On Modesty, and how Catholics must Dress for Holy Mass – A collation of information

23 JUNE 2014


On Modesty, and how Catholics must Dress for Holy Mass – A collation of information

Some false and pernicious ideas on immodest dress prevail in the world and lead into error souls desirous to do right. Remember, therefore, it matters not how many others sin, yours can never be justified before God, and where it is fashionable to sin it is likewise the fashion to go to hell. The choice is always yours to make.
-St. John Chrysostom


Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing and display another? The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity. -St. Jerome


To Inspire Love: A Return to Modesty


By Edward P. Sri, Assistant Professor of Theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, based on his book, Men, Women and the Mystery of Love

Does it really matter what a woman chooses to wear?

In our post-sexual-revolution world, skimpy dresses, mini-skirts, tiny bikinis, low-rise pants, and low-cut shirts have become part of the mainstream attire for women today. And anyone who might raise questions about the appropriateness of such dress is viewed as “rigid,” “old fashioned,” or “out of touch” with modern style. Modesty is no longer a part of our culture’s vocabulary. Though most people sense they wouldn’t want their own daughters dressing like Madonna and Britney Spears, few have the courage to bring up the topic of modesty, and even fewer know what to say if they did.

John Paul II-then Karol Wojtyla- in his book Love and Responsibility, offers much needed wisdom on the nature of modesty and how dressing modestly is crucial for strengthening our relationships with the opposite sex.


The Experience of Shame

Wojtyla begins his treatment on modesty with an explanation of a common human experience: shame. Shame involves a tendency to conceal something-not just bad things, such as sins, weaknesses, and embarrassing moments, but also good things that we desire to keep from coming out in the open. For example, someone who performs a good deed may prefer that his action go unnoticed. If he is complemented publicly, he may feel embarrassed, not because he did something bad, but because he did not want to draw attention to his deed. Similarly, a student who receives high marks on an exam may feel embarrassed when the teacher praises her in front of the whole class, since she wished to share her good grade only with her closest friends and family. There are many good things that we wish to keep hidden from public eyes, and we feel shame if they are brought out into the open.

This helps us understand one of the most powerful experiences of shame: sexual shame. Why do human persons tend to conceal body parts associated with sexuality? Why do men and women instinctively cover themselves quickly if someone of the opposite sex accidentally walks in on them while they are changing their clothes or going to the bathroom? Wojtyla explains that this tendency to conceal those parts of the body that make it male or female is itself not the essence of shame, but a manifestation of a deeper tendency to conceal the sexual values themselves, “particularly in so far as they constitute in the mind of a particular person ‘a potential object of enjoyment’ for persons of the other sex” (p. 176).

For example, a woman may instinctively sense that if certain parts of her body are exposed, a man might view her merely for her sexual values as an object of pleasure. Indeed, those particular parts of her body reveal her sexual values so powerfully that a man can be drawn primarily not to her true value as a person, but to her sexual values which give him sensual pleasure in his glances and imagination.

That is why we tend to veil the sexual values connected with particular parts of the body-not because they are bad, but because they can overshadow the greater value of the person. Wojtyla thus says sexual shame is “a natural form of self-defense for the person” (p. 182). It helps prevent the person from being treated as an object of enjoyment. Thus, the concealing of sexual values through modesty of dress is meant to provide the arena in which something much more than a mere sensual reaction might take place. Modesty of dress helps protect interactions between the sexes from falling into utilitarianism, and thus creates the possibility of authentic love for the person to develop.


Shame Absorbed by Love

Yet within the context of betrothed love-a mature self-giving love of a husband and wife-there is no longer any reason for shame. True love ensures that sentimental and sensual experiences “are imbued with affirmation of the value of the person to such an extent that it is impossible for the will to regard the other person as an object for use” (pp. 183-84).

Each person has complete confidence in the other’s selfless love. They each have total trust that they won’t be treated merely as an object for the other person’s pleasure. Hence, their emotional and sensual enjoyment is grounded in full self-giving love and a profound sense of responsibility for the other person.

The need for shame has been absorbed by mature love for a person: it is no longer necessary for a lover to conceal from the beloved or from himself a disposition to enjoy, since this has been absorbed by true love ruled by the will. Affirmation of the value of the person so thoroughly permeates all the sensual and emotional reactions connected with the sexual values that the will is not threatened by a utilitarian outlook. (p. 184)

This kind of trust, however, can only be found fully in betrothed love. Only in a healthy, thriving marriage is shame absorbed by love in this way. That’s why we want to dress modestly when we are with members of the opposite sex to whom we are not married. Outside the context of betrothed love, we must be careful with the unveiling of sexual values or else we will set ourselves up to be used by the opposite sex.


Avoiding Objectification

Now we are prepared to explore the three aspects of sexual shame presented by Wojtyla. We have already touched upon the first aspect-how shame leads us to conceal sexual values so that they don’t produce a merely utilitarian reaction in another person. A woman should want to avoid dressing in a way that deliberately draws attention to her sexual values and obscures her value as a person. Certain types of clothing (or lack thereof) are bound to elicit a sensual reaction that puts her in a position of being treated as an object of enjoyment.

But here some women may object: “Why is it my responsibility to dress modestly? If a man struggles with lustful thoughts, that’s his problem, not mine.” But this objection misses Wojtyla’s point. The purpose of modesty is not merely to help prevent men from stumbling into impure thoughts. Modesty of dress is primarily meant to protect the woman herself. It helps keep the woman from being treated as an object for sexual pleasure.

Wojtyla offers two important insights that help make sense of this. On one hand, we must remember that human beings are fallen. Thus, it is not easy for us to avoid a utilitarian attitude when we see the body of the opposite sex. The attitude of “I shouldn’t have to worry about how I dress-that’s the man’s problem” naively fails to take original sin seriously. As Wojtyla explains, “Man, alas, is not such a perfect being that the sight of the body of another person . . . can arouse in him merely a disinterested liking which develops into an innocent affection. In practice it also arouses concupiscence, or a wish to enjoy concentrated on sexual values with no regard for the value of the person” (p. 190). As a result of original sin, the human will “too readily accepts the sensual reaction and reduces another person . . . to the role of an object for enjoyment” (p. 191). And when this happens, Wojtyla calls it “depersonalization by sexualization.” The woman is not viewed for who she is as a person. She is reduced to a potential object for sexual pleasure. Modesty of dress helps women to avoid being depersonalized in this way.

On the other hand, Wojtyla goes on to remind us that men struggle with sensuality a lot more than women. Therefore, it is not surprising that women may have difficulty understanding what really constitutes modest dress, for sensuality is not as strong in them as it is in men. “Since a woman does not find in herself the sensuality of which a man as a rule cannot but be aware in himself she does not feel so great a need to conceal ‘the body as a potential object of enjoyment'” (p. 177). Consequently, women often don’t realize that a certain way of acting or dressing may actually be immodest. And they may have absolutely no idea that the way they are dressing may be setting themselves up to be viewed by a man as a mere object for sexual pleasure. “Very often, a woman does not regard a particular way of dressing as shameless . . . although some man, or indeed many men, may find it so” (p. 189).


Concealing Our Reactions

The second aspect of sexual shame is its tendency to conceal our own utilitarian reactions to the opposite sex when we treat them as objects for our enjoyment. We realize that a human person is not an object for use, and we feel ashamed if we treat people that way in our glances, thoughts, or imagination. Deep down, a man senses, “I must not touch her, not even with a deeply hidden wish to enjoy her, for she cannot be an object for use” (p. 180).

Consider what often happens when a man is staring at a woman lustfully and she notices it. As soon as he is caught, he quickly turns his eyes away because he feels ashamed of what he was doing. He does not want his utilitarian attitude toward her to be exposed. He knows he shouldn’t treat a woman that way and he immediately looks away.


Inspiring Love

The third and most important aspect of sexual shame is its connection with love. Ultimately, modesty seeks to inspire love-true love for the person, not just a sexual reaction to a woman’s body. Deep in a woman’s heart is a longing to inspire and experience love. Thus, a woman should dress in a way that inspires love for her as a person.

But dressing immodestly hinders the possibilities for true love to develop, for it draws attention to her sexual values to such an extent that it overshadows her value as a person. In other words, a woman dressing immodestly may deliberately elicit a sexual reaction to her body. And she may attract men to view her body as an object of enjoyment. But she doesn’t inspire men to love her as a person.

Here we see that modesty of dress is about so much more than helping men avoid falling into sin. And it is not simply a “defensive reflex” protecting women from being used. In the end, modesty is about inspiring a reaction to the value of the person-not just to the sexual values. As Wojtyla explains, “sexual modesty is not a flight from love, but on the contrary the opening of a way towards it. The spontaneous need to conceal mere sexual values bound up with the person is the natural way to the discovery of the value of the person as such” (p. 179).



Do you have an official Church document that addresses the importance of dressing modestly for Mass?


Refer to Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist, a document from the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine: “We should also come to the sacred liturgy appropriately dressed. As Christians we should dress in a modest manner, wearing clothes that reflect our reverence for God and that manifest our respect for the dignity of the liturgy and for one another” (available at www.usccb.org*).


Every Catholic should consider how to more worthily receive the Eucharist, bishops say


November 15, 2006 (CNA)

The Catholic bishops of the United States voted Tuesday to approve a document aimed at increasing the reverence of all Catholics for Holy Communion. The document, written in a question and answer format, addresses the fundamental importance of the Holy Eucharist and the conditions for proper reception. While the bishops did not directly address the contentious issue of denying communion to public officials who actively reject Church teaching, it did reiterate that all Catholics should seriously examine their own disposition for receiving.

“Happy Are Those Who Are Called To His Supper: On Preparing To Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist,”* begins by recalling the Catechism’s instruction that “the principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus,” who comes in a real way in the Blessed Sacrament.

“In virtue of our membership in the Catholic Church we are ordinarily free to receive Holy Communion,” the bishops note. “In fact, it is most desirable that we receive the Lord’s Body and Blood, so that Holy Communion stands out clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated.”

There are times however, when, after an examination of conscience, Catholics may come to realize that they “should refrain from partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ.” Such barriers to the reception of Holy Communion included the unconfessed committal of a mortal sin, a lack of adherence to Church teaching, or giving public scandal.

The bishops made a clear distinction when it comes to questioning Church teaching. They acknowledge that some Catholics may not fully understand the Church’s doctrinal and moral teaching on certain issues and may have particular questions and even uncertainties, and said that such Catholics are welcome to partake of Holy Communion, “as long as they are prayerfully and honestly striving to understand the truth of what the Church professes and are taking appropriate steps to resolve their confusion and doubt.”

If, however, “a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church,” and thus should refrain from taking part in Holy Communion, the bishops continued.

Those people who are, “publicly known to have committed serious sin or to have rejected definitive Church teaching and is not yet reconciled with the Church,” should also refrain from receiving communion as their reception would cause scandal for others, the bishops said. “To give scandal means more than to cause other people to be shocked or upset by what one does. Rather, one’s action leads someone else to sin,” the bishops noted, quoting from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on the Eucharist, “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.”

Newark’s Archbishop John Myers, who proposed that the bishops write about the document told CNA he was, “very happy,” with it, “because I think it gives a solid foundation for all of us to think about proper preparation to receive the sacraments.”

“By having a point of reference, I think it has the potential of building more unity among the bishops as we deal with particular situations,” Archbishop Myers added.

In addition to discussing situations that would prevent Catholics from receiving communion, the document also provides a guide for the faithful to prepare to receive the sacrament more worthily. “While the celebration of the Eucharist itself is a communal act,” the bishops noted, “the benefit that each individual receives from the Eucharistic celebration depends on the way he or she approaches the sacrament.”

The bishops point out tools for “remote” and “proximate” preparation to receive the Blessed Sacrament, including regular prayer, reception of the Sacrament of Penance, upholding the Eucharistic fast, actively participating in the liturgy, and offering a prayer of love and thanksgiving after receiving.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli, whose Commission on Doctrine drafted the document, noted that the aim of the bishops was to make clear the power and importance of the Sacrament and to bring more people to a deep Communion, not to keep them from Communion. The call to examination before receiving should serve as “a challenge now to Catholics to have a certain consistency in their lives,” he said.

The bishop said the document may seem tough to some people, but in fact points to a real question about one’s own adherence to the faith, “If you reject…a teaching that is fundamental to Catholics,” he said, “the real question is, then, Why would you want to take Communion? Because Communion itself says, ‘I am part of this church and I embrace what it believes.'”

To read the bishops’ document in full, visit the USCCB website at www.usccb.org*


*The USCCB excerpt at the top of the page may be found at #4. Part V c. iii of the U.S. bishops’ Document at





Modest Dress at Mass


By Karen Lynn Ford, August 27, 2005
About 12 years ago a woman in her early twenties went to Disney World. She loved Mickey Mouse and couldn’t wait to see him in person. She had a youthful love of everything the Magical World of Disney promised.

What I wish I had known
Unfortunately, she also believed much of what she saw and learned in the “real world.” She thought that to get attention she needed to dress to impress — provocatively. To look good, or what she thought was good then, and to get a tan on her northern Ohio body in April, she entered the children’s fantasy-land in short shorts and a bikini bathing suit top. Thank God for the good sense of the Disney World employee who promptly told this young woman that she needed to wear a real shirt because Disney is a family park. She had a t-shirt and put it on, and felt pretty foolish. That young woman, now 34-year-old me, grew up to regret the way she used to dress. As a mother of three with a fourth on the way, I now realize that modesty is not just beneficial to the girl or woman wearing the clothes. It benefits everyone who looks at her.
As a cradle Catholic, I experienced a deepening of my faith early in my marriage. I learned a lot that I wish I’d known, or listened to, while I was growing up. One of the most important things I have learned is that as a woman, it is my responsibility to protect myself as well as anyone who looks at me from the near occasion of sin. Many women or girls will say that it’s not their fault if a young man looks at her lustfully when she’s exposing twice as much flesh as she’s covering. St. Maria Goretti, on whose feast day my husband and I celebrate our anniversary, disagreed. When her childhood friend turned lustful and sought to violate her, she chose to die rather than lead Alessandro into sexual sin.

A detraction and distraction
The clothing styles available to our young women and teens today aren’t exactly helping us to dress modestly. Even many of the maternity styles are exposing much more chest and midriff than when I was pregnant with my first child. So some might justify what women are wearing these days by saying there aren’t any modest styles available in the department stores. Indeed, it takes a lot longer to shop for modest clothing, but there are some modest styles out there.
Obviously, I am not impressed with today’s styles, but where I find them most inappropriate and offensive is inside of church. When I was growing up, we didn’t wear jeans or shorts to Mass. We certainly didn’t wear micro-mini skirts and cropped shirts. It’s one thing to see bare-bellied girls walking about the mall or the park. But week after week I go to Mass and see as much flesh as I would expect to see at the beach — and this is on a 55-degree drizzly day in New England! I watched as three young girls sang beautifully in the youth choir last weekend. Unfortunately, they probably don’t realize that the way they dressed actually detracted from rather than enhanced their natural beauty. They looked like Vegas showgirls as they circled a microphone shaking their barely-covered bottoms, three pews away from my eight-year-old son’s gaze.
The choir is a focal point of our children’s Mass. The music is up-beat and truly an occasion to praise God. Unfortunately, the view is distracting, not reverent. My grandmother once told me that in the 1950s and ’60s, pastors publicly chastised women who wore shorts on church property when they came to pick their children up from Catholic school. They were in the parking lot, mind you, not the sanctuary.

Stop being so mousy about it!
Today, a majority of priests seem to be so afraid to say anything that might “offend” anyone that people come to church in clothes more suited for mowing the lawn or a day at the beach than to receiving our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. If Disney World can give a young woman a warning about her immodest dress, why won’t our church set some parameters for acceptable dress in the church? One shrine I have been to does have posted guidelines and makes robes available for Mass-goers who show up in shorts or inappropriate clothing. But this is the exception, not the rule.

Does our Lord care how we are attired?
Jesus again in reply spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Mt 22:1-7)

We are invited to the Eucharistic banquet every day, most especially Sundays. We do a grave disservice to our young people by not teaching them that though “you should not judge by appearances,” people do. Going to church in skimpy clothes shows disrespect for the people around you and for Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Karen Lynn Ford and her husband Michael have been married for nine years. They live in Western Massachusetts where they attend Holy Name Catholic Church. Karen and Michael are the parents of an 8, 6, and 4 year old, who recently welcomed their youngest sibling on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption. Karen is a Content Editor for Catholic Exchange.




No More Tank Tops at Mass!

Lots of readers’ comments, 65 of them

By Deal W. Hudson, The Window, July 27, 2006

Take Protestant friends to Mass and the first thing they will notice is how casually Catholics dress for worship. Drive by any Protestant church at 12 noon on a Sunday, and the parking lot will be filled with men and women of all ages in coats, ties, dresses and even the occasional hat.

The idea of wearing your “Sunday best” has never taken hold in any Catholic circles I know of.

Warm weather exacerbates the tendency to dress down for Mass, and at least one bishop has decided to draw the line. In June, Bishop John W. Yanta* of Amarillo, Texas – a very hot place in the summer — published a pastoral letter addressing what he calls “the lack of respect and reverence for the House of God [and] the sacredness of the Lord’s presence in the liturgy.” I only heard about this pastoral letter yesterday, and thought it worth passing on to you. One of the most common complaints I hear from priests and the laity is how little Catholics seem to care about their appearance at Mass.

Yanta talks about choosing one’s clothes and wearing them as “a moral act.” He argues, “There are different appropriate modes of dress for different occasions, e.g., in the privacy of our home, with our spouse only, or with our children in our home, at work or school, in mixed company, at the lake or swimming pool, grocery shopping, at church, etc.”

What makes immodest clothing inappropriate for Mass, according to Bishop Yanta, is simply that it detracts attention away from the reason for being there, to pray and to worship. “When the community of believers comes together for the Eucharist (Mass) let no one be a distraction from Jesus or provide temptation (an occasion of sin) to another because of our manner of dress.”

Critics of Bishop Yanta have been accusing him of prudery, but I want to express my appreciation for his realism, common sense, and good taste. Anything that doesn’t encourage prayer and worship at Mass, whether it’s bad music, chiming cell phones, or unnecessary chatter, should be discouraged. Yanta is right, I think, to encourage both men and women to think about how they present themselves before the Lord and each other.

For Bishop Yanta, this kind of self-examination and self-awareness is the product of modesty. The virtue of modesty itself springs from a purity of heart, which is best sought in solidarity: “Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate. It requires of the communications media that their presentations show concern for respect and restraint (CCC 2525).” In other words, modesty is more easily obtained when we seek it together rather than struggling individually against the tide of a hostile culture.

The notion of “business casual” has gradually receded from the workplace as managers have begun to notice a correlation between dressing down and lower performance. It may be the lingering remnants of my Protestant background, but I wonder if worship would be different. Might Mass be celebrated with greater vitality if the “people of God” dressed as if something special was about to happen? As a guest at the Lord’s Table, wouldn’t it be more appropriate upon crossing the threshold of the church to leave behind the culture of tank-tops and baseball-caps and instead enter dressed for prayerful worship.

Our Catholic young people need to know that such a place – call it sacred ground — still exists, and we as adults need to teach this by example.


*Modesty Starts with Purification of the Heart


By Bishop John W. Yanta, Diocese of Amarillo, Texas June 18, 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the hot weather has descended on us and we are in summertime or vacation time, it is appropriate to speak of modesty of dress especially in participation in the Holy Eucharist, the receiving of Our Lord in Holy Communion, the privilege of being a lector of the Sunday Bible Readings, and serving as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.

This time of the year, I (and am sure many of you also) hear complaints about a lack of respect and reverence for the house of God, the sacredness of the Lord’s presence in the liturgy, and lack of respect for others and the lack of consciousness of the battle for purity in which the opposite sex finds itself even while attending Sunday Mass.


Immodesty in dress is governed by two citations from God’s Law:

1) The Ninth Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Exodus 20:17);

2) Jesus said: “Everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).


To live our daily Faith as children of God (baptism), disciples of Jesus, and temples of the Holy Spirit, we are faced with moral choices constantly, many times a day. Conscience can either make a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law, or on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them (CCC: Catechism of the Catholic Church #1799).

Dressing or putting on one’s clothes is a moral act and wearing them is a moral act. There are different appropriate modes of dress for different occasions, e.g. in the privacy of our home, with our spouse only or with our children in our home, at work or school, in mixed company, at the lake or swimming pool, grocery shopping, at church, etc.

The four cardinal virtues are in play here (Wisdom 8:5-7). The wise person is guided by wisdom, the highest of riches that guides us to be prudent (doing and saying the right thing), justice (respects the dignity of other persons), fortitude (courage to go against popular, suggestive, provocative styles), and temperance (insures mastery over sensual temptations as occasions of sin). You can read more about these four cardinal virtues that play a pivotal role in our lives (CCC 1803-1809).





Our condition – all of us are beset with concupiscence. Concupiscence or covetousness: “Human appetites or desires that are disordered due to the temporal consequences of original sin, which remain even after Baptism and which produce inclination to sin” (CCC, Glossary).

St. John identifies and distinguishes the three kinds of inclinations of all human beings: “For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:16).

The road to modesty starts with the purification of the heart: “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication…” (Matthew 15:19). Bible beginners should be encouraged to get the basic overview of Jesus’ teaching by starting with the beatitudes in Matt. 5 in Jesus’ first sermon: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). Part of the essence of that teaching is a wholesome, orthodox, first hand appreciation of God’s plan for our sexuality – its sacredness, its fulfillment in marriage, its place in family, Church, and world.

The Catechism speaks next, after the purification of the heart, about “the battle for purity”. We, the baptized and the forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation struggle against concupiscence of the flesh and disordered desires (CCC 2520).

“Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden (CCC 2521).

“Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It is discreet (CCC 2522).

“There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies (CCC 2523).

“Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person (CCC 2524).

“Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate. It requires of the communications media that their presentations show concern for respect and restraint (CCC 2525).

“So-called moral permissiveness rests on an erroneous conception of human freedom; the necessary precondition for the development of true freedom is to let oneself be educated in the moral law. Those in charge of education can reasonably be expected to give young people instruction respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man” (CCC 2526).

Yes, we can help the devil in many ways including the way we dress. In the Act of Contrition we promise “to avoid the near occasion of sin”. St. Paul writes about “provoking another” (Gal. 5:26).

The key to all modesty is rooted in our mother and daddy who model modesty for their children, i.e. a strong, but tender St. Joseph-like husband and father who is blessed with a wonderful wife and mother for their children. “Happy the husband of a good wife…choicest of his blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste person” (Sirach 26: 1, 15).

When the community of believers comes together for the Eucharist (Mass) let no one be a distraction from Jesus or provide temptation (an occasion of sin) to another because of our manner of dress.

Lectors, Extraordinary Eucharistic Ministers, and Hospitality Ministers should model modesty of dress for the parish as parents do in the family, the domestic church.

May we cherish and bear witness to the virtues of prudence, temperance, chastity, and modesty for the sake of our own salvation and of others. St. Mary and St. Joseph, St. Ann and St. Joachim, parents and grandparents of their son and grandson, Jesus, intercede for us!

Sincerely in Christ,

Most Rev. John W. Yanta

Bishop of Amarillo


Observations, by Bishop John W. Yanta

Basics of modesty in dress

From the Catechism

“There are differences between male and female: physical, emotional, and spiritual differences. These differences result, by God’s plan, in a beautiful complementarity oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life” (CCC 2333).

“Men and women are equal but not the same obviously. There is equal personal dignity. Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God” (CCC 2334-5).

“The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason” (CCC 2341).

“Christ is the model of chastity. Every baptized person is called to lead a chaste life, each according to his particular state of life” (CCC 2394).

“Temperance: The cardinal moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasure and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the mastery of the will over instinct, and keeps natural desires within proper limits” (CCC Glossary).


From the Dictionary

Modesty: “Propriety in dress, speech or conduct” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate p.798).

Dress, Apparel, Clothing: “Covering, adornment, or appearance appropriate or peculiar to a particular time” (Webster’s p.380).

Propriety: “Fear of offending against conventional rules of behavior esp. between the sexes; the customs and manners of polite society” (Webster’s p.997).






Compendium of the Catechism

“Purity requires modesty which, while protecting the intimate center of the person, expresses the sensitivity of chastity. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their communion. Purity frees one from wide-spread eroticism and avoids those things which foster morbid curiosity. Purity also requires a purification of the social climate by means of a constant struggle against moral permissiveness which is founded on an erroneous concept of human freedom” (Compendium of the Catechism 530).


On Reverence

“The Church, the house of God, is… the privileged place of the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament” (CCC 2691).

Excerpts from a Homily Given by Fr. Dominic Mary, MFVA on EWTN Televised Mass (6-14-05)

“Included in the virtue of modesty is not only humility, but also in how one externally dresses (cf. John Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary, p. 356). But many today have rejected to practice this virtue so desperately needed in our current culture. Even to the most casual observer, immodesty in dress is seen as common place in our Churches.

We have got to do all we can to help people to wake up and realize they are dressing way too immodestly, especially when it comes to entering a Church to worship God. We must be like the Vatican — just one example (cf., www. cathnews.com) – When there are heat waves in Rome the Vatican dress police, neatly dressed in pants, shirts and ties, turn back all tourists in shorts and bare shoulders trying to get into St. Peter’s Basilica. I’ve seen them do this with my own eyes. These immodestly dressed people have to go and buy paper pants and shirts from vendors eagerly waiting outside.

“Many people come to Church dressed like they are ready to go to the beach. You should not come to Church dressed in shorts, miniskirts, swimsuits, bikinis, tank-tops, bare shoulders, low cut dresses, very tight fitting clothing, etc. “We must return to having a holy fear for God and for His true Presence in the Eucharist and for being in His house. How can we expect to grow in the spiritual life if we are dressed like we don’t care? How dare we approach the Holy Eucharist dressed like we are going to the beach.

“When a person dresses immodestly he or she can become an occasion of sin for other people. And this is the fashion for today. Each year it seems that the latest fashion is to see how little clothing one can wear and how much of one’s body can be shown. And what flesh is not shown is revealed by extremely tight clothing.

“To knowingly and intentionally dress like this is sinful, and can be even seriously sinful, because one can become a temptation to sin for other people. We are all weak and can easily fall into many sins of impurity by someone else’s immodesty.

“Before we go out or buy new clothes we should do a modesty check”.


Fr. Hathaway, FSSP on Modesty of Dress at Holy Mass

“We will speak on dress for women and men at the Holy Mass… especially on Sunday.

“But let me preface that I did not wake up this morning thinking, “I wonder how I can ruin their day?” I do not want to make you mad, but only advance your salvation. Our dress can be a touchy topic… but all of us should want to correct errors should they exist.

“First, we should give a definition. Modesty in dress is the virtue which regulates the type of clothing and the manner of its wearing so that it conforms to the purposes by which clothing is worn. Now the purpose of clothing is to protect against the weather, to reveal status or position or formality in society, and to preserve decency.

“Now how should women dress at Holy Mass?

“Indecency of women’s dress at the Holy Sacrifice is not a new thing. In 1921, Pope Benedict XV (Sacra propediem) lamented the indecent dress of women at Holy Mass this way: ‘…one cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and condition; made foolish by a desire to please, they do not see to what degree the indecency of the clothing shocks every honest man, and offends God.

“Most of them would formerly have blushed for those toiletries as for a grave fault against Christian modesty; now it does not suffice for them to exhibit them on public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of the churches, to assist at the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seductive food of shameful passions to the Eucharistic Table where one receives the heavenly author of purity.

“Now how should a man dress at the Holy Sacrifice?

“If women exceed the virtue, it is common for men to come up short in practicing the virtue of modesty in dress. Men, we are inclined to be careless or slovenly about what we wear… (even at Holy Mass); and young men are prone to deliberately neglect their dress so as to attract attention.

“At Holy Mass, men should wear a coat and tie; or, at least, a collared shirt and nice slacks.

“Young men must be taught that baggy pants are not appropriate; that their hair be nicely cut and combed; that shirts be clean and without slogans or cross bones or a dragon,… or anything which may give Satan the appearance of being honored”.


On the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese Website

“The Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Communion Under Both Kinds refers to reverent attire (cf. #29) but does not describe what is considered reverent. Does the Diocese of Galveston-Houston have guidelines describing what is considered appropriate attire for liturgical ministers?”

“Extraordinary Ministers should be appropriately dressed when distributing Communion during the liturgy. On several occasions I have directed that men, including young men, must wear a coat, and women modest dresses or pant suits. This directive is to be observed even for Youth Masses.”





The Liturgical Commission of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia

“I am often asked about the dress requirements for people who perform the roles of readers and special ministers of communion in a parish.

“This usually comes about because complaints have been made about the way these liturgical ministers present themselves at Mass.

“A good place to begin tackling this question is to revisit the meaning of the word ‘ministry’. Readers and special ministers serve the liturgy and the gathered assembly by proclaiming the Word of God and helping in the distribution of the sacred elements. Their manner of dress should reflect the importance and dignity of the ministry in which they serve. “The term ‘Sunday best’ is sometimes used to describe what is acceptable. This does not mean expensive or fancy, but it does mean clothing that is neat, clean and reasonably modest. Outlandish or clattering jewelry, tee shirts with slogans or insignia, jogging outfits or see-through clothing are probably universally considered inappropriate.

“Liturgical ministers become channels of God’s presence when they carry out their ministry. Anything that blocks that channel – whether gesture, demeanor or clothing – is out of place. If a reader’s dress attracts the attention of the assembly rather than what he or she is proclaiming, or if a communion minister’s outfit prevents communicants focusing on receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, then something is clearly amiss”.


Ministers of Hospitality (Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia)

“Because all liturgical ministers, by their demeanor and attitude, send a message about the importance of what is taking place, it is helpful if they are attired in their ‘Sunday best’. ”

In some parishes, ministers wear a uniform blazer for visibility so that they can be identified immediately in case of an emergency. In either case, a nametag identifying a person as a minister of hospitality would be helpful.


Diocese of Trenton, NJ

“Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should dress in secular clothing that is modest, clean, and appropriate for worship.

“If the local parish decides to use special dress for its Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, it must be distinctive and not confused with the dress of a priest or deacon.”


Deal Hudson’s article, page 5, was posted by the owner-moderator Austine Crasta on the Konkani Catholics (KC) blog under the caption “Dress Code at Sunday Mass“; it generated a discussion:

In KonkaniCatholics@yahoogroups.com, “Mina” wrote:

I agree with your closing para. Secondly, we should also discourage the new trend that is started among the boys – keeping their hair long, wearing earrings, bangles, necklaces etc. Why are they being encouraged? I have visited the famous religious Hindu shrines… I noticed that the people there always entered with their head covered. Hoping to get some good and bad feedback. Mina


1b. Posted by: “Richard Mascarenhas” rahuli98@gmail.com Date: Tue Aug 1, 2006 3:55 am (PDT)
That was a wonderful incident you remembered to share.  Sounds more of a Surya worship, when the sun disappeared, so did the head covers. Richard
1c. Posted by: “Richard Mascarenhas” rahuli98@gmail.com Date: Tue Aug 1, 2006 7:57 am (PDT)
Mina, It would be difficult to discourage the boys from keeping long hair, wearing earrings, bangles, necklaces….. It’s a trend that is copied. How about getting them to cover their head as women used to do in the past, especially when they come for worship? In these times, when the tops are meant only for the top and the pants well below the navel, can we ever think it’s possible to get the head covered?
The other day I noticed a young lady clothed in three-piece – jeans, t-shirt and a jacket on top and yet 50% of her body between the jeans and top was open. And they somehow always happen to be within your sight. It reminds me of a Konkani song by Wilfy sung by Prem, “Picnic aastha aithara… Dukh darun tenh ashen karun bagle, henh palloun patlayn asle sagle patkanth podle” Aaz-kaal bagounchii kain garz na.
Announcements made by the priests to come decently dressed for mass has no effect on them.
When worshippers going to mandir, masjid and gurudwaras go properly dressed, why is it that Christians, more appropriate would be to say Catholics, don’t realise that they should? Or is it that the Religious leaders of other faiths with much respect to their deity and without fear, strictly enforce such guidelines, whereas our leaders afraid of the consequences forget their duty of being a good shepherd and surrender to the dictates of the masses for self popularity.
I personally feel, that while the Church that Jesus founded does not approve most of what is happening today, be it dress or other practices in the name of Indianisation and inculturisation, our leaders have lost sight of their Church Jesus founded and have become too tolerant and self seeking in furthering their own motives. Richard Mascarenhas
1d. Posted by: “Salvador Fernandes” konkanicatholics@gmail.com Date: Tue Aug 1, 2006 8:06 am (PDT)
Dress code, is becoming a serious issue, and I guess the correction should begin at home.  
I had an experience once in the Orlem church, while I sat for Mass accompanied by my wife, and a young couple walked in and sat in front of us, the girl was wearing pants, with a top that was not covering the pants, which meant that every time she sat down, her panties (designer ones of course) were in plain view.  My wife and I moved from there to another place, and another gentleman, who happened to come and sit where we had been, did also move away immediately. Now that is a regular style of dressing, and I find young boys and girls in Dubai and Sharjah dress in the same style. 


I am a catechist and I ask my students, if the King of Dubai, had to invite you, or you were visiting some royalty, how would you dress, and they all agree that they would dress to please, and isn’t it sad that they go to meet the King of Kings, dressed in a totally unacceptable style.
I have also witnessed the following:
People approaching the Eucharist with their hands in their pockets, With their hands on their partners’ shoulder/waist/pocket talking until they are just the next person to receive communion rushing for Communion, without following an orderly manner. Micro-mini’s (Believe me this was shocking)   
Have also noticed boys wearing caps, and even going to receive the Eucharist with their cap on, and to top it, the Eucharistic Minister does not even correct this, by telling the boy to remove his cap.  And many in the Church think that when the priest stops talking, it’s their turn to speak to each other. Correct me if I am wrong on any of the above. 
And we as individuals can help, if in charity, and with love correct the person, who we see are erring. Salvador
1e. Posted by: “Salvador Fernandes” konkanicatholics@gmail.com Date: Tue Aug 1, 2006 9:53 am (PDT)
Dear Richard,  
Your point of men covering their head will not hold, because the 1917 Code of Canon Law, expressly forbade men from wearing head gear,  especially in the presence of Christ, our Lord and Saviour.  You must have noticed, that even the Bishop, removes his head gear at the time of the Eucharistic Prayer.  
Check the Answers regarding Covering of Head from Catholic Answers, here below:
The 1917 Code of Canon Law required women to wear head coverings in church, especially at Mass:

Quote: §1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.
§2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord (canon 1262, 1917 Code of Canon Law). There is no canon in the 1983 Code that parallels this older requirement. Since the 1983 Code expressly abrogates (i.e., abolishes, annuls) the 1917 Code (cf. canon 6, Code of Canon Law [1983]), women are no longer required to wear head coverings in church or at Mass. Certainly, those women who choose to wear head coverings in church are allowed to do so, but it is no longer a canonical obligation.
According to Scripture, where Paul asked Women to cover their head, it must be taken into consideration that this letter was written to the people of Corinth, where women who were available to Men, used to have their hair left open, as a sign of their availability. Now these women also came to Church, and to help Men concentrate without being distracted, Paul had advised all women to cover their head. Salvador
1f. A Taizé Experience that Changed my Life as a Christian
    Posted by: “Evita Lobo” konkanicatholics@gmail.com Date: Tue Aug 1, 2006 10:48 pm (PDT)
Dear All, I had just read the email from Richard, when its boiling down to Dress Code. I believe that, we as a community we would need to make efforts to rejuvenate Christianity from our hearts – this would in turn be a light to all.
I wouldn’t have written this, however I would like to share an experience that has changed my whole concept of being a Christian. Even though, I have been brought up with God fearing Parents – daily/Sunday mass, Family prayers… somehow I deep down couldn’t understand a difference a Christian can make.
Last year I had been to Taizé – it’s a village in the southern of France. It’s a beautiful village that talks about Christians living as a community. Staying with the Monks – it’s an Ecumenical society. The founder of this Society was Br. Roger who was a pastor lived his whole life serving people; he had sheltered many during the Nazis- Germany war. He later became Catholic and had started this Ecumenical Society. The late Pope John Paul II called Taizé a little Spring Time; Mother Teresa had gone for a quiet retreat to Taizé.
Having being there for 3 months – youth from 35+ countries. The youngsters would dress whatever they may dress and talk outside, but when entering the Church they would be dressed not in a provocative way. They were shawls at the entrance where they could use it if required.
On 16th, at the evening prayer, I was sitting behind Br. Roger he was in his 90’s. A mentally disturbed lady came in from behind and slit his throat while the entire church was in silence prayer [almost 2000+ youth were present at that time]. I was shocked, I wouldn’t have ever thought of witnessing along with the others such a thing. What took be by surprise was when this happened, I thought there would be chaos, as he was a prior of Taizé, but at that moment the brothers of that community started to sing “Laudate Omes Gentas” – meaning Sing Praises all you People. The police was shocked so were the press, as the youth couldn’t stop singing. To express what I felt and what I feel about the whole thing is difficult. But it’s all about giving your all to the service of mankind- it does not mean to become a priest or a nun-but it all has to come from within. I hope I didn’t bore you all. It’s my experience of a life time. Evita Lobo
1g. Posted by: “Richard Mascarenhas” rahuli98@gmail.com Date: Tue Aug 1, 2006 10:50 pm (PDT)
Dear Salvador,
You are correct about the 1917 Code of Canon Law. But I am not speaking of men but of those who are ashamed to be as men and need to grow long hair, wear bangles or kadas, and some ornaments in the neck and the rest. A veil covering their head would go well, wouldn’t it. As regards women covering their head or the abolishing of such requirements is a different subject which we shall not concern ourselves for discussion. However, too often and too many changes in any institution, and the silence of the authorities when something is not being properly done, does make one get the impression “Kuch Bhi Chalta Hai”.  And that’s what is happening, Kuch Bhi Chalta Hai. Richard Mascarenhas



1h. Posted by: “Richard Mascarenhas” rahuli98@gmail.com Date: Tue Aug 1, 2006 10:52 pm (PDT)
Salvador rightly wrote: “And we as individuals can help, if in charity, and with love correct the person, who we see are erring.” Here’s an experience I had: As an usher at the Abu Dhabi Church, I requested one of the young couples who were continuously talking during the mass. Immediately after mass the first thing they did was to come and argue with statements like, who told you that we cannot talk in the church? What is wrong in discussing things between ourselves?
We see people talking, eating chewing gum all through the mass and then going to receive communion with the chewing gum under the tongue. Those that think that they have chewed enough very conveniently stick the gum under the benches. In summer most of those who come early to the church premises sit in the church not to pray but to enjoy the air-conditioned environment and chat. In addition we now have the mobile phones. Offertory is going on, but that doesn’t seem to be important. Some run out of the church, some into the confessional, others will just bow low down at the seat and talk in whispers. That’s how they understand Sabbath obligations and the sacred? Richard Mascarenhas

Posted by: “Austine J. Crasta” jesuvera@gmail.com Date: Tue Aug 1, 2006 3:23 am (PDT)
I’m enjoying this discussion and I leave it to Michael to address Mina’s question. 
Meantime Mina’s reference to head covering reminded me of an interesting incident I witnessed in Mangalore!
It was the year of the Great Jubilee, 2000 and Mangalore Diocese had organized a solemn open air Mass as part of the concluding celebration. Since I come from a village-town about 80kms North of Mangalore city, I joined the rest of the parishioners who had arranged a special bus for the occasion to come to Mangalore. We joined the afternoon procession that was proceeding from all corners of the city to the ground where the Solemn Eucharist was to be celebrated by the Bishop.  When the Mass began, I couldn’t but observe how wonderfully every woman had her head covered! Edified, I said to myself: Women in the villages should learn something from the women in this city whom they often criticize for being non-traditional. The Bishop’s longer-than-usual Mass went on and as the moment of consecration approached, I noticed all of a sudden that most of the women had uncovered their heads. I couldn’t understand how these women who kept their heads covered during the whole Mass till then would bare it at the moment of the consecration. It was only later that I noticed the setting sun. Austine Crasta
Posted by: “Mina” konkanicatholics@gmail.com Date: Wed Aug 2, 2006 9:53 am (PDT)
I remember recently I had reacted to an incident wherein I could not concentrate on my prayers and I had to literally walk up to the entrance of the church. I said “Aunty, please talk softly, I can’t concentrate.” She stared at me angrily, but could not say anything as I was loud enough for every person sitting inside the church to turn their heads. That was the way I protested. My mother is one person who does not tolerate nonsense. I had this particular bad habit of yawning while saying the prayers in church, because of this I used to miss saying the lines. Once my mother just picked up her hand and put it right across my face. She said “that’s the devil distracting your attention, so I had to do that”. The blow was so hard but I could not cry as I had many eyes sympathetically looking at me.
That’s it, in the first incident I felt if you want to say something say it in a way where you are loud enough for everyone to hear. In that case you will not be backfired. I know all incidents are not similar. But this is my point of view. In the second incident, “what is right and what is wrong” should be taught by the elders in the family .We cannot  just say that the times have changed, so allow them (younger generation)to do what they want. If my mother would not have corrected me at that time may be I would have gone the wrong way. We have to seriously think about this. Mina

Posted by: “Anthony Aranjo” konkanicatholics@gmail.com Date: Thu Aug 3, 2006 2:28 am (PDT)
While you are entering the church, remember that you are visiting Jesus!
How you want Jesus to see you in his home? With Mini-Skirts or Full Skirts, With Short Pants or with Full Pants, etc. Choice is yours. But Remember, On Judgement Day, you will be alone standing in front of Jesus. Anthony Aranjo

Posted by: “Austine J. Crasta” jesuvera@gmail.com Date: Fri Aug 4, 2006 11:39 am (PDT)
Dear Salvador
I read your emails and replies with great interest. Glad to know that we have some really solid catechists raising up a new faith-filled generation. I was happy to note your reference to the 1917 code in the area of head covering for women. You have said well. Karl Keating (Catholic Answers) and Colin B. Donovan (EWTN) talk of the abrogation of the 1917 code and rightly so. But there’s more to it.
One of the arguments explains the silence of the present code (1983) by saying that the specific canon was dropped because head-covering had been a long standing and common place custom and did not need to be specifically addressed in the present code which attempted to be more concise as compared to its bulky predecessor. And so, the argument concludes that it is not a non-obligation due to silence, but a silence due to obligation. Reasonable enough.
A Common thought reduces St. Paul’s advice – “a woman should have a sign of authority on her head” (1 Cor. 11:10) – to a culture-specific local custom of the times. Despite the many explanations that support this, I think it is very unreasonable to think that a 1,900 year old custom which at one time (1917) even acquired the force of law, should all of a sudden be merely called a cultural practice.
The practice of head-covering finds support in two more Canons of the current code (1983):
Canon 5-1 states: “…contrary customs are… considered suppressed unless the Code expressly provides otherwise or unless they are centenary or immemorial customs”
Canon 28 says: “…a contrary custom… unless it [the code] makes express mention of them, however, a law does not revoke centenary or immemorial customs…”




These canons render virtually impregnable the force of law associated with centenary or immemorial laws. What we note is that even if the custom is “contrary” to the new code, as a centenary and immemorial custom it still enjoys virtual immunity from being reversed unless the code specifically says otherwise.
First of all veil-wearing is not a “contrary” custom but a 1900 year old tradition backed by Scripture, and secondly veil-wearing is not specifically addressed, let alone abrogated, in the 1983 code. In other words, if “contrary” customs possess a certain amount of immunity, then a non-contrary custom like veil-wearing should possess all the more!
There seems to be some other connected developments in the matter viz. that of the disappearance of the practice of head-covering around the 60s and 70s, i.e., even before the introduction of the 1983 code. One is understandably, the Women’s Liberation movement. Another is an incident connected with Rev. Annibale Bugnini (later deported from the Vatican) whose allegedly misleading statements during the Vatican II gave the press a chance to announce that women were no longer required to cover their heads. The damage had already been done before Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, secretary of the New Congregation for Divine Worship, in attempt of damage control following the “misunderstood statement” stated in an article – “Women Required to Cover Head, Vatican Insists” – published in the Atlanta Journal of June 21, 1969 that “The rule has not been changed” and that it was “a matter of general discipline.”
If the argument for not wearing head coverings appears to have support of any sort, it is from the 1976 declaration, ‘Inter Insigniores’, issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Question of Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood. But even in this case it is possible to show that Paul VI did not really address the issue and that what is mentioned counts more as the Pope’s opinions rather than the Church’s thought through the centuries. Is it possible to follow the custom today? A young college-going girl decided, after a retreat, to take the veil with her to daily Mass. Three days later she stopped the practice. She was discouraged by her friends who poked fun at her saying, “Since when did you become a ‘mallu’?” A few decades ago women even in the US would wear the veil but today it is not possible to talk about head-covering when they scarcely cover their bodies.
It takes courage and humility to follow the practice, as indeed to be a Catholic, and while, at this time of prevailing widespread confusion it may not be possible to definitively conclude about whether or not the custom possesses the force of law, we may still be rest assured that it is indeed a praiseworthy and desirable practice as testified by every image of the Blessed Virgin. Austine Crasta

4b. Posted by: “Joel G Fernandes” KonkaniCatholics@gmail.com Date: Sat Aug 5, 2006 1:15 am (PDT)
I agree with most of the people when it comes to people dressing inappropriately to church. But it makes me wonder how the parents allow young daughters to be so insensitive in dressing to church, coz the parents themselves are accompanying them most of the time. The priests quite often ask the people to dress well to church, but people seem too ignorant and by the way they dress, they distract other people around them. I knew a friend who had his Bible training with the YWAM who had come for a Bible convention in Bangalore and was in the teaching team. He stood at the entrance of the hall on the first day where the convention was held and didn’t allow people inappropriately dressed, gently declining entry if they
didn’t change and come. So that was it. Next day onwards for the rest of the 4 days, everyone dressed modestly, without complaints. He was only a lay person besides.
If the priests, who have all the authority (responsibility) to lead and guide the flock, does such a thing for a few Sundays, perhaps we would have people dressed well. And if they can’t dress well, I suppose we are better off without them, or are we not? I have seen quite often here in Dubai, since dressing down has become so common, non-Christians come into the churches and try squeezing themselves into the crowd. And I know a few people who I used to work with in my
previous company, confessing this. I hope everyone realises it is the house of prayer and God’s dwelling place. God bless us and open our eyes, Joel Fernandes

4c. Posted by: “Salvador Fernandes” KonkaniCatholics@gmail.com Date: Sat Aug 5, 2006 1:16 am (PDT)
Dear Brother Austine,  
I have gained some more information on my beloved Catholic Church and its practices. And I am sure, that many others, who have been wondering about head-covering will have their doubts clarified.
However, let me clarify, that when I mentioned Paul’s writing to the Corinthians, it was just to tell people that unlike Christians of other denominations, we should find out the situational aspect of the Letters that were written, and not thump the Bible and say that this is the Gospel Truth.  
I am very traditional in my outlook; and my wife always covers her head in Church.  My family, (My Son, wife and myself) also receive communion only on our tongue, (in fact I feel so unworthy of touching the body of Christ with my hands, that I think I would not even accept the privilege of being an Eucharistic Minister).  
And if you have noticed my first mail, I spoke about a boy wearing a cap, in Church, and no one correcting him.  Which will vouch for the fact that I believe, that women should if possible cover their heads, and Men should never ever cover their heads in Church.  
Praise God,  I hope such discussions will help me and my brothers and sisters in Christ grow in our faith and become United as One Body, to take the message of Christ, and the Apostolic tradition forward. Salvador Fernandes


From the Konkani Catholics digest no. 1330 of January 2, 2007

Dear Rocky, You said: “Especially the dress code in church is very horrible and even the religious heads are helpless, in the wake of ‘careless’ attitude of the youth. Discipline and attitude always goes hand in hand. Please send your valuable comments about this.”




