is, therefore, always necessary to remember the indispensable rules of Christian modesty, rules which are not to be practiced only in church! Let us, then, look at these rules, first in general, and then, in particular, with regard to assistance at Mass.
IN GENERAL, clothes should hide the shape of the body rather than accentuate it. Only this kind of clothing can truly be called "decent". This rule
automatically excludes slacks (which are masculine apparel) for women. Feminine apparel is a skirt or a dress which must cover the woman's knees
when she is seated. Decency in dress is to be observed, not only at Mass on Sundays, but every day of the week. The deciding factor is not whether
slacks or culottes are more comfortable than a skirt, but rather to do the Will of God, by "loving Him in all things and above all things" (Collect of
the 6th Sunday after Pentecost).
IN PARTICULAR, when attending Mass, we must be still more careful about how we dress. For instance, women must cover their heads: "Every woman praying
...with her head not covered, disgraces her head" (1 Cor.11:5). This rule has been the constant teaching of the Popes, and Pope St. Pius X had it included in the Code of Canon Law (Canon 1262). It is a sign of humility and submission for a woman to cover her head, and draws down God's graces and blessings upon her. Now is it an indifferent matter, just as no exterior act is an indifferent matter, for it proceeds from our very person and reveals what kind of person we are.
Both men and women must have their arms covered in church, even when the weather is warm. It is true that this is a sacrifice, and we should offer
it to Our Lord, who suffered so much for us in His Body, in order to save us. Let us learn to imitate Him in mortifying our body.
We must hold to these rules, of which we are mentioning only the most essential, without human respect, especially in these times of ours. For,
as Dom Bernard Marechaux used to say:
"The evil of our day is this: that the line of demarcation between Christian and non-Christian, between Christian and heretic, between Christian and idolater, is gradually fading away. The cancer of Liberalism attacks everyone and we must be careful not to be infected ourselves. Those who still call themselves Catholic live, too often, like those who have renounced this title. Women who go to church dress just the way women who do not go to church dress; they read the same books and magazines as these women; they go to the same, often immoral, shows as these women; they no longer pray or do penance. It is a confusion of license and worldliness. As a result of these customs, the Church is beginning to disappear in the world.
Christianity is being lost. Only rarely does one find Catholics to whom the following words of Saint Paul can apply: "...be blameless and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; among whom you shine as lights in the world". (Phil.2:15). The early Christians stood out among the pagans like shining torches in the dark, and the example of their courage and their virtue attracted the pagans strongly to the Faith. This is something which we do not see today, except in rare cases. Everything is a mish-mash of unrestraint."
Pope Pius XII said substantially the same thing, in an allocution to young Catholic girls during World War II: (May 22, 1941):
"...Numbers of believing and pious women...in accepting to follow certain
bold fashions, break down, by their example, the resistance of many other
women to such fashions, which may become for them the cause of spiritual ruin. As long as these provocative styles remain identified with women of
doubtful virtue, good women do not dare to follow them; but once these styles have been accepted by women of good reputation, decent women soon
follow their example, and are carried along by the tide into possible disaster."
Pope Pius XII indeed called Catholics to a Crusade of Purity. Good example is a great act of charity. It is an apostolate which God richly blesses, as
we can see, for instance, in the diocese of Campos in Brazil, where the priests followed the good example of their bishop, Monsignor de Castro
Mayer. Traditional priests, alas still few in number, are eager to have such a Crusade of Purity. In France, we can see the good that is being done
by the "Mouvement de la Jeunesse Catholique de France", and by traditional Catholic schools, in producing Catholics who are enthusiastically practicing the virtue of Christian modesty (which does not, by the way, prevent a woman from being gracious and lovely). In other countries, too, this Crusade is
producing visible fruits of goodness and holiness.
We must mention here the important role of Christian mothers in teaching their children, their daughters especially, and from the time that they are
very little, a true sense of Christian modesty. "Men are lost through women and they are saved through women", a preacher said one day. "By their vanity, they will make a man fall; by their modesty, they will save him. The world of morality oscillates between Eve and Mary. As long as modesty is not practiced, the world will not rise from its decadence." May devotion to the Holy Family help us in our Crusade for Purity!