I believe you are asking for my comments on enforcing a dress code in church.
Well, I think it is perfectly OK to do so. Only that you will see a big hue and cry over it when it is done.
Why, even Cardinal Ivan Dias had to face a lot of resistance when he tried to implement one in his then Archdiocese of Bombay. It made news even on BBC, Times, & Rediff.
This isn’t the problem only of religious heads. Even parents face a lot of problems implementing such rules with their children. They cannot then expect the school teachers or religious heads to do what they can’t with their own children.
In an age where man cannot see beyond his or her own good, it is but natural that personal freedom is glorified even over social norms and laws. This distorts the true meaning of freedom itself.
It is also important to recover an adequate understanding of the human person, respect for the DIGNITY AS WELL AS COMPLEMENTARITY OF THE SEXES.
In the war for the “equality of sexes”, the equality of the sexes is sometimes confused to mean that both the sexes are alike or have the same capacities, functions and/or purposes. On the contrary, we know that the male and female sex is quite different and that is what attracts them. What is equal is their DIGNITY.
Therefore you will see it said in the Scriptures that women are physically the “weaker sex” but again that in Christ “there is neither male nor female” meaning to say that the differences in the sexes are willed by God – “male and female he created them” – at the same time they do not impede but give meaning to His purpose for them.
In Genesis we read of the “helper” that God made for Adam. Who would be a better helper – a man or a woman? If Adam needed help in the field obviously a man would be a better helper. But since God was talking of a different kind of a “helper”, he made Eve, someone who would complement and complete Adam and, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, co-operate in the work of bringing forth offspring.
So you see, man and women both have their proper purposes and that this comes to them from God.
Strength in man and beauty in woman are two complementing qualities that attract them to each other, especially in their youth, the season in their life when they look for a life partner. When these God given qualities are exploited in a lust for power, money or control over the other, you will see that a man misuses his strength to be terror and woman her beauty to be a seducer.
Quite in tune with this we recognize that man is weak in front of woman’s beauty just as woman is weak in front of man’s strength. This is where our discussion on modesty fits in.
In the creator’s plan, it is man’s weakness for the woman’s beauty that helps a wife draw her husband to herself. If not for this, a woman could do little, if anything, to draw her man so that the “two become one”. That is why the Fathers of the Church did not regard outward adorning, braiding, or attire as outright sinful if it was meant to attract her husband, even though they praised still highly the “imperishable jewel of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight, is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4-5). On the contrary they considered it immodest and sinful to dress and adorn oneself such as to attract the eye of another thereby giving scandal about which our Lord heavily warned (Luke 17:1-2).
There is a way to dress in Church and a way to dress at a function or in the office. But modesty remains essential to all public dressing.
Just as we speak of modesty in women, so we may also speak of decency in men because of the difference in the sexes.
The attire reveals a person (Sirach 19:29-30) and in a worshipping assembly which maintains a sense of the sacred, any attire contrary to the standards of modesty or decency will find no place. Austine Crasta


From the KonkaniCatholics digest nos. 2384 and 2388 of September 27 and October 1, 2010

Dress Code in the Church
In a circular detailing Liturgical Guidelines in the Diocese, the Director of the Diocesan Liturgical Centre in Mangalore has called for the observance of an appropriate dress code in the churches:
In the Church people gather together to worship the Lord. Hence, all that causes distraction to meet the Lord or to pray to Him must be avoided.
In our society, we still consider wearing decent and appropriate attire for weddings, for special parties and certainly for meeting dignitaries. We should then dress in the same way to meet our Lord, present in the holy Eucharist. Frankly, shorts should be worn only by very young children; T-shirts should be kept for picnics; spandex pants and tights should be reserved for exercise… In deciding what to wear, we should be thinking, I am dressing to meet my Lord and to participate in the mystery of my salvation” – William Saunders.
Have most of our brides and their maids as well as flowers girls forgotten that they are coming into the Church to meet the Lord and receive His blessings? Secondly, those who exercise a ministry in the Church (proclamation of the Word of God, reading the introduction, singing in the choir and psalm, doing offertory collection, joining the offertory procession, Extra Ordinary Ministers of Distributing Holy Communion…) should dress themselves in such a way that they in no way should be a cause distraction to the faithful while exercising their ministry.


From the KonkaniCatholics digest nos. 2384 and 2388 of September 27 and October 1, 2010

The article seems pretty interesting, but extremely difficult to implement. Difficult due to the fact that what is allowed or what is not, is in itself a huge task. As it relies on the area, kind of class of people, tradition etc. The line is very thin as to what is modest, what is ‘Indian’, etc.
A simple saree may seem modest, but not so modest if viewed by some religions as it exposes the woman’s waist etc… this is just an example.




Certain sections of the south, the women wear only a blouse and a *ghagra*kind of clothing below, leaving their midriff open especially the women in the fields etc, even in the Andaman and Nicobar islands some Christians have only that much. They are less privileged and may never know ‘our’ level of modesty when it comes to clothing, even if they wanted to, they may not afford to buy those ‘modest’ clothes to wear.

In such a scenario, where the majority wear this kind of clothes will the priests of that parish now redefine ‘modest clothing’? Or will he simply disallow someone who has actually worn ‘modest’ (our urban idea of modesty) clothes to enter the church?
I have personally observed what may seem modest to a certain area in the Bandra (Mumbai) area may not be so modest to a Mira Road (Mumbai) area. Thus, within a small area itself there is difference in opinion. The class that a person belongs to, may have influence on what he or she views modest or not according to me.
The only solution I can probably see is that men and women at church are made to sit separately with a clear barrier; this should solve the problem of distraction. This used to be practiced long, long ago. It is still practiced by certain religions. I do know this would create other problems (like family not able to sit together etc.) but it could very well solve the problem of ‘distraction’. Rohit D’Almeida

In our parish here in Mumbai, the dress code was implicated somewhere in February 2010. The dress code here is not only for the women but also for the men. Women must come appropriately and modestly dressed so that no one gets disturbed. No sleeveless, 3/4th pant, tight jeans, or tee shirts allowed. No jewellery that is distracting should be worn. The lectors and the Eucharistic ministers have to be extra cautious in their dress code as they are the representative of the church. Men are not allowed to wear tee shirts with slogans, tight jeans or low waist trousers and no earrings or tattoos to be shown.
I think this is perfectly right, as we come to church to pray and not distract others. The Church must have this sanctity and I don’t think it is difficult to maintain this for just 30 – 45 minutes of service that we attend.
Even after being told there are a few who still do not follow the dress code, and I think it is for the parents, friends and parishioners to correct them otherwise today’s kids will never know the values, traditions, and sanctity of the church.
We all need to know that the church is not a place for Fashion shows. Maria Myra


From the KonkaniCatholics digest no. 2481 of January 6, 2011

I think the fact is that either
1. our priest do not strongly state the fact to people entering into mixed marriages, that they are canonically bound not to remarry in any other tradition
2. the people marrying do not tell the priest about their plans to have such marriages
3. the fact that the child of such unions should be brought up as a Catholic, is conveniently forgotten, naturally, when parents do not follow a particular faith, how can they imbibe faith in their children?
Recently while on my holidays, I was told that one boy whose parents I know well, is getting married to a non catholic girl, I believe, that the catholic marriage was last on the agenda, and they had other marriage ceremonies (more than one). The question is, who would bring this to the notice of the priest?
I could not do it, because, of various reasons, one of them being that they may have felt that i did it because i was not invited,
To top this you should have seen the way the bridesmaids were dressed. (Well Orlem church is right alongside a busy road, and I happened to pass by, and saw this, and then realised who was getting married)
I sometimes feel that we should have security at the gates and not allow the ill dressed people to enter, mostly because of the dis-respect it shows towards God’s holy place, secondly, every one watching wonder what we Catholics actually do in church? Salvador Fernandes


Is it appropriate for a Catholic parish to institute a dress code for Mass that requires minimum standards of modesty?


Adoremus Bulletin
Online Edition – Vol. IX, No. 7, October 2003

Wide-ranging questions on the Liturgy were answered by Cardinal Francis Arinze at a conference in July sponsored by the Apostolate for Family Consecration.

That is to demand that people must dress well before they get into the church. Well, it is a question of prudence. Perhaps it can work. Although in the world of today there are some people that are so unreasonable that if you try to push this, sometimes the person operating it gets a nervous breakdown.

However, there are some cases where there is such an offense against modesty that absolutely such people should not be allowed into a church building. Some break all the rules of common sense. But it is not the sort of thing you like to impose from Rome. It is the sort of thing that you like to leave to the good sense of those who look after a particular Church.


Dressing with Dignity


By Colleen Hammond

In this ground-breaking book, ISBN: 9780895558008, 138 pages, paperback, Colleen Hammond challenges today s fashions and provides you the information you need to protect yourself and your loved ones from the onslaught of tasteless, immodest clothing.



Colleen Hammond shares real-life examples of how women can accentuate the grace and beauty of their femininity, and she shows that modest definitely does not mean frumpy!! Dressing With Dignity covers it all . . . The history and forces behind the changes in fashion. How to talk to teenagers about the privilege of femininity so they will want to dress with dignity. How to awaken chivalry in men and be treated with respect. How to regain and teach the lost charm of interior and exterior femininity! How to dress in an attractive, dignified, classy manner! Specific documents about manners of dress from the Magisterium, the Popes and the Saints. Comprehensive guidelines for choosing tasteful attire. Resources on where to find beautiful, modest clothing. And much, much more!

Colleen Hammond originally lived the American Dream as an actress, model, and network anchor for The Weather Channel before reverting to her Catholic faith and becoming a mother. She is now an award-winning writer, radio and television host, and educator. She currently hosts the “St. Joseph Radio Presents” program on WEWN, and encourages thousands of people to live out their Catholic faith daily. Mrs. Hammond is also a frequent speaker at conferences and retreats, addressing topics such as marriage and Catholic virtue. She resides with her husband and four children in North Texas.

Wearing Pants Incites Men to Lust

By Colleen Hammond

Learn how women’s fashions have corrupted, how evil forces are behind most modern fashions, and much more! Includes practical advice.



From Chapter 3 —
Corruption of Fashions

“And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons… And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, garments of skins, and clothed them.” – (Genesis 3:7, 21)

Evidently, the “aprons” that Adam and Eve made for themselves didn’t provide enough coverage in God’s eyes, so He made them garments of skins and dressed them properly. Have you ever wondered what those skin garments looked like? You can bet they weren’t those skimpy “Tarzan-and-Jane” outfits seen in the movies.

In the verses from Genesis cited above, the Latin Vulgate uses the word tunicas. Even for someone not well versed in Latin, I think it’s obvious that that word means “tunic.” The Hebrew word used is ktnvt, the root of which means “cover.”

Tunics of pre-Christian biblical and ancient Roman times were flowing garments that extended past the knees and covered the arms and shoulders. I feel pretty confident that, after that whole embarrassing issue in the Garden with the Serpent, Adam and Eve made sure their children and grandchildren all dressed modestly.

Adam and Eve lived long enough to see many generations of their children grow up and have children of their own. Scripture tells us that Adam died shortly before Noah was born. Imagine Adam and Eve’s grief at having to watch their children grow up, knowing that, because of their sin, their children would never experience anything like Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden. Right down to today, children often have to suffer because of the sins and mistakes of their parents.

I think that another outcome from that incident in Paradise is that women have an inordinate interest in clothing. Yes, we can’t deny it! I can just imagine women in Moses’ day gossiping about what the other women were wearing. Not only that: simply consider how much and how often women’s fashions change compared to men’s. But that doesn’t mean that men don’t have their own frivolous pastimes. Look at how many men have gotten overly involved in competition and sports, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. ESPN. Need I say more?

I think it’s because of women’s interest in clothing that we even have a record to trace. There are historians who have kept track of this stuff! Let’s take a look.

From the time of Adam and Eve, men and women have dressed with dignity. Straight through the era of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and King David, women all wore long, flowing, graceful “tunics” that covered their shoulders and usually their arms and extended to the ground, and they would wear some sort of veil to cover their heads.

Early pagan Greek women wore long flowing robes and gowns, with their heads covered with some sort of veil or hair ornament. The garment was called a chiton (begins with a “k” sound and rhymes with “tighten”). The basic male garment was also the chiton, but it was usually only knee-length. The chiton was made of a rectangle of fabric which was fastened at the shoulders and belted at the waist. The garment could be either sleeved or sleeveless. Both styles were very graceful.

In Rome, the women wore a floor-length sleeveless tunic (men wore a knee-length tunic), over which they wore a floor-length stola, which was a tunic-type garment with sleeves. It was belted at the waist, and in public they would finish off their outfit with an elegant veil.

Basic styles in the Christian West didn’t change much for centuries. From the historically accepted “Fall of Rome” in 476 A.D. until the time of the Crusades, the wealthier women wore elegant gowns that reached the floor, complete with long sleeves and often a veil, especially for married women. Marriage often meant a change in hair style too: from loose and flowing to pinned up in some type of a bun. Women would sometimes wear two tunic-type garments, one over the other.

The veil was worn over a wimple, a piece of white fabric which covered the head and neck and sometimes even the chin. Cloistered nuns still wear a wimple (as in photos of St. Therese of Lisieux.) The Collettine Poor Clares simplified their wimple in the early 20th century so that it no longer covers their chin.

A “girdle,” which was a belt or sash worn over the tunic, was gracefully wrapped around the waist or over the hips.

It wasn’t until the late 1500’s that fashions became more ornate, although the basic clothing remained the same: long gowns, long sleeves, with some sort of head-covering. Think of “Elizabethan England,” with the ruffle around the neck and large “leg-of-mutton” sleeves, and you’ll get a good idea of what they were wearing during that time period. Lots of attractive embroidery and beautiful decoration were also included on the clothing. Instead of wimples, women wore fancy head-dresses of various styles, sometimes with a veil attached to the back.



Around this time, the corset was introduced. This was a stiff undergarment that shaped the bodice and narrowed the waist. The corset would become one of the classic elements of women’s clothing. In some fashion eras, it was used in order to achieve a very tiny waist size.

A “fashion revolution” took place around the time of the French Revolution (1789-1804) and Napoleon Bonaparte (1804-1815), with Napoleon’s wife Josephine setting a trend of high-waisted dresses with straight, boyish silhouettes and flattened bust lines. This is also the “Jane Austen” look, as seen in movies like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility: high waist, low-cut bodice, long straight skirt, long narrow sleeves or short puffy sleeves or a combination of both. Also notable in women’s clothing at this time period were more masculine trimmings and accessories, such as top hats instead of bonnets, and military braid on their garments. This “fashion revolution” didn’t last long, as women’s fashions soon returned to their traditional styles.

In the young United States of America at this time, waistlines were usually at the natural waistline and styles were fancy. Men were wearing ruffled shirts, tight knee-breeches and powdered wigs, as seen in portraits of George Washington.

In the mid-1800’s, skirts became very full, with hoops and crinoline petticoats underneath. Photos of ladies during the Civil War show this style. Men were wearing top hats. Then came the bustle at the back of the dress. A few years later before and after the year 1900, the styles featured wide shoulders with large (sometimes enormous) sleeves, and tiny waists. (There’s the corset again!)

Incidentally, in all of this discussion about fashions, we’re talking about what is worn by good women, which has historically meant women who are chaste, whether married or unmarried. On the other hand, women who are making a living by living an openly unchaste life have historically worn clothing that is intentionally immodest and sexually provocative.

At the beginning of the 1900’s, the styles start to look a little more familiar to us, a little more “modern.” Hemlines move up a few inches above the ankle, and fashions are overall simpler than before.

You’ll notice that one theme has remained constant in women’s fashions during the six thousand years of human history: Women wore loose, flowing, feminine gowns that reached the floor, usually with long sleeves and some sort of head covering or hair ornament. But fashions were about to change radically, and not just in the amount of fullness or the length of the skirt. So what happened?

Women’s clothing trends followed roughly the same pattern as the trends in society (and helped to shape those trends.) Social scientists point to the Industrial Revolution (starting roughly around 1800) – which enabled women to work outside the home. Then in the year 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, giving women the right to vote. The Roaring Twenties were the period when we start to see a dramatic departure from the classic style of dressing!

Short hair and the boyish silhouette of the flapper look, with skirts raised to the knees and sleeveless bodices, emerged for women. But where did those unprecedented styles and ideas come from? Certainly not from the past few thousand years of human history. Yes, the times were changing – but one particular woman pushed them to change faster.

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, who would become famous under the name of Coco Chanel, played a very important role in the change of women’s fashions. It has been said that she revolutionized women’s fashions. By the way, the perfume “Chanel No. 5” was named after Coco Chanel.

Coco Chanel’s personal life was tragic, beginning with the death of her mother and abandonment by her father by the time she was 12. At 17, she moved to an orphanage run by nuns. Later, she picked up her nickname when she went through a short career as a dancer, actress and cabaret singer. Her affair with a wealthy man financed her first hat business, located in Paris.

Another boyfriend, Arthur (“Boy”) Capel, financed her expansion from hats to clothing. Her early fashions were women’s clothing made out of wool jersey (stretchy knit fabric, not woven) – which had been used only for men’s underwear – and she used it to make clingy dresses. Those sexy, clingy styles brought her the beginning of her success. Coco would also make outfits for herself out of men’s sport coats and ties.

During World War I (1914-1918), the German occupation of Northern France meant the fashion business in Paris was cut off for some years. But shortly after the Great War, Chanel was back in business. By the 1920’s, Chanel’s fashion house had expanded considerably, and her short, straight dress set a fashion trend with its “little boy” look.

One evening, Coco accidentally scorched her hair with a curling iron before going to the Paris Opera. She cut her hair very short and went to the opera anyway. Her short hair style, known as “bobbed” hair, became a trend.

About that same time, designers Yves Saint-Laurent and Courreges introduced dressy pantsuits for women. However, nearly all women rejected the idea of wearing pants, and designers didn’t try that again until much later.

As mentioned, Coco Chanel was very influential on the fashion scene. In addition to the bobbed hairstyle and the unisex style of dressing, she introduced the “little black dress,” the use of clingy knits, slacks (in her own wardrobe) and women’s bathing suits. Wait…bathing suits? That’s right.

The ancient Greeks and Romans practiced “bathing” (swimming) in bath houses. These places became recreational centers where men would also meet, discuss current events, etc. Bathing for men and women was separate, and mixed bathing was even condemned by Emperors Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, and in the Eastern Roman Empire by Justinian I. Some may say that it was different in Ancient Rome since people swam in the nude – but have you been to the beach lately? What I’ve seen some women wearing isn’t that far from nudity!

Separate bath houses for men and women continued in one form or another through the centuries. By the 1400’s, mixed swimming occurred in some establishments, and these places were known for their promiscuity. Mixed bath houses were considered hotbeds of vice, as only women with loose morals would swim in mixed company. Actually, the word “stew” originally meant bath house but came to be another name for a brothel.

Over the centuries, respectable bath houses continued to be separate. Before the mid-18th century, mixed swimming was condemned by Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims as an occasion for vice. From the latter half of the 1800’s, women who went bathing – usually outdoors – wore an elaborate bathing outfit which included sleeves, a skirt, and loose pantaloons to below the knee. The fabric used was basically the same heavy fabric used in other clothing – so today we would hardly even consider such an outfit a “real” bathing suit.



But Coco Chanel introduced a bathing suit made out of lightweight, clingy jersey; it still had long sleeves, extended past the knees, and was covered by a long skirt. This sounds like plenty of coverage to us now, but back then the suit caused quite a stir…and a fair share of scandal.

In 1931, movie mogul Samuel Goldwin hired Chanel as fashion manager for the stars. However, the divas of the day apparently did not like Chanel’s unglamorous clothing. Also, filmgoers wanted to escape the Depression by watching movies that featured stars wearing beautiful clothing. Due to her affair with a German officer, Chanel fell out of favor. She spent 15 years in Switzerland in exile.

During World War II (1939-1945), women in the U.S. worked in factories, where they would wear trousers and coveralls. But outside of the workplace, women kept their feminine style of dressing.

In 1946, a bomb was dropped in the fashion world. It was called the bikini. I always wondered where the name “bikini” came from, and amazingly enough, I found out through an article written in 1997 by Steve Rushin in Sports Illustrated.

Rushin relates that Louis Reard, a French automotive engineer who was running his mother’s lingerie business, named his new two-piece, “atom-sized” swimsuit after the testing site of the atomic bomb in the Pacific Ocean: Bikini Atoll. Since the bikini was so tiny, none of the models in Paris would wear it on the fashion runways. So, according to Rushin, Reard hired Micheline Bernardini, whose regular job was as a nude dancer at the Casino de Paris. She “had no qualms” about strolling down the runway in this bathing suit.

Rushin continues:

The world took notice. In Catholic countries – Spain, Portugal, and Italy – The bikini was banned. Decency leagues pressured Hollywood to keep it out of the movies. One writer said it’s a “two piece bathing suit which reveals everything about a girl except for her mother’s maiden name.”

At first, the bikini was rejected in the U.S. by the “prudish Americans,” and a 1954 issue of Vogue magazine featured a swimsuit with matching jacket as “still another way of looking dressed, not undressed.” As recently as 1957, Modern Girl magazine sniffed, “It is hardly necessary to waste words over the so-called bikini, since it is inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing.”

Other bikini “landmarks” in the U.S. would be the song “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” which came out in 1960, and the movie Beach Party, starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon (1963). This movie, which was followed by several sequels, featured young women dancing in bikinis on screen. Interestingly, Annette Funicello herself refused to wear a bikini in any of her movies, though she occasionally wore a two-piece suit. Her fellow actress, Donna Loren, also refused, saying, “I don’t believe in going up there, sticking a bikini on and shaking around.”

(… Several paragraphs omitted …)

Advertising agencies quickly prepared marketing research to find out the reaction of men to a woman wearing pants. Do you know what they found? Using newly developed technology, they tracked the path that a man’s eyes take when looking at a woman in pants. They found that when a man looked at a woman in pants from the back, he looked directly at her bottom. When he looked at a woman wearing pants from the front, advertisers found that his eyes dropped directly to a woman’s most private and intimate area. Not her face! Not her chest!

Advertisers figured out a long time ago how to apply Gestalt psychology and the Law of Closure and the Law of Good Continuation when divising advertising that is aimed at men. Gracious, what does all of that mean? It means that the eye will follow a line, and a viewer will complete the picture with his or her imagination. Think of the little AOL logo man. A stick figure, right? But we all know what he’s doing.

Advertisers know that the same holds true when a man views a woman wearing slacks or a skirt with slits. Men’s eyes will follow the lines right up her legs and finish the picture in their imagination. Women’s eyes may do the same thing, but since women don’t have the same type of temptations, their imaginations don’t complete the picture in the same way as men’s do.

I have received letters and emails from men who had read the first edition of the book and wanted me to tell women that they didn’t need that marketing study to tell them what they already knew: When a woman is wearing pants, a man’s eyes will (much to his embarrassment) fall to a woman’s crotch. These men also pointed out that it is something that happens without their wanting to do it, or without their realizing it. It’s the nature of men “to look” … and they do! By the way, you’ll notice that, in ads, models in trousers will sit with their legs far apart. This isn’t being done by accident.

For the rest of the chapter which discusses fashion trends from 1960 – present, plus 6 MORE fascinating chapters, visit TANBooks.com!





Manila archdiocese imposes dress code for Mass


July 22, 2007

Complaints by churchgoers that some of the faithful have not been dressing up properly for Mass has led the Catholic Archdiocese of Manila to come out with a dress code for churchgoers.

In a circular addressed to all parish priests, chaplains and rectors of shrines in the archdiocese, Father Godwin Tatlonghari, assistant minister for liturgical affairs said that the archdiocese has been receiving many requests for it to come up with. These requests “usually cite the increasing number of people who come to church to attend Mass or other liturgical functions garbed in a way that disrespects the sanctity of the House of God and the sacredness of the Liturgical Celebration”, the circular said.

Posters of the proposed dress code have been distributed to parishes, which have been asked to post them at areas that can be easily viewed by churchgoers.

Listed as proper attire for going to Mass are collared shirts or T-shirts, jeans or slacks, polo or long-sleeved shirts for men, and collared, long-sleeved blouses, dresses and long gowns for women. Corporate attire or office or school uniforms are also described as acceptable.

Clothes prohibited inside the church are caps, jerseys or undershirts and shorts for men, and spaghetti-strap or tank tops and other sleeveless blouses, plunging necklines and skimpy shorts and skirts for women.

But the dress code is a mere “guideline” and “violators” will not be instantly ejected from church premises, clarified the archdiocese’s social communications director, Peachy Yamsuan. Ms Yamsuan said the guidelines have been issued so that the Catholic faithful – from the parish priest down to the ordinary parishioner – would be aware of the appropriate clothes for Mass and other church services.

“Asking those not dressed properly to step out of the church would be un-Christian; on the other hand, making minute specifications such as how long a shirt or pair of pants should measure so as not to be considered indecent would be Pharisaic,” Yamsuan said.

She said Father Tatlonghari clarified to her that church laws did not specify the correct attire for a churchgoer but reminded the faithful to be garbed in reverence, propriety and decency as befitting a liturgical celebration. She said the issuance of the guidelines has so far been well received by both clergy and lay people. Ms Yamsuan said the enforcement of the guidelines would be up to the parish priest and lay leaders.

A woman wearing a spaghetti dress, a dress showing too much of her cleavage or any tight-fitting dress, should be given a warning to dress properly next time, Ms Yamsuan said. “When she goes up to receive Holy Communion, she may be given a shawl to cover herself by anybody in charge of the liturgical service or any concerned parishioner,” she added.

Ms Yamsuan said even articles of clothing mentioned as acceptable in the list could still be considered improper if, for example, they are too tight, translucent or too brightly coloured.


Dress Code for Mass Reasonable to Some, Unacceptable to Others


July 24, 2007

Women are refraining from wearing shorts and clothes with plunging necklines to church, but others believe people should dress as they please, despite Manila archdiocese’s new guidelines on proper Mass attire.

Lanelyn Carillo, a 30-year-old office worker, says she became “conscious” of the way she dresses for Mass after seeing a poster outside the church showing what is and what is not “appropriate attire.”

She told UCA News on July 5 after Mass at Saint John the Baptist Church in Quiapo, downtown Manila, she used to go to Mass in jeans and a shirt, but she carefully picked a top with sleeves on that Sunday. “I believe the guidelines will strengthen” the respect Filipinos have for a “holy place,” she added.

Posters outside the church list and illustrate “proper attire” for Mass. Other parishes in the archdiocese have displayed the posters since June 19 when its Ministry for Liturgical Affairs (MLA) gave the guidelines to priests.

Men are asked to wear collared shirts with sleeves, and jeans or slacks, but caps, sports jerseys and shorts are “improper.” For women, collared blouses, dresses, skirts, “corporate or office attire or school uniforms” are advised.

The list also provides examples of “improper” attire for women at church — blouses with spaghetti straps or tank tops, miniskirts or skimpy shorts, sleeveless dresses or those with revealing necklines.

In Carillo’s view, there is “nothing wrong” with dressing up “the way you want yourself to be seen by others,” though such “freedom” has limits.

On July 6 at Our Lady of the Abandoned Church in Marikina City, east of Manila, 64-year-old Lito Limbo criticized the dress code as an “unacceptable” imposition. “What is in the person’s heart is more important,” he told UCA News. Limbo also expressed concern that the dress code would lead to a further “decline” in the number of churchgoers.

The Church’s National Filipino Catholic Youth Survey of 2002 described most Filipino Catholic youths as “nominal Catholics.” Some 44.9 percent of Catholic Filipinos aged 13-39 reported “seldom practicing their faith,” and up to 3.8 percent said they “never practice their faith.” The survey defined “nominal Catholics” as people living their faith in a “personal way,” such as by praying or doing good deeds, yet “very seldom” going to church for Mass.

But Tonton Casado, an MLA program assistant, told UCA News on July 19 that parishioners asked the MLA in June to issue guidelines on proper Mass attire.

Priests shared the feedback of parishioners at archdiocesan clergy meetings before deciding to draft the guidelines. Father Godwin Tatlonghari, MLA’s assistant minister, issued a circular letter containing the guidelines on June 19 to parish priests, chaplains and shrine rectors in the archdiocese.



According to the circular, parishioners themselves had asked priests to take note of the “increasing number” of people attending Mass and other Church functions “garbed in a way that disrespects the sanctity of the House of God and the sacredness of the liturgical celebration.”

Corazon Yamsuan, Manila archdiocese’s communications director, told UCA News on July 13 that the liturgical ministry did not discuss sanctions, such as refusing Communion or entry to churches. “Parishes may choose to just talk individually to those who are not in proper attire, but only to remind them,” Yamsuan said. The guidelines were issued as a “reminder” to churchgoers about the “proper attitude” or “disposition” in church and at Mass, she explained.

The media have discussed questions about penalties parishioners may face.

In Cebu City, 565 kilometers southeast of Manila, Monsignor Esteban Binghay told reporters that pastors tend to be “considerate” about how people dress depending on their situation. If the church is near a park or public place, he said, people understandably come to Mass dressed for a picnic.

He also said that some laborers, especially in the construction industry, work even on Sundays and want to attend Mass. He said undershirts and shorts may seem “improper” in one context but are alright in another. He stressed that improper dress could “distract” the congregation but is not sinful.

Monsignor Cayetano Gerbolingo, Cebu cathedral’s administrator, told UCA News that he favors giving parishioners “fatherly advice” and cautions priests against “humiliating” Massgoers.


Modesty at Mass is a must – The Importance of Dressing for God, Not the Culture


By Jim Graves, Register correspondent, September 16, 2011

Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago, the archbishop of Leon, Mexico, has called on Catholics to dress respectfully when attending Mass. He made the request while speaking to reporters this summer after he was asked why posters were placed at the entrances of Leon parishes requesting that women not enter wearing miniskirts, sleeveless shirts or low-cut blouses. The archbishop said, “If you have any respect for [a church], dress appropriately. This is not a misogynist attitude of any sort. I am simply asking for the dignity and decorum that this place calls for, that is all.”

He added that men, too, need to be respectful in their choice of dress before entering a house of worship.

Bishops in other parts of the world have stressed the need for appropriate dress in church as well. In 2007, the Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines, issued a dress code for Mass, which included posters for parishes indicating appropriate dress. Davao, Philippines, Archbishop Fernando Capalla has made a point of reminding his parishioners of the code, stating, “Everyone should be able to dress up simply and decently [but not necessarily] elegantly for Mass. … Beach wear and working-out outfits are not for solemn and sacred celebrations like the Mass.”

More than just making a request, the Vatican has insisted that tourists visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome adhere to a strict dress code. Pictorial signs explaining the dress code are on display at entrances; men and women in shorts or with bare shoulders (e.g. wearing tank tops) are routinely turned away by the Swiss Guards.

The primary motivation for such policies, say those in leadership roles in the Church, is to promote the virtue of modesty. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers several paragraphs on the topic of modesty (2521-2524), saying in part: “Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. … Modesty inspires a way of life that makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.”

Many of the popes have spoken out about the importance of modesty, including Pope John Paul II in his book Love and Responsibility: “Man, alas, is not such a perfect being that the sight of the body of another person … can arouse in him merely a disinterested liking which develops into an innocent affection.”

Chastity/modesty speaker and Catholic Answers’ apologist Leah Darrow, once a successful model and contestant on America’s Next Top Model, added, “Although the Church has no dogmatic teaching on modest dress, it exhorts us to use common sense. If we are invited to a gala event, we don’t dress like we were invited to a beach party. Christ himself has invited us to partake in the sacred banquet of the Eucharist. Should not our attire and our reverent actions reflect where we are and who we are in the presence of? Reflect upon the Crucifixion; the invitation has been sent. Let us respond promptly and appropriately.”

It was a desire to teach her teenage daughter the virtue of modesty that led Martha Fernandez to request a dress code be adopted at her parish, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sacramento, Calif.

Fernandez went to the pastor, Father Lino Otero, and asked if she could place dress-code signs, similar to those at the Vatican, at the church entrances. He agreed.

The sign indicates that shorts, bare shoulders and tight clothing are not appropriate for church. The feedback in the two years since the policy was implemented has been universally positive. In fact, two neighboring parishes, Divine Mercy and St. Joseph, also in Sacramento, copied Fernandez’s signs and implemented the dress policy as well.

It was director of religious education and parishioner Irene Ogbonna’s idea to bring the code to St. Joseph. Such a code is important, she believes, because it reflects a respect the individual has for the Mass, and immodest dress can be a distraction to others.

Ogbonna liked the idea of a sign, because it relieved the pastor or fellow parishioners of the job of verbally sharing their concerns about the way people dress for Mass. She said, “It’s a gentler approach. It can be difficult for a priest to address such a topic.”

But such codes are not always well received. Father Gregory Pilcher, pastor of Holy Redeemer Church in El Dorado, Ark., has a dress code that allows parishioners to wear casual clothes, provided they are “clean, neat and modest.” The policy is posted on the parish website, in the parish bulletin and has been announced from the pulpit. But some have refused to comply with the directives.



In response to one family, Father Pilcher said, “I asked them if it would be okay if I wore only a bathing suit with the right liturgical colors to celebrate Mass. But my argument didn’t work; they insisted what I wore wouldn’t matter either.”

Overall, most of the parish’s 300 families have been supportive.

Father Anthony Stubeda, pastor of Holy Family Church in Silver Lake, Minn., requests church modesty from his 738-member parish via a parish bulletin insert entitled “Modest and Appropriate Dress for Mass and Other Church-Related Activities.” Among other things, it declares that “dressing up for Mass is not out-of-date” and asks parents to monitor the dress of their children. It concludes, “Blame Adam and Eve! Ever since their fall, nakedness has been a spiritual issue. We are not living in paradise, where sin and temptation do not exist and nothing can harm us and others; we are living in a world where temptations and sin are a reality.”

Recognizing it can be a sensitive subject, Father Stubeda likes to use humor when addressing the issue. He said, “When the issue arises, I tell our parishioners, ‘We like seeing you in church — just not so much of you.'”

But the impetus for requesting modest dress often does not come from him, he noted, but from the parishioners themselves, particularly parents. He said, “They get concerned that people wear clothes to church that are too informal and too revealing. They ask me to say something, and I do.”

Silver Lake is a small town in southern Minnesota and is part of the Diocese of New Ulm. Father Stubeda is also pastor of St. Pius X in Glencoe, where he also stresses the importance of modesty in church. He said, “Our society has changed in regards to its attitudes on dressing up. That said, it’s not going to hurt anyone to wear a pair of long pants for the time it takes to go to Mass. I tell people, ‘We want you here; we just want you to be respectful and dress appropriately.'”

For Msgr. Christopher Nalty, pastor of Good Shepherd Parish in New Orleans, dressing appropriately for church is one in a list of 14 rules of “Good Church Etiquette” he distributes annually to parishioners. The list also asks that parishioners arrive on time and stay for the entire Mass (as he likes to say, “Only one person left the Last Supper early”), genuflect towards the Blessed Sacrament, join in the singing, listen to the reading, prepare properly for holy Communion, and avoid “chit-chat which distracts others who are connecting with God through prayer before Mass.”

In general, he has had few problems with parishioners: “Fortunately, the parish has a good sense of modesty without my needing to say anything.”

Modesty at MassAppropriate attire for the faithful at Mass is needed to respect the sanctity of the Holy Sacrament


By Msgr. Charles Pope, Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly, July 17, 2013 See also page 166

Question: Why is there no dress code in the Church? There is immodesty and a lot of overly casual dress for the miracle that takes place. —Lois Doelz

Answer: There is an understandable concern today about the way many people dress for Mass. There are double issues of modesty and also of people attending in clothes that seem far too casual for the holiness of the Mass and of God’s house.

The problem begins as a cultural one. The fact is Americans seldom dress up any more for anything. Even many work places that once featured uniforms and/or suits and dresses, have become very casual. Modesty, too, is a cultural problem that includes clothes that are often too tight or revealing.

Now culture is very influential for most — often, sadly, more influential than faith. Deep faith would seem to inspire a devotion and sense of the sacred for the holy liturgy and for God’s house. But due to poor formation in many, the influence of culture prevails and most think little of how they dress when going to Holy Mass. Frankly most do not intend any irreverence, but simply dress without a lot of thought.

Thus a problem in issuing a dress code is that there is a range of acceptable views on clothing. In fact the word “modesty” comes from the word “mode” referring to the middle of some range of views.

And, frankly, standards vary across time and cultures and especially regarding age. I have often found that many younger people are surprised to hear that what they wear might be considered irreverent and express a little irritation. Older folks (such as me) remember different times when standards were different.

That said, a general norm for men might be: trousers, not jeans, a button-down shirt, or at least a T-shirt with a collar, no crazy slogans. For women, a skirt and blouse or dress at knee level or lower is acceptable. Women should avoid low-cut blouses. Sleeveless blouses are debatable.

Perhaps the best we can do is to gently remind all people of the sacredness of the Holy Mass and seek to grow their faith in how special the Mass is. As for modesty, more significant moral issues are involved, but so are greater sensitivities.

It is a very delicate matter for a priest to speak in great detail about women’s fashions. Frankly, we wish older women would take the lead here and speak to younger women. Priests and men can speak to younger men, but here, too, laymen ought to lead in this manner. —Msgr. Charles Pope

Msgr. Charles Pope is the pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian in Washington, D.C., and writes for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., blog at

Send questions to Pastoral Answers, Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750 or to


A Case for a Catholic Dress Code


By Ashley E. McGuire, Editor-in-chief of AltCatholicah, October 20, 2011

In a few weeks, we will start hearing about the coming changes to the Catholic liturgy.





Much to the surprise of the world, the Catholic Church is, in fact, capable of change. There will be a brief period of freak-out, but then everyone will calm down and before we know it, it will be liturgy as usual. People will forget they ever even said “And also with you,” instead of “And with your spirit.” The media will do its schizophrenic thing and claim that the Church is pushing people away with its top-down changes, but before long it will return to blaming the top for refusing to ever change.

What Catholics and the media alike seem to forget is that the Church is evolving all the time, not on fundamental issues of doctrine, but rather in the way the Church engages the culture of which it takes part. And today, the Church in America is a part of a culture where women like to dress like prostitutes, and men like to dress like gangsters and personal trainers.
So I would like to propose that while the Church is changing the liturgy it add another change to the docket: attire at Mass.
The way many people dress to Mass is completely offensive. Strapless tops, cleavage, skirts that hardly cover the derriere, shorts, tracksuits, cut-offs. Tank tops. Midriffs. Minis. How this became acceptable is a mystery. How to change it, is not.
A simple solution could restore churches everywhere to basic dignity: a dress code. Think this is radical? It’s not. The Vatican has one. The Vatican prohibits anyone from entering who is wearing:
· Shorts/skirts above the knee
· Sleeveless shirts
· Shirts exposing the navel
· Shirts for women that expose cleavage
Why don’t all Catholic churches have the same standards? It is the same Jesus Christ present in the tabernacle. It is the same discipleship the priests share with the pope. The human beings on their knees are the same people trying to live lives of holiness and chastity in a world that works to undermine them at every turn.
A Catholic dress code could be instituted with a relatively simple, three-step action plan:
Stage 1—Recruit code enforcement. The priests and deacons would recruit lay women of charitable but forceful demeanor, approximately two per Mass depending on the size of the parish, to enforce the dress code. These women would be trained to stand outside Mass and gently but firmly request those in violation of dress code to change. This stage would likely take eight weeks. I assure you, there would be no shortage of eager volunteers.
Stage 2—Announce the coming change. Just as the Church has been doing with the coming liturgy changes, parishes would include a weekly insert into the bulletin explaining the simple, four-pronged dress code. Priests would alert parishioners at every Mass. (The media would help with its usual hit pieces.) This would be done for four weeks consecutively before dress code beings.
Stage 3—Grace Period. For two weeks there would be a grace period, where the newly trained women would give warnings to those not dressed appropriately that in the future, such attire will not be accepted, but still allow them into the House of God. This allows them to practice confronting those dressed inappropriately and allows the stubborn, skimpy dressers to avoid the humiliation of actually being sent home.
Once the dress-code period becomes official, there will no doubt still be much angst. People will wail and gnash their teeth in their desire to attend Mass dressed in PJs or two-inch skirts. People will claim the Church is so draconian and unwelcoming and that Jesus would never send people away!
Sure, Jesus spent time with residents of the red-light district. But let’s not forget, Jesus also flipped tables in a rage when he saw his Father’s house disrespected. He also reminded us in a parable in a recent gospel that the man who showed up to a royal wedding not wearing the proper attire met a dreadful fate. Jesus was clear throughout the gospels: What you wear matters. He went to his own death in a garment so fine that men gambled for it.
The Vatican is clear, too. So are lots of other houses of worship for that matter. When I was in Egypt, I visited a mosque dressed in what I thought was modest attire. The women at the entrance still took my pashmina from my bag and swaddled my arms so no skin above my elbows was exposed. I was swaddled so tightly I couldn’t move. Women and men whose attire was beyond salvageable were asked to wear a giant, floor-length green sheet with a hole through the top for their head.
Mormon Temples have dress codes. I asked a Mormon friend what would happen if a woman tried to enter a Mormon Temple in a mini-skirt and she said, “In theory, that’s not supposed to happen.”
Oh for the day when mini-skirts in Mass are a thing of theory instead of reality!
Even I am embarrassed of my idea of Sunday Best when my husband and I drive home from Mass. Our route home takes us past a black, Baptist church where the men and women are dressed as if they were going to tea at Buckingham Palace. We often slow down to admire the men in three-piece suits and the women in bright, colorful hats. No exposed boobies or hairy man legs to be found there.
A Vatican insider told me that when a United States Supreme Court Justice showed up for a visit in shorts, he was turned away. On another occasion, a high-ranking woman showed up for an event with the pope in a low-cut top and Vatican officials sewed up her shirt in the car on the ride over. If St. Peter’s can turn away a Supreme Court justice and make a famous woman sew up her blouse for the Pope, then surely our local parishes can ask women to grab a shawl on their way out the door. Heck, put a basket of them inside the
door and hand them out. Just like Jewish synagogues often have flimsy yarmulkes for men who show up with bare heads.
People would freak out about the dress code. And then, suddenly, it would stop. People would move on. Girls would begrudgingly grab that shawl on the way out the door. Parents everywhere would breathe easily again knowing they won’t have to fight their children to dress appropriately for Sunday Mass. And then the House of God would actually start to look like the House of God again.
It’s just an idea.


Sinners, Saints, and Skin: A Lesson on Modesty at Mass from St. Mary of Egypt

By Caitlin Kennel Kim,
January 20th, 2013



Once upon a time there was a Mary. No, not that Mary. A different one. This Mary lived in Egypt at the end of the fourth century. She made her way across the better part of the ancient near east by trading sexual favors to pilgrims for food and lodging. She boasted heartily about her ability to seduce and, if legend bears any truth, her licentiousness knew no bounds (seriously).

Once she followed a procession of pilgrims bearing a piece of the True Cross through Jerusalem to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Donned in clothes meant to advertise her sexual availability, she sauntered among the pilgrims in search of her next conquest. When the procession reached the door of the church, she was barred from entering by a powerful and inexplicable force. Her eyes fell upon on image of the Blessed Virgin Mary and her heart instantly overflowed with humility, love, and repentance. Mary of Egypt (St. Mary of Egypt, to be precise) was suddenly able to enter the church where she worshipped God fervently and joyfully. She was allowed in as she was — dressed in a way meant to elicit lust. She was compelled to enter by that same force which, only moments before, had prevented her entry. She came in with a heart clothed in contrition, adoration, and surrender. She came clothed in dignity.

I have heard many good and holy people express a myriad of prescriptions for proper and modest dress at Mass. Some have told me that it is immodest for a woman to show her shoulders at Mass. Others baulk at hemlines above the knee. Still others suggest that any blouse that reveals a woman’s collarbone is unacceptable. I have heard a few suggest that pants and uncovered hair for ladies is tantamount to scandalizing the clergy. Immodest dress — especially at Mass — is offensive to God. (At this point I am just barely containing my overwhelming desire to launch into a lengthy and unapologetically venomous diatribe about how all of these prescriptions are for WOMEN and, I might add, insulting to men … who apparently lack the wherewithal to avoid the allure of collarbones, kneecaps, and shoulders for an hour at a time. I digress.) I have every confidence that the folks who hold and put forward these ideas do so out of sincere reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. I understand and share their concern that we treat Mass as an exceptional time in our week markedly different from a quick visit to the grocery store or an evening of drinks and dancing with friends.


I don’t think it matters. Not really. Not ultimately, anyway. I don’t think that God is offended by kneecaps or low cut blouses or jeans or sweatpants. God is not a petulant gossip hawk-eyeing us from on high poised to take offense at our fashion faux pas. Our God is the God of hospitality … the God of welcoming the stranger, of touching the untouchable, of embracing the social outcast, of claiming the abandoned, of looking at you and me and all of us for what we are deep down in our marrow (where there is no hiding behind hemlines and sport coats and other outward demonstrations of our supposed piety) and saying, “This is good. I can work with this.”

Just as God compelled St. Mary of Egypt to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre clothed in a way that made her occupation abundantly clear, God desires that all people draw near to him … now. Not when we’re perfect. Not when we finally have our, um, “stuff” together. Right now. Just as we are. Praise God. If you find yourself being critical of the way someone else is dressed at Mass, take a moment to remember the story of St. Mary of Egypt. Say a prayer thanking God for that person’s presence. You might be in the company of a great saint.


Drawing a Hemline: Sexual Modesty and the Pursuit of Wisdom


By Benjamin D. Wiker, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, July/August 2000

I have a suggestion for those in academia who are concerned that women be treated as intellectual equals: Try sexual modesty. Before the lynching party arrives, I hope I will have time to explain.

I have taught at several colleges, one of which has a dress code. To many, a dress code seems old-fashioned at best, a puri-tyrannical breach of our right to freedom of speech at worst. (It should worry us that clothing is considered speech.) But allow me to present two examples—male and female—that illustrate how sexual modesty is related to the pursuit of wisdom.


Immodest Examples

A few years back, in California, there was a young man at a state university who insisted on attending all his classes wearing only a backpack. (If only he had worn a fanny pack!) He was nicknamed “the naked guy.” The presence of this statuesque youth was disturbing. He was not rude, loud, or aggressive. The difficulty? He was sans-culottes, and then some.

The only amusing thing in this matter was that the university could not come up with a violation to pin on him—let alone a place to pin it. After several weeks of cheek-by-jowl conferencing, he was slapped with a sexual harassment charge, even though his mode of “harassing” was entirely passive, and given the boot (and, we hope, a traveling suit as well).

Why could the university not simply invoke the obvious: young men have to wear clothes in public because human beings, especially young women, have trouble concentrating sitting next to a naked man? Why could the university not admit that sexual immodesty directly disturbs the intellectual life? Why could it not draw a hemline and say, “Thus far and no farther”?

Because it had, like so many other academic institutions, abandoned any restrictions in regard to how students must dress. Having embraced both the slovenly and near-naked, the university could not find a way to regulate the naked.

Another example is from when I was teaching at a college without a dress code. I was having students give presentations on the Roman Empire. In one group, a young lady was playing the part of Julius Caesar—do not ask why. She wore a miniskirt made out of less material than a standard eye patch. Needless to say, the young men were not engrossed in her intellectual presentation. I doubt they heard anything she had to say. Her immodesty absorbed their entire attention. As far as they were concerned, she was all body and no mind.

Those who defend such immodesty usually argue that a young woman has a right to wear whatever she wants, and the young men have no right to ogle her. On the contrary: It is not a question of rights but rather of nature. Just as it was natural for young women to be flustered in the presence of “the naked guy,” so it was natural for young men to be flustered oglers in the presence of a near-naked young woman. If he was sexually harassing the women, was she sexually harassing the men?



The Natural and the Conventional

Those who defend such immodesty do not, of course, call it immodest. A little etymology will reveal why. The Latin modestus means “moderate,” as in “keeping within bounds,” and it is derived from modus, which means “a boundary or standard of measure.” Those who have rejected dress codes have done so because they have rejected any boundaries, any standards of measure in regard to sexuality. Standards of dress and sexuality stand and fall together.

The principle normally invoked by the intelligentia for the standardless standard is that clothing is merely conventional, whereas (we assume) skin is natural. The amount and style of clothing differs so drastically from Aborigines to Elizabethans to Americans that any standard is arbitrary. So the argument goes.

But this argument is misaimed. The focus must shift from the clothes, which do vary, to the human beings underneath, who in their essentials do not. Unless we are entirely Gnostic—and I believe that many trendy moderns are, at heart, ancient Gnostics—we must recognize that sexual passion is a human given. It is natural and not conventional.

Further, sexual passion is like any other passion—anger, joy, hunger: it is not continually “on” but becomes aroused. Hence, the barbarous but accurate phrase, “He [or she] turns me on!” This sudden flutter and consequent flow of hormones is natural.

But we are not defined solely by our capacity to feel and express passions. Human beings are, by nature, able to think deeply and come to profound insights. As the politically correct crowd rightly points out, the intellect is not the sole possession of white, western males but is a human endowment, shared universally.


Passion Cancels Intellect

And now the pinch. Science may be brought in to confirm the following, but that would only be to vindicate what almost all of us know by experience. Thinking deeply (which is natural) and sexual desire (which is natural) cancel each other out (which is natural). Our intellectual and sexual attentions are inversely proportional.

This relationship is not confined to sexual passion. Such distraction of the intellect occurs with most other passions as well: “I was so hungry, I couldn’t think”; “I was so angry that I wasn’t able to concentrate”; “He was so sad that his eyes were just running over the page—he may as well not have ‘read’ the book.”

Imagine trying to conduct a seminar an hour past lunch when nobody has eaten since breakfast, when all of the participants are as mad as hornets, or when all are mourning over a fellow student’s recent death. Can we admit that these other passions disturb our ability to think but exclude sexual passion? If anything, sexual passion is a stronger distraction. Thus, the more immodesty, the more distraction.

Furthermore, admit it or not, sexual immodesty not only distracts, it reduces. It reduces especially the young women to something less than they really are. Regardless of the current attempt to equalize sexuality, it has always been the case that the female’s sexuality garners a stronger attraction. A man half-dressed in class will appear ridiculous to the women and disgusting to the men, an embarrassment rather than a source of temptation. But a woman immodestly dressed throws the young men into dry-mouthed confusion. If it were any other way, then selling-by-sex industries, from prostitution to advertising, would not be almost completely dominated by the immodesty of women directed to the insatiable sexual appetites of men.

It is this simple: We are rational animals. The rational aspect of our being distinguishes us as human beings. The animal aspect of our being is the source of the sexual distinction between male and female. The university purports to teach our rational nature, that which least distinguishes male and female, not our animal nature, which is the source of the sexual distinction and the passion of sex. It follows that immodesty exaggerates sexual difference, while modesty allows for the dominance of the intellect where there is the least difference between male and female.


Feminism’s Consequence

This is not an abstract argument. I have seen the difference it makes when the differences between male and female are hidden, so to speak, by the drape of modesty (i.e., because of a dress code). When a young woman would go up to the board to demonstrate a proposition from Euclid, all eyes were focused on the board, and all minds were attentive to her words. If she were wearing a miniskirt, for those who were watching, her natural intellectual powers would have been canceled by her natural sexual powers.

In this regard, and many others, modernity has things backwards. It tries to make sexuality common by making it public and rationality private by making it relative and particular. Thus, we are invited to display our sexuality to everyone (regardless of gender) as if it had, in its origin and goal, the universality of intellectual pursuits, and we are admonished to divide our rationality as if it had the particularities of the body, such as gender. Hence, women’s studies are declared an intellectual province, while philosophy is taken to be provincial.

But against this, modesty in academia allows for the pursuit of wisdom because it does not confuse the universality and commonness of intellectual things with the particularity and exclusiveness of bodily things. The intellect naturally tries to embrace the whole of reality; the body naturally tries to embrace another particular body. The mind is open for the sake of uncovering truth; the body is covered for the sake of opening up to another body exclusively, that of one’s spouse.

This is not a Manichaean position. Modesty acknowledges the body. It does not hide the body because it is ashamed of it; it veils the body because its sexual power is not an appropriate object of public display. Is that not what feminists have been telling us, that they do not want women to be sex objects? They have been right to say so and should follow through with the natural consequence: modesty.

In regard to academia, the need for sexual modesty is a recognition of what should be an obvious, natural truth. Neither males nor females should be distracted from the primary purpose of the university: the formation of the intellect. Whether it be from the fall or from the inherent powerful nature of sexual desire (or both), the presence of sexual passion in the classroom displaces intellectual passion. Institutions owe it to their students to minimize such distractions. Even on the mean level of economics, students are paying tens of thousands of dollars to attend such institutions of higher learning. Why pay for sexual passion? The culture is already saturated with it, and most of it is free. If the university is “selling” itself as offering what cannot be gotten elsewhere, then its focus should be intellectual not sexual.


Don’t wear that Mini to Mass


By Benjamin D. Wiker, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, April 2001 issue of Crisis magazine

As I have not received nearly enough hate mail of late, I thought it best to write something else on modesty, this time modesty at Mass (see my article, “Drawing a Hemline: Sexual Modesty and the Pursuit of Wisdom”). I realize, of course, how delicate this subject is, but I also know that I am not the only one disturbed by immodesty. I am certain that more than a few priests grind their teeth every week in anticipation of having to minister to the inadequately dressed. 

First, we had better be clear about what is meant by immodesty. Immodesty is—and here I hope to quash any gainsaying—the opposite of modesty. Modesty is a sub-virtue of temperance, the virtue concerned with “desires for the greatest pleasures,” as St. Thomas Aquinas said. We are animals, Aquinas noted, and as animals we have a natural desire to preserve ourselves as individuals “by means of meat and drink,” and as a species “by the union of the sexes.” Simply put, like all animals, we naturally desire food and sex—not in the raw, contemporary sense of uncontrollable appetites that must be sated at all costs, but in the ancient, sane sense of desiring to preserve ourselves by nutrition and our species by procreation. Modesty is concerned not with the sexual act itself, but with the public presentation of our sexual nature.

In this article, I am concerned mostly with the immodesty of women rather than that of men at Mass for three reasons. First, we live in a time when women’s fashions, especially miniskirts and skintight blouses, happen to be more immodest than men’s. Such was not always the case. For example, in Chaucer’s “Parson’s Tale,” we hear of “the horrible disordinat scantnesse of clothyng” of the men, who “thurgh hire shortnesse ne covere nat the shameful membres, to wikked entente.” This particular jeremiad by Chaucer’s good parson concerned the tight hosiery worn by the men of the day that left nothing about either the “privee membres” or “the hyndre part of hir buttokes” to the imagination. But today, unless men start wearing bicycle shorts to work and to Church, mainly women partake of such public immodesty. I have yet to see a man in spandex shorts inside a church, but I have seen myriads of miniskirts—worn even by women having their children baptized—and more than a smattering of spaghetti-straps. 

The second reason I shall focus on women is that, to be frank, I am an incurable heterosexual, and I have no idea how immodest fashions on men might affect women. I can only assume that if men took to wearing bicycle shorts to Mass, they might have the same effect on women as miniskirts have on men. 

Third, I think it is true, judging from human history and the sorry march of the naked and half-naked in movies and advertisements today, that women are able to affect men more powerfully by their immodesty than men are able to affect women.

There are several layers of difficulty in discussing immodesty in our culture. I’ve classified them according to the retorts undoubtedly already on the lips of my detractors as they read this article.

The first is, “I have the right to wear whatever I want!” (also known as “Who are you to tell me what I should wear?!”)

The second is, “But that’s what’s in fashion!”

The third is, “That’s your problem, you dirty old man!”

And finally, we have “Well, do you want us to go back to Victorian times, when even the glimpse of a lady’s bare ankle caused a scandal?”


I Can Wear What I Want

To refute the assertion that we have a right to wear whatever we want, imagine the following. Doing your best to concentrate on the great spectacle of divine grace that is about to unfold, you are dutifully and fruitfully praying before Mass—dutifully because you regard attending Mass as a holy obligation wherein you are bound not only to worship God but also to strive for the removal of the impurities that keep you from Him, and fruitfully because you have on this rare occasion penetrated the fog of sloth and distraction that normally envelops your tired soul and are truly feeling the loving presence of Christ.

Into the church I stride, hoofing it proudly down the central aisle right past your pew, sporting a set of antlers from Cervus elaphus, the North American elk. It is an impressive rack, just the kind that sets the does to nudging and whispering—twelve points, not counting the knobs. Be honest. No matter how deeply in prayer you had mercifully fallen, wouldn’t you be jolted completely out of the sweet arms of grace? Wouldn’t you, now kneeling amid the shattered pieces of your holy reverie, say to yourself, “Antlers! That idiot is wearing antlers!”

Further, imagine that I shuffle proudly into the pew right in front of you, fully aware that I had attracted everyone’s attention. And there you are, stuck for the entire Mass, peering through my great rack at the priest. And there you are a bit later at the most holy part of the Mass, the elevation of the consecrated Host, framed for you by those same ridiculous antlers. And then, walking up to receive our precious Lord, you are not piously thinking, “My Lord and my God,” but either impiously cursing or uncontrollably laughing. Your chance to restore your soul is shot for the week.

On the way out, you decide to confront me. (Good for you!) “Why did you wear antlers to Mass?” you ask politely. “Surely you must know everyone was staring at you?”

Immediately, and with a dark and offended glare, I reply, “Who are you to tell me what to wear? I have the right to wear whatever I want!”

Wouldn’t your response be, “Where could you conceive of getting a right to wear antlers? Furthermore, what about my more sacred right—and duty—to concentrate during the Mass? Your display was utterly distracting!”

Let’s step back from our imaginary exercise and ask ourselves: Don’t we have a right not to be drawn away from the Mass? Don’t we also have a very serious moral obligation not to draw others away? If you were at the foot of Mount Sinai, and “the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly,” and “as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder,” wouldn’t you be violating something great, terrible, and holy by dancing in front of people, waving your arms, or shimmying about in an effort to distract them? How much more should we avoid distracting others when God Himself, with a great, terrible, and holy love, becomes our food and drink?


Let’s return to the foyer of the church. I take off my antlers and say, “You are absolutely right, madam, and your miniskirt is every bit as distracting to all the men as my antlers are to you—only worse. Immodest dress is made to be sexually attractive. Why else do they call it ‘sexy’ if not to capture the effect it has on the opposite sex? Whereas there is no biblical commandment about staring at antlers, Christ has warned that ‘everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart’ [Matthew 5:28]. This is the same Christ who said, ‘Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him [or her] by whom they come!’ [Luke 17:1]. If you knew that this very Christ were going to be here today, in person, awful in His power and purity, severe in His demands, steeped in the agony of the crucifixion, and blinding in His resurrected holiness, how would you have dressed? Well, madam, He was here. And I am fairly certain that any conscious attempt to distract or attract others from Him is a most serious offense.”


Short Skirts Are In

So they are, just as second-skin hosiery was the rage for men in Chaucer’s day and bustles and corsets were for women in the 19th century. But what is in fashion at any particular time generally reflects a particular culture’s beliefs and desires. We may always ask whether those beliefs and desires, and the fashions that develop as a result, are worthy. For example, corsets, which caused the near-asphyxiation of many women, should be judged as unworthy. Women were not made to have the waists of wasps, and the attempt to make them so was destructive. Similarly, fashions may betray a culture’s belief that the overt expression of sexual desire be released from the confines of the marital bedroom and let loose in public. Miniskirts are the result of the sexual revolution. Whether any particular woman means to express her solidarity with that revolution or not, her abbreviated clothing speaks for itself.


It’s Your Problem

Am I a dirty old man? We are all dirty—stained with sin, covered with the soot of our continual struggle to climb the purgative hills of this life, soiled by backsliding, and smeared with repentant tears. Such is our condition in this life if we are at all honest about the state of our souls. We are all here to be cleaned, to be washed in the blood of the Lamb in a strange and frightening ritual that, if the veil God mercifully drapes over it were lifted, would drive us all to our knees in dread.

Yes, we are here to be cleaned, not to roll in the ever-more-choking dust of our culture. The culture is obsessed with sex, money, Persian-style luxury, frittering away precious time in shallow entertainments, catering to every cry of the flesh for the most trifling and ignoble pleasures, art that does not elevate, music that excites the savage beast, and a continual circus of violence in our re-paganized theaters. The Church must be a sanctuary of holy sanity, an island of retreat amid the swell and bluster of sensual degradation and intellectual dwarfism. The Mass must save us from mass culture. 

When the vanities of this culture invade the Church, that is a sign of war. And that is why I am as opposed to immodesty as I am to pop music, seedy and utilitarian architecture, flagrant displays of wealth, and every other seepage from out there to in here. We should be evangelizing the culture, not the other way around. We should be making sorties promoting modesty from inside the Church, rather than carrying the indiscreet trappings of the culture within its gates.


Back to Victorian Times?

As C.S. Lewis said, when you are lost, retracing your steps to find your way back to the proper trail is actually progress. For example, why shouldn’t we want to go back to a time when it was safe to walk the streets at night, when our children were not gunning each other down at school, and when men were fighting over women rather than fighting for the right to marry other men?

But returning to the old days is not the issue. There need not be a golden time to which we must refer when trying to reform ourselves morally. The pagan Romans of the early Christian era were just as morally degraded as we are. The Romans’ “good old days” were those of the fifth century B.C., when the famous Twelve Tables of the law commanded that all deformed babies be exposed, and those of the second century B.C., when Cato the Elder instructed farmers to sell slaves too enfeebled by age to work, so as to avoid having to pay for their maintenance. The Christians came to form the Romans into Christians, not to reform them into “old Romans.”

This has always been true for Christians, who are called to a severe standard of holiness in any age. When Christianity baptizes a culture—whenever and wherever that culture may be—the holy waters act not like a comfortable bath but like an acid that eats painfully away at the culture’s cherished sins. That is why Christians of all times are called to be martyrs, for to be a martyr means, first, to be a witness and, second, to take up the cross. We are called to be witnesses to severe holiness, not to blend in with the culture so as not to be noticed—and that includes how we dress. Further, if we are truly witnesses, then we will experience the weight of the cross and the sharp pain of the nails by going against the grain of the culture—and that means that we might be mocked for being out of fashion.

That is why we should not only dress modestly inside a church but outside as well. If what we wear speaks, then it ought to shout loudly and visibly in the near-naked public square that Christians think differently about the body and sexuality from Planned Parenthood, Dr. Ruth, Hugh Hefner, MTV, Madonna, and Dear Abby. We are commanded not to hide our light under a bushel, and certainly a woman cannot hide her modesty under a miniskirt any more than a man can hide his under a pair of bicycle shorts. So it is not a question of going back to Victorian times but of going forward to better times of our own making. 

Modesty, then, is not the gnarled offshoot of some happily bygone age. It is, and always was, one of the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit. These, the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory.” “Purity requires modesty [emphasis added],” the Catechism continues, as “an integral part of temperance,” one of the four cardinal virtues. Far from restricting us, “modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden.” Modesty veils sexuality, not because sexual desire is evil but because the culmination of sexual attraction is properly the privacy of the intimate union of male and female, who become one flesh. With regard to public life, the Catechism says that modesty “inspires one’s choice of clothing.” May these words inspire us all every Sunday (and all the days in between).



My Modesty Guidelines

As I do not think I can skirt the issue (so to speak), I will end with guidelines for achieving modesty at Mass. Although I have used the examples of bicycle shorts for men and miniskirts for women, there are obviously many ways for both sexes to be immodest. Further, while all immodesty is inappropriate at Mass, not all inappropriate clothing is immodest. Antlers are not immodest—they suit the Elks Club quite nicely—but they are inappropriate at Mass. Garish beachwear is likewise inappropriate at Mass, even when it is modest.

At Mass, one obvious rule for both men and women is that clothes should cover the body (which is their function) but not cling to it. That which is skintight—whether pants for men or even a long dress for women—is to the eye, and hence to the imagination, a second skin. Clothes that act as a second skin are too close to revealing the first skin and are therefore immodest at Mass.

Second, how about a knees-to-neck rule? Everything between the knees and the neck should be covered—on both men and women. This frees us from all niggling nit-picking about the exact status of every possible item of clothing. Plunging necklines, rising hemlines, bare midriffs and backs, short shorts, and so on are all taboo. That does not mean that some clothing that violates the knees-to-neck rule might not actually compromise modesty, but the knees-to-neck rule, combined with the loose-clothing rule, would certainly eliminate all immodesty. Drawing the line a little too broadly is better than drawing it too close to an occasion for sin. Better to filter out than let a philter in.

So, see you Sunday. My antlers will be in the trunk of my car, just in case.

Also at
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A Sermon on Modesty and Right Conduct at Holy Mass


By Cardinal Fratelli, November 29, 2012

Preparing for Mass is a wonderful thing, full of anticipation. I look forward to walking beneath dawn’s pinkish light, feeling the chill morning air and hearing bells announce the beginning of yet another day. However, some things I do not look forward to. There comes a time when the teacher must rebuke, when the shepherd must goad his sheep…better now than too late it seems.

When I arrive, rapt in silent reverence to pray the holy liturgy, I notice some others do not share the same view. Some talk loudly on the steps, waiting till the last minute to come worship, others wander the transept as if having nothing else to do, and yet others arrive at holy Mass dressed more fitly for the taverns!

Holy as I strive to be, I am still a man and not immune to carnal distraction. I will without fail notice when a woman approaches with her shoulders and neck exposed. At times, I feel glad that I face away during the most-holy consecration, that I cannot see bands of pale flesh when my mind should be on hallowed things! Shame on you who consider not clothing your daughters in modesty! And shame too, on you young men who present yourselves with wrinkled cuffs, messed hair, smelling of cigar smoke! It is not my duty to lay your dress out for you but if it were, I would teach a lesson in appropriate reverence!

Elder ladies, I look upon you with dignity and respect. Your hair, greyed with wisdom, is a token for us all. But, some of you too have acted shamefully, gathering before the sanctuary after Mass to chatter and improvise daily plans. Have you no parlor or den to gather in? The sacred place isn’t for gathering but for adoration. You rich, you sneer at the poor who behave crudely then proceed to discuss hunting and cards in front of the altar rail! Go elsewhere with it all!

Oh you florists and craftsmen, I admire your works but please do not sell them here! You eloquent speakers and idealists are dear to my heart but find a more suitable place to reveal your dreams. You gentlemen, who wear long coats, feathered hats and medals, can you cross the threshold before donning this finery?

Thus it is written: “You shall worship God with reverence and godly fear for he is a consuming fire.” Even Moses, the greatest forefather, needed to remove his shoes when approaching hallowed ground.

When you gather, be ever mindful that this place is unearthly, be mindful of the lamp of God’s presence, keep prayerful; stay silent. Sing with the harp of your voices at the entering antiphon, speak solely pure words here and only embrace your neighbor at the sign of peace.

“We will go into his tabernacle: We will adore in the place where his feet stood.” (Psalm 132:7) Amen.


The Virtue of Christian Modesty in Dress


In order to please God, we need to seriously study the virtue of Christian modesty in dress, instead of following the trend in wearing the current immodest fashions dictate (e.g. shorts, sleeve-less garments, low necklines, mini-skirts, tight-fitting clothes, lady slacks, …etc.).

First, we will examine a few quotations taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church which gives excellent principles and a thorough definition of Christian modesty:

2521 Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.

2522 Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.



2523 There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.

2524 The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person.

Almost a century ago, the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima warned us of the upcoming problem of immodesty with these solemn words: “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much. … More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” Blessed Jacinta, one of the three visionaries of Fatima said: “Fashion will much offend Our Lord. People who serve God should not follow fashions. The Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same.”

Under the mandate of Pope Pius XI, who began his pontificate five years after the famous Fatima apparitions, the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation of the Council issued emphatic guidelines to all bishops throughout the world on modesty in dress: Donato Cardinal Sbaretti, Prefect of the Congregation of the Council: “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 knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper.”

What about swimwear at the beach? In 1959, Cardinal Pia y Daniel (Archbishop of Toledo, Spain) issued the following directive: “A special danger to morals is represented by public bathing at beaches, in pool and river banks… Mixed bathing between men and women, which nearly always is a proximate occasion of sin and a scandal, must be avoided.” Now as a point of interest, this directive was issued before the infamous bikini arrived on the scene (which of course, would make matters even more serious).

What about lady slacks? As some of us may already know this was one of the after-effects of the sexual revolution in the 1950’s and 60’s, a revolution where sins against purity sky-rocketed, such as using the Pill and other birth control/ contraceptive methods, fornication, adultery, flirting, lustful courting behaviors, the beginnings of pornography in the media, and of course immodest fashions, including for the first time in history- women wearing slacks as something acceptable in society. Women wearing pants has generated a problem which has affected the entire structure of modern society.

It has been reported that on June 12, 1960, Cardinal Siri of Genoa issued a notification warning all the clergy, the teaching sisters, those involved in Catholic Action, and educators in his diocese of the grave dangers in the wearing of pants by women. He said: “The wearing of men’s dress by women affects firstly the woman herself, by changing the feminine psychology proper to women; secondly it affects the woman as wife of her husband, by tending to vitiate relationships between the sexes; thirdly it affects the woman as mother of her children by harming her dignity in her children’s eyes.”

The world renowned Padre Pio, the recently canonized priest saint of our own time who bore the stigmata, and was gifted with such extraordinary charisms, such as prophecy, healing, bi-location, and the reading of hearts—this priest saint refused to grant absolution to any woman who did not wear her dress or skirt well below the knees (at least 8 inches). He also insisted on women not to wear slacks. Why was he so unyielding on these two points? This answer is found in Sacred Scripture. It says in the Holy Bible in the Book of Deuteronomy 22:5 “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.”

In the 1950s, Pope Pius XII spoke often and spoke strongly on the topic of modest dress. He 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)

On another occasion, this same Pope pleaded, perhaps prophetically, with the following words: “0 Christian mothers, if only you knew the future of distress and peril, of shame ill-restrained, that you prepare for your sons and daughters in imprudently accustoming them to live hardly clothed and in making them lose the sense of modesty, you should be ashamed of yourselves and of the harm done the little ones whom heaven entrusted to your care, to be reared in Christian dignity and culture.”

He also said: “There always exists an absolute norm to be preserved, no matter how broad and changeable the relative morals of styles may be…Style may never give a proximate occasion of sin,- and clothing must be a shield against disordered sensuality. ” And finally, one last quotation from the same Pope Pius XII which appropriately sums up this topic: “The virtue of modesty, in general, may be described as that virtue which prompts us to be decorous (in good taste), proper, and reserved, in the way we dress, stand, walk, sit—in general, in the way we behave exteriorly… The virtue of modesty is particularly regarded as the guardian of purity in thought, word, and action…Everyone knows that during the summer months particularly, things are seen here and there which are certain to prove offensive to anyone who has retained some respect and regard for Christian virtue and human modesty…Almost everywhere, on the streets of cities and towns, in private and public places, and indeed, often even in buildings dedicated to God, an unworthy and indecent mode of dress has prevailed… They have lost the very concept of danger; they have lost the instinct of modesty… We must emphasize in the strongest possible language that it is Catholic teaching, based in the most clear words of Christ Himself, that impure thoughts and desires freely indulged are serious sins. To invite such impure thoughts and desires through dress, action, or the printed and pictured story (literature, movies, television) cannot help but participate of the grave sin of scandal and cooperation.”

Therefore, let us sincerely console the agonizing Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary by committing ourselves, from this day onward, to always be a true example of the virtue of Christian modesty in dress. At times we may be ridiculed, but that is part of being a true follower of Our Old and Our Lady. Persevere! Our good example will certainly help lead others to the truth that we need to return to a sense of decency despite living in a culture flooded with filth. Indeed, persevere for our reward is great in Heaven!



Some Directives of the Magisterium on Christian Modesty


Taken from the Spring/Summer 1998 issue of The Fatima Crusader, Modesty and Modes of Dress –all emphases theirs

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 in dress.

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


Modesty Standards

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 bold.”

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 Pia 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.


Padre Pio

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.”


Modesty of dress – AD2000


By Greg Byrne,
AD2000 Volume 20 No 2 (March 2007), p. 15

I think that it’s about time modesty of dress was an issue, especially modesty of dress at Mass and for Ministers of the Eucharist. Some women who receive Holy Communion or even distribute it would be a sensation down in Acland Street if they went there straight from Mass.

Priests, it seems, aren’t game to say anything and probably think that that is how young women dress today. But they are wrong to think so because one can’t judge what is appropriate from what is happening in a society in such moral decay as ours is. In fact it is only through Catholics behaving like Catholics that our society can be saved from itself.

I could go so far as to say that going to Mass in some churches amounts to entering an “occasion of sin” in the old terminology. This is a serious problem that should be raised at Mass. Modesty of dress is the first communication with people outside the home and if a woman is immodestly dressed the first message she’s sending out (albeit unintentionally) to men is, “Would you like to have sex with me?”. That is hardly an appropriate message for any Catholic woman to be sending out.

In earlier times women wore long loose dresses and were covered up almost as much as Muslim women except for the face. Now nobody seriously advocates that but the pendulum has swung much too far.




How do you dress for Mass?


By Stacia

Not long ago our Pastor gave a four part (four weeks long) homily on Holy Purity – he preached on Masculinity and Femininity, Modesty, Custody of the Eyes, and on Chastity in Marriage and Single life.  Are we blessed or what?
The homily on Modesty was not so much on how to dress, or not dress, but much more about how we present ourselves, especially in relationship to one another.  A modest woman inspires a man to want to be a better man, whereas an immodest woman inspires a man to want to sin.
What I wear says something about how I see myself, and how I see myself in relationship to God and others.  There is a natural tendency (born of concupiscence – don’t think I spelled that right) for men to view women as objects – but women also have a natural tendency (also born of concupiscence) to objectify themselves to men. In my own opinion I think that when a woman dresses immodestly, with the intention of catching a man’s eye – she is putting a for-sale sign on herself – and the less she wears, the lower her price is.  A woman who dresses modestly with dignity says that she knows she isn’t for sale, and that she is protected by her Father from anyone who would try to buy her.
Translating that into dressing for Holy Mass, I have to say that I think each person ought to dress as they would if they were going to meet the person they most admire in this world.  How would I dress if I were given a private audience with the Pope?   But the Pope (as much as I love and admire him) is just the representative of Jesus, with whom I will be given a private audience in Holy Communion.  How should I dress before the Lord of the Universe? 
I have given this a bit of thought (can you tell?) and after a year of searching for the style of dress that I felt most fit my criteria (that is: comfortable, simple, feminine and modest) I finally decided to wear cape dresses. They are appropriate to every occasion that I am likely to attend (not being a high society [or even mid society] sort of person) and they always look nice and neat.
My best friend teases me that I really can’t help myself, coming from an Anabaptist family background ;), but it really is just a matter of practicality. My girls wear dresses too, similar in style but without capes – they are still little.
My husband likes to look nice, so he will normally wear a suit.
But ultimately, if all a person has is a pair of jeans, then better to come in jeans, than not to come at all.




January 6, 1921.

#19 […] one cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and condition; made foolish by desire to please, they do not see to what a degree the in decency of their clothing shocks every honest man, and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for those toilettes as for a grave fault against Christian modesty; now it does not suffice for them to exhibit them on the public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of the churches, to assist at the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Eucharistic Table where one receives the heavenly Author of purity. And We speak not of those exotic and barbarous dances recently imported into fashionable circles, one more shocking than the other; one cannot imagine anything more suitable for banishing all the remains of modesty.


Getting Dressed for Church – Modesty at Mass


Dress to impress

How many times before Mass have you stared in the mirror and wondered, “What should I wear today?” You’ve even told yourself, “I don’t have anything to wear.” Yet your closet is packed-full with so many clothes that if you put another garment in, your wall will crack. Then you get to that nice piece you bought just because it was on sale. Of course, it is not “what’s in,” thus, every time you have nothing to wear, you skip it. Days, months and even years have gone by and you have yet a day to wear that nice piece. Then you tell yourself, “it’s my day off and God loves me the way I am!!” So you opt for your best-fit jeans and that sexy top that emphasizes your best assets.


Getting the wrong attention

As you change, there is this internal voice that says, “Where are you going again?” “To church,” you respond. “Shouldn’t you wear a more decent outfit?” the voice says. In justification, you cut it off and say, “Hey, everyone says I look good in them.” Finally, you get out of the house and get to church. Then, as Mass proceeds, you feel uncomfortable and can’t concentrate. Many times, you need to pull your blouse up because it is showing too much. Then, you tell yourself, “What am I doing here? It is so boring and these guys just can’t stop staring at me!”

Holy Communion comes and you decide to go up and even more people are staring! Between your teeth and with a little annoyance you ask, “Gosh what are they looking at?” You kneel in meditation, an important time between you and Jesus, but because you can’t concentrate, you miss the opportunity to talk to Him. Mass is over and you rush your way out and tell yourself, “Finally!!!!”

Sound familiar? Scenarios like this occur if not in the hundreds maybe in the thousands. When going to church, many women dress inappropriately and indirectly, they get the wrong attention. The average woman who attends church spends thousands of dollars in clothing. Yet no one shops with church in mind.



At the store, they spend countless hours looking through many garment racks to find that great piece. Then, they spend even more in the dressing room trying on item after item. Yet not even for a moment does God cross their mind. For a long time, they model in the mirror to make sure the item fits well but ultimately it must make them feel attractive. Some even dance and turn around and look over and over until they convince themselves that the piece is right. Finally, they purchase it.

The garment ends up in their closet and they wear it everywhere, even to church. Originally and most likely, these women buy their clothes with the sole purpose of wearing it to work or happy hour, to a party or a club, for a special date or just to hang out with friends. The occasions are endless. However, the garment they chose was never intended for church. Yet, because we are in a versatile society, the piece makes it to Mass.


Listen to the Holy Spirit

How do we know when a garment is inappropriate to wear to church? First of all, listen to that interior voice that says, “It is not right.” The Holy Spirit is guiding you. Remember that we are all the temple of the Holy Spirit. We received it during our Baptism. Thus, we all have the great capacity to practice all of the virtues bestowed upon us. When it comes to selecting and wearing clothing the most important one is the Virtue of Modesty: the act of choosing to dress the body in a discrete manner.

Going back to the scenario, if you feel uncomfortable because it is too revealing, the virtue of Modesty is kicking in. Just listen. It is the Holy Spirit speaking to you.

Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “If you were to go to a dinner at the President’s house, would you wear that?” You know the president is a very important man and you would want to be dressed for the occasion. You have probably heard the expression, “First impressions count!”


The man of the hour

In your life, going to Sunday Mass or any Mass is the most important event you can ever attend. The temple of God, your body, needs to be covered in a modest way that you are proud of and will be presentable to God. Yes, you are just going to church, but remember that Jesus said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people?” (Mark 12:17) Thus, your parish is a much more important place to visit than the White House. In that parish, The Host who waits for you is not the president. He is a million times more important. You are actually going to have an encounter with your Creator. Thus when you think you have nothing to wear, remember that you are going to be in the presence of the One who made you. Don’t disappoint Him. Show Him some reverence. Show Him that you care.

Don’t let your attire get in the way of experiencing true communion with God. Dress to impress!


Modesty and Dressing for Mass


By Jill L, February 19, 2013



This can NOT be our daughters’ role model.  How many times have I had to see this picture staring at me at the checkout counter?  How many times have my daughters viewed it or my son?  Even once is too many.  Since we are starting to get things ready for our tea party, I thought this month would be the perfect time to review modesty and also talk about how we dress for Mass.
I shared this picture with our group last night.  I don’t think most of them even recognized who it was.  It certainly doesn’t look like Hannah Montana.  I pointed out that the way she was dressed, people weren’t seeing her for any of the gifts that God had given her.  We didn’t see her voice or her acting skills, but just her body.  I used the book, Dressing With Dignity by Colleen Hammond in helping to plan my short lesson.
We talked about how we should dress for Mass.  We are located near a college campus and sometimes the outfits worn to Mass make me so sad.  I know they can be a distraction to me.  I can’t imagine what it may be doing to my teenage son.  We need to make sure to be discussing clothing choices with our girls.  

For our activity, the girls got to be fashion designers.  They got to design an outfit to wear to church and also a casual one.  Moms were to help them decide what would be appropriate lengths for their skirts or shorts.  This was a huge hit.  The girls seemed to really enjoy creating their dolls.  Because our meeting was shortened, they really only had time to make one, but some of the girls gathered materials to take home with them to finish.  I supplied them with lots of fabric scraps, ribbon, yarn and googly eyes.  I also made card stock templates of the doll for the girls to help them cut out outfits.  I got the template from Wendy’s Activities.
It’s never too early to start talking to our daughters about modesty.  If we wait until they are teenagers, it’s going to be too late.  This was certainly a fun and easy way to start or continue that discussion.




Modesty and Mass Attire


At the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, AL they have a signs that say basically the following:
In order to show respect to our Lord Jesus Christ, truly present in the most Blessed Sacrament, as well as to show a spirit of charity to the Nuns, the Priests and Brothers, and the other pilgrims, we request the following:                                                  

+ Please observe silence when you enter the Shrine and the EWTN Chapel.                          

+ We encourage you to dress comfortably, but modestly. Please do not wear sleeveless tops, tank tops, shorts, or mini-skirts. Ladies may wear slacks.                          

+ Please do not leave Mass before the Blessed Sacrament has been exposed and the Nuns have finished singing at the Shrine. + Please do not take pictures inside the Shrine.  There are many lovely pictures and postcards you may purchase at the Gift Shop in Castle San Miguel. At all other locations, pictures are permitted.


A mother’s point of view:
Modesty in thoughts, words and actions


Over the past few months, we have been asked to write more on chastity and modesty. Since this is the beginning of a new year, we thought these would be good virtues to work on so we can be better role models for our children and our community, and witnesses to the Catholic faith, with which we are so blessed.

We have had a couple of good, holy priests in our parish who were a great asset in encouraging and demanding modesty in dress, so much so, that communion was refused to women improperly dressed. But never did this happen without Father going immediately after Mass to instruct the person about his reasons for doing so. These priests were very gentle in their approach. However; one definitely got the message that it was not appropriate, or respectful, to approach Our Lord at the communion rail improperly dressed. It was likewise made clear that it is a sin to be a distraction in church, or to be an occasion of sin to another.

We have always respected those priests for their courage and commitment to not only teach the necessity of modesty, but to enforce it. After all, if we want to call ourselves, or claim to be, Catholics, we must live as wit-nesses to the rules and guidelines Holy Mother Church has handed down to us. In these modern times we have drifted so far from what the Church expects of Her Children that we most often cannot distinguish Catholics from non-Catholics. As Catholics, we are all called to become holy, to become saints, and to bring others into the One True Church. We are so grateful to Almighty God for our faith-ful and courageous priests who aren’t afraid to preach and teach the truths upon which Christ founded His Church.

In all fairness to our Catholic population, many have grown up in the Church never being properly catechized on Her teachings. If they were taught the reasons why things were done as they are in the Church, most would accept, rather than question, the customs. As good Catholics hungry to know and understand our faith, we must likewise encourage our priests to teach us these truths.

Sometimes I wonder how, even if (in my lifetime), the faith will be restored. To tell you the truth, the only place I see any attempt to restore the faith Christ gave us, is in the traditional Latin Rite. The rituals and ceremonies, the use of sacramentals, the modesty, silence and respect at Mass – all are being practiced there. It is there where I see an attempt to restore the faith. Admittedly, there is a long way to go, but at least it is a start!

I have recently read a book by Colleen Hammond, entitled, Dressing with Dignity. It is probably the most thorough book I have ever read on modesty and I am using it as the basis for this article. It’s a book I highly recommend to be used by all family members, not just the women. After all, everyone should be more modest, not only in dress, but also in words and actions.

When we meet someone, the first thing we notice is the way they are dressed. If one is modestly dressed, their actions are usually modest and they are more apt to be respected by others. If we dress like a floozy, we attract for sex; if we dress modestly, we are respecting others, and looking for respect. As Catholics, we have a moral obligation to dress modestly so

as not to sin, or be an occasion of sin for another.

Colleen was a former cable network anchor, actress, model and beauty queen. In her book, she ex-plains how God touched her heart, and how she gave up her way of life in order to become an example to others through her talks and books, and by being a more modest person in her role as wife, mother, and Catholic. She begins her book by quoting from the Genesis 2:25: “And they were both naked; to wit, Adam and his wife; and they were not ashamed.”

“Naked and not ashamed? That’s pretty hard to imagine,” writes Colleen. Adam and Eve were born without Original Sin. Their love for one another was simple, pure, innocent, and with the utmost respect for one another.

They had infused knowledge and possessed all the virtues.

In my simple mind, this is almost as difficult to understand as is being naked in front of God and man!

From my own experience, I recall a friend once telling me that her family had gone to California to visit so people they knew, who lived in a nudist colony. Needless to say, I was shocked to hear that everyone had to strip down before entering the place. Can you imagine taking your children to such a place, to say nothing of going in yourself? And yet we see in these modern times, people who come to church in the skimpiest and most revealing attire! Sadly, one only has to go to a movie or turn on the television to see as much.

What has happened to the sense of the sacred, to the respect, purity, and innocence God created in Adam and Eve? It all started over one little act of disobedience on the part of Adam and Eve when they gave in to the temptation by the devil! They, as well as the whole human race, suffered for this one act. They knew immediately that they had done wrong, for they suddenly felt ashamed and were aware of their nakedness. They hid from God, and looked for something with which to cover themselves.

The same is true when we sin, and especially regarding sins against purity.

One senses a naked-ness before God, and can even feel as though everyone knows about the sin.



One loses the innocence that was so precious, that inner peace of soul, and respect, because of guilt. The sad part of it is, like Adam and Eve, one can never regain that same peace and respect again! That one act can change a whole person’s life, never to be regained. The Sacrament of Confession can take away the sin on the soul, but, like Adam and Eve, making reparation can take a lifetime.

If only we could help our children to understand and respect, to treasure and preserve this great virtue of purity. In this way they can always be pure and innocent in carrying out the calling to which Almighty God has created them. How much pain could be avoided in these lives if they but lived by the rules given them by Our Lord through Holy Mother Church. We are given them to us to help avoid pain and sin so we can become holy. That is the way God intended life to be! Purity makes us free to be who we are, the person God created us to be. That is how we become a saint, that is how we raise saints. And, as Catholics, we have so much information to help us. As an example, in the wonderful book about St. Therese of Lisieux’s family, The Story of a Family , we can discover how Louis and Zelie Martin, soon to be saints themselves, raised their sons and daughters to be saints.

As parents, we can strongly urge our young people to seek the particular vocation that God has created for them.

Whether they marry, remain single, or become a Bride of Christ in the religious life, we must encourage them to enter that vocation with a pure heart. Only then can they properly serve God in that vocation. It will protect them from much unnecessary pain, misery, and sorrow in fulfill-ing that role. And God knows that we all need all the grace and help we can receive in this world so full of evil.

If one chooses to date, the goal should be to find a proper spouse. When dating, as when one marries, the responsibility to protect the other person in the relationship in every way is very real. He or she, too, is a child of God and must be treated with the utmost respect. One would not want to put that person in an occasion of sin or lead them to sin. In seeking out a spouse, one should pray for one that is chaste, pure, and innocent so they will be a good spouse and a good parent. “A chaste marriage is the basis of the Christian Family! Chastity is that moral virtue which disposes us to be pure in soul and body. God requires chastity from everyone, in all states of life. Those who keep themselves pure in soul and body are like the angels on earth” (My Catholic Faith, p. 97)

Have you ever had the experience of hearing cloistered nuns chanting the Divine Office? Their voices reflect their chastity and purity, the music so soft, so sweet and angelic.

To me, they are like the angels on the earth!

The greatest example we had of angels on the earth, of course, was Our Blessed Mother. We should look to her in purity and modesty of dress and actions. From all of the ac-counts we have of her, we are told that her very presence demanded the utmost respect! Her clothes were always loose and f lowing, never snug or revealing. Her face, hands, and sometimes her feet, were the only exposed portion of her body. Her movements were modest, her voice, soft and gentle, a real Lady! We should imitate Our Mother in Heaven as much as possible.

In Dressing With Dignity (p. 29), Colleen quotes Dr. Alice von Hildebrand:

“From the time that Adam and Eve were booted out of the Garden of Eden, it has been a sign of respectability and distinction to have clothing totally veiling our bodies-especially the female body.” She makes the point that anything that is precious, mysterious, and sacred is hidden from view. It is veiled. She goes on to write:

This reminds me of one of the things my Grandmother told me when I was little: In nature, God made the valuable things difficult to get to. I heard the Rev. Billy Graham say that same thing once in a sermon. And even Muhammad Ali said the same thing to his daughter. But Ali went a bit further: Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over by layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get them… your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.

Yes, our bodies are much more precious than diamonds, pearls, or gold! After all, through Baptism we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Shouldn’t our precious bodies be kept pure, veiled, and hidden from view?

Dr. von Hildebrand continues:

“In scripture, we see veils as being a sign of respect and sacredness. They are used to cover the chalice, the Holy of Holies, The Blessed Sacrament, and other sacred items in the church. All these veilings show respect and reverence for mystery and sacredness.”

Dr. von Hildebrand goes on to say, “Women, by their physical nature, are the very vessels of life. So every woman, due to the nature of her God-given femininity, has a certain mystery and sacredness, which is her ability to cooperate with her husband and with God in the sacredness of creation.

How appropriate that a woman’s awe-inspiring privilege is recognized by veiling! What an honor we have as women to be given the glorious ability to carry another human life within our bodies.”

Even though Eve is considered The Mother of all the Living, it is Our Blessed Mother, the new Eve, who brought back honor to all women with her Fiat.

In her book, Colleen goes on to give the history of the corruptive fashions in the world. The part I found most interesting, however, was that which addressed the part the “Illuminated Masons” (Freemasons) played in immodesty of women’s dress. The author describes the desire of the Freemasons to destroy the Catholic Church and Christianity (Ibid. p. 56). They admitted it couldn’t be ruined from the outside, so they would have to make a “two-pronged” attack. The founder of the Illuminati, Adam Weishaupt, had formulated one part of the strategy late in the 1700’s.

“We will infiltrate that place (The Vatican), and once inside, we will never come out. We will bore from within until nothing remains but an empty shell.” The Freemason plan included the infiltration of the sacristies, seminaries, and monasteries. But it would take time for the Freemasons to worm their way into Catholic institutions.



The other part of their plan was to use women. “In order to destroy Catholicism, it is necessary to commence by suppressing woman… But since we cannot suppress woman, let us corrupt her with the Church…” Freemasons apparently understood that women are the moral compass-es of society, just as the serpent knew this and approached Eve.

Even Confucius said that the woman is the moral root of society, and the culture will only grow in proportion to the moral strength of its women” (Ibid. p. 56).

The Freemasons not only wanted to infiltrate religious orders, but in order to corrupt chastity and purity, the fashion world as well. To this end, their own people became widely involved in the fashion industry.

On page 61 of her book, Colleen writes: “Slacks appeared on the fashion runways of Paris in 1920. The next year, Pope Benedict XV expressed his shock that women would embrace the current fashion trends and styles of dancing. He wrote:

One cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and condition; made foolish by desire to please, they do not see to what a degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man, and offends God.

Most of them would formerly have blushed for those toilettes (outfits) as for a grave fault against Christian modesty; now it does not suffice for them to exhibit them on the public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of the churches, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Eucharistic Table where one receives the Heavenly Author of purity. And we speak not of these exotic and barbarous dances recently imported into fashionable circles, one more shocking than the other; one cannot imagine anything more suitable for banishing all the remains of modesty.

Wow, and that was because of slacks! One can only wonder what Pope Benedict XV would say about the sleazy outfits seen in our churches today. Maybe someone of higher authority should say something!

The Freemasons went on to reveal their motives and plans: (Ibid. p. 62)

Religion does not fear the dagger’s point; but it can vanish under corruption. Let us not grow tired of corruption.

We may use a pretext, such as sports, hygiene, health resorts. It is necessary to corrupt, that our boys and girls practice nudism in dress. To avoid too much reaction, one would have to progress in a methodical manner; first, undress up to the elbow, then up to the knees; then arms and legs completely uncovered; later the upper part of the chest, the shoulders, etc.

Well, it looks as though the Freemason’s have accomplished that goal!

On Sept. 24, 1928, Cardinal Vicar General of Pope Pius XI gave detailed instructions on modesty of dress for women. (Ibid. p. 63)

“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 knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper.”

Pope Pius XII cautioned women that, if certain styles were an occasion of sin for others, it was their duty not to wear them. He also warned mothers to make sure their children were dressed modestly (Ibid. p. 64).

The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts… If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up.

He also admonishes mothers who allow the children God has entrusted them with to dress immodestly. We will have much to answer for if we continue to follow the world’s mode of fashion!

Anne McGinn Cillis, a spiritual daughter of St. Padre Pio tells of a Canadian lady who was refused absolution in confession by Padre Pio until she went back to her shop in Vancouver and disposed of all the slacks and pant suits she was selling. Padre Pio also refused to hear confessions of women whose skirts were shorter than 8 inches below the knee!

In summing up this article, I’d again like to quote from Colleen’s book. “Femininity is an assignment from God. It is how God created us. It is a character that is printed deeply upon us, which is made apparent in our physical bodies, and by how we speak, act, and dress. We were not created to be men. We were created to be women!

The Church teaches that men and women are equal in dignity, yet separate in role and function, and that those roles and functions are complementary!”

God created us male or female, for a particular reason. We must carry out that role to the very best of our ability with all the graces provided through the Church. If we practice purity and modesty with our mind, heart, and soul, we will bring much honor and glory to Almighty God in our daily duty. In so doing, many lives will be touched and brought into the one, true faith, and many souls will be saved. That is our mission as Catholics!


Notification Concerning Men’s Dress Worn by Women


June 12, 1960

To the Reverend Clergy, To all Teaching Sisters, To the Beloved Sons of Catholic Action, To Educators intending truly to follow Christian Doctrine.

I. The first signs of our late arriving spring indicate this year a certain increase in the use of men’s dress by girls and women, even mothers of families. Up until 1959, in Genoa, such dress usually meant the person was a tourist, but now there seems to be a significant number of girls and women from Genoa itself who are choosing, at least on pleasure trips, to wear men’s dress (men’s trousers).




The spreading of this behavior obliges us to give serious consideration to the subject, and we ask those to whom this Notification is addressed to kindly give this problem all the attention it deserves, as befits those aware of being answerable to God.

We seek above all to give a balanced moral judgment upon the wearing of men’s dress by women. In fact, our thoughts bear solely upon the moral question.

Firstly, when if comes to covering of the female body, the wearing of men’s trousers by women cannot be said to constitute as such a grave offense against modesty, because trousers certainly cover more of woman’s body that do modern women’s skirts.

Secondly, however, to be modest clothes need not simply cover the body but must also not cling too closely to the body. Now it is true that much feminine clothing nowadays clings closer than do some trousers, but trousers can be made to cling closer, and, in fact, generally do; hence, the tight fit of such clothing gives us no less grounds for concern than does exposure of the body. So the immodesty of men’s trousers on women is an aspect of the problem which is not to be left out of an over-all judgment upon them even if it is not to be artificially exaggerated either.


II. However, there is another aspect of women wearing men’s trousers which seems to us the gravest.

The wearing of men’s dress by women affects firstly the woman herself, by changing the feminine psychology proper to women; secondly, it affects the woman as wife of her husband, by tending to vitiate relationships between the sexes; thirdly, it affects the woman as mother of her children by harming her dignity in her children’s eyes. Each of these points is to be carefully considered in turn.


Male Dress Changes the Psychology of Woman.

In truth, the motive impelling women to wear men’s dress is always that of imitating, nay, of competing with the man who is considered stronger, less tied down, more independent. This motivation shows clearly that male dress is the visible aid to bringing about a mental attitude of being ‘like a man’. Secondly, ever since men have been men, the clothing a person wears conditions, determines and modifies that person’s gestures, attitudes and behavior, such that from merely being worn outside, clothing comes to impose a particular frame of mind inside.

Then let us add that a woman wearing men’s dress always more or less indicates her reacting to her femininity as though it were inferior [to masculinity] when in fact it is only diverse. The perversion of her psychology is clearly evident.

These reasons, summing up many more, are enough to warn us how wrongly women are made to think by the wearing of men’s dress.


Male Dress Tends to Vitiate Relationships Between Women and Men.

In truth when relationships between the two sexes unfold with the coming of age, an instinct of mutual attraction is predominant. The essential basis of this attraction is a diversity between the two sexes which is made possible only by their complementing or completing one another. If then this diversity becomes less obvious because one of its major external signs is eliminated and because the normal psychological structure is weakened, what results is the alteration of a fundamental factor in the relationship.

The problem goes further still. Mutual attraction between the sexes is preceded both naturally, and in the order of time, by that sense of shame which holds the rising impulses in check, imposes respect upon them, and tends to lift to a higher level of mutual esteem and healthy fear everything that those impulses would push onwards to uncontrolled acts. To change that clothing which by its diversity reveals and upholds nature’s limits and defenses, is to level the distinctions and to help pull down the vital defenses of the sense of shame.

It is at least to hinder that sense. And when the sense of shame is hindered from applying the brakes, then do relationships between man and women sink degradingly to pure sensuality, devoid of all mutual respect or esteem.

Experience teaches us that when woman is de-feminized, defenses are undermined and weakness increases.


Male Dress Harms the Dignity of the Mother in Her Children’s Eyes.

All children have an instinct for the sense of dignity and decorum of their mother. Analysis of the first inner crisis of children when they awaken to life around them, even before they enter upon adolescence, shows how much the sense of their mother counts. Children are as sensitive as can be on this point. Adults typically leave all that behind them and think no more on it. But we would do well to call to mind the severe demands that children instinctively make of their own mother, and the deep and even terrible reactions roused in them by observation of their mother’s misbehavior. Many lines of later life are here traced out — and not for good — in these early inner dramas of infancy and childhood.

The child may not know the definition of exposure, frivolity or infidelity, but he possesses an instinctive sense to recognize them when they occur, to suffer from them, and be bitterly wounded by them in his soul.


III. Let us think seriously on the import of everything said thus far, even if a woman’s appearance in men’s dress does not immediately give rise to the same disturbance caused by grave immodesty.

The changing of feminine psychology does fundamental and — in the long run — irreparable damage to the family, to conjugal fidelity, to human affections and to human society. True, the effects of wearing unsuitable dress are not all to be seen within a short time. But one must think of what is being slowly and insidiously worn down, torn apart, perverted.

Is any satisfying reciprocity between husband and wife imaginable, if feminine psychology be changed? Or is any true education of children imaginable, which is so delicate in its procedure, so woven of imponderable factors in which the mother’s intuition and instinct play the decisive part in those tender years? What will these women be able to give their children when they will so long have worn trousers that their self-esteem is determined more by their competing with the men than by their functioning as women?



Why, we ask, ever since men have been men — or rather since they became civilized — why have men in all times and places been irresistibly borne to differentiate and divide the functions of the two sexes? Do we not have here strict testimony to the recognition by all mankind of a truth and a law above man?

To sum up, wherever women wear men’s dress, it is be considered a factor, over the long term, in disintegrating human order.


IV. The logical consequence of everything presented thus far is that anyone in a position of responsibility should be possessed by a sense of alarm in the true and proper meaning of the word, a severe and decisive alarm.

We address a grave warning to parish priests, to all priests in general and to confessors in particular, to members of every kind of association, to all religious, to all nuns, especially to teaching Sisters.

We ask them to become clearly conscious of the problem so that action will follow. This consciousness is what matters. It will suggest the appropriate action in due time. But let it not counsel us to give way in the face of inevitable change, as though we are confronted by a natural evolution of mankind, and so on!

Men may come and men may go, because God has left plenty of room for the ebb and flow of free-will; but the substantial lines of nature and the no less substantial lines of the Eternal Law have never changed, are not changing and never will change. There are bounds beyond which one may stray as far as he pleases, but to do so ends in death. Empty philosophical fantasizing may let one mock or trivialize these limits, but they constitute an alliance of hard facts and of nature which chastises anyone who oversteps them. Certainly history has taught — with frightening proofs from the life and death of nations — that the reply to all violators of this outline of ‘humanity’ is always, sooner or later, catastrophe.

Since the dialectic of Hegel, we are fed what amounts to nothing but fables, and by dint of hearing them so often, many people end up acquiescing to them, even if only passively. But the reality of the matter is that Nature and Truth, and the Law bound up in both, go their imperturbable way, and cut to pieces the simpletons who, upon no grounds whatsoever, would believe in radical and far-reaching changes in the very structure of man.

The consequences of such violations are not a new outline of man, but rather disorders, harmful instability of every kind, the frightening dryness of human souls, a shattering increase in the number of human castaways driven out from among us, left to live out their decline in boredom, sadness and rejection. On the beach of this intentional shipwreck of the eternal norms are found broken families, hearths and homes grown cold, lives cut short before their time, the elderly cast aside, our youth willfully degenerate and — at the end of the line — souls in despair and taking their own lives. All of this human wreckage gives witness to the fact that the ‘line of God’ does not give way, nor does it admit of any adaptation to the delirious dreams of the so-called philosophers!


V. We have said that those to whom the present Notification is addressed are asked to take serious alarm before the problem at hand. Accordingly they know what they have to say, starting with little girls on their mother’s knee.

They know that without exaggerating or turning into fanatics, they will need to strictly limit how far they tolerate women dressing like men, as a general rule.

They know they must never be so weak as to let anyone believe that they turn a blind eye to a custom which is slipping downhill and subverting the moral standing of all institutions.

They, the priests, know that the line they have to take in the confessional, while not holding women dressing like men to be automatically a grave fault, must be sharp and decisive.

Everybody will kindly give thought to the need for a united line of action, re-enforced on every side by the co-operation of all men of good will and all enlightened minds, so as to create a veritable dike to hold back the flood.

Those of you responsible for souls in whatever capacity understand how useful it is to have for allies in this campaign men of the arts, the media and the crafts. The position taken by fashion design houses, the brilliant designers and the clothing industry, is of crucial important in the whole question. Artistic sense, refinement and good taste meeting together can find suitable but dignified solutions as to the dress for women to wear when they must use a motorcycle or engage in this or that exercise or work. What matters is to preserve modesty together with the eternal sense of femininity which, more than anything else, all children will continue to associate with the face of their mother.

We do not deny that modern life sets problems and makes requirements unknown to our grandparents. But we state that there are values more in need of protection than fleeting experiences, and that for anyone of intelligence there is always good sense and good taste enough to find acceptable and dignified solutions to problems which arise.

Moved by charity we are fighting against a leveling debasement of mankind, against the attack upon those differences on which rests the complementarity of man and woman.

When we see a woman in trousers, we should think not so much of her, as of all mankind: of what will be should women masculinize themselves. Nobody stands to gain by helping to bring about a future age of vagueness, ambiguity, imperfection and, in a word, monstrosities.

This letter of ours is not addressed to the public, but to those responsible for souls, for education, for Catholic associations. Let them do their duty, and let them not be sentries caught asleep at their post while evil crept in.

Giuseppe Cardinal Siri

Archbishop of Genoa


In 1960 Cardinal Siri urged women not to wear trousers. I think he may have had a point

When women wear trousers, he wrote, it flattens out the natural distinction between the sexes


By Francis Phillips, December 5, 2011



A friend has pointed me towards a blog by Fr Tim Finigan in which he mentions the late Cardinal Giuseppe Siri of Genoa and provides a link to a document written by the latter in 1960. Entitled “Notification Concerning Men’s Dress Worn by Women” it is a wonderful document and I am grateful to my friend (and indirectly to Fr Finigan) for bringing it to my attention.

In the Notification, which is addressed to his clergy, to teaching Sisters, to members of Catholic Action and to “Educators intending truly to follow Christian doctrine”, the cardinal noted that by 1960 many respectable women and mothers in Genoa had stopped wearing dresses and skirts and had taken to wearing “men’s dress (men’s trousers)”. He recognises that trousers might not be thought of as immodest “because they cover more of a woman’s body than do modern women’s skirts” – unless, of course, they are provocatively tight-fitting. His main point, however, is to do with the psychology of women wearing trousers: he believes “Male dress is the visible aid to bringing about a mental attitude of being ‘like a man'” ie it changes the psychology of women.

Cardinal Siri’s argument is that “male dress tends to vitiate relationships between men and women”; when women wear trousers, it flattens out the natural distinction between the sexes and thus helps “to pull down the vital defence-works of the sense of shame”. He believes, in short, that “the changing of feminine psychology does fundamental, and in the long run, irreparable damage to the family, to conjugal fidelity, to human affections and to human society.”

This is a large claim. Yet when I described the Notification as a “wonderful document” I was not poking fun at it. Of course the language used is quaint and old-fashioned and I feel sure the late cardinal would have been somewhat out of sympathy with “the spirit of Vatican II”; that Council was just two years in the future when he wrote down his thoughts. Indeed, he might seem – to modern eyes – as a reactionary old blimp. But he was writing in the days when bishops and cardinals took seriously their responsibility before God of their fatherhood of their diocesan flock. And was he entirely wrong in what he wrote?

Several years ago (long before I realised that Cardinal Siri and I were on a similar wave-length) a friend gave me a book about purity and women’s dress. It actually persuaded me to chuck out all my trousers and slacks for good. Friends and family were naturally aghast: had I gone mad? I could see all the reasonable arguments against me: modest Muslim women are allowed to wear baggy trousers; women’s slacks are not the same as men’s trousers and can be feminine; in very cold countries they are the only way to keep one’s legs warm; what do you wear when you are skiing or riding etc.

But I stuck to my guns – if this isn’t too unfeminine a metaphor. Why? Well, when I was a student at Cambridge in the 1960s I had worn mini-skirts – then the fashion – most of the time; this was sheer immodesty, though I wouldn’t have thanked Cardinal Siri for pointing this out to me then. When I wasn’t wearing mini-skirts I was trying to look like a character from a Hemingway novel: T-shirt, jeans and keeping a crumpled packet of Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes in my hip pocket. I was, as Siri points out, deliberately dressing “like a man”. (There was a very brief interlude when I went into shiny black PVC from top to toe; goodness knows what the cardinal would have made of that.)

I decided there and then I ought to make reparation for my sartorial sins and those of others. “Reparation” is a very Catholic idea: making amends and sacrifices to atone for sin. I know it doesn’t fit into a Darwinian scheme of things but it makes a lot of sense to me. And as soon as I began to wear skirts – midi and maxi this time – I began to notice the ugliness of modern female dress: most women I saw, unless they were very elderly, were wearing tight jeans with a large expanse of flesh exposed at the midriff; unflattering and unfeminine at the same time.

Feminism, a huge subject, also comes into this debate. I suspect Cardinal Siri was right to suggest that the women’s movement was not doing women any favours. I am not talking here about the right to vote and equal pay for equal work; I am talking about the situation today when, if you try to say publicly that a “right” to abortion harms women or that staying at home when one’s children are young might be a good thing, the fearsome army of the feminist sisterhood simply shouts one down.

Back to the idea of reparation: when I mentioned joining the Pioneers (for a limited period, of course) in my last blog, some of the responses suggested I needed to lighten up, especially as I don’t have a drink problem. But female drunkenness, and the immodesty that goes with it, have a disastrous effect on society. What is wrong with making amends for this?

Mind you, I do worry where I might end up: first trousers, now drink. Will chocolates be next?


“Bishop de Castro Mayer used to say that trousers on a woman are worse than a mini-skirt, because while the mini-skirt is sensual and attacks the senses, the trousers are ideological and attack the mind… Girls, be mothers, and in order to be mothers, let not wild horses drag you into shorts or trousers. When activities are proposed to you requiring trousers, if it is something your great-grandmother did, then find a way of doing it, like her, in a skirt. And if your great-grandmother did not do it, then forget it! Her generation created your country, your generation is destroying it. Of course not all women who wear trousers abort the fruit of their womb, but all help to create the abortive society. Old-fashioned is good, modern is suicidal. You wish to stop abortion? Do it by example. Never wear trousers or shorts. Bishop de Castro Mayer was right.” — Bishop Williamson

Those who serve God should not follow the fashions


By Robert T. Hart, 2004

The Mind of the Catholic Church on Modesty in Dress

Often today we hear sensible people complaining about the immodesty in dress that is seen everywhere and unfortunately even in our churches. But, objectively speaking, where do we draw the line and call a garment immodest? And how can we be sure that we ourselves are dressing with proper Christian modesty that is pleasing to God? This booklet is provided to answer these questions. For on this subject, through his Church, God has made his Will clearly known. Perhaps for some, this booklet will be the litmus test to determine whether or not they are truly willing to deny themselves, to take up their cross, and follow Jesus.


1. The Need for this Booklet

It is widely known that Pope Pius XII often said: “The greatest sin of our modern generation is that it has lost all sense of sin.” 1

It is less known that more specifically he once stated:

“Many women . . . give in to the tyranny of fashion, be it even immodest, in such a way as to appear not even to suspect that it is unbecoming. They have lost the very concept of danger: they have lost the instinct of modesty.” 2

These words spoken over 50 years ago ring more true today than ever (and not only for women). For in today’s post-Christian society where indecent and improper dress have become the norm, even among good-willed and devout Catholics there is much ignorance as to what is meant by proper Christian modesty. Yes, even the most virtuous of Catholics who attend daily Mass and have an intimate relationship with Jesus, frequently are not fully aware of the Church’s teaching

in this matter. Could it be that this booklet is for you? May Our Lady, our true Mother, be with you to enlighten you to understand and to be receptive to the Will of God in this matter — for indeed, it may be a challenge.


This booklet has been prepared, therefore, to provide all those who have been given the immense privilege of calling themselves Catholic the information they need to be well aware of the mind of the Church, and therefore the mind of Christ, on what constitutes proper Christian modesty and decency in dress.


A Cultural Revolution

Now, how is it that there exists today this ignorance among devout Catholics regarding proper Christian modesty? We have passed through a Cultural Revolution — a revolution aimed at destroying the once Catholic culture on which Western

Civilization was founded. Although styles began changing for the worse soon after World War I, it was only 40-50 years ago that the true revolution took place. Since that time, little has been done to preach against the new, unchristian fashions which have become the norm. In a recent article, Catholic journalist, Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D. 3 explained:

If we understand the revolution as the abolition of a natural and good order of things so as to replace it with the opposite, we can begin to analyze the cultural revolution that has changed the customs, habits and ways of being of modern-day man. The cultural revolution includes a revolution in style, in which a new “loose,” “relaxed,” egalitarian and vulgar type of clothing and way of being came to replace the existing order and values that had been cultivated by Christian Civilization.


She went on to explain that this revolution, which began to take place in the 1960s, affects our way of thinking and the health of our society:

Now, some thirty years after, we can see that this egalitarian revolution has produced profound transformations in the mentality of modern-day men — even of those who call themselves conservative. Dress began to change in a way that increasingly accentuated the idea not only of equality among sexes — with increasingly unisex clothing — but also the notion of equality among social classes. The differentiation in dress that still remained in the ’60s to indicate a class or office of life has largely disappeared. The businessman and lawyer are removing their suits, the professor looks like the student, the doctor like his gardener.

In effect, the consequence of the underlying philosophy of this revolution was the creation of an egalitarian, vulgar and sexually liberated culture to replace the Catholic culture characterized by harmonic inequalities and chaste customs.

…The new “anything-goes” dress and way of being gives no opportunity for souls to mirror the moral values and notion of hierarchy necessary for the good ordering of any sound society.


Dr. Horvat went on to say, “Christendom has always been understood as a projection of the Catholic principles into every aspect of the temporal sphere.” This means Catholics are called to counter this anti-Catholic Cultural Revolution by reestablishing Catholic principles in society. One way they can and must do this is by choosing clothing that truly reflects our Christian belief. For as Horvat recognized, “The more a civilization becomes Christian, the more the clothing of men will be virile, dignified, noble — from the highest dignitary to the lowest worker.”


This booklet may seem lengthy for the topic it covers, but since this Cultural Revolution has “produced profound transformations in the mentality of modern day men — even of those who call themselves conservative,” many words are needed to point out the errors of this modern mentality. The goal of this booklet is not to preach self-righteously to those who are erring, but as humbly as possible, to present the Catholic truth. Thus it is hoped that the sincere Catholics will be assisted in replacing this false mentality with the truly Catholic one that is in full harmony with the Holy Will of God.


2. The Two Aspects of Christian Modesty:

First Aspect: Avoid Being an Occasion of Sin

There are two aspects to Christian modesty. The first is to avoid being an occasion of sin. The second, more positively speaking, is to be instilled with the spirit of modesty inspired by a deep love for the virtue of chastity, and also by the proper understanding that our clothing is meant to enhance the dignity of the human body and to be a symbol of our state in life. Both aspects, while in no way excluding men, are much more important for women. Because of the natural differences in the genders, women are both far more prone to be occasions of sin, and, being “the weaker vessel” (1Pet. 3:7), to be treated with less dignity or respect. Proper dress does much to overcome this, and this is why St. Paul wrote in the New Testament that women should appear “in decent apparel; adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety.” (1 Tim. 2:9).


With regards to the first aspect — avoiding being an occasion of sin — the late Archbishop Albert G. Meyer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has these words to say, taken from his Pastoral Letter to the Clergy, Religious and Faithful Laity of May 1, 1956:





In the desire to fulfill the charge given to us as your pastor, whose duty it is to protect his flock against the enemy, and as an appointed watchman of God, who must speak out in clear and explicit warnings, lest the sins of those who err be charged to his account (Ezekiel. 33:8-9), we have decided to address this letter to you. In this letter, it is our thought to consider the general subject of Decency…


We are impelled to do this as we recall some of the recent forceful statements of our Holy Father (Pope Pius XII*) …

… With regard to clothing, modesty requires especially two things: first, care that one does not make purity difficult for oneself, or for others, by one’s own mode of dress; and, second, a prudent but firm and courageous resistance to the styles and customs, no matter how popular or widespread, or adopted by others, which are a danger to purity. …

*In a letter ordered by Pope Pius XII and issued by the Sacred Congregation of the Council on Aug. 15, 1954, he directed the world’s bishops to “take action against the most serious plague of immodest fashions.” He further implored “promote with all your power, everything which has to do with the protection of modesty” and “leave no stone unturned which can remedy the situation.”


… We must emphasize in the strongest possible language that it is Catholic teaching, based on the most clear words of Christ Himself, that impure thoughts and desires freely indulged in are serious sins. To invite such impure thoughts and desires through dress … [one] cannot help but participate [in] the grave sin of scandal and cooperation. 4


Heaven too warned us to offer a “firm and courageous resistance to the styles and customs,” for Our Lady of Fatima told Blessed Jacinta Marto in 1919:

Certain fashions are to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much. Those who serve God should not follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same. 5

Unfortunately many modern women do not understand the strong reaction men have to immodest dress. For this reason, even fifty years ago Pope Pius XII was led to exclaim: “How many young girls there are who do not see any wrongdoing in following certain shameless styles like so many sheep. They would certainly blush if they could guess the impression they make and the feelings they evoke in those who see them.” 6


Dear Catholic ladies, you must clearly understand that, while not all men are tempted in the same way or to the same extent, in general, bare thighs, mid-riffs, shoulders, and backs; low cut, sheer or see-through blouses and shirts; and dresses with long slits are all sources of temptation. Therefore, all these must all be absolutely avoided to avoid serious sin.

Even when the body is adequately covered, be aware that clothes that adhere too closely to the flesh and reveal a woman’s form (so common in our time) are just as much a source of temptation. Pants on women are of special concern because by their very nature they conform more to the shape of the body than dresses or skirts. Therefore, it is generally more difficult for a woman to preserve modesty in them, especially when she stoops or bends. Tight-fitting jeans — which unfortunately are most popular today — incite impurity in the most blatant manner. They are certainly the source of innumerable mortal sins and have no place on Christian women.


Strong Admonitions from the Saints

Be well aware that the strict necessity of modesty in dress has been the constant teaching of the Church throughout the centuries. As Fr. Stefano M. Manelli, FFI (once an altar boy for St. Padre Pio), stated in his marvelous book, Jesus Our

Eucharistic Love: “A strict insistence on this particular point is a constant in the lives of all the Saints, from the Apostle, St. Paul (telling the woman to wear a veil so that she may not need to have her head appear ‘as if she were shorn’: [1Cor. 11:5-6]), to St. John Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, etc., down to Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, who would permit no halfway measures, but always insisted on modest dresses clearly below the knees.” 7

In fact, when coming to confess, if their dresses were low-cut or too short, St. Padre Pio would send the women away, refusing them this Sacrament. As dresses in the 60’s became scantier and scantier, he sent larger and larger numbers of women away. It finally came to pass — since he was sending so many away — that his fellow friars posted a sign on the door of the Church which read: “By Padre Pio’s explicit wish, women must enter the confessional wearing skirts at least 8 inches below the knee.…”

If those whom he refused asked why he treated them in this manner, he would answer: “Don’t you know what pain it costs me to shut the door on anyone? The Lord has forced me to do so. I do not call anyone, nor do I refuse anyone either. There is someone else who calls and refuses them. I am His useless tool.” 8


Certainly this action was most appropriate, since it would not have been right to grant them absolution while dressed in an indecent manner. For as St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, taught:

When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn?

Whom do judges in court punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death-dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride. 9


These are some of those “hard sayings” (Jn. 6:61) of the Gospel which are often unpopular in our times. Yet, since the Gospel must be preached “in season” and “out of season” (2Tim. 4:2) no compromise can be made. The words of the Angelic Doctor help us to keep the proper perspective: “The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts. 10



For precisely this reason, Pope Pius XII concluded that if a certain kind of dress “becomes a grave and proximate danger for the salvation of the soul…it is your duty to give it up.” 11


Christian ladies should also remember that if men are stronger than women in their bodies, they are weaker in the area of sensuality. If the man’s duty is to use his superior strength, not to bring harm to women, but rather to assist, protect and defend them physically, it is the woman’s duty to use her strength in the area of sensuality (by her conduct and by her dress) to help men to remain chaste. As it is said: “Women are the guardians of chastity for the world.” Christian gentlemen should be aware that women often dress with a desire to please men. Therefore, they must be careful not to express — either by their words or looks — any approval for the appearance of women who dress in any manner displeasing to God. In contrast, it can be useful to compliment those who dress with due reserve.


The Need for a Unified Standard

Seeing, then, what grave words have been spoken in the Church regarding modesty, one is left to ask: How can I be certain that I am dressing in a manner that conforms with the Church’s understanding of modesty? The answer is found in a 1935 publication of the “League of Modesty”: “The adoption of a unified standard is necessary.” Otherwise, everyone would do whatever suits them and the attempt to ensure that all clothe themselves in objectively modest attire would “shatter on the rocks of discordant opinions….” 12


Fortunately, the Church has (at least for women) given us just such a standard.

This standard came into being because of Pope Pius XI’s order on August 23, 1928 for a “Crusade Against Immodest

Fashions, Especially in Schools Directed by Religious.” 13

As part of that Crusade, on September 24 of the same year, by order of the Pope, Cardinal Pompili (Pius XI’s Cardinal-Vicar) issued a letter in which the following standard was given:

In order that uniformity in understanding prevail…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 knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper. 14


The Crusade was initially addressed only to the institutions directed by female religious in Italy. However, in 1930 the Pope extended his Crusade to all the world. By the Pope’s mandate, on January 12, 1930, a letter was issued from the Sacred

Congregation of the Council to all the bishops of the world. In this letter, the directives on modesty were given not only to institutes directed by female religious, but “they were extended to include also pastors, parents and the laity in general.” 15


It was from Pope Pius XI’s universal standard that an American priest, Fr. Bernard A. Kunkel, developed “The Marylike Standards For Modesty In Dress.” Fr. Kunkel’s idea was to use Mary as the model of modesty and the Pope’s standard as a concrete guide, and thus with his “Marylike Standards,” women could be sure of pleasing God in their manner of dress.

Fr. Kunkel’s Marylike Standards were submitted to the discretion of the Church, and, as a result, on December 8, 1944 with full ecclesiastical approval, the “Marylike Modesty Crusade” was born. For a full quarter century (till his death in 1969) Fr.

Kunkel led this Crusade, preaching that the universal standard of Pius XI was binding on all Catholic women and offering his

Marylike Crusade to assist them in embracing it. Though, for the most part, the Catholic hierarchy in the United States ignored the Papal standard, Fr. Kunkel courageously spread the Church’s teaching on modesty throughout the dioceses of the United States and beyond. On two separate occasions Pope Pius XII imparted his Apostolic Blessing upon the Crusade. In his blessing he called the Crusade a “laudable movement for modesty in dress and behavior,” and extended that blessing “to all who further” it. 16


Considering the weight of approval the “Marylike Standards,” have received and that they are derived from the universal standard set by Pope Pius XI, could there be any other standards for Catholic women to adopt? Following “The Marylike

Standards” they will be following the approved teaching of the Church, and thus, they will never have reason to doubt that they are truly dressing in a manner that is pleasing to Jesus.

“The Marylike Standards,” are provided in Section 4 along with guidelines for men, children and youth.


3. The Second Aspect: The Spirit of Modesty and The Traditional Form of Dress

This second aspect, of proper Christian dress is something less apparent than the first. Yet, though it is more subtle, because of the long-term effects of failing in this aspect, it may well be equally important to the Heart of God.

The second aspect of Christian modesty: being instilled with the spirit of modesty, does not deal with the danger of mortal sin by becoming an occasion of sin against purity. Rather, this second aspect deals, more positively, with learning to dress in the manner that is proper to Christian dignity. This means embracing the idea of dressing not so much with the view of seeking one’s own pleasure or comfort, as to honor and edify one’s neighbor, to be healthy yeast in the dough of society, and above all, to best please God. For many, this may mean sacrifice: The sacrifice of one’s own desire, convenience, and habit, as well as the sacrifice of countering the popular fashions of the Cultural Revolution.


The Traditional Form of Dress

The few leaflets on modesty that can be found today generally say that for preserving purity, loose fitting pants are adequate for women. And this may be true — as long as they are actually loose enough to conceal a woman’s form. However, one current little leaflet distributed by the Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate says something more. After presenting what is necessary for preserving purity, it goes on to state: “The ideal form of dress for a woman is a modest blouse and dress extending close to the ankles. Men should wear loose fitting shirts and slacks.” 17



This ideal, it should be observed, is nothing more than the traditional form of dress for men and women approved in Christian society ever since males went from wearing robes to pants.*

*God first ordered pants or “breeches” for men in Exodus 28:42. They were to be worn by the priests under their robes when ministering in the Sanctuary. Eventually they became the common outer garment for men.


It should also be noted that throughout the centuries, from Apostolic times until the 1920’s, Christian women, as a rule, did not wear such things as tight-fitting or sleeveless tops, miniskirts, pants or shorts. Rather, even though styles have greatly varied, they have generally worn loose fitting dresses extending near or to the ankle. This is true even when women took part in activities such as riding on a horse or donkey (as Our Lady did en route to Bethlehem at the dawn of the Christian Era) or working in the fields (like St. Maria Goretti and her mother at the dawn of the 20th Century), though such activities are done more conveniently in pants or shorts. The length of garment was indeed fitting, since in the Book of Isaiah God refers to a woman’s bare legs as “nakedness” and “shame” (Is. 47:2-3).


By and large, Catholics have always understood that there are good reasons for traditions and thus have regarded them with respect. Traditions are simply good customs that help to safeguard and defend what we believe. They were practiced by those that came before and they are, in turn, to be handed on.

Modern man seems to place little value on traditions (whether cultural or religious). Perhaps this is because our advancements in technology cause us to think of ourselves as superior to the generations that came before us. Therefore, we easily discard traditions for the sake of expediency, convenience or even the desire for novelty. Yet, there is always much wisdom bound up in good traditions.

For instance, in the Church we have the ancient ecclesiastical tradition of genuflecting in front of the Tabernacle. This tradition safeguards our belief that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is really present in the Sacred Hosts reserved there and that when we are before the Tabernacle, we are in the awesome presence of Almighty God. Thus, when the practice of genuflecting is maintained, we are continually reminded that the church is the House of God, a Sacred Place, to be entered with due respect. Finally, it reminds us of His greatness and of our lowliness before Him.

The wisdom bound up in the tradition of genuflecting is clearly seen. Certainly it is more expedient and convenient to forego the act of genuflecting when entering the church. Yet, if this tradition is not preserved, Eucharistic faith and devotion begin eroding away. In a similar manner, there is also wisdom bound up in the traditional form of dress of Christian culture.


The Need for Distinction

Notice first, that the traditional form of dress for men and for women is different. And even in earlier times when men wore robes, their garments were distinctly different from women’s.*

*Men’s robes were narrower and shorter. Women’s robes were fuller and more colorful. This can still be seen today in some eastern cultures.


There is a dangerous tendency in our modern culture to reduce or minimize the differences between men and women and their complementary roles. As Horvat pointed out, we are becoming a “unisex” society. Hasn’t the most common and popular form of dress for both men and women been reduced to denim pants and a cotton T-shirt? God however, “created them male and female” (Gen. 5:2); therefore, though equal in dignity, they are indeed meant to be distinct from one another. So much so that the Bible says: “A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel: neither shall a man use women’s apparel. For he that doeth these things is abominable before God.” (Deut. 22:5). On this same subject Fr. William C. Breda, O.S.A., wrote in an article entitled “Proper Attire Makes Us Human” in the September 10, 1981 issue of “The Wanderer”:


There seems to persist among many people the mistaken belief that we clothe ourselves mainly against the inclemencies of the climate, for protection against the weather and the cold, and that when summer comes, and the warm weather, we can doff our suits and dresses and go about unclad and half-naked. The whole idea is of course superficial… Without proper attire and without distinctive raiment we are simply not even human. Chesterton somewhere points to the truth of the old phrase ‘clothed and in his right mind’ [Mk. 5:15]: a sound and sane man moves around in his world in decent and proper apparel.

Our clothes are first and most of all the symbols of our state of life and of our social dignity. In the manner in which we dress and present ourselves, we express our masculinity and femininity…we manifest our beliefs and convictions, and we also proclaim our designs and intentions, and denote our tastes and tendencies. We are able therefore, or should be [able], to recognize a man and a woman by the clothes they are wearing. 18 (Emphasis in the original).


From this we see the need for distinction in dress between the sexes. But why is it that the traditional form of dress for women is a long dress or skirt? The answer lies in the fact that dresses are a more dignified form of dress than pants, and thus they both adorn and safeguard a woman’s beautiful and delicate femininity. In fact, Chesterton points out that because this style of clothing is more dignified, “when men wish to be safely impressive, as judges, priests or kings, they do wear skirts, the long, trailing robes of female dignity.” 19

Yes, even judges, priests, and kings traditionally wear distinguished robes signifying the special dignity of their office.

Their manner of dress evokes the respect of others. And while it is fitting for a man to dress in robes (of masculine character), as was the custom in Biblical times, the thinking here is that it is not fitting for a woman to degrade her feminine dignity by wearing pants. As was stated above, because of the natural differences in the genders, women are more prone to be treated with less dignity or respect than men. Thus, Pope Pius XII taught that “the innate need to enhance beauty and dignity” is “more greatly felt by woman.” 20



A police officer might complain that he would be more comfortable working in jeans and a T-shirt. Yet, if he were allowed to do this, he wouldn’t be recognized as an officer, nor would he be given the proper respect due to his position. Thus policemen wear a uniform and are respected and obeyed as being officers of the law. Likewise, a woman may seek comfort and convenience in wearing pants, but in doing so, she is less likely to be recognized and respected as a lady. Rather, she will blend in and may well be treated as just another man. By dressing in traditional feminine attire women are sure to be recognized as ladies, thus eliciting the admiration and commanding the respect of men, while also glorifying their God-given femininity. They will also do much to combat the abuse to which they are often subject today.


Reverence for the Female Body

There is also another reason why “the innate need to enhance…dignity” is “more greatly felt by woman.” The Franciscan Friars Leaflet (mentioned above) explains a special reverence due to the female body:

The female body is, in a certain sense, more sacred than the male body because her body is capable of bringing to life a new human person created in the image and likeness of God and infused with an immortal soul that will last for all eternity.

Reflecting on this “frightful privilege,” Chesterton was moved to express that “no one…can quite believe in the equality of the sexes.” 21

The leaflet goes on to say that “because the female body has this power and dignity it must be treated with reverence and should be kept ‘veiled’ with modest clothing. Immodest clothing thus profanes its sacred character.”

Here again we note that dresses are far more suitable for a woman than pants. Dresses drape over a woman’s form and veil in mystery and dignity her intimate center where new human life comes forth into this world. And long dresses aid women in safeguarding modesty while bending, stooping, working and going about their daily tasks. Pants on the other hand, by their nature are designed to fit a woman’s outline, thus, even when they are loose they can become a danger when bending, stooping, etc. It is similar to the difference between a mitten and a glove. Which one reveals more about the hand?


A Perceptive Cardinal’s Letter

The late Giuseppe Cardinal Siri explains some other important reasons for maintaining the traditional form of feminine attire. These reasons have to do with the effects of women wearing pants on families and society. The Cardinal explains them in a letter he wrote in 1960 when he first noticed “a certain increase in the use of men’s dress by girls and women, even family mothers” in his Archdiocese of Genoa. 22

This letter was addressed to all those responsible for souls (i.e. Priests, Teaching Sisters, Educators, etc.). He began by mentioning that since trousers generally tend “to cling closer” than other forms of feminine attire “the tight fit of such clothing gives us no less grounds for concern than does exposure of the body.” Then, he went on to describe “a different aspect of women’s wearing of men’s trousers,” which he said, “seems to us the gravest.” He wrote:

The wearing of men’s dress by women affects firstly the woman herself, by changing the feminine psychology proper to women; secondly it affects the woman as wife of her husband, by tending to vitiate* relationships between the sexes; thirdly it affects the woman as mother of her children by harming her dignity in her children’s eyes.

*Vitiate: to spoil or to corrupt.

He went on to carefully elaborate on each of these points.

Being too long to quote in full, two of the points are summarized here:

With regards to the “feminine psychology proper to women,” he explained that “the motive impelling women to wear men’s dress is always that of imitating, nay, of competing with, the man who is considered stronger, less tied down, more independent.”

A little study of history will reveal that, indeed, it was the desire to be “like a man” that motivated women to begin to wear pants.

Today, of course, this can hardly be considered the conscious motive of all women in wearing pants. Many probably wear them because they are considered acceptable and for their convenience. Nevertheless, the Cardinal pointed out that “the clothing a person wears, demands, imposes and modifies that person’s gestures, attitudes and behavior, such that from merely being worn outside, clothing comes to impose a particular frame of mind inside. Therefore, wearing trousers “is the visible aid to bringing about a mental attitude of being ‘like a man,'” and to some degree “indicates her reacting to her femininity as though it is inferiority when in fact it is only diversity.


Certainly not every woman’s psychology will be affected in the same way by the wearing of pants, but in reality, how many women have been affected without even realizing it, and by this, the whole of society? Are they still the heart of their families, desiring to be at home with their children? Are they still subject to the authority of their husbands as our holy religion teaches?

Or have they become more independent and taken interest in being out in the world, in competing with men at being the breadwinner and the head of the family?

In these times of disorder and confusion, the following teachings may be useful for those who are in the position to raise Catholic families: Pope Leo XIII reminded us in his Encyclical Arcanum (Feb. 10, 1880): “The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman…must be subject to her husband and obey him; not indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties” (See Eph. 5:22-33). Later, in Casti Connubii (Dec. 31, 1930), Pope Pius XI proclaimed this order of the family as unchangeable and constituted by God: “…this subjection of wife to husband in its degree and manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons, place and time.… But the structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact.”



All evidence indicates that this trend has already very much changed the psychology of women in society. How will Catholic women be able fulfill their God-given role as females if they do not preserve their true feminine identity?


With regards to “the woman as mother of her children,” the Cardinal explained that “all children have an instinct for the sense of dignity and decorum of their mother.” Therefore, although “the child may not know the definition of exposure, frivolity or infidelity, …he possesses an instinctive sixth sense to recognize them when they occur, to suffer from them, and be bitterly wounded by them in his soul.” Here we see the need for maintaining a dignified feminine modesty not only in public, but also within the sanctuary of the home.


Obviously, the Cardinal’s concern is not with restricting women, but in helping them preserve their beautiful and delicate femininity so vital to healthy families and to a healthy society.

God made them male and female; and, Oh! how the world suffers when it loses the female element! As it is said: “The

hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”


Further on in his letter, Cardinal Siri wrote:

Out of charity we are fighting against the flattening out of mankind, against the attack upon those differences on which rests the complementarity of man and woman.


When we see a woman in trousers, we should think not so much of her as of all mankind, of what it will be when women will have masculinized themselves for good. Nobody stands to gain by helping to bring about a future age of vagueness, ambiguity, imperfection and, in a word, monstrosities.

The Cardinal went on to warn that unlike the immediate harm done by “grave immodesty,” the damage caused by women wearing pants was not “all to be seen within a short time.” Rather the effects would be slow and insidious. During the past 40+ years since this warning, pants on women have become increasingly the norm. Less and less has been seen of the traditional form of dress, and thus, the demarcation between masculine and feminine and their complementary roles has faded. Unfortunately, those 40+ years have been long enough for us to witness the distressing consequences the clear-sighted Cardinal feared would come about in families and in society.

Sadly, there is ample evidence that the “masculinization” of women has helped to bring about an age of “imperfection” and “monstrosities”. The Catholic Medical Association (CMA) in a recent open letter to the United States Bishops 23 explained that Gender Identification Disorder (GID) is the principal predisposing complex leading to the neurotic condition of homosexual attraction. Boys and girls are certainly born male and female respectively, but they must learn (especially through their same-sex parent) what it means to be a man or a woman. If this is not learned, and a child grows up with a weak sexual identity (GID), there is a strong possibility he will eventually develop same-sex attraction (SSA). According to CMA’s letter, of boys with GID “approximately 75% of them will go on to develop SSA.” Here, then, is seen a strong reason why, as Fr. Breda stated, “the manner in which we dress ourselves” should “express our masculinity and femininity,” and that we “should be [able] to recognize a man and a woman by the clothes they are wearing.” For it is certainly reasonable to conclude that the loss of such distinction in dress has, over a period of time, greatly contributed to the introduction in society of such “monstrosities” as so-called gay-rights and homosexual “marriage.”


Interestingly, Catholic psychologist Gerard van den Aardweg notes in his “(self-) therapy” book for homosexuality: The Battle for Normality, that in cultures (even the most primitive and pagan) where “the clear distinction” is made “between boys and girls,” homosexuality is very rare, if not non-existent. 24

As part of the therapy in battling for normality, this orthodox Catholic psychologist, with over thirty years of successful therapeutic experience, advises women with SSA “to amend their stubborn aversion to wearing a nice gown or other typical women’s dress.” 25

He also states that “the ideology that obliterates sex roles is so unnatural that future generations will undoubtedly see

it as a perversion of a decadent culture.” 26

With all this in mind, could it be that pants on women were among the fashions Our Lady of Fatima was referring to when She said: “Certain fashions are to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much”? Was it because St. Padre Pio foresaw these things that he preached against women wearing pants? 27


The Church’s thinking on Women’s Attire

If we understand the female’s greater need to enhance her dignity and to safeguard her feminine identity, we can understand why pants were never considered acceptable garb for women throughout the entire history of the Church. Pope Pius XI’s 1928 standard for women’s attire mentions only a dress. No standard was given for pants because they certainly were not considered feminine garb at that time. Now, however, at the dawn of the third millennium, it is clear that secular society in general has approved of pants for women. But is that enough? Not according to Pope Pius XII. In his address to the Latin Union of High Fashion in 1957 he stated that a “garment must not be evaluated according to the estimation of a decadent or already corrupt society, but according to the aspirations of a society which prizes the dignity and seriousness of its public attire.” 28

It is plain to see from mass abortion alone (not to mention many other commonly accepted immoral practices) that today’s society is “decadent” and “already corrupt.” It is also plain to see that today’s society does not “prize the dignity” nor the “seriousness of its public attire.” One has only to go to a typical public school and observe what our society permits children and teenagers to wear to be convinced (i.e. lowrider pants, miniskirts, halter tops, pierced noses, lips, eyebrows, etc.). Therefore, society’s approval of women wearing pants (contrary to Christian tradition) can be no guarantee that they are in fact a garment worthy of feminine dignity, or much less that they are pleasing to God.


Yet that is not all. In the same address, Pope Pius XII went on to say that people, being often “too docile” or “too lazy” to make their own critical judgment, “wish to be guided in style more than in any other activity.” Therefore, they often “accept the first thing that is offered to them and only later become aware of how mediocre or unbecoming certain fashions are.” 29

Hence, we understand his warning that “style should be directed and controlled instead of being abandoned to caprice….” Though he was addressing first of all the designers, he went on to say: “…it also applies to individuals, whose dignity demands of them that they should liberate themselves with free and enlightened conscience from the imposition of pre-determined tastes, especially tastes debatable on moral grounds.” Therefore, he concluded: “…react firmly against currents that are contrary to the best traditions.” [Emphasis added] 30

We have seen that the ideal or traditional form of dress “for a woman is a modest blouse and dress extending close to the ankles.” We have also seen that pants on women are indeed “debatable on moral grounds.” Therefore, it seems clear that the

Pope is asking for women to “react firmly against” donning pants (as well as other novelties in modern clothing) which not only cannot be found anywhere in “the best traditions,” but are actually opposed by Christian tradition. Instead, they are to continue the long-standing tradition of wearing long dresses and skirts.

In fact, this same Pope went on to point out where the “best traditions” in feminine attire could be found. As the best models for women’s clothing, he offered the “feminine figures in the masterpieces of classical art which have undisputed esthetical value. Here the clothing, marked by Christian decency, is a worthy ornament of the person with whose beauty it blends as in a single triumph of admirable dignity.” 31

The impressive dresses he speaks of, as a rule, had not only ankle length hems, but also modest collars and long sleeves never shorter than the elbow.*

*The Pope here was obviously not speaking of the artistic nudes & semi-nudes often found in classical art. Rather, we can be certain he was speaking of those feminine figures who are depicted clad in the typical modest and dignified forms of dress of Christian history.


Nor did this attire hinder women from looking chastely beautiful. Let us understand here that the Pope is trying to do nothing more than move fashions back to the common decency of 1900 years of Christian tradition. Today’s scanty and formfitting clothes were virtually unheard of in past ages.

Perhaps such clothing that admirably covers so much of the body won’t be easily found today; nevertheless, a lofty example

has been given for the virtuous woman to pursue. For while Pope Pius XII recognized that public morality certainly changes “according to the times, the nature and the conditions of the civilization of individual peoples,” he said that “this does not invalidate the obligation to strive for the ideal of perfection….” 32

And with this example we see that Fr. Kunkel’s Crusade
was right in calling the Marylike Standards “minimum standards.” 33

For there exists a higher ideal, an even greater modesty for which one can strive.


Shrines of the Holy Ghost

As was said before, dressing modestly is not reserved for women alone. All Christians, men, women and children, must dress with apt dignity. If by our manner of dress “we express” not only “our masculinity and femininity,” as Fr. Breda explained, but also “our beliefs and convictions”, we can understand the reason for this. What is our conviction? What do we believe as

Christians? St. Paul says:

Surely you know that your bodies are the shrines of the Holy Ghost, Who dwells in you. And He is God’s gift to you, so that you are no longer your own masters. A great price was paid to ransom you; glorify God by making your bodies the shrines of his presence. (1 Cor. 6:19-20, Knox version)


A Positive Effect on Society

Often in our day, good Catholics are rightly heard complaining because they frequently see priests going about without their cassocks and collars, and religious sisters without their traditional habits. What a great effect their outward appearance has upon us! Yes, outward appearance produces such great effects, that Pope Pius XII exclaimed:

It is often said almost with passive resignation that fashions reflect the customs of a people. But it would be more exact and much more useful to say that they express the decision and moral direction that a nation intends to take: either to be shipwrecked in licentiousness or maintain itself at the level to which it has been raised by religion and civilization.34

Therefore, by becoming zealous in adhering to the traditional form of dress, Catholics will have a positive, moralizing effect upon the pagan world around them. Thus, they will work to reverse the Cultural Revolution and restore Christian Civilization.


4. The Standards

These standards may appear as something out-dated; but the words of Our Lady assure us they are as pertinent today as ever: “The Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same.”

Pope Pius XII also assured us that although there can be a wide variety in fashions, “there always exists an absolute norm to be preserved” 35 which cannot change with times and customs. To “justify” immodest fashions by calling them things we get “accustomed to,” he said, was among “the most insidious of sophisms.” 36

Therefore, the following timeless standards should be joyfully welcomed and embraced. Furthermore, Catholics should both charitably encourage and admonish each other to dress with proper modesty.


The Marylike Standards for Modesty in Dress 37

In order that uniformity in understanding prevail… 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 knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper. — The Cardinal Vicar of Pope Pius XI.




1. Marylike is modest without compromise, “like Mary,” Christ’s Mother.

2. Marylike dresses have sleeves extending at least to the elbows and skirts reaching below the knees.

[When a woman sits down her knees should still be well covered].

(Note: because of impossible market conditions quarter-length sleeves are temporarily tolerated with Ecclesiastical Approval, until Christian womanhood again turns to Mary as the model of modesty in dress.)

3. Marylike dresses require full coverage for the bodice, chest, shoulders, and back; except for a cut-out about the neck not exceeding two inches below the neckline in front and in back, and a corresponding two inches on the shoulders

4. Marylike dresses do not admit as modest coverage transparent fabrics — laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc. — unless sufficient backing is added. However, their moderate use as trimmings is acceptable.

5. Marylike dresses avoid the improper use of flesh-colored fabrics.

6. Marylike dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer; they do not emphasize, unduly, parts of the body.

7. Marylike dresses provide full coverage even after jacket, cape or stole are removed.


Virtuous young ladies should understand that dressing modestly does not mean that they cannot appear attractive.

However, the attractiveness of their attire should be a modest reflection of the beauty deep within their soul rather than an improper exposure of sensual beauty that has an attraction that is only skin deep. Scripture teaches: “…let their adorning not be the outward plaiting of the hair, or the wearing of gold, or the putting on of apparel: But the hidden self of the heart in the incorruptibility of a quiet and a meek spirit which is rich in the sight of God” (1Pet. 3:3-4).


Standards for Men

Earlier in this booklet, St. Paul was quoted as saying that women should appear “in decent apparel; adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety” (1Tim. 2:9). And although, as already mentioned, this is more important for women, St. Francis De Sales commenting on this passage does not hesitate to remark that “the same may be said of men.” 38

Yes, men too must dress with proper Christian dignity. How overly casual they have become. It is not acceptable for Christian men to go about their daily business in sportswear or other scanty clothing that covers the body little more than the clothing of savages. Remember that missionaries throughout Church history in converting these savages, taught them to cover themselves according to Christian decency.

Although the Church has not provided a universal standard for men’s clothing, still, some guidelines can be found. In May

1946 the Canadian Bishops directed these words on modesty to men: “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 offences against the virtue of modesty. They may also be an occasion of sin (in thought or desire) for our neighbor.”39


Certainly then, men must take care to avoid tight fitting clothes, short shorts, low-buttoned shirts, muscle shirts, and going shirtless. Because of their Christian dignity, for their everyday attire they should gladly adhere to the ideal (or traditional) form of dress for men: “Loose fitting shirts and slacks.” Long, loose fitting shorts are acceptable for sports, hiking and certain types of work. And finally, it should go without saying that earrings and other marks of effeminacy are to be avoided.


Standards for Children and Youth

Finally, with regards to youngsters, the Church teaches that even small children should be instructed in the practice of properly covering and adorning the body. In this way, by the time they reach puberty their sense of modesty will have become very acute, and the observance of modesty an ordinary part of their daily lives. In reality, then, there should exist little if any difference between the way adults and children observe modesty. Looking at pictures of the three Fatima children, we find good examples.

They are but young children tending sheep, yet see how they are fully dressed, the boy like a male and the girls like females. And the youngest among them, Bl. Jacinta, gives us this beautiful example in her final illness. At only ten years old she had to undergo an operation at the insistence of her doctors. Though the anesthesia of those days “by no means took away her pain,” it is said that she “suffered more from the humiliation of having to expose her body…than from the physical pain.”40


The 1930 letter of the Sacred Congregation of the Council (mentioned above) decreed, in part, the following:

Parents, conscious of their grave obligations toward the education, especially religious and moral, of their offspring, should assiduously inculcate in their souls, by word and example, love for the virtues of modesty and purity, and since their family should follow the example of the Holy Family, they must rule in such a manner that all its members, reared within the walls of the home, should find reason and incentive to love and preserve modesty. …Let parents never permit their daughters to don immodest garb. 41


Later, that great champion of Christian modesty, Pope Pius XII, gave these strong admonitions to parents:

Woe to those fathers and mothers lacking in energy and prudence, who cede to the caprices of their children and surrender that paternal authority written on the brow of man and wife as a reflection of the divine Majesty. 42


…O Christian mothers (and fathers), if only you knew the future of distress and peril, of shame ill-restrained, that you prepare for your sons and daughters in imprudently accustoming them to live hardly clothed and in making them lose the sense of modesty, you would be ashamed of yourselves and of the harm done to the little ones whom Heaven entrusted to your care, to be reared in Christian dignity and culture. 43




Finally, on December 8, 1995, the Pontifical Council for the Family reminded parents:

Even if they are socially acceptable, some habits of speech and dress are not morally correct and represent a way of trivializing sexuality, reducing it to a consumer object.

Parents should therefore teach their children the value of Christian modesty, moderate dress, and, when it comes to trends, the necessary autonomy. 44


Sports and Recreation

Many people think that when they are having a picnic or on an outing that the standards for modesty do not apply. Yet, on

August 20, 1954, Pope Pius XII declared:

On the beaches, in country resorts, almost everywhere, on the streets of cities and towns, in public and private places, and, indeed, often even in buildings dedicated to God, an unworthy and indecent mode of dress has prevailed. 45

These words remind us that the same standard of modesty is to be practiced at all times and places since in all circumstances human nature is subject to the same temptations.

Perhaps for many, because of existing habits, practicing modesty in this area will be the most difficult to observe. Our culture practically worships sports. Because of this, modesty in sportswear has been sacrificed to the god of gaining the competitive advantage — even if there is no competition! It is good to be reminded again of the words of Pope Pius XII:

The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts…If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up. 46


Obviously, for this same reason, Pius XI, taught in his encyclical “On The Christian Education of Youth,” that “in gymnastic exercises and deportment, special care must be had of Christian modesty in young women and girls, which is so gravely impaired by any kind of exhibition in public.” 47

Later, Pope Pius XII would add, “Do they not see the harm resulting from excess in certain gymnastic exercises and sports not suitable for virtuous girls? 48

Therefore, the Marylike Crusade taught that the same two rules apply everywhere: “Sufficient coverage and proper fit.” 49

This is why Catholic schools once dressed their girls in Marylike gym suits for physical education. We see how God came first in those days!

With regard to swimming there are virtually no commercially available swimsuits for women and girls that give proper coverage. The skintight suits for men are equally to be abhorred.


Even as far back as 1959, Enrique Cardinal Play Daniel, Archbishop of Toledo, Spain, was moved to give this directive:

A special danger to morals is represented by public bathing at the beaches, in pools and river banks… Mixed bathing between men and women which nearly always is an approximate occasion of sin and a scandal, must be avoided. 50

Perhaps we can understand from this the original wisdom in having a YMCA and a YWCA. Let us also keep in mind that up until the mid 1800’s people just didn’t swim in public. It seems in the past folks were well aware of the “special danger to morals” this would cause. Therefore, if any swimming is to be done, it should be within the family in an enclosed area. And carefully selected, skirted swimsuits will be necessary to preserve the modesty and femininity of the women.*

*For information on sources of genuinely modest swimwear (and other modest apparel) for women contact: Little Flowers Family Apostolates @ (613) 278-2618 / Fax (613) 278-0550 / www.lffa-ollmpc.com.


Norms for Church and Other Sacred Places

Since Catholic Churches contain Jesus’ Real Presence in the Tabernacle, they are the holiest places on earth; therefore, modesty must be specially observed in them. Modesty should also be specially observed in other sacred places (i.e. outdoor shrines, convents, rectories, seminaries, etc.). This is so important that the Marylike Crusade offered a special imprimatured “Code of Attire for Church and Sacred Places.”

This Code taught women that while they should dress with “Marylike modesty, both at home and in public,” they must be “specially careful to do so when visiting any place dedicated to God.” It also taught that “principles of proper clothing apply…also to men and boys.” Finally, it warned that by coming to church or other sacred places in any kind of immodest garb “God is offended…very grievously.” Consequently, it made a special point of instructing anyone who had “provoked the just anger of God by improper attire” in holy places to “humbly acknowledge and confess these sins…and make reparation to the offended Divine Majesty.” 51

These words of God’s anger may sound severe to our hearing, but let us be mindful that the only place in the Gospel where Jesus ever showed anger (and a severe anger) was in the Temple of God. For as it is written of Him:

“The zeal of thy House hath eaten me up.” (Jn. 2:17).

Today, to observe proper norms for dress will often mean being different than others. Be mindful that it was daring individuals, who had no fear of the opinions of others, who introduced the improper, indecent and egalitarian fashions that are now destroying our once Christian culture. Therefore, it must be faithful Catholics (called to be the salt of the earth) who, reacting “firmly against the currents that are contrary to the best traditions,” dare to lead our society back to that high standard of decency and harmonious diversity so pleasing to Our Lord and Our Lady. And thus even by their dress, they will prepare the world for the coming of God’s Kingdom!


5. The Feminine Advantage

As a final note, it must be said that women often believe they are gaining some great advantage by turning away from their proper and natural role in the family, society and the Church.




The ironic truth of the matter is that in doing so they actually lose their most important advantage: their spiritual advantage over men. This truth is explained in this final section.

As noted above, the “mental attitude of being ‘like a man'” which Cardinal Siri spoke of, has been very much instilled into our modern culture. This is expressed not only by the clothing women now wear, but also by their seeking to take more dominant roles in society, by their no longer recognizing their husband’s authority in the family, and some, by even seeking Holy Orders in the Church. But as was shown above, men and women are created different. Therefore, though the genders are certainly equal in dignity, they have different roles to fulfill.

Pope Pius XI pointed this out beautifully in this passage from his Encyclical, Casti Cannubii:

…if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love. 52


The highly respected Catholic philosopher, Alice Von Hildebrand eloquently explains these differing roles further:

Men and women, while equal in dignity, are different and therefore are called upon to fulfill different functions. Men symbolize the active principle; women the receptive one (which is not to be identified with passivity). This complementarity finds its expression not only in the mystery of the sexual sphere, but on a much higher level, in the fact that the dignity of the priesthood is assigned to men and not to women. It is proper that a human male should actively duplicate the words Christ spoke at the Last Supper; while to the human female has been assigned the glorious function of sacred receptivity, so powerfully expressed in the words of the Holy Virgin, the blessed one among women, and the most perfect of all creatures. It was she who gave women their holy motto: “Be it DONE unto me according to Thy word.” 53

“Receptivity,” as Von Hildebrand defines it, “is a generous opening of oneself to another, allowing the possibility of fecundity

[i.e. fertility or fruitfulness].” 54

Therefore, the irony is, true holiness — with its demand for obedience, submissiveness, hiddenness, attentiveness, and for total trust and dependency on God — demands that receptivity, which by nature is characteristic — not of men — but of women.

This characteristic receptivity, we can be sure, is the reason that (as St. Teresa of Avila pointed out) many more women than men receive mystical graces. This is a simple fact of history. And sadly, women are losing this receptivity as they strive to be independent, aggressive and dominant seeking to take on the more active role of men.


It would seem clear then that God is calling women to be, in a certain sense, spiritual leaders, yet without in any way giving up the beautiful feminine nature with which He adorned them.

Following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the countless female Saints, by their example, they will lead all humanity along the way of obedience, submissiveness, hiddenness, attentiveness, trust and love to the establishment of

God’s Kingdom on earth, where the Divine Will will “be done on earth as it is in Heaven… Amen!”



1 This saying was often repeated by Pius XII. Found in: Martin, Louis, Immodest Dress: The Mind of the Church, p. 6. Catholic Treasures, Monrovia, CA.

2 Address of Pope Pius XII to a group of Catholic Action girls on October 6, 1940. Ibid., p. 12.

3 Horvat, Marian Therese, “The Egalitarian Revolution, Part 4: The Cultural Revolution,” Echoes of True Catholicism, Oct.29-Nov.4, 2001, Vol. 12, No. 154. (www.Dailycatholic.org/issue/2001Oct/oct29txt.htm).

4 Immodest Dress: The Mind of the Church, pp. 7 & 12.

5 “L-115” (Pamphlet), The World Apostolate of Fatima, Washington, NJ. (Out of Print).

6 Address of Pope Pius XII, July 17, 1954. Cited in: Immodest Dress: The Mind of the Church, pp. 23-4.

7 Manelli, Fr. Stefano M. (FFI), Jesus Our Eucharistic Love, p. 67. Valatie, NY: The Academy of the Immaculate, 1996.

8 Gaudiose, Dorothy M., Prophet of the People, pp. 191-2. Staten Island, NY: Alba House Publishers, 1988.

9 Cited in Immodest Dress: The Mind of the Church, p. 20-21.

10 From the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas (IIa IIae, Q. 26, a. 5, see also Q. 169, a. 2).

11 Address of Pope Pius XII to young girls of Catholic Action of Rome, members of the Crusade for Purity, on May 22, 1941.

12 From a folder issued in 1935 by the “League of Modesty” with the Imprimatur of George Cardinal Mundelien. Cited in Immodest Dress: The Mind of the Church, p. 16.

13 Cited in Immodest Dress: The Mind of the Church, p. 12.

14 Ibid., p. 16.

15 Kunkel, Fr. Bernard A., Marylike Modesty Handbook of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate. (This book contained in My Life in Prayer Book, Radio Rosary: Pittsburgh, PA.) pp. 248-9.

16 Ibid., p. 230.

17 “In Imitation of the Virgin” (Leaflet). Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. New Bedford, MA.

18 Cited in Immodest Dress: The Mind of the Church, p. 22.

19 Chesterton, G. K., What’s Wrong with the World, Part III, Chapter 5: The Coldness of Chloe.

20 Address of Pope Pius XII to a Congress of the “Latin Union of High Fashion,” Nov. 8, 1957. Cited in “L-75” (Booklet), p. 75. The World Apostolate of Fatima, Washington, NJ. (Out of Print).

21 What’s Wrong with the World, Part III, Chapter 10: The Higher Anarchy.

22 Giuseppe Cardinal Siri, “Notification Concerning Men’s Dress Worn by Women,” Genoa, June 12, 1960. Reprinted in Immodesty: Satan’s Virtue, pp. 127-134.

23 “What Could Bring On Same-Sex Attraction in Boys: Catholic Psychiatrists Look at Roots of U.S. Scandals,” Zenit News Agency (Zenit.org). New York, June 27, 2002.





24 Van Den Aardweg, Gerard J. M., The Battle For Normality: A Guide For (Self-) Therapy For Homosexuality, p. 78. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997.

25 Ibid., p. 137.

26 Ibid., p. 147.

27 Padre Pio’s opposition to pants on women was verified by phone call to Our Lady of Grace Convent, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy (June 19, 2003).

28 Address of Pope Pius XII to a Congress of the “Latin Union of High Fashion,” Nov. 8, 1957. Cited in “L-75,” p. 80.

29 Ibid., p. 83.

30 Ibid., p. 82.

31 Ibid.

32 Ibid., p. 84.

33 My Life in Prayer Book (containing: Marylike Modesty Handbook of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate), p. 251.

34 Address of Pope Pius XII to a Congress of the “Latin Union of High Fashion,” Nov. 8, 1957. Cited in “L-75,” p. 80.

35 Ibid.

36 Ibid., p. 84.

37 Immodest Dress: The Mind of the Church, pp. 17-18. And My Life in Prayer Book (containing: Marylike Modesty Handbook of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate), p. 259.

38 Introduction to the Devout Life, p.191.

39 Cited in Immodesty: Satan’s Virtue, by Rita Davidson, pp. 22-3. Little Flowers Family Apostolates (http://www.lffa-llmpc.com), McDonalds Corners, ON, Canada: January 2003.

40 Cirrincione, Msgr. Joseph A., Ven. Jacinta Marto of Fatima, p. 58. Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, Inc. 1992.

41 Cited in Immodest Dress: The Mind of the Church, p. 15.

42 Allocution on St. Maria Goretti, Canonization 1947. Cited in “L-75,” p. ‘D’.

43 Cited in My Life in Prayer Book (containing: Marylike Modesty Handbook of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate), p. 240.

44 “Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, No. 97,” Dec. 8, 1995, Pontifical Council for the Family.

45 Excerpt from a letter Pope Pius XII delegated Cardinal Ciriaci (Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of the Council) to issue. Reprinted in Immodesty: Satan’s Virtue, p. 123, (Here dated as Aug. 15, 1954).

46 Address of Pope Pius XII to Catholic young girls’ groups in Rome. Cited in Immodesty: Satan’s Virtue, p. 23. See also notes 11 & 12.

47 Encyclical of Pope Pius XI: Rappresentanti in Terra, Dec. 31, 1929.

48 Allocution of Pope Pius XII to the Sodality convention in Rome on July 17, 1954.

49 My Life in Prayer Book (containing: Marylike Modesty Handbook of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate), p. 267.

50 Cited in Ibid., p. 269.

51 Reprinted in Immodesty: Satan’s Virtue, pp. 61-63.

52 Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Casti Connubii, December 31, 1930.

53 “The Sacredness of Tradition,” Article by Alice Von Hildebrand, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, April 1995, pp. 26-31 & 46-7.

54 “On the Privilege of Being a Woman,” Lecture by Alice Von Hildebrand given at the NY Catholic Forum, January 14, 1997.




Are women still required to wear veils in the House of God? Perhaps most Catholics today believe they are not. But what is the truth? Jackie Freppon in a recent newsletter article reports:

During the Second Vatican Council, a mob of reporters waited for news after a council meeting. One of them asked Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, then secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, if women still had to wear a headcovering in church. He responded that the bishops were considering other issues, and women’s veils were not on the agenda. The next day, the international press announced throughout the world that women did not have to keep their heads covered in church anymore. A few days later, Msgr. Bugnini told the press he was misquoted and women must still wear the veil. But the press did not retract the error, and many women stopped wearing the veil as out of confusion and because of pressure from feminist groups. 1


We read in First Corinthians:

Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered, disgraceth his head. But every women praying or prophesying with her head not covered, disgraceth her head: for it is all one as if she were shaven. For if a woman be not covered, let her be shorn. But if it be a shame to a woman to be shorn or made bald, let her cover her head. The man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman but the woman of the man. For the man was not created for the woman: but the woman for the man. Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because of the angels.…


“You yourselves judge. Doth it become a woman to pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that a man indeed, if he nourish his hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman nourish her hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the church of God.” (1Cor. 11:4-10, 13-16).





Here we see that the custom of the woman veiling her head in church is something bound up in her proper relation to the man as ordained by God. For the man, as Scripture teaches, is in authority over his wife (Eph. 5:22-33). We also see that “nature itself” teaches the logic of the veiling of a woman’s head. For, during divine worship when all attention is to be directed to the adoration of Almighty God, reason dictates that women must conceal the beauty of their hair and be modestly clad so as not to cause a distraction to men.


This passage, being Scriptural, is a divinely inspired teaching. Some would like to believe this teaching was just St. Paul’s personal opinion, but Paul himself in the same epistle said: “…know that the things I write to you, that they are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 14:37). And, speaking on Sacred Scripture, Pope Leo XIII taught in his encyclical

Providentissimus Deus that “all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost.”


St. Paul’s final words show to anyone who wants to act contrary to this practice, that it is an unchangeable apostolic and ecclesial tradition:

“…if any man be contentious, we [i.e. Apostles] have no such custom, nor the church of God.” And the Fathers of the Church unanimously agree. For instance, St. John Chrysostom states: “To oppose this practiced is contentious, which is irrational. The Corinthians might object, but if they do they are going against the practice of the Universal Church” (Homilies on First Corinthians, 26, 5). And Tertullian states: “What is the meaning of ‘every woman’ except women of every age, every rank, and every circumstance? No one is excepted” (On Prayer, 22, 4, on 1 Cor. 11:5)

Please note, Pope St. Pius X, in his encyclical Pascendi reiterated the Church’s teaching that apostolic and ecclesial traditions are not to be changed:

But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea, where it condemns those “who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions…or endeavor by malice of craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church”.… Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of the faith of the following declaration: “I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church.”


This apostolic tradition was kept always and everywhere in continuum for nearly 2000 years. Nowhere in all Church history do we find a breech in this venerable practice until some 35-40 years ago. Yet, even today, there exists no Church document abrogating this observance.


While it is true that there was a provision in the 1917 Code of Canon Law (Can. 1262.2) calling for the veil that is not seen in the new 1983 Code, that does not mean that it is no longer required. In the effort for simplification of Canon Law, this provision — already called for in Scripture and tradition — was simply left out. In fact, being that it is both a Scriptural teaching and a traditional observance, we have reason to believe that the Church hierarchy has no authority to change this observance. Therefore, what we seem to be seeing today — with the majority of women entering churches with their heads unveiled — can be considered a breech in a divinely mandated observance which is being universally tolerated. The unveiled head may indeed seem to be a small thing, but Jesus taught: “He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:19). Let us remember the proof of our love for God: “If you love me keep my commandments.” (John 14:15).


And then, how edifying it is to see women in church modestly dressed and heads veiled! How much it contributes to the atmosphere of sacredness in the House of God! How pleasing it is to the Angels of God! (1Cor. 11:10)



1 Freppon, Jackie, “The Veil,” 2002, www.catholicplanet.com.




Our Lady of Good Success appeared to a holy nun (Mother Mariana) in Quito, Ecuador in the 17th Century with a message of warning for the end of the 19th Century and especially the 20th Century. The following words are taken from this Church approved apparition:

…in these unhappy times, there will be unbridled luxury which, acting thus to snare the rest into sin, will conquer innumerable frivolous souls who will be lost. Innocence will almost no longer be found in children, nor modesty in women, and in this supreme moment of need of the Church, those who should speak will fall silent.


Bl. Jacinta having heard the words of Our Lady of Fatima stated:

…the sins that bring most souls to Hell are the sins of the flesh. Certain fashions are going to be introduced which will offend Our Lord very much. Those who serve God should not follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions; Our Lord is always the same. The sins of the world are too great. If only people knew what eternity is they would do everything to change their lives. People lose their souls because they do not think about the death of Our Lord and do not do penance.


“It is often said almost with passive resignation that fashions reflect the customs of a people. But it would be more exact and much more useful to say that they express the decision and moral direction that a nation intends to take: either to be shipwrecked in licentiousness or maintain itself at the level to which it has been raised by religion and civilization.”

— Pope Pius XII



Rome’s Decrees on Modesty in Dress – Still Victims of “Conspiracy of Silence”


Reprinted from the Marylike Crusader, November-December 1963


English Translation of 1928 Document

Modern Liberalism gives repeated evidence of a morbid fear of crusades against immodest fashions. It stubbornly adheres to the oft-repeated, and oft-condemned principle that Christian modesty in dress is regulated by “customs and styles of time, place and circumstances.” Just as stubbornly does it ignore, or refuse to heed, authoritative statements or decrees which contradict its pet sophisms and which insist that it is the Church, and not society, to which Christ has entrusted the principles governing Christian modesty.

Thus it happened that the “Crusade Against Immodest Fashions, Especially in Schools Directed by Religious,” ordered by Pope Pius XI on August 23, 1928, was all but completely ignored in the United States, even by our Catholic press. The letter containing the order was sent to all Ordinaries of Italy through the Sacred Congregation of Religious, and was made known to the world through the Acta Apostolicae Sedis in 1930 (vol. 22, pp. 26-28). Yet, to this day, very few Catholics have even heard of this document; and scarcely anyone seems to know its gravely-worded contents. For two decades we have been looking in vain for an English translation. At last we have one. It was made recently by the well-known Father John Rubba, O.P., from the Italian as it appeared in Commentarium Pro Religiosis (vol. 9, 1928, pp. 414-415). We are most happy to publish Father Rubba’s translation.


1928 Letter to the Congregation for Religious

To The Ordinaries of Italy: regarding the crusade against immodest fashions, especially in schools directed by women Religious.


Most Illustrious and Reverend Sir, well known to you are the grave words of condemnation which the Holy Father spoke, on several occasions, with apostolic authority, against the immodest fashion of women’s dress which prevails today to the detriment of good breeding.

Suffice it to recall the very grave words, charged with grief and admonition, with which in the discourse of August 15th current, in the consistorial chamber, promulgating the decree on the heroic virtues of Venerable Paola Frassinetti, His Holiness denounced once again the danger which, by its seductive fascination, threatens so many unwary souls, who profess to belong to the flock of Jesus Christ and to His Holy Church.

It is painful to point out in this regard that the deplorable custom tends to insinuate itself among young girls who frequent, as extern pupils, some of the schools directed by Sisters and Sunday-school classes which are held in female religious institutions.

In order to confront a danger which, by spreading, becomes ever more grave, this Sacred Congregation, by order of the Holy Father, calls upon the Ordinaries of Italy so that they may communicate to the superiors of the houses of female religious in their respective dioceses the following injunctions of this Sacred Congregation, confirmed by His Holiness in audience this day:

a) In all schools, academies, recreation centers, Sunday schools, and laboratories directed by female religious, not to be admitted from now on are those girls who do not observe in their attire the rules of modesty and Christian decency.

b) To this end, the superiors themselves will be obliged to exercise a close supervision and exclude peremptorily from the schools and projects of their institutions those pupils who do not conform to these prescriptions.

c) They must not be influenced in this by any human respect, either for material considerations or by reason of the social prestige and of the families of their pupils, even though the student body should diminish in number.

d) Furthermore, the Sisters, in fulfillment of their educational pursuits, must endeavor to inculcate sweetly and strongly in their pupils the love and relish for holy modesty, the sign and guardian of purity and delicate adornment of womankind.

Your Reverence will be vigilant that these injunctions be exactly observed and that there be perfect conformity of conduct among all the institutes of female religious in the diocese.

You will severely call to task whoever should fail in this, and should any abuse be prolonged, you will notify this Sacred Congregation.

With deepest esteem, I remain,

Devotedly yours,

G. Cardinal Laurenti, Prefect

Sacred Congregation for Religious

Vincent La Puma, Secretary

Rome, August 23, 1928




Liberalism’s Excuse for Ignoring Letter

The excuse usually given for ignoring the Pope’s modesty crusade was, that it was not directed to the United States, but to Italy. A strange attitude, indeed, after Pope Pius XI had spoken to the world (as had Pope Benedict XV previously) “grave words of condemnation … on several occasions, with apostolic authority, against immodest fashion of women’s dress which prevails today to the detriment of good breeding …”; and in view of the fact that perhaps nowhere in the world were Catholic women and girls dressing more scandalously than in the United States, and therefore nowhere was the Pope’s Crusade more urgently needed than in our own nation.

But by 1928 Liberalism was already in control of Catholic thinking. And Liberalism could see no need for the Pope’s Modesty Crusade. It kept insisting that “custom” determines what is modest and what is immodest in attire — even when these shameless customs were introduced for profits by heathen commercialism in a de-Christianized society — all the warnings of the Vicars of Christ to the contrary notwithstanding.

Yet, the good faith of Liberalism fell under serious suspicion when it persisted in ignoring the 1928 Letter even after the Holy See made it official also for the United States less than 17 months later. For on January 12, 1930 the Pope directed the Sacred Congregation of the Council to issue a strongly-worded Letter on Christian Modesty to the whole world, which required of “Nuns compliance with the Letter dated August 23, 1928, by the Sacred Congregation of Religious.” [see no. 6 below] This 1930 letter was even more emphatic; gave more detailed directives; and imposed the obligation of combating the immodest fashions and promoting modesty on all persons in authority — Bishops and other ordinaries, parish priests, parents, Superioresses and teachers in schools. This letter reads as follows:


1930 Letter of the Congregation of the Council

By virtue of the supreme apostolate which he wields over the Universal Church by Divine Will, our Most Holy Father Pope Pius XI has never ceased to inculcate, both verbally and by his writings, the words of St. Paul (1 Tim. xi,9-10), namely, “Women … adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety … and professing godliness with good works.”

Very often, when occasion arose, the same Supreme Pontiff condemned emphatically the immodest fashion of dress adopted by Catholic women and girls — which fashion not only offends the dignity of women and against her adornment, but conduces to the temporal ruin of the women and girls, and, what is still worse, to their eternal ruin, miserably dragging down others in their fall. It is not surprising, therefore, that all Bishops and other ordinaries, as is the duty of ministers of Christ, should in their own dioceses have unanimously opposed their depraved licentiousness and promiscuity of manners, often bearing with fortitude the derision and mockery leveled against them for this cause.

Therefore this Sacred Council, which watches over the discipline of clergy and people, while cordially commending the action of the Venerable Bishops, most emphatically exhorts them to persevere in their attitude and increase their activities insofar as their strength permits, in order that this unwholesome disease be definitely uprooted from human society.

In order to facilitate the desired effect, this Sacred Congregation, by the mandate of the Most Holy Father, has decreed as follows:


Exhortation to Those in Authority

1. The parish priest, and especially the preacher, when occasion arises, should, according to the words of the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. iv, 2), insist, argue exhort and command that feminine garb be based on modesty and womanly ornament be a defense of virtue. Let them likewise admonish parents to cause their daughters to cease wearing indecorous dress.

2. Parents, conscious of their grave obligations toward the education, especially religious and moral, to their offspring, should see to it that their daughters are solidly instructed, from earliest childhood, in Christian doctrine; and they themselves should assiduously inculcate in their souls, by word and example, love for the virtues of modesty and chastity; and since their family should follow the example of the Holy Family, they must rule in such a manner that all its members, reared within the walls of the home, should find reason and incentive to love and preserve modesty.

3. 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 that they are fully and modestly dressed. Let them never permit their daughters to don immodest garb.

4. Superioresses and teachers in schools for girls must do their utmost to instill love of modesty in the hearts of maidens confided to their care and urge them to dress modestly.

5. Said Superioresses and teachers must not receive in their colleges and schools immodestly dressed girls, and should not even make an exception in the case of mothers of pupils. If, after being admitted, girls persist in dressing immodestly, such pupils should be dismissed.

6. Nuns, in compliance with the Letter dated August 23, 1928, by the Sacred Congregation of Religious, must not receive in their colleges, schools, oratories or recreation grounds, or, if once admitted, tolerate girls who are not dressed with Christian modesty; said Nuns, in addition, should do their utmost so that love for holy chastity and Christian modesty may become deeply rooted in the hearts of their pupils.

7. It is desirable that pious organizations of women be founded, which by their counsel, example and propaganda should combat the wearing of apparel unsuited to Christian modesty, and should promote purity of customs and modesty of dress.

8. In the pious associations of women those who dress immodestly should not be admitted to membership; but if, perchance, they are received, and after having been admitted, fall again into their error, they should be dismissed forthwith.

9. Maidens and women dressed immodestly are to be debarred from Holy Communion and from acting as sponsors at the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation; further, if the offense be extreme, they may even be forbidden to enter the church.

Donato Cardinal Sbaretti, Prefect

Congregation of the Council

Rome, January 12, 1930




“Conspiracy of Silence”

This important letter may be found in Acta Apostolicae Sedis of 1930 (vol. 22, pp. 26-28). It also appeared in Canon Law Digest (1, pp. 212-214), and undoubtedly in many other papers in the United States. The Central Bureau of the Catholic Central Verein of St. Louis deserves much credit for circulating an English translation of this letter so widely and so perseveringly over a period of many years. Unfortunately, American Liberalism, which so loudly prates about its loyalty to the Holy See, succeeded in shoving the Pope’s modesty Crusade into oblivion by its “conspiracy of silence,” and by its summary rejection of any set of standards for modesty in dress.


What! No Standards?

But where do you find the Marylike standards in either of these letters? The Liberals ask with an air of triumph, thus implying, if not claiming outright, that these standards are not authentic. But after many years of research, these standards are now full authenticated as having been issued by the Cardinal-Vicar of Pius XI in Rome, in these words:

“in order that uniformity of understanding prevail in all institutions of religious women … 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 knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper …”

Rufino J. Cardinal Santos, Archbishop of Manila, quotes these standards as “The Church’s stand concerning modesty in dress” in his Pastoral of December 6, 1959. He attributes them to Pope Pius XI Himself, and gives the exact date of issuance, September 24, 1928. The Marylike Crusade codified these standards, making only a small (ecclesiastically approved) temporary concession because of impossible market conditions in the United States. This modified form has been officially adopted by the entire Philippine Hierarchy.

The quick action of issuing the standards only 31 days after the Pope launched the Modesty Crusade show the great importance attached to the standards. You simply cannot promote modesty in dress without standards. Those who reject standards usually see no need for a Modesty Crusade. Or did you ever see any of them zealously promoting Christian modesty in dress? Hardly, they are too intent on calling those persons “prudes” who try to be conscientious in following the guidance of the Church; too busy trying to prove that modesty is what a paganized society, “custom,” says it is. In issuing standards, Rome lit the torch and held it aloft, but the Liberals quickly blew it out.

“In order that uniformity of understanding prevail” is the key to the question of standards. Without “uniformity” only confusion can result. And confusion defeats the entire purpose of the Modesty Crusade.

Both letters from the Holy See postulate some set of standards. Let us take some examples from the 1930 letter. How can parents possibly carry out number 3 in the absence of standards? Let conscientious parents try to object to a suit prescribed by a gym instructor, and see what happens!

Again, a teacher trying to carry out numbers 5 and 6 dismisses from school a girl who “persists in dressing immodestly,” or she bars from the school or its premises an immodestly dressed mother wishing to visit her daughter. Woe to that teacher if her case is brought to a Superioress or a Pastor who does not subscribe to standards of modesty in dress! “Liberty of conscience” is immediately invoked, and that poor teacher is “put in the doghouse.” Lack of “uniformity” nullifies all her efforts. (Many Sisters have complained of this.)

Further, how can the “pious associations” of number 8 possibly operate without a “uniform” standard? Try it!

Finally, in the absence of standards, “uniformity”, how would a pastor fare who would try to enforce no. 9?

Truly absurd and ridiculous is the claim of some that standards of modesty in dress are not essential for the Modesty Crusade. This fact is fully verified by the experience of the Marylike Crusade. Marching confidently under Mary’s glorious banner, we call these standards the Marylike Standards because we know that “Mary approves what the Church approves.”


Establishing Practical Norms for Modesty in the Light of the Church’s Teachings


By The National Coalition of Clergy and Laity

As we establish norms of modesty for those under our charge, we should do so in the light and under the direction of the Church’s official teachings. From the earliest days there has been a clear teaching on the necessity of purity. The Gospel according to Saint Matthew (5:27-28) records the very words of Our Lord.

You have heard that it was said to the ancients, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” But I say to you that anyone who so much as looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Saint John Chrysostom instructed women of all times about dress when in the fourth century he declared:

You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. … When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.

At Fatima, Our Lady has prophesied:

Wars are a punishment from God for sin. … Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much. … More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.

“These statements are all related, and hit at the heart of the moral problems afflicting modern society. There is a direct connection between the pagan fashions and the many souls going to Hell because of sins of the flesh. Many Christian women will be greatly surprised, when they pass into eternity, to learn just how many souls are suffering in the fires of Hell forever, because of sins of the flesh caused by their immodesty in dress.” (1)



The late Father Bernard A. Kunkel, a great defender of modesty and decency, spoke directly concerning the words of Our Lady of Fatima. He wrote:

But she knew that … forces of evil, would design these fashions, together with the filthy literature, some of the rotten movies and television shows, dope, and drinking to excess; all as part of their program to break down morality, especially among the young people. Our Lady was only exposing this plan.

Pope Benedict XV has taught very clearly about modesty in an encyclical letter (Sacra Propediem, 1921), commemorating the 7th centenary of the founding of the Franciscan Third Order.

One can not sufficiently deplore the blindness 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 against 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 Eucharistic Table, where one receives the Heavenly Author of Purity.

In our hopes and efforts for a genuine Catholic Restoration, it is crucial that Our Lady’s friends bring others to admit (in order to oppose more effectively) the strides which Satan’s wicked program of gradual nudism has made — despite the warnings of The Blessed Virgin and of the Popes. One observer has remarked:

Whose message, do you suppose, have women and girls accepted: the message of modesty of Our Lady of Fatima and of the Holy Father, or the message of immodesty of Lucifer? (2)


On December 31, 1929 Pope Pius XI promulgated an authoritative encyclical on the Christian education of youth in which he prohibits classroom sex-education. In this same encyclical, immediately following the prohibition, the Pope emphasizes the importance of modesty for women in public. He writes:

These principles [i.e. of the basic difference between the sexes], with due regard to time and place, must in accordance with Christian prudence, be applied to all schools, particularly in the most delicate and decisive period of formation, that, namely, of adolescence; and in gymnastic exercises and deportment, special care must be had of Christian modesty in young women and girls, which is so gravely impaired by any kind of exhibition in public. (3)

Pope Pius XI has also spoken of “indecent fashions for the banishment of which Christian women can never work hard enough.”

Less than two weeks after Pius XI’s encyclical Donato Cardinal Sbaretti, Prefect of the Congregation of the Council, on the Feast of the Holy Family (January 12, 1930) issued the following rule as to what constitutes modesty in dress.

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 knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper.

On May 23, 1948 Pope Pius XII stated: “Mainly through sins of impurity, do the forces of darkness subjugate souls.” Again on November 8, 1957, the same Pontiff addressed the Congress of the Latin Union of High Fashion. In the address, titled “Moral Problems in Fashion Design”, the Holy Father declared:

This second virtue, modesty – the very word “modesty” comes from modus, a measure or limit – probably better expresses the function of governing and dominating the passions, especially sensual passions. It is the natural bulwark of chastity. It is its effective rampart, because it moderates acts closely connected with the very object of chastity […] Yet no matter how broad and changeable the relative morals of styles may be, there is always an absolute norm to be kept after having heard the admonition of conscience warning against approaching danger: style must never be a proximate occasion of sin. […] An excess of immodesty in fashion involves, in practice, the cut of the garment. The garment must not be evaluated according to the estimation of a decadent or already corrupt society, but according to the aspirations of a society which prizes the dignity and seriousness of its public attire. […] It is often said almost with passive resignation that fashions reflect the customs of a people. But it would be more exact and much more useful to say that they express the decision and moral direction that a nation intends to take: either to be shipwrecked in licentiousness or maintain itself at the level to which it has been raised by religion and civilization.

These rules, coming from the Vatican, should determine the standards of modesty for ourselves and for those under our charge.

The above quotations from Our Lord and Lady, from Popes and Saints, show the course that devout Catholics must take. There is, sadly enough, a real connection between immodesty and sins of the flesh. If such sins are to be avoided, then modesty must be prized again, and diligently observed.

If you’ve read this far, you may rightly be wondering why these norms so obviously apply especially to women. One author aptly explains why.

Because traditional Catholic teaching on modesty in the area of sexuality requires the woman to keep more of her body concealed than it does for the man, some Catholics believe that it is unfair to the woman. While it is true that traditional Catholic teaching on modesty in the area of sexuality is more demanding of the woman, it is not unfair. Just as the woman is the weaker gender in the area of physical power, so the man is the weaker gender in the area of sexuality (in the sense that the male is more prone to immediate sexual arousal). And just as it is wrong for a man to use his physical strength to lord it over a woman, so it is wrong for a woman to use the feminine characteristics of her physical body to dominate a man. (4)

The most important statement on sexual morality (other than contraception) issued by the Vatican since the end of Vatican Council II, is the Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, published December 29, 1975. This document was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, having been given approval by Pope Paul VI.

Speaking of the increase in the practice of masturbation as a reason being used by those in error to try to gain acceptance of it, the Declaration states:




In this way facts are discovered [i.e. by sociological surveys], but facts do not constitute a criterion for judging the moral value of human acts. The frequency of the phenomenon in question is certainly to be linked with man’s innate weakness following original sin; but it is also to be linked with the loss of a sense of God, with the corruption of morals engendered by the commercialization of vice, with the unrestrained licentiousness of so many public entertainments and publications, as well as with the neglect of modesty, which is the guardian of chastity. (5)

Thus, from the viewpoint of the Declaration, one of the major causes for the growing frequency of masturbation is the neglect of modesty. To the degree that masturbation is especially a vice committed by males, it stands to reason that the document makes reference especially to the lack of modesty on the part of women and of the clothes they wear. Women thus participate in the guilt attaching to this vice when they make of their bodies sex objects for male lust.

After quoting Saint Paul (“You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you must use your body for the glory of God”), the declaration speaks of “the means which have been recommended by the Church for living a chaste life. These means are discipline of the senses and the mind, watchfulness and prudence in avoiding occasions of sin, the observance of modesty…”

Thus we see modesty closely linked to avoidance of the occasion of sin. Immodesty, on the other hand, makes more difficult the “discipline of the senses and the mind”, and makes it easier to accept occasions of sin as though they involved no danger to the life of the soul and its continuance in the grace which sanctifies it and makes it pleasing to Our Lord. By following the ‘broad path’, we threaten our souls with spiritual dangers which can lead us to lose our happiness with God for eternity.

It is our earnest prayer that Our Lord will pour forth His graces and consolation on all those who take up Christ’s banner in this new Holy War to protect the innocence of children and to restore modesty in dress throughout the land. May Our Lady of Fatima keep all those who pray and work for modesty under Her special protection and grant them final victory.



(1) Divine Love, “Immodesty in Dress Can Lead to Tragedy”, Fourth Quarter, 1977.

(2) “The Remnant Speaks”, June 1, 1972.

(3) Divini Illius Magistri, Pope Pius XI, December 31, 1929.

(4) Regis Scanlon, O.F.M., Homiletic and Pastoral Review, November, 1988.

(5) Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, December 29, 1975. (Vatican translation, L’Osservatore Romano)

Catholics voice their views on modesty in dress


By Matt C, Abbott, March 27, 2007

Very recently, on a Catholic e-mail list to which I belong, a discussion began regarding modesty in dress.
I thought it would make for an interesting column, so I asked readers to give me their views on the subject.
The following are some responses I received:
From Craig Walterscheid, of California:

I would say that if one is attending the New Mass, the same dress one might wear for going golfing or to a picnic would be okay, since that is sort of the atmosphere: fun, folksy, lots of hugs and kisses. If one is attending the Old Mass, or an Eastern Rite Mass, then if you don’t already understand that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary, try to understand it, and dress accordingly. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a far more formal affair than anybody’s wedding. How did you dress for your sibling’s, friend’s, co-worker’s wedding?
I personally apply this to Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation Masses. Opinions differ on daily Mass attire, but I’m at least humble and open to admit error in my policy towards daily Mass attire. I’d appreciate any priest’s comments on this. (I work third-shift, and when I am able to attend the Armenian Rite Mass a couple miles away from the slaughterhouse at which I work, I do not don a suit.)
We might want to step out of the U.S. and confer with the other 95 percent of the Catholic population. Case in point: In 2002, I visited a friend in southern Mexico. While driving one Sunday through the mountains of Chiapas, we drove past a line of women and children superbly dressed in bright, beautiful native dress. I asked who they were. My friend’s response: ‘Chiapatecas llendo a Misa’ — Native Chiapa Indian women going to Mass. These women don’t have money; in fact, they don’t have a car in which to drive. But when they go to Mass on Sunday, they are dressed to the hilt! I was flabbergasted! I saw no men (they probably walk separate from the women). I doubt they own three-piece suits, but I’m sure they put on whatever is considered dressy-dress in their culture. Also, I never saw any Chiapatecas, even young girls, at the different places we stopped, wearing pants.
A year or so ago, I received the annual report from a charity I was involved with when I worked in the bottled water industry (I now work in the pork-packing industry) called Water For People. The report was replete with photos from third-world countries in which they assist. With just a couple of exceptions from Asia, I saw no women in pants. It showed women working (i.e. the daily grind of hauling water in a third-world country). The little black girls in poor areas of Africa are sweeter and cuter-looking in their bright dresses (Western, not native) than the local ‘traditional’ Catholic girl who, except for Sunday Tridentine Mass, wears ‘painted-on’ jeans.
May Pat Buchanan’s hope come true: that Dressing with Dignity [by Colleen Hammond] sells a million copies.


From Janet Baker, of Maryland:

I consider myself a traditional Catholic. I have read Ms. Hammond’s book Dressing with Dignity. While she does have some worthwhile contributions, she fails abysmally in several key aspects. First, there is the issue of the ‘my way or the highway’ approach she takes when postulating her ideas of appropriate dress, an attitude that is not acceptable for a mere layperson.


It causes me to cringe when I see/hear her quoted and cited as though she were an infallible source of knowledge on the topic. Second, she does a gross disservice to men when she neglects to challenge them to maintain their own dignity (without regard to women) by proper dress. As far as standards go, I am a person who believes ‘What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.’ Let’s flush the double-standards down the toilet where they belong; I’m very serious about that!
My ideas (which are open to debate; I don’t entertain the illusion that my words are beyond question) on general attire: Shirts/blouses should not be tight-fitting. They should descend well below the waist and the shirt-tails should be tucked in — to avoid slovenly appearance. They should cover most of the neck. The sleeves, for both genders, should come down at least half-way between shoulder and elbow. Nothing sleeveless is acceptable for either gender. Men, keep them on at all times. So what if it’s hot? If the women can do it, so can you. I look askance about this business of slacks being inherently evil for women. Remember that at one time slacks were unheard of for anyone. We need to remember that modest attire and ‘Ozzie and Harriett fashions’ are not necessarily equivalent.
In general, clothes should be loose-fitting, but well-fitting. While we don’t want clingy clothes, the ‘5-sizes-too-baggy’ style many young men wear is an affront to Christian dignity. They should be clean and in good repair.
Mass attire: It should be different from attire during the week. Remember the concept of ‘Sunday-best?’ Men: suits, ties, dress shirts and dress shoes at all times. Keep the jackets on. Ladies, dresses/skirts no shorter than below the knee; do not wear denim skirts. Wear hose, no bare legs. Wear closed-toe dress shoes — no sandals. Blouses should be formal and modest. With this being said, it should go without saying that there will be no denim, no tee-shirts or polo shirts, no turtle-necks, no sneakers, no flip-flops, no shorts.


From Linda O’Brien, of Colorado:

I am one of those rare women who likes to dress like a girl! By that I mean I almost always wear dresses or a skirt or a jumper. I am a Third Order religious, and it is asked of us to dress how Our Lady would dress. The hemline is long, and it is extremely rare for me to wear slacks to Mass. I am feminine.
When I taught religion to middle-schoolers, I would teach them about the virtue of modesty and would mention that when women and girls dress for Mass in what might pass for a nightgown, it is most inconsiderate to others. I remember one dear little girl raising her hand and saying, ‘But, Mrs. O’Brien, have you seen what they sell in the stores!’ Indeed, it is difficult to dress modest when one follows fashion. It takes some doing. I actually get most of my things second-hand, but I have a good eye for quality.
Often I am the only woman in a dress in most situations. At Mass, there is one other lady who always wears a dress as well. She and I are the only ones. There is one Sister who wears a skirt out of about 15 or so in town. As for the others, I have never seen most of them in feminine attire, although they do have jewelry with their slacks.
Modesty is a virtue and it is sadly lacking in our society.


From Florence Sebern, of Colorado:

This is an excerpt of a letter I sent to our dear pastor just last summer about this very issue:
‘…And last but not least is the issue of modesty in dress at Mass. I have to say that I am so sick and tired of being visually assaulted by [immodestly dressed individuals]. The latest assault came from a member of the 5:00 choir, standing up on the altar where there was no escape from her camisole top, bare shoulders, and cleavage. (And another good reason for moving the choir to the choir loft, but that’s for a different discussion! Ha!) I am truly concerned for the welfare of these young, and not so young, women who do not seem to understand what they are doing or the consequences thereof, both to themselves and others.
‘I am more concerned, frankly, for the welfare of my husband and sons. It is simply not right for them to come to church and have various stretches of flesh to negotiate. It violates them. It is a source of temptation and a near occasion of sin. I know this is not a perfect world, and there will always be situations and circumstances to navigate, but if there can be an announcement at the beginning of every Mass reminding people to turn off their cell phones and pagers because it’s a distraction, how much more important is it to preach from the pulpit the importance of the virtue of modesty! Please, help to educate both women and men, help them to understand their intrinsic worth and value, and help them to become aware of the consequences of their actions on themselves and others!
‘Sometimes fathers need specific instruction and encouragement as how to protect their daughters from current immodest fashion. So many men have been cowed by feminist thought and do not say what they need to say as heads of households. We women need real men in our lives! Men who will stand strong and protect us — even from ourselves. As you said so aptly in your homily yesterday, God’s Word is not always received warmly, but it is Truth and it is always for our own good. Help us to know, specifically, how and why modesty is good for us….Thank you for shepherding us with love!’


“How beautiful then is modesty and what a gem among virtues it is.”

-St. Bernard, Confessor and Doctor of the Church


Some Thoughts on Modesty/Immodest Dress

All emphases theirs

“The Church knows and teaches that the human body, which is God’s masterpiece in the visible world, and which has been placed at the service of the soul, was elevated by the Divine Redeemer to the rank of a temple and an instrument of the Holy Spirit, and as such must be respected. The body’s beauty must therefore not be exalted as an end in itself, much less in such guise as will defile the dignity it has been endowed with.” -Pope Pius XII, “Moral Problems in Fashion Design”, 1957


Today’s Fashions

Think today’s fashions are “no big deal”? Think that following the dress of the crowd is okay? Think again! Many (most?) popular fashions today are offensive to God, sinful, scandalous, occasions of sin, enticements to sin, and display a lack of regard for the body as “a temple of the Holy Spirit”. Everywhere we see tight, form-fitting clothes, bare skin, exposed undergarments, etc. We also see women dressed like men (e.g. wearing men’s trousers – and now even men’s undergarments) and young girls dressed like women of ill-repute (e.g. skin-tight clothes, exposed midriffs, low-cut tops, etc.). It seems that many people today have completely lost the sense of modesty.

We can’t say we weren’t warned. In the early 1900’s, Our Lady of Fatima told us that “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.” She added that “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” One of the three shepherd children of Fatima, Bl. Jacinta, confirmed “The sins which hurl most souls into hell, are the sins of the flesh. Certain styles will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much. Those who serve God must not follow these fashions.”

Earlier, St. Nilus reportedly prophesied that: “After the year 1900, toward the middle of the 20th century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable. When the time for the Advent of the Antichrist approaches, people’s minds will grow cloudy from carnal passions, and dishonor and lawlessness will grow stronger. Then the world will become unrecognizable. People’s appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair.” 

At least one saint has had “frightful visions of souls suffering in hell due to their immodesty in dress and its consequences.” The wonder-working stigmatist priest (St.) Padre Pio wouldn’t allow women into his confessional if they weren’t wearing modest dresses. Recent popes have also lamented and warned us against immodest dress:


“[T]here is a sad forgetfulness of Christian modesty especially in the life and the dress of women” (Pope Pius XI, “Miserentissimus Redemptor”, 1928)

“We lament, too, the destruction of purity among women and young girls as is evidenced by the increasing immodesty of their dress and conversation and by their participation in shameful dances” (Pope Pius XI, “Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio”, 1922)

“The good of our soul is more important than the good of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts. If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up… O Christian mothers, if you knew what a future of anxieties and perils, of ill-guarded shame you prepare for your sons and daughters, imprudently getting them accustomed to live scantily dressed and making them lose the sense of modesty, you would be ashamed of yourselves and you would dread the harm you are making for yourselves, the harm which you are causing these children, whom Heaven has entrusted to you to be brought up as Christians.” (Pope Pius XII)

“But the Christian, whether he be creator or client, should be careful not to underestimate the dangers and spiritual ruin spread by immodest fashions, especially those worn in public, because of that continuity that must exist between what one preaches and what one practices, even in the sense of externals. He will remember the high purity which the Redeemer demands of His disciples even in glances and thoughts. And he will remember the severity which God shows to those who give scandal. We might call to mind on this subject the strong words of the prophet Isaias, in which was foretold the infamy that was to befall the holy city of Sion because of the immodesty of its daughters (cf. Isaias 3, 16-21). And one could recall those other words with which the greatest of all Italian poets expressed in vehement terms his feeling of indignation for the immodesty creeping into his city (cf. Dante, Purgatorio, 23, 94-108).” (Pope Pius XII, “Moral Problems in Fashion Design”, 1957)

“From this point of view one cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and condition; made foolish by desire to please, they do not see to what a degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man, and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for those toilettes as for a grave fault against Christian modesty; now it does not suffice for them to exhibit them on the public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of the churches, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Eucharistic Table where one receives the heavenly Author of purity. And We speak not of those exotic and barbarous dances recently imported into fashionable circles, one more shocking than the other; one cannot imagine anything more suitable for banishing all the remains of modesty.” (Pope Benedict XV, “Sacra Propediem”, 1921 A.D.)

“By virtue of the supreme apostolate which he wields over the Universal Church by Divine Will, our Most Holy Father Pope Pius XI has never ceased to inculcate, both verbally and by his writings, the words of St. Paul (1 Tim. xi, 9-10), namely, ‘Women…adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety…and professing godliness with good works.’ And on many occasions the same Supreme Pontiff has reproved and sharply condemned the immodesty in dress which today is everywhere in vogue, even among women and girls who are Catholics; fashion which not only offends the dignity of women and against her adornment, but conduces to the temporal ruin of the women and girls, and, what is still worse, to their eternal ruin, miserably dragging down others in their fall.


It is not surprising, therefore, that all Bishops and other Ordinaries, as is the duty of ministers of Christ, should in their own dioceses have unanimously opposed this licentious and shameless fashion, often bearing with fortitude the derision and mockery leveled against them for this cause. Therefore this Sacred Council, which watches over the discipline of clergy and people, while cordially commending the action of the Venerable Bishops, earnestly exhorts them to continue in the purpose and undertaking they have so well begun, and to pursue them with even greater vigor, until this contagious disease be entirely uprooted from decent society.” (Letter of the Congregation of the Council, 1930 A.D.)


The Importance of Modesty/Proper Dress

Saints and Scripture speak clearly of the importance of modesty and proper dress of our bodies:

“Similarly, (too,) women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds.” (St. Paul, 1 Tm. 2:9-10)

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.” (1 Cor. 3:16-17)

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

“The dress of the body should not discredit the good of the soul.” (St. Cyprian of Carthage)

“Purity is a precious jewel, and the owner of a precious stone would never dream of making a display of his riches in the presence of thieves.” (St. John Bosco)

“The desire to please by outward charms, which we know naturally invite lust, does not spring from a sound conscience. Why should you rouse an evil passion?” [Tertullian (“an excellent early Christian writer” – although he would ultimately fall into heresy), 3rd century A.D.]

“Further we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing and display another? The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals incontinence.” (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

“A holy woman may be beautiful by the gift of nature, but she must not give occasion to lust. If beauty be hers, so far from setting it off she ought rather to obscure it.” [Tertullian (“an excellent early Christian writer” – although he would ultimately fall into heresy), 3rd century A.D.]

“But those women who have no husband nor wish to have one, or who are in a state of life inconsistent with marriage, cannot without sin desire to give lustful pleasure to those men who see them, because this is to incite them to sin. And if indeed they adorn themselves with this intention of provoking others to lust, they sin mortally; whereas if they do so from frivolity, or from vanity for the sake of ostentation, it is not always mortal, but sometimes venial. And the same applies to men in this respect.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and “greatest theologian in the history of the Church”)

“You carry your snare everywhere and spread your net in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment, and much more effectively than you could by your voice. When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges in court punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death-dealing drink and you are more criminal than those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.” (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)


In consideration of the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ… 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt. 5:27-28)

…we must realize that those who dress scantily or otherwise immodestly – even if unintentionally – make themselves an “object of lust” and may cause others to commit adultery in their hearts. Those who dress immodestly may even be culpable in the loss of other’s souls. They offend Jesus, tempt others into mortal sin, create scandal – both inside and outside the Church, “profane the temple of the Holy Spirit”, set a bad example for others, degrade society, and may cause the loss of souls. Think that’s no big deal?

Such dress also tends to promote promiscuity, fornication, rape, incest, and other sins of the flesh (e.g. adulterous affairs). It may lead to increased use of contraception, and even to abortion. In fact, nothing you do may lead more people to sin than the very clothes you wear! So why dress this way?

* To attract attention? What kind of attention do you think you’ll receive? Respect? No! Instead, you are likely to receive sinful, lustful attention from those who have no regard for you whatever, but only see your body as an object for their pleasure. 



* Because you think it’s stylish? Had you lived a few decades earlier, you may even consider your very own wardrobe of today to be the wardrobe of a woman of ill-repute of years gone by!

* Because it’s comfortable or easy? How comfortable or easy is it really? Don’t you find yourself tugging on it frequently? Doesn’t it sometimes get a little chilly – and isn’t it a bit unsanitary – where skin is exposed? Even if it’s truly comfortable or easy for your body now, how comfortable or easy is it for your soul? For your future? Do you not expect to suffer consequences for immodest, sinful clothing? “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness… I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal. 5:19-21) Also remember Bl. Jacinta of Fatima’s words: “Oh! If men only knew what eternity is, how they would make all possible efforts to amend their lives!” 

* To fit in? If you are part of the crowd, you are part of the problem! Don’t forget our Lord’s words: “How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (Mt. 7:14). You should also be aware that there really is evidence to support a “conspiracy theory” by enemies of the Church to institute and promote immodest dress. Why do you want to “fit in” with this?

Immodest dress has been most aptly called “advertising for sex”! Is that really what you intend? Whether or not you actually intend this, you may be practicing it if you wear scanty, short, tight / form-fitting, transparent, skin-showing, or otherwise immodest clothing. Do you consider that the purpose of clothing is really to protect the body? Is your clothing more geared to this purpose or does it tend more to “seduce and arouse concupiscence”? Don’t forget that your clothing may give you culpability in the sins of others – sins that you will suffer punishment for either in this life or after death (e.g. in Purgatory or Hell).


Proper Dress for Women

If a woman has evaluated her wardrobe according to the above and, thankfully, finds that her clothes are not tight, scanty, transparent, skin showing, etc., she still must look one step further. Does she wear trousers (that is, pants)? If so, she should be aware that the Church has – for good reason – condemned the wearing of such clothes for women as follows (emphasis added):

“When we see a woman in trousers [that is, pants], we should think not so much of her as of all mankind, of what it will be when women will have masculinized themselves for good. Nobody stands to gain by helping to bring about a future age of vagueness, ambiguity, imperfection and, in a word, monstrosities.” (Notification Concerning Men’s Dress Worn by Women, Cardinal Siri, 1960 A.D.)

“The first signs of our late arriving spring indicate this year a certain increase in the use of men’s dress by girls and women, even mothers of families. Up until 1959, in Genoa, such dress usually meant the person was a tourist, but now there seems to be a significant number of girls and women from Genoa itself who are choosing, at least on pleasure trips, to wear men’s dress [men’s trousers – that is, slacks/pants]. The spreading of this behavior obliges us to give serious consideration to the subject, and we ask those to whom this Notification is addressed to kindly give this problem all the attention it deserves, as befits those aware of being answerable to God… The wearing of men’s dress by women affects firstly the woman herself, by changing the feminine psychology proper to women; secondly, it affects the woman as wife of her husband, by tending to vitiate relationships between the sexes; thirdly, it affects the woman as mother of her children by harming her dignity in her children’s eyes… In truth, the motive impelling women to wear men’s dress is always that of imitating, nay, of competing with the man who is considered stronger, less tied down, more independent. This motivation shows clearly that male dress is the visible aid to bringing about a mental attitude of being ‘like a man’.

Secondly, ever since men have been men, the clothing a person wears conditions, determines and modifies that person’s gestures, attitudes and behavior, such that from merely being worn outside, clothing comes to impose a particular frame of mind inside. Then let us add that a woman wearing men’s dress always more or less indicates her reacting to her femininity as though it were inferior [to masculinity] when in fact it is only diverse. The perversion of her psychology is clearly evident. These reasons, summing up many more, are enough to warn us how wrongly women are made to think by the wearing of men’s dress… Experience teaches us that when woman is de-feminized, defenses are undermined and weakness increases… The changing of feminine psychology does fundamental and – in the long run – irreparable damage to the family, to conjugal fidelity, to human affections and to human society. True, the effects of wearing unsuitable dress are not all to be seen within a short time. But one must think of what is being slowly and insidiously worn down, torn apart, perverted. Is any satisfying reciprocity between husband and wife imaginable, if feminine psychology be changed? Or is any true education of children imaginable, which is so delicate in its procedure, so woven of imponderable factors in which the mother’s intuition and instinct play the decisive part in those tender years?

What will these women be able to give their children when they will so long have worn trousers that their self-esteem is determined more by their competing with the men than by their functioning as women? Why, we ask, ever since men have been men – or rather since they became civilized – why have men in all times and places been irresistibly borne to differentiate and divide the functions of the two sexes?



Do we not have here strict testimony to the recognition by all mankind of a truth and a law above man? To sum up, wherever women wear men’s dress, it is be considered a factor, over the long term, in disintegrating human order.” (Notification Concerning Men’s Dress Worn by Women, Cardinal Siri, 1960 A.D.)


Scripture also says: 

“A woman shall not wear an article proper to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s dress; for anyone who does such things is an abomination to the LORD, your God.” (Deut. 22:5)


Further, when a woman wears pants – always considered “masculine apparel”

* She is treated like a man

* Her gestures and way of walk are less feminine (women are shown to sit and walk differently in skirts than in pants)

* She tends to confuse the roles of men and women

* And, as one author recently pointed out, marketing research has shown that a man’s eyes are directed right to a woman’s private parts when she wears pants – both in the back and in the front! They can’t even help it – the angles automatically direct their eyes there! So each time a woman wears pants, she causes men everywhere to look at her most private areas, both in the back and in the front! Like it or not, this is a fact!


So if you are a woman or girl who wears pants, stop now! Change your wardrobe and begin to dress appropriately as a woman (e.g. skirts, dresses). Be sure to use Mary as your standard. When choosing clothes, ask yourself if Mary would wear them. And don’t just use your personal opinion, look to how Mary has dressed in her apparitions (the ones approved by the Church). Her dress is always very modest and feminine. Note that her clothes don’t become “trendy” because earthly styles have changed.


When evaluating clothes, be sure to also consider the following:

* The following are unacceptable: low cut tops, high cut bottoms, see-through clothing, and tight/form-fitting clothing

* It is unacceptable to expose one’s undergarments

* It is unacceptable to see undergarment lines  

* Bare skin is unacceptable (including shoulders, stomach, back, thighs, etc.)

* Skirts / dresses should go below the knee and should completely cover the knees when sitting

* Buttons in front are unacceptable if they “pop open” or if they expose (or appear to expose) skin or undergarments

* Large sleeves are unacceptable if the torso or shoulders or other body parts may be seen (e.g. when lifting up or otherwise moving one’s arms)

* Low necklines are unacceptable

* Clothing with advertising is inappropriate (“you turn your body into a ‘walking billboard'”)

* One should always wear a slip, as appropriate   

* Slits on skirts / dresses are unacceptable if they are too high. Slits on other articles of clothing are generally unacceptable (e.g. back of top, front of top, etc.) unless they do not expose skin and are otherwise modest.

* If you must constantly adjust an article of clothing, it is probably unacceptable.

* Skimpy / revealing bathing suits are unacceptable.

[Note: With some creativity, it is quite possible to dress modestly and comfortably for swimming. One appropriate outfit includes modern swimwear (which acts as the undergarments), covered by various layers of other modest clothing of appropriate fabric which may be worn in the water. However, it should be noted, that mixed bathing (bathing between men & women and boys & girls) should be rejected.]


Also consider these dress standards:

“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.” [Sign on door of (St.) Padre Pio’s church]

“[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 knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper” [Sacred Congregation of the Council (under Pope Pius XI), January 12, 1930]

“Yet, no matter how broad and changeable the relative morals of styles may be, there is always an absolute norm to be kept after having heard the admonition of conscience warning against approaching danger: style must never be a proximate occasion of sin.” (Pope Pius XII, “Moral Problems in Fashion Design”, 1957)

“More basically, the immorality of some styles depends in great part on excesses either of immodesty or luxury. An excess of immodesty in fashion involves, in practice, the cut of the garment. The garment must not be evaluated according to the estimation of a decadent or already corrupt society, but according to the aspirations of a society which prizes the dignity and seriousness of its public attire. It is often said almost with passive resignation that fashions reflect the customs of a people. But it would be more exact and much more useful to say that they express the decision and moral direction that a nation intends to take: either to be shipwrecked in licentiousness or maintain itself at the level to which it has been raised by religion and civilization.” (Pope Pius XII, “Moral Problems in Fashion Design”, 1957)


Modest dress does not mean that one neglects one’s appearance or cannot dress nicely. On the contrary, modest dress is quite attractive and may be very feminine. [Note: Modest dress also applies to men, who should not wear tight pants, immodest bathing suits, or go shirtless (unless truly necessary).]


You can and
dress modestly! Although it may be difficult at first – and may even require radical changes – you should get used to, and even appreciate the change, in a short while. As Pope Pius XI has said, “Christian women can never be at too great pains to abolish [immodest dress].” Not only will you be pleasing God, setting a good example, and respecting and protecting yourself, but the difficulties you face and overcome may help to make up for some sinful past behavior. 


Proper Dress for Church

The immodest dress seen in the world today has also, sadly, infected those who attend Mass. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see people wear low cut tops, high cut skirts, shorts and tee-shirts and other inappropriate items to church. This scandalous adornment of those in the Lord’s house must be stopped. Even if the priest is lax about enforcing the rules, women and men are called to special standards of dress in Church…


“Women must be decently dressed, especially when they go to church. The parish priest may, with due prudence, refuse them entrance to the church and access to the reception of the Sacraments, [each] and every time that they come to church immodestly dressed.” (General Pastoral Directive, 1915 A.D.)


“Girls and women dressed immodestly are to be debarred from Holy Communion and from acting as sponsors at the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation; further, if the offense be extreme, they may even be forbidden to enter the church.” [Decree of the Congregation of the Council (by the mandate of Pope Pius XI), 1930 A.D.]


“Can. 1262 § 2 Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.” (1917 Code of Canon Law)


“Give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts, and enter his presence; worship the LORD in holy attire.” (1 Chronicles 16:29, emphasis added)


Note that wearing of head coverings in church is Scriptural and traces back to the earliest days of the Church (emphasis added)…

“But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head.
But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason
a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.
Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God.” (St. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 11:3-16)
[Note that the “exemption” indicated by St. Paul is for those women who wish to be argumentative.]


For More Information on Proper Church Behavior, Click Here.


Parents’ Duty to Protect Modesty

Remember that modesty is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and should be sought after by all of us. Parents (and other responsible adults) have a special responsibility to guard the modesty of children and to provide a good example:

“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 that they are fully and modestly dressed. Let them never permit their daughters to appear in immodest dress.” [Decree of the Congregation of the Council (by the mandate of Pope Pius XI), 1930 A.D.] 

“The practice of decency and modesty in speech, action and dress is very important for creating an atmosphere suitable for the growth of chastity… Parents, as we have said, should be watchful so that certain immoral fashions and attitudes do not violate the integrity of the home, especially through misuse of the mass media.” (Pontifical Council for the Family, 1995)

“The parish priest, and especially the preacher, when occasion arises, should, according to the words of the Apostle Paul (2 Tim. iv, 2), insist, argue, exhort and command that feminine garb be based on modesty and womanly ornament be a defense of virtue. Let them likewise admonish parents to cause their daughters to cease wearing indecorous dress.” [Decree of the Congregation of the Council (by the mandate of Pope Pius XI), 1930 A.D.]

“These principles, with due regard to time and place, must, in accordance with Christian prudence, be applied to all schools, particularly in the most delicate and decisive period of formation, that, namely, of adolescence; and in gymnastic exercises and deportment, special care must be had of Christian modesty in young women and girls, which is so gravely impaired by any kind of exhibition in public.” (Pope Pius XI, “Divini Illius Magistri”, 1929 A.D.)]

“O Christian mothers, if you knew what a future of anxieties and perils, of ill-guarded shame you prepare for your sons and daughters, imprudently getting them accustomed to live scantily dressed and making them lose the sense of modesty, you would be ashamed of yourselves and you would dread the harm you are making for yourselves, the harm which you are causing these children, whom Heaven has entrusted to you to be brought up as Christians.” (Pope Pius XII)



“Parents, conscious of their grave obligations toward the education, especially religious and moral, to their offspring, should see to it that their daughters are solidly instructed, from earliest childhood, in Christian doctrine; and they themselves should assiduously inculcate in their souls, by word and example, love for the virtues of modesty and chastity; and since their family should follow the example of the Holy Family, they must rule in such a manner that all its members, reared within the walls of the home, should find reason and incentive to love and preserve modesty.” [Decree of the Congregation of the Council (by the mandate of Pope Pius XI), 1930 A.D.]


Those who do not take this responsibility seriously will have to answer for their conduct.


How to Dress For Mass


THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Occasionally I’ll invite a non-Catholic friend to mass with me, and when I do, this question frequently comes up. “What should I wear?”

Wow! If they only knew how profound of a question that really is. You see, I live in the Bible Belt of the United States, and here most people are Baptist or Pentecostal. These good folks have little knowledge of Catholicism, and so they really don’t know what to expect. Most of the time I tell them to simply dress semi-formal. A clean shirt and slacks (or skirt for the ladies) will do nicely. That’s mainly because there aren’t that many traditional Catholic churches out here, and most Catholic tradition in this area has gone by the wayside anyway. Sadly, most Catholics don’t even know how to dress for mass anymore. So that’s why I decided to publish this post. How should we dress for mass, in an ideal world, where we honor our Catholic tradition fully and without shame? The following are some suggestions. Please excuse the diagrams, they were designed for a medical college. Just mentally insert a cross, or saint medal, where the ID badge is…



Men probably have the most simple dress code for Sunday mass, though probably not the most comfortable. The idea of “putting on your Sunday best” is not necessarily for your benefit. Men wear business suits on the job, or for social occasions (such as weddings, funerals, etc.) as a sign of respect. The idea of the suit comes from the Renaissance period, back when men started using scarves and jackets to appear in public. The idea was to excuse one’s self (or one’s body) from public view, so as to focus attention on the things that matter most — such as business, conversation, manners, courtesy, etc. The tradition carries on today in what we know as “the corporate world” where certain standards of decorum are expected and maintained. This is done for the benefit of clients and customers, as a sign of respect and courtesy. Likewise, it stands to reason that this same manner should spill over into the Church — particularly how one dresses for mass? If ever there was a time to excuse one’s self (or body) from attention, so that it may be more appropriately directed where it matters (namely the Eucharist), it is during mass. Consequently, the tradition of wearing a suit, or at least a long-sleeve shirt with a tie, became the norm in all churches (Catholic and Protestant) in the western world. The custom only fell by the wayside recently (in the 1970s) as a sign of cultural disintegration in our society. Most people don’t even know why the custom exists anymore, and a good number of them no longer practice it, showing up to mass in bluejeans, shorts, T-shirts and ball caps.




Speaking of hats, since the time of the apostles, it has long been the Christian custom for men to remove their hats during mass. The directive to do so can be found in the Bible (1st Corinthians 11), and while it is no longer required in canon law, any man who approaches the Eucharist with his head covered would be seen as showing a tremendous amount of disrespect. Though most people may not know the reason why anymore, this tradition is still ingrained in the American psyche. Most men still remove their ball caps upon entering a home, or during the singing of the national anthem. If such respect is shown among men, then it is certainly owed to God as well.


The same idea of excusing one’s self (or body) applies to women as well. However, it should be understood that in spite of the feminist propaganda we so commonly hear, female dress codes have always been far more lax in Christian churches than male dress codes. Women have always been free to explore a little fashion expression, varying between skirts to dresses, long-sleeve and middle-length sleeve, collar or no collar, along with an endless array of scarves, lace, patterns and jewelry. As a general rule, a dress or skirt is acceptable so long as it goes down below the knee while both standing and sitting. The neckline on a dress or blouse is almost always acceptable so long is it does not reveal the shoulder, bust or cleavage. The sleeves are acceptable so long as they do not reveal the shoulder or axillary area beneath the arm — elbow length or longer is recommended. Basically common sense in modesty should prevail in all areas of dress, and for Catholic women especially, the model set by Our Lady (The Blessed Virgin Mary) should come to mind. We should remember that Our Lord always enjoyed the presence of women during his earthly ministry, and their beauty is something he calls us all to admire with the highest respect. So it is only natural that when a woman excuses her self (or body), she would do so in a way that complements her feminine appeal and dignity. In other words, she excuses herself with style and grace.

Beyond that, there is but one more element of dress that speaks volumes of our Catholic identity — the mantilla…

The mantilla comes to Catholicism directly from our Jewish roots in apostolic times (1st Corinthians 11). In fact, Orthodox Jewish women continue with this same custom today. I have written extensively about the mantilla in a previous post (read here), but suffice it to say that while it is no longer required in the Code of Canon Law, it is nevertheless a Catholic tradition that has never been abrogated. In fact, Catholic women all around the world continue to practice it. Only in the United States, Canada and Australia has the custom been dropped, and mainly because of feminist propaganda suggesting that the practice of female head covering was a means of male domination. We have to understand that in the industrialized West, Catholic women are under tremendous peer pressure to not cover their heads during worship. So few women do it anymore, that the lack of practice actually does more to discourage the practice than the ridiculous propaganda against it. Some women may fear what others may think if they should wear a mantilla. It’s sort of a fashion phobia, wherein they think “nobody else is wearing one, so I’ll look out of place if I do.” While some women fear a feminist lashing if they practice good Catholic modesty, afraid they may be accused of “submitting” to male dominance. Such fears are unwarranted. Most hard-core feminists left the Church long ago, and as for the fashion phobia, the vast majority of women in Church would probably join in the practice if just a few brave women stood up to the plate.

According to Catholic Christian tradition (found in 1st Corinthians 11) the head covering requirement falls equally upon both men and women. According to the custom, men are to take their hats off during religious ceremonies, while women are to put a covering on. This is for two reasons. The first is just like the manner of dress described above — which is to excuse one’s self. Saint Paul points out to us that a woman’s glory is the beauty of mankind, and that is manifested in her hair.



Women go to great lengths to make their hair beautiful, regardless of the style or trend, and that’s a good thing. But during the mass, the focus is to always be on the Eucharist, and as a sign of modesty and respect, the woman excuses her beautiful hair (by covering it) to call more attention to the greater beauty of God’s presence in the Eucharist.

Secondly, Saint Paul makes the unusual command of telling the men to uncover their heads, which actually contradicts traditional Jewish custom. Now you have to understand, Paul’s instruction to do this contradicts a thousand years of Jewish tradition. It was a radical departure from the norm. This was not to exult men, but rather humiliate them. Paul is putting them in their place. You see, Jews put such a high reverence on the holy presence of God, that it was considered a frightfully embarrassing thing for anyone to be found in his presence uncovered. But Paul is telling the men to humiliate themselves by doing just that. He’s telling them that they represent the image of Christ in the New Covenant, and since Christ exposed himself on the cross, and in the Eucharist, men too must expose their heads both as a symbol of humility as well as authority (Christ’s authority that is, not their own)…


1st Corinthians 11:3-16
Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

He does this to draw attention to a theological truth. In marriage, the husband represents Christ, and the wife represents the Church. The glory of Christ is to be exposed, just as he was exposed on the cross, and is daily exposed in the Eucharist. (Certainly a humiliating thing for God.) So likewise the man’s head should be exposed in the Church. But this exposure is also a sign of authority (Christ’s authority) in the sense that God intended in the order of nature for the woman to complement the man, not vice versa, and so for the sake of the angels (who worship God with us, and are watching us) we must demonstrate that all things have been put back into order through the authority of Christ. This is why men must have their heads exposed – for a sign of Christ’s humility and authority. While the women must have their heads covered – for a sign of the Church’s modesty and purity.

The Church is made pure by the glory of Christ, and that which is pure should be veiled. So the purified Church, being the veiled bride of Christ, is illustrated in the woman’s head covering. It was typical of Saint Paul to take an ordinary custom like this and turn it into a big theological illustration. But it’s a teaching illustration that is just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.

All of this may seem overwhelming for most Catholics today. Contemporary pop culture has done so much to erode our religious traditions. But I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, and so here it is, to do with as you will. I hope that it’s been of service to at least some of you. God bless.


Clothes don’t make the Mass


July 12, 2012

The fashion police should check their badges at the church door.

When it comes to dress code in church, there are many opinions, some of which you sometimes share with me. The following article is in the July 2012 issue of US Catholic. I think it strikes a good balance.

It’s Sunday morning and once again I’m standing in front of my closet with wet hair and no make-up while my son runs in circles around my legs. Rows of skirts and dresses hang invitingly, but like most mothers of young children, I have to bend over too frequently to pick up errant Cheerios and Hot Wheels to wear something potentially revealing or uncomfortable. There are nice pants hanging next to the skirts and dresses, but the summer season is a long one where I live in Tennessee, and it’s much too hot to think about covering up. I reach for my go-to pair of khaki shorts and a dark knit shirt that will hide any stray food or marker that may land on me during Mass. I’m clean anyway, and my son is wearing a collared shirt that is miraculously stain-free at 9 o’clock in the morning. My husband, a man who teaches in a suit coat and tie in 95-degree weather, walks into the bedroom in dark jeans and a nice black polo. I make a face at him.
“You’re wearing that?” I ask him. “I’m going to look like a slob next to you.”
“I’m wearing jeans,” he says. “You look fine.” And I do look fine, but this certainly isn’t my “Sunday best”—not the Sunday best I was raised with anyway. But really, does it matter how I dress for Mass? In a culture that is increasingly more casual, what does our “Sunday best” even mean?
I am not immune to the argument that clothes make the man. And I do firmly believe in Mass as an occasion. But God doesn’t care what I’m wearing. OK, he might care to a certain extent. But I should be able to wear whatever I want within reason. Casual does not have to mean immodest.
I am just as appalled as everyone else when young girls line up for communion in their low-cut tops and short shorts or when men wear their ripped up, chest-revealing T-shirts. In my oatmeal-spackled, strawberry-stained shirt, I am firmly in the camp of not judging.

And yet I find it difficult to remain silent when cleavage is involved. For the sake of this argument, let’s just get the question of immodesty out of the way. I think we’d all agree that those people need to cover themselves up—for Christ’s sake.
But beyond the question of modesty, why does what we wear to church matter? I’ll be honest and say that I struggle to get to Mass every Sunday, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Yes, God is central to my life. Yes, Mass is absolutely important and necessary and a priority. But that doesn’t mean I’m perfect. There are some Sundays when I really have to force myself out the door to get to Mass. And now you want me to dress up, too?
There was a time when I observed the occasion of Mass by dressing up. As a little girl, I would wear whatever pretty things my mom laid out for me. Across my bed, a long-sleeved and lace-hemmed dress awaited me, along with a pair of white stockings and a shiny pair of white or black shoes. They were lovely ensembles, and I very much enjoyed getting into those clothes. It was fun to be so decked out, but to be honest, I think I enjoyed getting out of those stuffy clothes even more.
After years of wearing my mom’s version of my Sunday best, I took a hard right and became one of those teenagers in black with piercings. My naturally pale face was further whitened with a generous dose of white powder, my eyes were rimmed in black liner, and my bright red lips punctuated the whole look—not that you could really see me behind the long, dark bangs hiding my face.
I knew this look was unappealing to many people, namely my mother, but that was sort of the point. I dressed that way because I liked it, and didn’t care who didn’t like it. This attitude may sound counter to the whole churchgoing experience, but it’s not now and it wasn’t then.
My clothes, piercings, and make-up did not change my relationship with God. In fact, through the tumultuous high school years, I relied on God tremendously. I always went to church. I always prayed. My fellow black-wearing Goth friends and I talked about God and faith and vocation all the time. The way we looked was an expression of a difficult time in our lives when we were trying to figure out how we as intelligent, creative types were going to contribute to the world.
It was not, as my high school Spanish teacher ignorantly suggested, because we were “del diablo.” We were still children of God. Not only that, but we were children of God doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing—living in the world and not of it. Our outward appearance may not have been the cute, conventional clothes of my youth, but since when did God prefer cute and conventional?
In my college years, the gold standard for Sunday best was an elderly couple who went to my church. Their clothes were so lovely, I found myself distracted by them before Mass, anticipating their arrival and marveling at the woman’s elegant black dresses paired with heeled black boots and the man’s perfectly tailored suit coats over cashmere turtleneck sweaters. They were a lovely, fashionable parade of two. My casually dressed boyfriend and I in our jeans and T-shirts would point at and admire them and their commitment to formal dress at Mass, yet I could not ignore the fact that I found them distracting.
Certainly this was not their fault. The same mother who laid out my Sunday best for me also taught me custody of the eyes. But still, who were the dashing couple dressing for? Had they spent as much time preparing themselves spiritually as they had curling their hair and shining their shoes?
Twenty years out of high school, I no longer feel pulled toward the countercultural clothes of my youth, but that same challenging spirit has not left me. Thank God, because it is with that same spirit that I can admire those who come to Mass in their formal attire, yet recognize that they aren’t doing Mass better than me. In fact, I might even argue that their priorities are askew.
My neighbor Elizabeth, a woman who also has a young child, tells me she shies away from saying hello to someone from her church when she doesn’t “have her face on.” “Her face,” in this instance, refers to her make-up, the mascara and eyeliner she carefully applies to accentuate her already impossible prettiness.
Like my husband in his Sunday morning get-up, Elizabeth makes me feel underdressed, and maybe I should. Maybe my suit-coated husband and the fancily-dressed couple and Elizabeth are on to something. Maybe I should dress up for the occasion of Mass.
Or maybe they are preparing for Mass in the wrong way. After all, God probably doesn’t care if Elizabeth “has her face on.” He’s probably not terribly concerned with whether my husband should wear the brown shoes or the black shoes with his black shirt. And really, he probably does not care too much about piercings or mohawks or baggy pants. So who are we dressing up for? Who is Elizabeth’s audience? Is it the priest? Our fellow churchgoers? Are we dressing to impress God?
Rather than doing my hair, putting on my “face,” and spending precious time cursing the casual nature of my closet, I spend my Sunday mornings as quietly and peacefully as I can despite the constant motion and noise coming from my 2-year-old son.
Like my mother before me, I lay out his Sunday best. I prepare his diaper bag. I think about my week, the people I will see, the obligations I have to my family. I ask God to bless my week, to make my soul clean and bright and shiny so that I can be the light to the world he intends me to be.
In my adult life I have things figured out that the little girl in the frilly dresses or the teenager in the dark, grungy high school clothes could not even begin to understand. I now know that my Sunday best has more to do with my behavior than with what I am wearing. My Sunday best now means getting to Mass on time, growing in my understanding of the liturgy, and staying until I receive a blessing from the priest.
In this version of my Sunday best, there is only one judge, and he doesn’t care about make-up, however little or too much. He doesn’t care about curled hair, or holes in tights or in ears or in eyebrows. Sometimes I come up short with him. Sometimes I just can’t focus on the readings, or I leave early because my son is too rambunctious.
Certainly there are many things I could do to be a better Catholic, a better churchgoer. Wearing something other than my casual shorts and well-worn sandals just isn’t one of them.

The editors of US Catholic invited their readers to respond to the above article. Here are some of the responses (90% came from females).
The most inappropriate outfit I’ve ever seen in church is . . .

 An outfit worn by a woman showing too much skin.

 Kids in soccer and basketball uniforms.



 Someone wearing slippers.

 At Christmas, a person with blinking lights on their hat and top. It was interesting and festive but totally distracting!

 A low-cut, tight-fitting red cocktail dress and high heels that a Eucharistic minister wore while distributing communion.

 Pants or shorts so low that underwear showed above them.

 Nothing. I have never seen anything I felt Jesus would reject.

 Very short shorts on a slim woman that showed part of her derriere when she moved. The occasion was a confirmation ceremony with the archbishop present.

The biggest problem with people dressing casually to attend Mass is . . .

 How we dress reflects our attitude toward Mass. I understand the challenges involved with young children, elderly relatives, and teenagers. However, many others could take five minutes to improve their appearance.

 If they are not modestly dressed. Older men in short shorts and tank tops are just as offensive to me as teenagers in skimpy clothing.

 The lack of reverence. You wouldn’t meet the president in a T-shirt and jeans, why would you dress less for Jesus Christ?

 I don’t see a problem with casual dress as long as it is neat, clean, and not immodest.

 That people don’t know the difference between casual and sloppy and inappropriate.

 It diminishes the specialness of why we gather and what happens during Mass. It gives the appearance that they don’t think Mass is a special place to go.

 Most people have different views on what dressing casually is.

General comments

 This is a difficult topic. I have seen poor families doing their best, and to have a dress code might alienate them. However, I think we all know of Catholics who only go to Mass to make a point of being seen.

 This is a social issue, not a religious one. God couldn’t care less, as long as we love each other unconditionally.

 As a mother, I can appreciate what the author is talking about. When I have a child on my lap during Mass or am reaching quickly for a misbehaving child, the last thing I am worried about is getting gussied up for God.

 I think dressing up shows respect for God and Mass, but I don’t think that a universal dress code is a good idea. What is dressy for one part of the country or one individual is casual to another.

 Dress codes are complicated. I don’t see how one could be enforced in church.

 The real issue may be our approach to Sundays. If we show up at Mass in sports attire because we are rushing off to a game, we need to relook at how we keep the Lord’s Day holy.

 I remember being relieved when we started having Saturday night Masses so we could wear jeans.

 I don’t understand any parent allowing a child to go to Mass in revealing clothing!

Your Pastor’s comment
I totally agree with Molly, the author of the article, that one’s ‘Sunday best’ primarily means coming to Mass on time, being involved in the Mass and remaining until the end. As for attire, I especially ask that all lectors and Eucharistic ministers be nicely and appropriately dressed.


Is there a proper way to dress for Mass?


By Fr. Kenneth Doyle, columnist for Catholic News Services, in The Michigan Catholic, September 19, 2012

Q. I attend a small parish in a small town. I moved here recently and am surprised at the low-cut tops, short shorts and short skirts worn by women at Mass. Isn’t there some kind of dress code? —Iowa

A. On the topic of proper dress for Mass, there are probably as many different opinions as there are readers of this column. I am not aware of any universal Church rule as to what constitutes appropriate dress. The closest reference I can find is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1387, which says, in reference to the reception of the Eucharist, “Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.”

Later on, in discussing the virtue of purity, the catechism notes in No. 2522 that “modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing.”

Opinions on the issue can be divided, basically, into two camps. First, there are those who note that going to Mass is different from going to the mall. If we were invited to meet the president at a dinner at the White House, says this opinion, we would certainly wear our nicest clothes and so we should “dress up” in the same way when we go to meet Jesus in the Eucharist.

In the other camp are those who are reluctant to do anything that might discourage people from coming to church and who feel that clothing for Mass can be casual and comfortable, as long as it is decent.
I lean toward the second view and feel, for example, that in the summer, men who come to Mass in collared golf shirts and Bermuda shorts are presentable (although I would certainly ask more formality from those serving as lectors or extraordinary minister of holy Communion).

Judgments on acceptable attire are probably best left to parishes, because standards vary from culture to culture and from place to place. Often parishes mention some general guidelines in their bulletins or on their websites.

One website I’ve seen, in what is perhaps an overabundance of detail, lists among the types of dress that are “never acceptable” for women in church: “any clothing that bares midriffs or cleavage,” “tight clothing meant to accentuate — to draw attention to — various body parts that God considers, and that we ought to consider, sacred” and “short shorts — above the knee — or miniskirts.”



That same parish cautions men against wearing “shorts (yes, even in summer months)” and tank tops. The Vatican insists that tourists visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome adhere to a certain dress code, which is explained at the entrances by pictorial signs, and men or women with shorts or bare shoulders (e.g., wearing tank tops) are routinely turned away.



Modesty, Dress Code, Etiquette for Church


July 2012

Folks, this is intended as a resource thread. What kind of teachings and instructions have we received from our Popes, Bishops, and Priests, regarding modesty and appropriate dress for church? Etiquette questions can be included as well – photographing and walking around without disturbing those who pray, the need to stay silent/no loud chatting, etc.
There’s a lot of information available on the internet, and I would like to post here what I found – teachings, sermons, specific how-to instructions and pictorial guides of dress code – information that has been issued, or approved by, our Catholic clergy.
This is very important – I’m not looking for the laity’s own ideas, unless they ran those ideas by the clergy, and got our Bishops’ and Priests’ approval. I’m also not looking for endless private opinions by laypeople, without grounding in official Church teaching or reference to Church teaching documents, of the sort of “I think that tourists should be allowed to break the dress code, when they come from the beach/from Disneyland, or from jogging in the park, and wish to visit the church, while wearing clearly immodest daisy dukes, jogging shorts, miniskirts, tank tops, and sports bras/bikini tops”. Please let’s keep this thread as a resource thread: this is what our Popes, Bishops, Priests, canonized Saints and Doctors of the Church told us to wear in God’s House.
I would appreciate any contributions that fall within the scope of the thread – once again, I’m looking for specific teachings and instructions regarding modesty, dress codes, and etiquette for visiting Catholic churches, teachings and instructions issued and approved by our Catholic shepherds.
There’s clearly a need to disseminate this information, in order to educate ourselves and help others, converts to the Catholic Church and cradle Catholics as well, who wish to know the specific expectations of modesty and dress code in the Catholic Church, again in accord with the teachings of our legitimate teachers the Popes, Bishops, Priests, canonized Saints and Doctors of the Catholic Church.
After this introduction, here are the instructions for dress code when visiting Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, quoted from http://saintpetersbasilica.org/touristinfo.htm:

Dress Code
The Dress Code is strictly enforced at St. Peter’s Basilica. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts. This applies to both men and women. Even if you get through security, you will be turned away by the attendants at the door. On a hot summer day, I’ve seen dozens of men in shorts turned away.


Here’s a sermon by a Catholic priest (Fr. Dominic Mary) on EWTN, regarding the Catholic Church’s teachings on the virtues of purity and modesty, with quotes and explanations from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as the requirements and specific norms to dress modestly when setting foot inside a Catholic church – please click the link below to watch the YouTube video of the homily: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZHECJJbzPM
To summarize those norms of modesty: “In church, please cover your shoulders and knees.”
Inappropriate for church:
-shorts (for both men and women)
-tank tops (for both men and women)
-dresses or skirts above the knees
-bare shoulders
-bare arms
-low-cut dresses
-sleeveless shirts and dresses that bare the arms
-very tight fitting clothing
-bare midriffs
-exposed bellies
-exposed backs
-transparent dresses
-clothes that expose the bellies, backs, cleavage etc while bending down
-blouses and tops that are too tight, revealing and provocative
-tight-fitting clothing that shows the outline of the underwear/underclothes
-tight-fitting spandex clothes
-vulgar tee shirts, vulgar/offensive inscriptions
Necessary for church:
-pants, skirts, dresses should come down to the knees or below
-shirts and dresses should cover the shoulders and have some sort of a sleeve




Dress code and etiquette for visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City

A dress code is enforced for entry into St. Peter’s Basilica. The code is based upon what is considered “modest” and “appropriate” dress for visiting a Catholic church, and tourists and visitors are reminded that, although St. Peter’s is an architectural and artistic monument, it is first a place of worship and prayer. The dress code forbids:
-hats for lay men inside the basilica
-shorts/skirts above the knees
-sleeveless shirts
-shirts exposing the navel
-shirts for women that expose cleavage
-shirts which contain profanity
-excessive jewellery
The use of mobile phones is also prohibited, as is smoking


Vatican Dress Code Steams Tourists


February 11, 2009

With temperatures soaring, tempers are flaring as the Vatican’s dress police turn back tourists in shorts and bare shoulders trying to get into St. Peter’s Basilica.
Enforcement of the dress turns into a battle each summer, but the verbal skirmishes have been heightened this July because Rome has been in the grips of a relentless heat wave.
For weeks, temperatures have reached into the 90 degrees Fahrenheit each day and the thousands of tourists trudging through the streets seem dressed more for a day at the beach — shorts, miniskirts, tank tops for both men and women.
At the Vatican, authorities have erected signs showing that no one can enter the basilica with bare legs and bare shoulders. Guards –neatly dressed in shirts and ties — patrol the entrances.
Showing true entrepreneurial spirit, vendors have popped up at various points around the vast square, keeping one step ahead of the police.
A student identifying himself as Marko from Yugoslavia, visiting the Vatican with his grandmother, plunked down a euro for paper pants…
Not only the Vatican but the diocese of Rome and its hundreds of churches require what authorities consider appropriate dress.


Vatican dress code: Do’s and don’ts for presidential, pilgrim attire
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/sto…ns/0903275.htm :

July 17, 2009, By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
Pilgrims to the Vatican may have their own stories of disappointment or near misses to tell. On sweltering summer days in Rome, scores of visitors are turned away from St. Peter’s Basilica or the Vatican Museums because they’re not dressed decently.
Transparent clothing, halter and tank tops, spaghetti-straps, and shorts or skirts that don’t reach the knees are strictly forbidden.
Slap-dash adjustments are accepted; for example, a shawl or sweater can be draped in such a way that it covers bare knees or shoulders. One tourist was begrudgingly allowed in the basilica after using her spaghetti straps to secure two paper tissues over her bare shoulders.
A museum employee told CNS that dressing decently is a common courtesy; one is after all a guest in “a place deserving respect” when visiting the museums or a pilgrim in a place of worship when visiting the basilica.
Clothes do indeed make the woman and the man, and they can also make or break a visit to the Vatican.


Shorts, bare shoulders banned in Vatican (See pages 76, 93)

July 28, 2010

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican is enforcing a longstanding dress code, with Swiss Guard officers pulling aside tourists and others to tell them when they’re showing too much skin.
The Italian news agency ANSA reported Tuesday the rules on modest dress, previously applied only to those visiting St Peter’s Basilica, are now being invoked at the official customs point between Rome and the walled Catholic enclave.
Men in shorts and women with exposed knees or uncovered shoulders were all stopped by the guards and asked if they knew “how things worked here,” ANSA said. Even locals were caught off-guard, assuming some new edict had been issued.
“This is the Vatican City and for reasons of respect, you are not allowed in with uncovered shoulders or wearing shorts,” was the standard explanation, the news agency said.
The change in enforcement sent women looking for shawls and scarves, and men looking for trousers.


Vatican Dress Codes Gets Stricter

By Austin Cline, About.com Guide, August 9, 2010


Visitors to the Vatican have always had to dress somewhat modestly to enter St. Peter’s Basilica — no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops allowed. Recently, though, the Swiss Guards have been imposing similar restrictions before tourists can enter the entire Vatican grounds, not just St. Peter’s.
The tough dress code also applied to Romans using the Vatican’s pharmacy, supermarket and post office.


“But by no manner of means are women to be allotted to uncover and exhibit any part of their person, lest both fall,–the men by being excited to look, they by drawing on themselves the eyes of the men.” -St Clement of Alexandria


“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 Church is the house of God. It is forbidden for men to enter with bare arms or in shorts. It is forbidden for women to enter in trousers, without a veil on their head, in short clothing, low necklines, sleeveless or immodest dresses.” -Saint Padre Pio

See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KonkaniCatholics/message/3356



Poster at a church in Metro Manila, The Philippines




Church in Sri Lanka calls for modesty in lay dress


January 12, 2009

The clothing some young women wear to Mass at Colombo’s main Catholic Church is attracting attention, judging by the messages on the notice board asking them to dress more modestly.
Father Tony Martyn, appointed parish priest of St. Lucia’s Cathedral in 2006, says Sunday Mass there has become something of a women’s fashion parade. This may have silent admirers, but it definitely has others frowning.
“Modesty is a virtue not limited to conduct, gestures, language, reading and thought, but also to clothing,” Father Martyn told UCA News at the end of December.
“Here they (people) meet God,” the priest said.
Three priests at the cathedral and some parishioners complain that some young women come to church in revealing short skirts, halter tops and low-cut blouses. This creates an unpleasant atmosphere, sets a bad example for youngsters and distracts many people, especially young men, they maintain. They also say little was done about the situation in the past.
Since November, however, some parishioners have distributed head veils free of charge to women, especially the young, to be worn during church services. Women traditionally wore a head covering to church, but the practice has slipped.
Meanwhile, the cathedral notice board shows pictures of modest dress as well as signs parishioners have put up calling on women to dress modestly and all parishioners not to dress extravagantly. Some signs appeal to parents to educate children about this. “Begin early,” one said.
Father Joseph cited Saint Paul’s admonition against extravagant dress in his First Letter to Timothy……


Colombo cathedral enforces dress code


Sri Lanka, September 20, 2010
Move comes amid complaints of immodest dressing
Women wearing veils at Colombo’s St. Lucia’s Cathedral. Priests there are insisting that young women cover their heads while at Mass.
The move is part of a drive to have churchgoers dress appropriately during religious ceremonies.
Many Catholics have complained that churchgoers in Colombo turn up for services in short skirts, halter tops, low cut blouses and shorts.
In a recent Sunday homily, Father John Paul Vinoth, an assistant parish priest at the cathedral, said that modest dressing would help create an atmosphere that is more “conducive to a spiritual experience.”
Appropriate dress in church is as important as flowers, decorations and incense in creating the right setting, he said. “It is essentially preparing a devotee for coming to church,” Father Vinoth added.
Meanwhile, the administrator of the Madhu Marian shrine has also appealed to pilgrims to dress modestly.
“Modest dress is beginning to disappear,” said Father Anthony Victor Sosai, who is also vicar general of Mannar diocese.
The shrine follows traditional Catholic norms and customs on dress, Father Sosai said, noting that Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim places of worship have enforced a strict dress code for centuries.
Laypeople have also expressed concern over declining dress standards.
“Who is going stop these abuses in churches?” asked Lawrance Gonsalvaz Coonghe, a senior Catholic reporter.


Proper Attire inside the Church

From the website of Divine Mercy Roman Catholic Church in the city of Sungai Ara, Penang Island, Malaysia http://www.cdm.my/proper-attire-inside-the-church/
September 29, 2011

The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.(LG no 11)

1. Our dignity as baptized children of God
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” [Galatians 3:27]
2. The sacredness of the Church as the House of God and the Eucharistic celebration urge all participants to dress and manifest the importance of what they are doing.
“The mystery of the Eucharist has found historical expression not only in the demand for an interior disposition of devotion, but also in outward forms meant to evoke and emphasize the grandeur of the event being celebrated.” [Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 49]


Reminders for the proper acts of respect inside the church


Instructions on proper church attire and etiquette from the Immaculate Conception Parish, Novaliches, Philippines

1. Let us discipline ourselves to come on time for the Mass and truly participate until the dismissal of the Mass for us to merit grace in its entirety.
2. Please do maintain silence while in Church especially during the liturgical celebration to give us the opportunity to pray and also to help others also to pray. If there is a need to speak to a neighbour, please do so in a soft and low tone.


3. Let us diligently listen to the proclamation of the Word of God and the Homily. Let us make our responses with loud and determined manner that comes for our innermost convictions.
4. Let us keep the Church clean. Do not eat or drink inside the Church.
5. Observe proper respect and decency on attire while inside the House of God. Shorts; mini-skirts; dresses with plunging neck-line; sleeveless, spaghetti or strapless tops; backless attire are not allowed inside the Church. It is always fashionable to wear a shawl to cover the shoulders.
6. It is a commendable practice to bring the children to Church. But please do keep them close to your dutiful supervision. Do not allow them to loiter around and make noise that disturb the worshipping community.
7. Bear in mind that we must be in the state of grace when receiving Holy Communion. If we are in the state of mortal sin, do go to confession first before receiving Holy Communion otherwise we add on to our sins the disrespect to the Sacred Species in sacrilege. Observe the customary Eucharistic Fast an hour before receiving Holy Communion.
8. It is our duty to care for the objects and furnishings inside the Church. Although these materials have been obtained through the donations from the faithful, we must consider them as already and exclusively dedicated for use in the Divine worship. Thus please understand that they should not and can not be borrowed for private and personal use outside the Church premises.
9. Please do not be offended when a minister of the Church would call our attention and respectfully remind us of proper respect and actions in the Church. The ministers are doing their duties of keeping order in the liturgical celebration. We should in fact and instead be thankful for these volunteers who guide us through the respectful celebration inside the Church.
10. Out of obvious courtesy for our neighbour and devout respect for the House of God and the Liturgical celebration, switch off or put to silent mode your cellphones and other disrupting electronic gadgets. Do not use them while inside the Church.


Monastery of Transfiguration, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, Philippines





Gay, Child Abuse, Indecent Dressing Unacceptable, Says Arinze
The Guardian: Chuks Collins, Awka, August 29, 2008

Nigerian-born Prefect, Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacrament at the Vatican, Francis Cardinal Arinze, has described gay, lesbian lifestyles as well as indecent dressing against divine law and order.
He also said that abuse of children, “whether sexual, physical or mental by whoever person, how much more an ordained priest in any part of the world, remained sacrilegious and unacceptable.”
He had the same reproach for indecent dressings, especially by women, who he noted should not copy whatever the western world throws out.



He observed that dressing has cultural affiliation and identity of a people, adding that what was acceptable in one culture/society was usually not acceptable in another.
On dressings, he cautioned that modesty should remain people’s watchword, noting that he had been to many parts of the world and could rightly say without fear that Nigerian and African dresses look very graceful on the women.
He pointed out that the Catholic Church could not however dictate the mode of dressing for its faithful except those who serve at the altar of God.


St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M University








Proper Attire inside a Church


At a church in Bohol, the Philippines

Larger source:


What I have learned from our recent trip to Bohol is on how much they stressed out the proper attire inside a church. They are very strict most especially on wedding dresses. Our tour guide shared how much people would scrutinize your whole getup when you attend a Holy Mass. The priest won’t even give you communion if what you wear isn’t one of the proper attires inside the church. They even have posters of the proper and improper attire outside the church to remind everyone. That’s how much strict they are in Bohol.


Time for a Zero Tolerance Dress Code at Mass?


By Joan Frawley Desmond, July 23, 2013

A Christian campaign has its own slogan, “Modest Is Hottest.”

Here in California, people rarely dress up. Mark Zuckerberg reportedly wore a hoodie for the Facebook IPO (though he put on a nice suit for his wedding last year).

So when people glide into Mass wearing their gym clothes, flipflops and tank tops, most pastors judiciously ignore the spectacle and hope their parishioners will too.

Still, whenever our family attends the 5:30 p.m. Sunday Mass, I have wondered whether the profusion of mini skirts and tube tops might add up to a ‘near occasion of sin,” for some appreciative men in the congregation.. And that possibility, I think, is what bothered my old pastor back in Bethesda, Maryland. He was not shy about discussing inappropriate Mass attire during his homily — while also nudging his flock to arrive on time, rather than cramming into the last five pews during the second half of the liturgy. 

Thus, I was pleased, but not surprised to see my old parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, mentioned in a recent Washington Post story about “appropriate” clothing for church services, especially during heat waves.  The Post’s reporter caught one embarrassed communicant. She was in the Communion line at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Sunday morning, two things were on her mind: connecting with God and getting out of the humid sanctuary before someone mentioned her skimpy tank top and tight, knee-length running pants.

“I know I’m inappropriate, but I’m trying to save time. I know I’m in the wrong. My mother would not approve,” the 30-year-old said sheepishly as she made a beeline from Mass at the Bethesda church to the gym. “But would it be better that I not come?”

I know exactly which gym she was headed for, and I, too, struggled with the moral dilemma of whether to go to Mass in gym clothes, or make an additional visit home to change clothes after church.

It’s a real guilt trip when you have your mother making you feel bad, and your parish bulletin kicks in, too:

“Dignity & Decorum: Please try not to wear beach shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thank you.”


The Post’s reporter sees two problems–an acceptance of risqué behavior and lazy dressing habits.

In general, casual has pummeled formal everywhere in America, from airplanes to offices. But places of worship — where debates on modesty are not confined to the summer months — may be the final frontier for questions about what constitutes overly risqué. And those questions have recently sprung to new life.

Interestingly, the Post’s story mentions one campaign by evangelical groups who want to upgrade the dress code, as well. It’s called Modest is Hottest. But it turns out the effort has met with resistance from some of its target audience.

“A woman’s breasts and buttocks and thighs all proclaim the glory of the Lord,” said Sharon Hodde Miller, a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School whose critique of “modest is hottest” in the online evangelical magazine Christianity Today was one of the best-read of recent years. “Modesty is an orientation of the heart, first and foremost. It begins with putting God first. To look at an outfit and say if it’s modest or immodest, I’m not sure you can do that.”

My pastor would beg to differ. But, then, I also don’t see him endorsing a campaign called, “Modest is Hottest.”


Dressing up for mass is outdated!
All emphases the author’s

By Marisa Pereira, May 27, 2012

With the lazy, hazy days of summer upon us, I have been asked to address the topic of appropriate dress for church on Sunday. However, at the moment, I’d like to focus the attention on appropriate dress for lay people while serving on the altar in the capacity of lector, usher or Eucharistic Minister.

Last week I was addressing a group of professionals on the topic of “professional” dress and presentation. It dawned on me then, that we wouldn’t dream of griping about the heat and our comfort or lack thereof (among other things) when attending an interview or a business meeting. However, I guess church seems to be lumped in the category of “weekend” dressing and therefore we find it easier to bemoan the formality of dress that is expected. Besides, our livelihood is not connected to it; funny the role that little detail plays! In my opinion, serving on the altar is a privilege and when we are on the altar we become “presenters”. I doubt anyone would attempt a business presentation other than in business attire. So the need to modify the expectation for a presentation at church really baffles me. Further baffling is most priests’ reluctance to upset the apple-cart by addressing the topic.

Let’s evaluate some of the arguments against dressing in professional attire for church:

Affordability: I am hoping we don’t hear this complaint from someone who regularly spends almost $5 on a cup of Starbucks coffee. I have purchased high quality business jackets for less than I have paid for a pair of jeans. Organizations like “Dress for Success” or “Goodwill” also have professional attire available at no cost or an extremely subsidized rate.

The weather: If we’re really honest we’d acknowledge that walking around in our birthday suit would FEEL the most comfortable on a hot summer day; but handcuffs, in jail, for indecent exposure might negate that good feeling! So refraining from focusing on our FEELINGS for a bit might make it easier to be rational. I don’t think keeping a jacket on for about an hour in an air-conditioned facility, will kill anyone. Quit whining and deal with it – offer it up for some souls in purgatory if that makes it easier.

Formal dressing is a thing of the past: Says WHO? Has the priests’ attire changed? Is mass or service not still a formal gathering of believers assembled to worship the most high God? I believe we use this lame excuse because are just getting lazier and don’t want to make an effort to dress up. What a shame that signs like “No shirt, no shoes = no service” are necessary to remind us to stay clothed!

A couple of weeks ago I was alerted to a situation where a lector had a cut out in her dress, in the middle of her back, which was in clear view as she went up to lector and later to serve as Eucharistic Minister. Lector assignments are pre-scheduled so I’m wondering, was there nothing in the closet that was not cut out, that could be chosen for the privilege of proclaiming God’s word? In the corporate world, cutouts on clothes are prohibited even on “Casual Fridays”. Where is the sense of decorum and respect for the sacredness of the occasion – that being the mass?

Based on “professional” expectations, here are some guidelines on what to wear to serve at mass on Sunday or Saturday Vigil or on days of obligation:

-Coat and Tie for men.

-Trouser or skirt suits are optimum and most preferred; so are professional dresses (may be two-piece), dress trousers with appropriate dressy tops are acceptable for ladies.

-Stockings for ladies if skirts are above the knee; socks for men (trust me; there IS a need to say this!).

-Dress shoes (cleaned and polished) for all.

Guidelines regarding appropriateness:

-Trousers should not be too tight, no jeans, cargo pants, or shorts.

-Shirts – no T shirts, spaghetti straps, low cut or tight tops.

-Any neckline more than 4″ below the base of the neck is too low; 3″ for teens. Wear a scarf if in doubt. No amount of cleavage is acceptable on the altar.

-Shoulder straps should be no less than 2″ wide on dresses or tops. Wear a jacket if in doubt. NO cut-outs.

-Undergarments are a must and if any underwear lines can be seen, the covering garment is too tight. Wearing long tops or jackets over pants reduces this risk.

-No transparent or clingy clothing. Most lightweight and knit fabrics cling. If a garment is lined there is less chance of this happening – alternately slips help and are still widely available.

-If a skirt/dress hemline is more than 2″ from the top of the knee, it is too short – imagine the congregation behind, cringing as you bow!

-Shoes – no flip flops or sneakers.

-The above are just guidelines – use common sense; some people may be more endowed in certain areas necessitating greater coverage in those areas.



Weekday and Saturday (non-Vigil) :

Dressing is more relaxed during the week so formal attire is not typically required but other than the acceptability of casual trousers and shoes the other guidelines remain the same.

In order to maintain the sacredness of the occasion, I believe, it is better to have less people serving on the altar than compromise these dress guidelines. If you are not certain, err on the side of caution and refrain from serving.


Dressing up for mass is outdated!
All emphases the author’s

By Marisa Pereira, June 5, 2012

Thank you for all the feedback on my last article on dressing for service on the altar. By popular demand, here are my thoughts on general congregational dressing…

Several weeks ago my daughter and I were driving through a College campus when we saw a young student dressed in jacket and tie (it wasn’t cold) walking to Sunday service. I commented that he couldn’t be headed to the Catholic Church – I was right! No big Sherlock moment here, just a commentary on the unfortunate lack of dress and decorum at a Sunday Mass.

The following are some reasons and justifications:

1. We have the freedom and right to dress as we please.

2. In keeping with fashion trends – everyone dresses this way these days.

3. In tune with our “feelings”, we need to “feel comfortable”.

4. The church is outdated and needs to get with the times – we are now a more casual society.

5. Jesus does not focus on outward appearances; He looks at the heart and He dressed in sandals and an ordinary robe.

6. Parents can’t expect kids to “dress up” for church – if we try to enforce this, they may not attend.

7. Having all different kinds of clothing for different occasions gets expensive – especially for larger families. (our kids NEED I-Tunes & I-Pads and I-Cars!)

 Before I tackle the list above, I’d like to present some reasons I believe we should pay greater attention to how we dress for church. Genesis 3:21 tells us “The Lord God made clothes out of animal skins for Adam and his wife and he clothed them”. So obviously the fig leaves Adam and Eve had put together weren’t enough – God had to beef it up a bit! When we dress modestly, we respect our God, our community – and ourselves. By our baptism, we are ambassadors of Christ and are supposed to shine “His light”. We shine brighter when we are intentional in presenting ourselves in our best light.

God calls us to be fully invested in Him. He reminds us of this in the very first commandment: I am the Lord your God – you shall have no other Gods before me. I believe He is asking for our commitment to Him in ALL areas. One way we reflect this is in our offering – exemplified in Genesis in the story of Cain and Abel. We offer our tithe, our “first fruits” to God, of our time, money, learning, business, dress and even food (sharing our table with others). If we dress up for other occasions – like a date, meeting, party, work, etc, but not for church, we have given those events greater importance than our special “date” with God – the mass. Of course, ultimately all giving is between the giver and God so only you can decide if you give God your first fruits in ALL areas.

Now – to tackle some of the arguments above… Of course you have the right to dress as you please. Does everyone at mass have the same freedom and rights? Freedom to avoid the occasion of sin by gazing on cleavage or other body parts that are better off covered? A couple of weeks ago, we attended my niece’s First Communion. Two pre-teen boys behind us decided to take off their sneakers during mass – I guess to be “comfortable”. The stink we endured as a result of their “right” caused us to gag from the sermon to the end of mass. Their parents didn’t see fit to educate them on basic manners and curtail the behavior either. While someone has the right to smoke, someone else has the right to inhale clean air – right? What happened to consideration?

Of the many countries I have visited, I’d say that the USA takes the cake for exposing the most skin at mass. As someone who works in the fashion world and loves it, I can assure you fashion and modesty are not mutually exclusive. Think Princess Diana – the world’s most photographed personality. Exposed is not “fashionable” – it’s just tawdry! Yes the summers are hot; but suitable, lightweight clothing options that make life bearable for about an hour or so – mostly in an air-conditioned environment – are easily available.  For those who believe Jesus didn’t dress well, keep in mind that while Jesus was not dressed in Roman finery, His robe was obviously not too ordinary – or no one would have “cast lots” for it. We claim to be a more “casual” society but really we are just becoming lazier and therefore sloppier – reluctant to differentiate between various occasions and how act or clothe ourselves appropriately for each. We need to be reminded not to chew gum or text during mass and confuse what we wear in the privacy of our home or on the beach with what is suitable for mass! My daughter has passed on her well cared for church clothes and shoes to kids who can use them but is saddened and frustrated when she sees them worn to play in.

I come from a big family – one of six kids – so our clothing budget was almost non-existent. However, we wore all new clothes and shoes to Sunday mass first. If they were more casual, we wore them to daily mass first – learning to give thanks for our clothes and also that there is a time and place for different types of clothing. I find myself practicing this tradition even today.

I have heard similar stories from others; in other words – PARENTS, kids remember. Proverbs 22:6 – “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” As parents it is our duty and privilege to teach our children; not necessarily to provide all life’s luxurious I-gadgets and lattes. While we’re tip-toeing around enforcing dress rules, they’re agonizing about what they shouldn’t; make it easier on them – set standards.

-Shorts, tank tops, plunging necklines, spaghetti straps, cutouts, backless, bandeau, strapless and halter tops and dresses, bare midriffs and tight clothing are not acceptable for mass – These can be covered up with a lightweight jacket or large scarf. Cleavage is NOT acceptable at mass. Wearing long tops or jackets over pants reduces the risk of underwear lines from tight clothing.



-If skirts are above the knee consider stockings, tights or leggings (yes – for an hour, it won’t kill you. Besides, they are definitely in fashion!). Skirts that are 4″- 5″ from the behind are TOPS not DRESSES. Wear pants or leggings (not tights) with them.

-Most knit fabrics cling. If a garment is lined there is less chance of “clinging” OR, wear a slip.

-The above are just guidelines – use common sense; some people may be more endowed in certain areas necessitating greater coverage. For example someone with thicker thighs might look inappropriate with a skirt 2″ above the knee.

We recognize the importance of our Sunday worship not by placing undue importance on our outward appearance; but rather drawing closer to God in all areas of our lives. As Britain celebrates the diamond jubilee of their queen, we too rejoice as true princes and princesses, CHOSEN to share in the inheritance of the King of Kings!

Marisa Pereira is a mother, fashion designer, currently runs a Design and Image Consulting business in Atlanta, GA, is a freelance writer and volunteers at her church and in the community. She holds a BA in Fashion Design and a BA in French with a minor in Psychology and has worked in the Fashion Industry for over twenty years. Frustrated at her inability to find appropriate church clothes for her 14 year old daughter, she heeded God’s call, and created the stylish but modest, Michaela-Noel clothing collection, now available on-line. Having lived in multiple countries, she is acutely aware of the emphasis cultures place on visual appeal. She analyzes the importance of presenting the best image of ourselves and passionately insists that it starts within. She regularly addresses adult and youth audiences – encouraging and teaching them to make a memorable first impact but more importantly – to create a lasting impression. Her websites are: http://www.mpcimage.com and michaela-noel.com.


Dress code for Catholic Mass?



Papal Audience & visiting the Vatican Dress Codes (See pages 67, 93)


Papal Audience Dress Code:

For the Papal Audience casual but modest dress is accepted, again ladies should still have shoulders covered particularly if the meeting is held indoors.
As the Audience in summer is usually held outside and Rome gets extremely hot, bring hats, sunscreen, water and cover up as much as possible to avoid burning.
Men are permitted to wear hats throughout the Audience.


St. Peter’s Basilica & Sistine Chapel / Vatican Museums Dress Code:

Men should wear long pants and short sleeves t-shirts or shirts are OK but no vest tops.
Jeans are OK, official rules state no shorts.
As summers can be very hot the Vatican do sometimes relax the rules and allow Men to wear shorts however it is worth noting that this may not always be the case and the official dress code does state no shorts.
It is good perhaps to carry a pair of long pants with you in case or wear the cargo style pants that allow you to unzip the lower legs to create shorts when needed.
Men should also be aware that hats need to be removed before entering any church or Chapel which includes St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

Women can wear trousers, capri pants and skirts and dresses are permitted however they cannot be shorter than knee length and shoulders must be covered.
In very hot weather a shawl or large scarf/Pashmina can be draped around the shoulders for visiting the sites.
Bare shoulders and short skirts are not permitted and again come prepared to cover up if wearing shorts.



– Long pants
– At least short sleeves

– The knees covered
– At least short sleeves



– Shorts
– T-shirts without sleeves
– Short skirts
– Baseball caps inside the churches




Mount St. Mary’s Traditionalist Church, Spokane, Washington – Dress Code


If this is the first time you are attending the traditional Latin Mass here at Mount St. Michael, you will notice that our parishioners do not dress casually for church services. Since the changes that came about after Vatican Council II, few parishes have any kind of dress code. We still believe that modesty and appropriate attire are necessary, especially in church out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament. Please observe these minimum standards of dress for attendance at church services at Mount St. Michael:

• Women and girls must cover their heads. (Chapel veils or mantillas are available for loan in the vestibule.)

• Women and girls must wear dresses or skirts that cover the knee completely when sitting or standing; slacks, shorts, sleeveless, tight or low-cut clothing or dresses with long cuts or slits are to be avoided.

• Men and boys should wear suit coats and ties.

• Jeans and other casual attire are inappropriate for attendance at church services.

In this compilation, I have included information from Traditionalist sites for the reader to be able to compare the strict dress codes that are enforced for Traditional Latin Rite Masses vis-à-vis the fashion parades that post-Vatican Council II Masses have become in our Catholic Church. –Michael


But, as we have observed on the earlier pages, some Catholic parishes too try to implement a dress code:

St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church, Arlington, Texas


Dress Code:  Mass
Please know that there is appropriate dress for attending Mass and coming to the Lord’s table on Sundays or daily Mass.
Ladies should have their shoulders and backs covered and no plunging necklines or short shorts.  Gentlemen should wear nice shirts and slacks.  If you are serving as a Liturgical Minister (Ushers, Hospitality, Eucharistic Minister, Altar Server), please do not wear flip-flops, tennis shoes, shorts, jeans or sweat pants. 
Please remember that God has invited you into his home.  We appreciate your cooperation.

Dress Code:  Weddings
If you are getting married in the Church, there is an appropriate dress code as well.
Did you know that Marriage is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and as such, it is appropriately celebrated in the church building? Celebrating your wedding in a Catholic church means that you are joining the faith community as a sacrament, an outward sign of the living presence of Jesus Christ in your marriage. Likewise, as a sacred place there are certain expectations of the wedding party in presentation in both attire and respect of the sacred environment.
Please click on the following link which will take you to the SMG Sacraments and Marriage pages. Please take the time to read the articles and open the links available that discuss the Catholic Marriage preparation and ceremony especially the “Sharing Wedding Guide document by Catholic Digest.

The wedding coordinator(s) will review the appropriate etiquette and dress with the wedding party. If, for example, a bridesmaid shows up at the wedding in an inappropriate dress the wedding coordinator will provide a shawl that will be required to be worn in the church and during the ceremony.
Please refrain from bringing food and drinks into the church.  In order to keep our church clean, beautiful, and inviting, please refrain from bringing food or drinks into the church.  This includes Cheerios, raisins, candy, gum, etc.  For all thos who come for Mass, it is necessary that we all do our part. 


St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Church Liturgical Ministers Dress Code


September 17, 2013

Serving in liturgical ministry is a privilege which requires not only catechetical and logistical training but also requires attire that shows respect for the ministry and for Our Lord ever present in the Blessed Sacrament. St. Gabriel’s does have a dress code that has been issued for individual ministries. What follows is a dress code addressing all liturgical ministries. It is suggested that liturgical ministers follow this dress code when serving in ministry. However, St. Gabriel’s would appreciate it if you would also follow this dress code when attending Mass as you may be asked to serve in your ministry at the last minute.

Why is a dress code necessary? Liturgical ministers are looked upon as leaders of our worshipping community. As such they are ambassadors of the parish, the diocese and the church.

• To serve in their ministry it is necessary for captains, EM‘s, lectors and servers to enter the sanctuary during the celebration of Mass. The sanctuary is given a place of prominence for a reason—it is the center, the focal point, for the tabernacle and the altar. And it is upon the altar that our Eucharistic feast is prepared. Therefore, those serving in these ministries must show reverence in their actions, their participation, their attire, etc.

• The ushers are the first ministers people see when they arrive to attend Mass. They are the goodwill ambassadors of the liturgical team. They pass the collection baskets and manage the flow of the communion lines. Their attire shows respect for Our Lord and pride in our parish and in their ministry.

• The music ministry contributes greatly to the celebration of Mass as they lead the congregation in songs of praise and glory of God. Again, proper church attire shows respect and reverence.

• The catechists and aides serving in CLOW are charged with the responsibility of conveying the gospel message to the children participating in the CLOW dismissal at the 8:30 Mass.


These ministers maintain modesty in their attire not only because proper church attire shows respect and reverence for our Lord but also because they are serving the very young members of our congregation.

• The gift card seller ministry is not a liturgical ministry but those serving as card sellers have direct contact with fellow worshippers so they, too, represent the parish and are leaders of our community. As such they are invited to observe the same dress code as the liturgical ministers.

To summarize – Some liturgical ministers enter the sanctuary to serve in their ministry, others greet people as they arrive, some devote their time to teaching the young children, and still others lead the congregation in song. Those serving in any of these ministries are leaders in our community and therefore it is necessary that their attire complements their ministry which ultimately reflects the reverence proper attire affords.

Our church is God’s house. Our Lord is present in the tabernacle. Remembering this should help in the choice of proper attire to wear when attending Mass, especially when serving in a liturgical ministry.


What follows is our Dress Code:

All Liturgical Ministers


No low cut tops–no cleavage showing

No bare shoulders

No sleeveless tops

No exposed mid drifts

No shorts

No short skirts or dresses (length should be no shorter than 3 inches above the knee).

Long skirts and dresses are permitted.

No skin tight slacks skirts or dresses

No jeans of any color or style

No flip flops

No heavy perfumes

No large hair bows, clips, etc.

No large, gaudy jewelry.



No T-shirts–shirts need to have a collar (golf shirt)

Button shirts must be buttoned up to second button from the top

Slacks must be worn with the waist band positioned on the waist

Trousers designed for a belt must be worn with a belt.

No shorts

No jeans of any color or style

No flip flops

No heavily scented shaving lotions, etc.

No gaudy jewelry


Altar Servers

Not only does the server alb cover a server’s street clothes but they are made of polyester and that, coupled with the heat from the spot lights shining on the altar, necessitates the need for a slightly different dress code for altar servers.

The above dress code does apply for servers except that a server is allowed to wear shorts simply no short shorts, skirts or dresses.

Additionally, altar servers. . .

No brightly colored clothes – these colors show right through the server’s alb

No glitzy, brightly colored or lighted shoes.

No clothes containing writing and designs

Long hair cannot be flowing onto the shoulders – it must be tied behind or on top of a server’s head. This is a safety factor – servers carry lighted candles.


Daily Mass Ministers

Daily Mass is more casual so jeans, T-shirts and flip flops are acceptable but the remainder of the dress code applies.


Funerals and Weddings (All Ministers)

In addition to the above all liturgical ministers serving at either weddings or funerals need to “dress for the occasion”. When serving for a funeral a minister’s attire should be appropriate for attending a funeral. When serving for a wedding a minister’s attire should be appropriate for attending a wedding.


Special Masses (Christmas, Easter, First Communion/Confirmation—All Ministers

These Masses celebrate formal occasions; therefore, when serving in a ministry for our special Masses liturgical ministers are requested to dress up a bit more than usual. In addition to the respect, reverence and solemnity the occasion dictates, liturgical ministers could well be in some of the pictures being taken to memorialize the occasion.

In several instances, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are wrongly called Eucharistic Ministers or EMs as in BOTH of the above articles (also on preceding and following pages). –Michael



Church Etiquette

By Karl Keating’s e-letter, April 22, 2008
Down the block from my home is a Mormon church. When I drive back from Sunday Mass and pass cars going in the other direction, it’s easy to tell which cars are occupied by Mormons leaving their services. The men all wear the one-time FBI uniform: dark suits, dark ties, white shirts. The women all dress modestly (but not in the unattractive gunnysack style favored by some home-schoolers).
Then I think back at what I saw at my parish. Most people dressed well enough, though only the readers and ushers wore coats and ties. Some people wore shorts (which, I think, are acceptable in church only if you are three years old or younger). Other people wore sweat suits. Some wore jerseys or jackets emblazoned with the names of their favorite teams. One guy wore his ball cap throughout Mass.
As summer nears, the Attire Quotient declines. It goes up in late autumn as the days become chilly. It’s a cycle as reliable as the seasons themselves.
I’m not saying that we ought to mimic the Mormons, but I am saying that we ought to think of Mass as a destination different from the mall or the stadium. Some folks still don’t understand that. No one knows this better than priests, who have to look out over the people in the pews.
I was sent a Code of Church Etiquette that one frustrated priest recently posted at his parish. He had tried indirect reminders from the ambo and small notices in the bulletin. They had no effect. He decided to be blunt. Here are a few of the items he listed:

1. Please remember appropriate clothing. Especially during the summer the church should be a décolletage-free zone. (If you don’t know this word, I have another word for you: dictionary.)
2. Please remember that chewing gum by anyone (any age, Catholic or not) is not acceptable during Mass. Reason 1: respect. Reason 2: one-hour fast prior to Communion.
3. Please refrain from reading the bulletin, e-mails, or text-messages during Mass.
4. Please turn off or silence cell phones and pagers.
5. Please, no MP3 devices or iPods (Nano or otherwise).
6. Please participate in the Mass with your mind, body, and spirit by singing, speaking, praying, and paying attention.
There were other items in the priest’s list, but you get the point. I hope his congregation did too.


Immodest Dress, ‘A Priest Cries For Modesty!’

94 readers’ comments

Priest Known To Refuse Holy Communion To Immodestly Dressed Women

By John Michael, St. Peter Chanel Church Bulletin, California, August 5, 2008

“When I showed the article to the Pastor, he told me to be more charitable. So, you are getting the friendly version.”
Father John Lyons, OMV http://www.spcomv.com/

Parents are often obliged to correct their children over and over again – about the same thing. They would really prefer not to have to do it, but if they didn’t they would be guilty of sinning by omission. Priests feel the same way. One of the things that we often have to correct people about is the use of immodest clothing.

Dressing Immodestly Is a Sin
At this time we most especially need to remind girls and women to not wear immodest low-cut dresses or blouses.
Women and girls should be careful that their dress is not revealing at all, even when they bend over or kneel down.
Maybe some women do not know that revealing clothing is a source of temptation for most men. If you doubt this, ask a man. If a woman knows that such is the case, and still she would wear such clothing, then she would be committing the sin of scandal.

Immodesty Is Wrong At All Ages

Unfortunately, even some older women of otherwise upright character, even daily communicants, sometimes wear such revealing clothing. Maybe they think that they’re beyond the age of posing a temptation (and maybe they are). However, they are giving bad example to others – most notably their own daughters and grandchildren. They, too, are committing scandal. Those who see them will think: “She’s a good Catholic, and she wears revealing clothing. It must be okay.”

Immodesty Does Not Fit God’s Standards

Someone might argue that the wearing of revealing clothing now meets with society’s standards. It may indeed meet with society’s standards; however, we can safely say that it does not meet with God’s. As Christians, we are not to be followers of society’s standards, but the standards of Christ. We urge every woman to examine her wardrobe (and that of her minor children if she has any), and get rid of all clothing that is immodest unless it can be adapted to be worn modestly.

What Would Mary Do?
If a woman has doubts about the modest use of a particular article of clothing, it may be helpful to ask herself if our Blessed Mother would wear such clothing if she lived in this day and age. Or, to ask herself if our Blessed Mother would be pleased with her wearing the article of clothing in question.

Let It Be Known
We suggest that you cut out this bulletin article, make copies of it, and give it to women and girls who need to hear this message. Even give or send the article anonymously, if necessary. Those who desire to do what is right will take the correction to heart and put it into practice.


Confessions from an Immodest Mother

9 readers’ comments

August 6, 2008


Immodestly Dressed Mother Comes Out Of The Closet To Reveal All!

A Mother Is Shocked To Realize The Hidden Evils Attached To Immodesty! Read Her Amazing Story As She Charitably Relates The Struggles Of Overcoming Immodesty…

Dear John Michael,
I think you are right modesty is the lost virtue. But speaking as a woman who did not see this problem until a few years ago in regards to myself and my adolescent girls, I must tell you that women and girls simply do not see it most of the time.

Sometimes We Dress Immodesty Because Of Convenience

We wear what we are told looks good, what is comfortable, what is available on the racks and what our friends are wearing. From experience I know it helps to have “rules”…the neckline no lower than x; the hemline no higher than y; the straps no thinner than w (if straps are allowed at all, or if sleeves of three-quarter length only, or if cap sleeves are allowed, or short sleeves…..I tell you. People have many different criteria for what is modest.

Teaching What Is Immodest Is the Key

It seems silly, but the knowledge of such things is just not widely taught anymore. And when you start to figure things out (for me, it was my husband’s insistence and most women will not listen to their husband on these matters in this feminist society) it was still a process and took some time to develop sensibilities, learning from loving, caring and not harsh, judgmental women, who wanted to help and knew that it could be a struggle.

Remember To Praise to the Lord

Please don’t think women are doing this intentionally, at least most of the time. Forgive us for our bad judgement. When all else seems to fail, follow Archbishop Fulton Sheen and praise God for the beauty and dignity of women. We have been conditioned (and created too) to be pleasing to the eye, and we can be still beautiful when modest, actually we are the most beautiful then, of course. But the line gets fuzzy between modest and immodest dress sometimes, especially when we are in the learning stage.


4 Things the Modesty Priest Did Right

2 readers’ comments

August 20, 2008

Shocking Bulletin Post Warns Women about the Dangers of Dressing Immodestly

Imagine the surprise! You’re reading the Church bulletin, hoping for donuts after Mass, when you see Fr. John Lyons’s weekly address to his parish.

Dear Parishioners,
At this time we most especially need to remind girls and women to not wear immodest low-cut dresses or blouses. Women and girls should be careful that their dress is not revealing at all, even when they bend over or kneel down. Maybe some women do not know that revealing clothing is a source of temptation for most men. If you doubt this, ask a man. If a woman knows that such is the case, and still she would wear such clothing, then she would be committing the sin of scandal.
The full immodesty post is a must read to get the full context.
“Immodest Dress; A Priest Cries For Modesty!” This is unheard of in today’s age of political correctness. Yet, what breath of fresh air. Upon reviewing Father’s immodesty reprimand you see four absolutely must haves when one is called to admonish a sinner.

4 Things Fr. Lyons Did Right To Combat Immodesty

1. He Publicly Took The Light To The Darkness.

“At this time we most especially need to remind girls and women to not wear immodest low-cut dresses or blouses.” When a coach sees a team makes a grave mistake, does he overlook it? Does he pretend the grave mistake is not there? Does he say, “Well, they don’t know it is a mistake, so lets focus on something else.” No, he doesn’t.
This next statement cannot be emphasized enough; a sin in the darkness will always stay in the darkness until light is shed upon it. Until the immodesty issue is publicly addressed this sin of immodesty will thrive in the darkness devouring poor little souls.

2. He Used Charity.

In no way was Father condescending. He eased his is way into the reprimand, relating how similar his role as a Priest is to parenting. Father put us all on common ground. Did you know it is an act of mercy to correct the sinner? Think about it, to admonish a sinner is one of the most charitable things you can do for your neighbor. Did you know being “nice,” when rooted in fear, can be a sin?

3. He Clearly Defined The Sin.

Satan hates clear definitions. Don’t believe it? Ask a pro-lifer or faithful politician if Satan uses vague words to his advantage. Fr. Lyons simply stated immodesty is anything “revealing at all, even when you bend over or kneel down.” That is a clear, simple definition Satan can’t tolerate.

4 He Clearly Defined The Why.

“As Christians, we are not to be followers of society’s standards, but the standards of Christ.” Have you ever heard the line, similar to “Why are you being such a prude?” That’s Satan’s line and his worldly standard. God calls us to love and defend modesty and purity. Why? Because Purity is not a something, it is a somebody! God is Purity. To reject purity and accept immodesty is to reject Jesus and accept scandal. Remember, as a temple of the Holy Spirit, you are called to be “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

So there it is. One Priest, took courage and formally told his flock to stop mocking our Eucharistic Lord with scandalous immodest dress. In a world longing for courage, Father John Lyons, Oblates of the Virgin Mary, put his foot down and called his faithful to holiness. May God bless Fr. Lyons, the Modesty Priest.



A thought for the Christian Woman’s conscience

By Nancy Dias

August 12, 2008

I would love to share with you my thoughts on modesty in view of the Christian faith. Born and brought up as a Catholic and a mother of two lovely sons, I’m not ashamed of the Gospel, it is therefore imperative for me to witness to you.

To the secular liberalist or to the Christian liberalist, or to the immodest, this may sound legalistic. But the Word of God calls it VIRTUE!

I was a regular Church attendee and everything was going on well and yet I did not discover the nakedness within me. I must thank my Lord Jesus for not giving up on me for living a “double standard” Christian life by being a slave to the worldly desires. I discovered the wretchedness in me until I met my Lord Jesus a few years ago. I believe no one can see the nakedness of oneself without having an intimate relationship with Jesus.

When I silently gaze at my past, I strongly feel the powerful hand of Jesus as how He bore with me all these years, waiting patiently for me to return to His embrace. I strongly feel the love of Jesus and His continuous protecting hand upon my life. Least what I can do is thank Jesus by letting all the readers of this article know that we need to pause a while in this busy, modern world before we are trapped by the devil with his tricks that ‘all is OK’

Eve became aware of her nakedness in the Garden of Eden after having eaten the forbidden fruit and thus disobeyed God. I too was disobeying Him and offending Him through my scandalous dress code which the modern world advertises as MOD FASHION by the so called fashion designers. My eyes could not see my own nakedness as I was busy accumulating wealth and my only concern was to store up riches at the cost of my own bodily desires.

What really touched my life were two Scriptures while reading a spiritual magazine which says “what does it profit a man if He gains the whole world and looses one’s soul” and the other one was “Seek the kingdom of God first and the rest will be added unto it”

These words pierced my heart though having read and pierced was not all for me. During a spiritual retreat, it was like a burning coal touching me through the holy Word and everything began to get exposed and that’s where I encountered Jesus for the first time.

Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God, what is good and pleasing to him and is perfect. Romans 12 :2

I discovered that I had made a idol of myself “A Goddess” instead of feeding and taking care of my soul, I was busy spending hours before the mirror taking care of my body. I would spend months before Christmas or any occasion to go through the design books for patterns which meant short dresses, sleeveless gowns and so on…! Add to my immodest dress code, my jewelry, shoes, bag all had to be perfectly matching and not forgetting the hairstyle. I had to be gorgeous with all the outward appearances. Shivers goes down my spine when I read the word in Philippians 3:19 they are going to end up in HELL, because their god is their bodily desires. They are proud of what they should be ashamed of, and they think only of things that belong to this world.

Sunday service or any obligation day at Church was something of fashion and I would be busy watching others if there was anyone having same attire like mine. With all this playing in my mind, I am sure it leads others into sin.

From that retreat on, my life has been different and sincerely seeking the word of God and made BIBLE my mirror where now I spend hours seeking the kingdom of God.

Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his Word, instead, put it into practice, whoever listens to the word but does not put it into practice is like a man who looks in a mirror and sees himself and then goes away and at once forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks closely into the perfect law that sets people free, who keeps on paying attention to it and does not simply listen and then forget it, but puts it into practice – that person will be blessed by God in what he does “James 1:22-25”.
Regardless of what the world exhibits and promotes, we need to have our focus on what God requires from each one of us. We must be aware of the shame of nakedness and dress modestly. I am now aware that we are not created to exhibit flesh nor wear tight jeans with shortest top and dress provocatively. Let’s move forward promoting modesty and shine among others as stars lighting up the sky everywhere may it be streets, sea side walks, swimming pools, market places, shopping malls, offices and be excellent promoters to stop the vulgar dress code. The beach or a swimming pool does not lessen the need for Christians to dress modestly.

At home, the modesty of one’s dress varies. What may be biblically modest in the one’s home is biblically immodest in the public areas of the house while entertaining guests or out in the yard. Further, what may be modest between husband and wife can be immodest in front of the children. What may be modest family dress is immodest when exhibited to others.

Women do not raise your eyebrows at me! Yes it’s sinful to dress immodestly for those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour as it corrupts others leading to sin.

Faithful and respectful Christians do not wear some clothes in public like mini-shirts, high-slit skirts, low-cut dresses, short-shorts, halter or tube tops, swimsuits, and other revealing clothing. Persistent immodesty is evidence of rebellion towards God, His Word, the Church, fathers and husbands and brothers.

Parents, please refrain from gifting your baby girls with Barbie dolls. In doing so, your daughter gets exposed and focused from the behaving like a child to wanting to be like the BARBIE themselves. It may seem innocent at the beginning, but this view gets engraved into their tender minds.

I have realized and discovered one cannot be a Christian and promote a different Gospel. As we know that our old being has been put to death with Christ on his cross, in order that the power of the sinful self might be destroyed, so that we should no longer be the slaves of sin.

As Christians, we have heard about Jesus and as we are his followers let us get rid of our old self that’s been destroyed and put on the new self, which is created in God’s likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy.



I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving for my conversion daily to win the prize towards the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above and will never compromise for anything in this world to get me distracted as I progress in my spiritual walk.

I repeat again to my women friends, let us all shine as stars lighting up the sky, if anyone of you heard the Lord speak to your heart through this article do not harden your heart for this is the day of your conversion and if you are in a mess of immodest dress code do not fear because your mess can be made into a wonderful message of conversion to others. Let us all move forward! We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28


Mod – Modern or Modest? (Part I)

By Flavia Fernandes, Mumbai,
July 2009

Scandals can come through various sources, e.g. profane paintings and sculptures, immodest dresses, loose lifestyles and even toys. All these may cause the loss of many souls. Immodesty in dress, apparent in everyday life, is the most common source of scandal. It is not only a major problem in our own times, but it is also one of the greatest stumbling blocks to our own salvation and to the salvation of others. Though modesty or immodesty is usually attributed to women, this is not entirely true, for even men may dress immodestly.

The heart of a person can be seen by how he/she attires his/her body. We have only to go back in time and reflect on how Satan duped our First Parents Adam & Eve, to see where we stand today.

Clothing has been in existence since time immemorial; in fact, since Adam and Eve. Before their fall it was Sanctifying Grace that covered their nakedness. Genesis 2:22-25 tells us “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame,”
because God had created them in His own image and likeness: holy and pure; without sin, blemish, or guilt. Indeed, they were one with God and with each other.

After their fall, through the sin of Disobedience, they lost Sanctifying Grace, Integrity and Immortality:

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons…
(Genesis 3:7)

By violating God’s command, their whole being, body, soul and spirit, was profoundly affected by sin. Even after covering themselves with fig leaves, Adam was still hiding from God, because he was afraid on account of his nakedness. It is from this point on that the tale began of immodest dress, which, on account of fallen human nature, arouse the base passions of men and leads them into sin. Instinctively, therefore, Adam felt that his own and his wife’s nakedness needed to be covered.

We know that leaves are fragile and would disintegrate in no time, so they could not provide the required protection. Could it be that, since these aprons did not provide enough coverage in God’s eye, “the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins, and clothed them”? (Genesis 3:21)

If God had permitted nakedness, he would not have clothed our first parents. But God did want them t be clothed and so clothed them Himself!
How misguided therefore are the nudists, who have created nudist colonies, thinking they are going back to nature.

It is obvious that in order to make garments of skins for our first parents, an animal had to be sacrificed to obtain the skin to cover them. This can be interpreted as being symbolic of the sacrifice of Jesus the true lamb on the cross in expiation for sin.

From the pierced side of Christ flowed the sacramental life of the Church: From the Water which cleanses, there issued forth The Sacrament of Baptism, from the Blood, which gives life, there flowed the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Sacrament of Baptism is the first of all the Sacraments, because it makes us children of God, and because, without it, no other sacrament can be received. The white garment placed on the newly baptized signifies Sanctifying Grace that was lost as a result of Adam and Eve’s Original Sin. When the Priest lays the white garment on a baptized person he says: “… you have become a new creation and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.”

Thus it has become our duty to help others by word and example, particularly by our modesty, to keep their souls unstained. How much will we be held accountable on judgment day, if by our immodest dress, we have been the cause of the downfall of others! On the other hand, how much shall we be blessed for having been, by our modest dress, a source of good example to others!

Those who have had the misfortune of giving bad example, thus wounding souls and exposing them to eternal perdition, should take care to make reparation in this world, in order to avoid being subjected to a most terrible expiation in the next. It was not in vain that Jesus Christ cried out, “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!” (Mathew 18:7)

There was a time in history, not all that long ago, when ladies adorned themselves in apparel, which was feminine, yet graceful and altogether modest. But as years went by, the decline of our society greatly influenced the fashion industry. And so immodest fashions came into being, created by the spiritually depraved, who were eager to lead others along the same road!

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel or Coco Chanel, as she was popularly called, was a dancer, actress and cabaret singer, before she went into designing hats and then women’s clothing. She had affairs with certain wealthy men, who financed her fashions. She created women’s clothing made out of wool jersey (stretchy knit fabric, not woven), which had been used only for men’s underwear, and she used it to make clingy dresses.

Luis Reard, a French automotive engineer who was running his mother’s lingerie business, created a two-piece “atom-sized” swimsuit for women. He named it ‘Bikini’ after the testing site, Bikini Atoll, of the atomic bomb in the Pacific Ocean. His choice of the name is so apt as the bikini too has an appalling destructive nature – destruction of Souls. Since the bikini was so tiny, none of the models in Paris would wear it on the fashion runways. So Reard hired Micheline Bernardini, whose regular job was a nude dancer at the Casino de Paris. She had “no qualms” about strolling down the runway in this bathing suit.



We now live in an age where, in the name of modernity and progress, so many people have lost all sense of modesty. Satan has duped the world via the media and carnal standards around us that nakedness is not only uncovered, but actually exalted! Another ploy of Satan is seen in clothes that fully cover the body but are so form-fitting and/or transparent that it is as if the body is fully exposed. Many Clothing Houses all over the world follow the dictates of Satan creating apparel to kill the soul. The aprons that Adam & Eve made of fig-leaves would put these apparels to shame. Fashion shows propagate such sinful apparel, which are blindly followed. We see the effects in almost all walks of life – dancers, singers, actors, sportsmen & sportswomen, cheerleaders, royalty, etc and the common people.

Different dress codes like casual, formal, informal etc. have been created by the world for different occasions like sports, meetings, funerals, receptions and even for audiences with Kings and Queens. What about the dress code “Modesty” that should be followed when we go to Church or Chapel? There is a sacred tradition dating back to biblical days that the Lord should be worshipped in holy attire – “Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy array” (Ps.29:2). The Church is a holy place where God himself, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, dwells in our midst: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Wearing immodest clothing in Church makes a mockery of this holy place. With what audacity do we find the King of Kings insulted in his own House by His own people who come immodestly clothed? How often our Churches on Sundays, on Solemn Feast Days of Christmas and Easter look like a fashion parade! How often do we also see the garments worn by the godparents/relatives of the child being baptised, 1st communicants, Confirmation candidates, brides and their attendants sadly lacking in modesty.

Pope Benedict XV wrote in his encyclical Sacra Propediem on January 6, 1921 (which is relevant even today):

“One cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness 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 against 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 Hoy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passion to the Holy Altar, where one receives the Author of Purity.”

This story is told of Archbishop Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) when he was Papal Nuncio in Paris (France) : He was invited to a dinner at which also a very immodestly dressed woman was present. Conscious of this open insult to his dignity as representative of the Vicar of Christ, he decided to give her a mild rebuke. After dinner, he approached the woman with an apple from a bowl of fruit and offered it to her. She replied that she had eaten sufficiently. The Cardinal, however, persisted saying gently, “But I do think you should eat this apple. The woman asked, “Why should I eat it?” The Papal Nuncio replied, “Madam, it may help you to eat the apple. It was only after Eve at the apple that she realized she was naked!”

In our days too, do many people realize they are half naked? Today, how many Catholics dress immodestly and no one seems to bother or warn them. Indeed, the road to hell is far smoother and more attractive today than ever before. Many ignore God’s Word in the Bible about modesty. Maybe that is why He has sent Our Lady time and again to warn against immodest fashions.

Our Lady revealed to Blessed Jacinta, one of the three seers of Fatima: “Fashions will be introduced, which will offend Jesus very much”.

On 25.5.1970 at San Damiano, Italy, Our Lady told Mamma Rosa Quattrini:-

“Pray, pray for young people, because so many of them, by their way of life, are on the road of sin, on the road to impurity, which cause the loss of many souls. With their immodest fashions, they make heaven and earth tremble… Listen, young people, listen to Me, your Heavenly Mother. Listen to Me, while there is still time, for when you will present yourselves at God’s Tribunal, what will become of you?”

In the Marian Movement of Priests, which was established by Our Lady, She urges the faithful who support Her Movement to follow “An austere manner of life by repudiating styles which are ever increasingly provocative and indecent.”
(Msg.26 Nov.1, 1973)

The Blessed Virgin Mary, herself the epitome of Modesty, would be the very BEST model of Modesty for a woman to imitate and St. Joseph her most chaste Spouse would be the BEST model for a man to imitate. In all her apparitions all over the world, Our Lady appears modestly clothed.

She is also the BEST model for mothers to imitate, when it comes to training their children in modesty. Catholic Tradition tells us that Jesus’ tunic, “woven without seam from top to bottom” (Jn.19:23) was woven by her. Now, as a loving and concerned Mother, She offers us Her treasured garb, the Brown Scapular. It is a holy garment that joins us to Mary in a mystical union. All Catholics should take advantage of this spiritual armour, which so perfectly shields us from the wiles of the wicked one. When we place ourselves under Her Blessed Mantle, we should consciously observe chastity, according to our state of life. By all means we should avoid wearing immodest clothing, for that would amount to a sacrilegious use of Her Scapular.

Jesus was stripped of the modest clothing Our Lady had made for Him, when, by the brutal scourging, the fury of Hell vented itself upon His Sacred Body. Truly He was bruised for our iniquities, for our immodesty, sensuality and immorality.

When meditating on the 10th Station of the Cross – “Jesus was stripped of his garments” :

We should remind ourselves that Jesus submitted to this ignominious suffering in order to atone for our immodest way of dressing.

We were bought with a price and hence should glorify God in our bodies (ref.1Cor.6: 19-20)

We should resolve to take corrective action to bring back Christian modesty in dress.


Mod – Modern or Modest? (Part II)

By Flavia Fernandes, Mumbai,
July 2009

Guidelines for Modest Clothing


In order to take corrective action in regard to immodest dress, it is necessary to know and understand why people indulge in wearing such clothes:

Lack of knowledge of Scripture, weak faith and refusal to follow God’s commands.

The desire to look modern, attractive and acceptable to Society and/or to one’s peer-group.

Imprudent parents who accustom their children to live scantily clothed and so lose their sense of modesty.

Bad example of parents, who themselves wear immodest clothes.

Parents who encourage their own daughters to follow the latest fashions, even if they are immodest, in order to get good jobs, husbands, etc.

Desire to impress people and so exert influence upon society

Lack of time and/or expertise to make one’s own garments.

Cheaper clothing produced on a large scale versus expensive tailored ones.

The fashion industry making it hard for families to find wholesome clothing.

God has not compromised about modesty and wants His people to reflect His own Holiness. This applies both to the Old and New Testaments. If we sincerely wish to please God, we should respond to His call to seek his desires on how we should be clothed. “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7). The Holy Bible gives instructions right from Priests to the laypeople.

When God gave the 10 commandments to Moses, He also gave him various other instructions. One of the instructions about clothing for the Priests was, “And you shall make them linen breeches to cover their naked flesh; from the loins to the thighs they shall reach;” (Ex.28:42).

“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”(Deut.22:5). However, in our days we find more and more women wearing masculine clothing reducing the boundary line between man and woman, leading to distressing consequences in family and in society.

In Leviticus 19:28, God forbids tattooing of the body. Yet, we see some people wearing immodest clothing, showing off tattooed exposed parts of their bodies.

God says to come out and be set apart, holy and consecrated to Him. Therefore, whatever we do, everything should be done for the glory of God (ref.1 Cor.10:31)

Since faith formation is primarily given in the family, it is the bounden duty of parents and godparents to form their children firmly in the faith, so that they will not stray from it. Our Lady has warned that lack of discipline “is manifested by the flouting of those obligations which are proper to one’s state of life…” (MMP msg.169).

Lack of discipline in childhood will easily continue and reflect itself as the years go by. It manifests itself in the sharp drop of vocations to the Priesthood and to Religious Life. But even if some vocations come out of these families, they find it difficult to conform to the strict rules of their vocation and to the spirit of the founder of their Religious Society, so they try to bring in the spirit of the world into it. “Today each one tends to direct himself according to his own tastes or free choice, and with what scandalous facility are violated the norms of the Church, which have been reaffirmed again and again by the Holy Father, such as the obligation for Priests to wear the ecclesiastical dress!” (MMP Msg.169).

Here is a story from purported revelations by Our Lord to a holy old sister in Rome. It was the time soon after the 2nd Vatican Council when Religious seemed to have lost their bearings and nuns began to give up their habits in order to adopt the dress or ordinary worldly women, in the vain hope that in this way they would be able to attract young girls to the religious life. What actually happened was that thousands of nuns lost their vocation, and, God forbid that a good number of them may have lost their souls as well! Jesus was telling the aforesaid holy nun that many sisters had abandoned their habits and had turned to a worldly life. Then all of a sudden He told her to look up into the sky. At that moment a soul was crossing the sky like an arrow and plunging into hell. Jesus commented sadly that she was a nun who had adopted the minigonna, which obviously no girl should ever adopt because it invites people to lustful looks and desires and thus becomes guilty of the sins others may commit on her account!

Hence, if Priests and Nuns follow fashions, the laity would not think it amiss to do the same. Keeping God’s commands foremost in our minds, let us strive to take measures to come out of this darkness into His wonderful light. It is possible to dress modestly and yet look good.

Here are a few important points to keep in mind and remedial measures that could be taken, remembering that modesty is one of the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit.


A few types of clothing to be avoided:

We should remember that generally a dress becomes immodest when it tends to tightness and form-fitting, or exposes flesh and draws attention to the “body”. Hence:

where women are concerned, the immodest attires would be: sleeveless, bare midriffs, shorts, mini or micro-mini skirts, low necklines showing cleavage or more, halters, backless, off-shoulder, shoulder-less, spaghetti straps, slacks, transparent garment material; sensual styles eg. Dresses that reveal halter-straps of bras, those that have petticoat or bra patterns on the outside of the dress, those that have a slit at the skirt either at its side/s, back or front showing a lot of leg that are often more provocative than other dresses a man’s carnal nature is often stirred more by a dress that leave more to the imagination than is actually seen. Women should also be careful that their garment should not be revealing even when bending over or raising their arms.

Where men are concerned, immodest attires would be: form-fitting, transparent, sleeveless, unbuttoned shirts, exposed chests, shorts, tight trousers, trousers having pattern of briefs on the outside as popularised by the late Michael Jackson.


Some exceptions:

Where sick, old or patients having intolerable medical ailments may be allowed to wear certain clothing that could border on immodest e.g. a wider neck, thinner material, sleeveless, in order to give them relief from their physical suffering.



Remedial measures:

Follow Marylike standards for modesty in dress while purchasing or making garments, which meet this standard. According to this standard, dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer, they do not emphasize unduly, parts of the body and have sleeves extending at least to the elbows and skirts reaching below the knees. They also require full coverage (even after jacket, cape or stole are removed) for the bodice, chest, shoulders and back; except for a cut-out about the neck not exceeding two inches below the neckline in front and in back and a corresponding two inches on the shoulders. They also avoid improper use of flesh-coloured fabrics and do not admit transparent fabrics (e.g. laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc.) unless sufficient backing is added. However, moderate use as trimmings is acceptable. (It is said that because of impossible market conditions quarter-length sleeves are temporarily tolerated with Ecclesiastical approval until Christian womanhood again turns to Mary as the model of modesty in dress).

Make use of full cotton petticoats for all dresses.

Insert a pleat or godet into the offending slit of the skirts to cover one’s modesty.

Where sarees are concerned, they should not be draped below the navel nor tightly to accentuate the shape of the body. If the blouse is of thin material, it should have a lining. The ‘pallu’ should be draped in such a way to cover the body instead of falling loose.

In the case of ‘Salwar-kameez’, a pleat or godet should replace the slits at the sides of the Salwar and use should be made of full petticoat. The kameez too should not be of thin material as otherwise the legs could be viewed against the light.

Care should be taken when buying branded clothing as they promote certain evil tendencies e.g. ‘Killer’ jeans. Avoid buying such brands. It is safer to get clothes tailored.

Never buy/wear clothes/T-shirts that have anti-Christ symbols or messages on it e.g. “OM”, swastika, dagger. It’s an open invitation to the evil one.

Never buy/wear T-shirts with a foreign language printed on it, which you do not understand. It may have a bad or evil message on it.

Where it is impossible to redeem a garment, open it up and make a patchwork sheet/curtain/bedcovers/suitcase covers, bags, rugs or use as kitchen rags. Never give immodest clothing to charity.

If women have to wear trousers where it is the dress code laid down by the Company, hospitals, airlines etc. the women should see to it that the blouses reach well below the fork-length (at least mid-thigh) and the trousers are not form-fitting but loose enough. There could be a collective request from the staff to the management to change the dress code.

Inculcating a holy attitude by doctors, nurses and other attendants in hospitals/homes towards patients who have to expose their bodies for medical treatment or care.

Keeping the Virgin Mary as their model, those who teach tailoring should instill in their students the values of modesty and teach them to follow the tenets of modesty.

Male tailors who tailor ladies clothing should inculcate a holy attitude when measuring ladies bodies.

Certain clothing houses in some Western/Catholic countries sell only modest clothing, which can be bought online through the Internet anywhere in the world. A search of ‘Mary-like standards of dressing’ on the Internet helps not only find such clothing houses but also gives a detailed spiritual guidance on modesty.

There is an urgent need for experts to take up the challenge to teach tailoring of modest clothing, at a low cost, in our Schools/Parishes/Institutes.

Parishes could join together to place orders for modest clothes directly from the manufacturer in order to get good clothes at a cheaper rate.


Some pious practices:

Wearing clothes too can become a prayer for us as it does for a Priest. When he dresses for Mass,

The Amice reminds him of the blindfold put upon Jesus by the soldiers, when they struck Him in the face (worn in Latin-rite Masses)

The Alb reminds him of the white robe the soldiers put on Jesus when they mocked him and treated him like a fool;

The Cincture reminds him of the ropes with which Jesus was dragged from place to place;

The Maniple reminds him of the cords with which the hands of Jesus were tied (worn in Latin-rite Masses)

The Stole reminds him of the Cross Jesus carried to Calvary and on which He died;

The Chasuble reminds him of the robe which the soldiers took from Jesus when they nailed Him to the Cross


Make the Sign of the Cross before changing our clothes: to ward off any temptation, To prevent our nakedness from being exposed in case of sudden death or untoward incident. The following scripture verse, which refers primarily to the soul, may also be applied here: “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not go naked and be seen exposed!” (Rev. 16:15)

Resort to the Sacrament of Confession where Jesus awaits us with love.

We as Catholics are called to be the salt of the earth and light to the world. As we sow, so shall we reap. If we do not follow our calling, we will only invite chastisement through the likes of the Shivsainiks, Ram Senas and Talibans of this world to shame us.

May our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary – the Woman clothed with the Sun and crowned with Stars be our model, guide and support on our journey via the narrow path through this world to our eternal home.

Dress Code in Churches


By Predhuman K. Joseph Dhar, Monday August 10, 2009



Jammu & Kashmir (SAR News) – Church has no fashions. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is always the same. It is in this backdrop that Canons 855 and 1262, para2 unequivocally command: “Let those who are going to receive the Holy Communion be decently dressed. Women whose heads are not covered and who are improperly dressed are to be excluded from the Sacrament.”
Shorts, sleeveless tops, slacks, miniskirts, swimwear, bare midriffs, light clothing is all that we see in our churches, as if beauty were exposure. Apostle Paul teaches: “Let women at all times, but especially when they are in the church, dress with modesty.”
No one should, therefore, labour under the gross misconception that the Church is silent about dress code. Canon 1262, para2 warns: “If they (women) should dare to enter the church immodestly dressed, let them be judiciously put out and prevented from assisting of any function whatsoever.”
I suggest it should be for men, too, who come to the church in shorts and sports shirts. There are people who are of the opinion that since Christianity is Western, its members should dress the Western way. I am of the opinion that Christianity has nothing of the West. It came from the East. Our ancestors became Christians. They adhered to a religion which was foreign to them in the beginning.
We know for certain that Jesus Christ did not come to build a civilisation but to save men of all civilisations. What is called “Christian civilisation” is the effect which the faith in Christ Jesus has produced on the civilisations it has encountered along the way. So we being of the Western civilisation and hence the Western dress, sounds ludicrous.
We should also bear a simple fact in our minds that the Holy Mass is not a congressional prayer. It is something more than that. We celebrate on this occasion: “Christ in Eucharist.” In the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really and substantially contained under the appearance of those perceptible realities. We have to remember, therefore, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of bread into the substance of the Body of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Redeemer and the whole substance of wine into the substance of His blood.
This change the Holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly named transubstantiation. Should we receive this gift while shabbily and awkwardly dresses? Should our bodies be exposed?
1 Timothy 2:9-10 tells us clearly: “I wish women to be decently dressed, adorning themselves with modesty and dignity, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but with good works, such as become women professing godliness.”
In this context, it shall not be out of place to recall to our minds the words of Our Lady of Fatima to Jacinta: “Certain fashions will be introduced that will greatly offend My Son.”
Modest dress is the sign of civility and immodest dress pronounces overwhelming barbarity and indecency. Pope Pius XI says: “A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers 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.”
I would, with all humility, implore my revered priests to forcefully insist that men and women wear clothing that express modesty when they are in the church, for at the Holy Altar we receive the Author of Purity. Let each one of us know that each one of is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in us, whom we have from God, and we are not our own. We should glorify and bear God in our body.


Does God really care how I dress?

By Pramila D’Souza, New Delhi, August 2009

It is becoming increasingly common for teenagers and young adults to ask this question.

They would probably say, “Hey dude, what’s wrong with jeans, short pants or hipsters in church – does God care?” Of course not … but hey, read on and think.

Timothy exhorts us about “arguing over foolish matters.” (1 Timothy 6:4). So is our dress code a foolish matter to argue over? You might as well say, “What does it matter if I wear pajamas to a Christmas party or a dressing gown for an interview? It is not of concern to anyone else.” Quite ridiculous? Well, if we pay so much attention to worldly affairs, perhaps we need to pay more attention to the King of Kings.

This is what the Word of God has to say to us.

“Let not your adornment be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses” (1 Peter 3:3)

The one who made us knows us inside out. Cheap, jewelry, jeans, figure-hugging, low-necked tops or jean worn so as to expose the midriff are not going to affect Him. However – don’t be a stumbling block to others and don’t be only concerned with the physical—rather, care about the spiritual. Perhaps such attire doesn’t make you or your family overly concerned. But think again – there are a couple of hundred people – kids, youngsters, and adult men and women and priests who will see you at Mass and will observe your clothes. If there is a more attractive side show going on, we would much prefer watching that!

“Avoid any appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22) as in “inappropriate, immodest, or casual”

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20). If Christ lives in you, St. Paul begs “by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a holy and living sacrifice.” (Romans 12:1) Imagine presenting a bejeweled, expensive, Fast Track watch to a beloved friend or family member, wrapped in dirty paper! Quite stupid? Similarly, let the holiness of our souls be packaged with meaningful attire for our bodies.

Paul buffeted his body and made it his slave, “lest he should lose his reward. (1 Corinthians 9:27) The deeds of the flesh will prevent one from entering the kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21) John warned Christians against making sin a practice in our lives. “Whoever abides in him sins not; whoever sins has not seen him, neither known Him” (1 John 3:4-9)

These scriptures tell us that our inner nature is manifested by our external appearance therefore the need to avoid sinning against God and each other. It refers to the struggle between the two natures within the Christian. (Romans 7:21-23).


At the same time, James admonished a church of Christ who judged visitors based on appearance. (James 2:1) But imagine a priest wearing the most expensive Levi’s jeans at the hips, a Reebok cap inside church – do we prefer that image or a priest in a white cassock?

We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” (1 Pet 2:9)

Consider this – President Pratibha Patil invites you to a banquet at Rashtrapathi Bhavan for Diwali, the biggest festival for the Hindus. Even though you are not a Hindu, how will you dress – have a new outfit stitched (suit and tie, or pretty dress, with matching accessories, or immodest jeans/pants and t-shirt?

So this is the President of Presidents inviting you to His banquet for Y O U, at which He will be the Bridegroom and you will be His Bride or the other way around – He will be the Bride and you the Bridegroom. What attire is appropriate for your wedding when your body was given to you by your partner – how would you please Him who loves you to an unimaginable degree – with casual, patched attire, stone-washed jeans or a clean, simple, respectful outfit?


Modesty in the Culture of Shamelessness


By Michael O’Brien, October 8, 2008

“Grace never casts nature aside or cancels it out. Rather it perfects it and ennobles it.” – John Paul II, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women

I’ve been pondering recently, as I have so many times over the years, what Our Lady meant precisely in the messages of Fatima when she spoke about the offences through the clothing fashions that would develop in the years following the apparitions. Appearing to Blessed Jacinta Marto between December, 1919 and February, 1920, she said, “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.” And “Woe to women lacking in modesty.”

Clearly, Our Lady is neither a repressive puritan nor a prude. It goes without saying that neither is she a libertarian. She is beautiful in heart, mind, body and soul. She is without sin and thus she is subject to neither unholy shamelessness nor to personal shame. She is prudent, modest, and wise about human nature. She loves with the fullness of indwelling divine love, which means that she loves with an eternal motherly heart, concerned above all with the ultimate good of each of her children.

Much of current fashion, especially for women, is an assault upon the ultimate good of those who wear such clothing. It is cunningly designed for attraction, enticement, and seduction, reinforcing the great lie which dominates modern consciousness. This lie tells us that the body is simply an object which we possess as our own, to do with as we like.

Semi-nudity has become commonplace on magazine covers, advertisements, at swimming pools and beaches. Total nudity is becoming more frequent in media such as television and film, and is rampant in the vastly more popular “private” cultural consumption of the internet. Juxtapose with these near-universal phenomena the fact that more than sixty percent of marriages now end in divorce or separation, that self-denial and sacrifice have become widely discredited concepts, and that the pursuit of happiness through the avenues of sensual satisfaction have produced a profoundly disordered society. No people in history has been so richly rewarded with pleasures, and no people in history has ever been so unhappy.

The great lie tells us, in essence, that we have no eternal value, that our value is to be found only within the limited span of our lives, and especially in the most vital years of youth when we are strongest, most attractive, and most productive. We are, supposedly, what others tell us we are. We are worth as much or as little as they decide we are worth. In a society that is increasingly focused on sensual pleasure, this means we will be as valuable only so far as we are considered sensually attractive. Attractiveness, of course, is a subjective thing, and thus most people will find themselves objects of interest to others at some point in their lives. Generally this means they will be objects of desire. And desire’s first “interface,” if you will, is the body.

Nudity or Nakedness?

As an artist I have often had to ponder the moral questions which arise from nudity in art. Theorists maintain that there is a basic difference between nakedness and nudity, a distinction which I have never quite been able to grasp, though I know the arguments well. Every year legions of fresh-faced young art students and medical students are confronted with the same problem as they encounter for the first time the unclothed human body in all its glory and poverty. The theory has it that they are drawing or dissecting a specimen, a form detached from its personal identity. According to this theory, these young professionals will not be troubled by disorderly attractions because they are engaged in disinterested acts of education-the pursuit of knowledge and skills which will benefit mankind. I might agree, were it not for the fact that human nature isn’t quite so cut and dried. I hazard a guess that no matter how firmly people cling to the principle in their minds, no matter how detached they think they are, there will be a struggle in the emotions. The naked human body will always be for us something about which we cannot remain absolutely neutral-precisely because this “something” is not a thing, and never will be, no matter how determined we are to make it so.

In former generations there was a good deal of unhealthy fear of the body, a kind of wound caused by the errors of puritanical sects or the heresy of Jansenism. It is said that severe repression of our natural fascination for and attraction to the body had merely driven the passions underground, only to erupt in desperate, sometimes bizarre forms. Whether or not this is so, it is certainly not the problem in our times. Far from it. I am convinced that the modern harping on the supposed repressiveness of the past is really no more than a symptom of our current obsession with sex. If we were to plunge back a century or two, I think we would find that while our ancestors’ manner of dress was indeed more formal, and at times even constricting, most people still wed and had children and made happy marriages with startling frequency-and with an enviable rate of success. Compare that to our own dismal, liberated era, in which the image of the cavorting human body is thrust at us a thousand times a day from the pages of the tabloids at the supermarket check-out counter, from chewing gum commercials on television, home computer screens, and from what is being worn on the beach and at church. Modesty has gone out of style.



It is sometimes asked, usually whenever sexual morality is being argued: “Are Catholics prudes? ”

“If only we were!” sighs many an exasperated parent, wishing we could go back to a time when sexual temptations of the most extreme kind did not assault the young at every turn, to a time, moreover, when our present state of affairs would not for an instant have appeared to be normal. Of course, the longing for an age when Christian morality was the norm in society is to some degree a hankering for a golden age that never really existed. It was never perfectly lived by any Christian society. Yet in those older and wiser periods of Christian civilization, whenever individuals violated moral law they knew that there was a law, and they had some sense that this law was an unshakeable truth based in the divine order, the very structure of reality itself. Even as recently as a generation ago, the extent to which our present culture has become a pornographic one would have been unthinkable. Though sex has always been in the atmosphere, my parents’ generation could not have imagined whole peoples consumed by obsession with sexual pleasure as if it were the most important element in existence. In my youth, my peers may have been tempted to pore over certain sections of the Sears catalogue, or to rifle through the National Geographic magazine in search of articles about hottest Africa, or to pursue their academic interest in Art (at the age of thirteen) by familiarizing themselves with the pictures in well-thumbed volumes on Greek sculpture which our parents thought harmless. But my children are now living in a society where anything-simply anything-can be seen with the tap of a computer key.

From the perspective of middle age, father of six children and husband of a beloved wife, I have come to believe that Western man is still missing the mark, still lost between the poles of two disorders. The libertarian, obsessed with the passions, thinks that our problems are caused by repression and that these will be relieved when we toss out inhibitions. The prude or puritan, hating or fearing the passions, believes that our problems stem from altogether too much of the senses, and wishes to cram them back into the shadows of his being. Neither of these are Christian views of the body.

John Paul II’s “Body Theology”

From September, 1979, to April of 1981, Pope John Paul II gave a series of sixty-three talks which became the foundation of what is now known as his “Theology of the Body.” In them he reflected on the meaning of the human person, sexuality, and Christian marriage. He taught that the second and third chapters of Genesis reveal the truth about man, for written there are “original human experiences,” which “are always at the root of every human experience.” We are made in God’s own image, he says, yet we do not know who we are unless we know who God is.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve’s love for each other was a mutual gift of their whole beings, a “self-donation” of their personhood made through free acts of their wills. The giving of their sexual powers, their masculinity and femininity, was in harmonious submission to this mutual giving. They desired, more than anything else, the good of their spouse, the good of the other’s entire being. It was total love.

“And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed,” says the author of Genesis. The Pope points out that these passages do not express a lack but, on the contrary, “serve to indicate a fullness of consciousness and experience.”

Shame came into existence only with the advent of sin in human nature, and at that point our first parents had not yet sinned. Nakedness was a state of freedom in which they could express love perfectly through their bodies as one of the “languages” of the heart. But with the entry of sin into the world there came what the Holy Father calls a “fundamental disquiet in all human existence.” There was a “constitutive break within the human person, almost a rupture of man’s original spiritual and somatic [physical] unity.”

It is well-nigh impossible for us to experience nakedness as our first parents did. We experience shame when naked, a phenomenon which bears a kind of witness to the disorder in us caused by original sin, and which at the same time prompts us to reflect on how things should have been. When one considers that every other creature on earth is completely at ease without clothing, human embarrassment is all the more startling. This sense of embarrassment is connected at root to the knowledge of good and evil, the fruit which we tasted at the Fall. Before the age of reason (the age of knowledge of good and evil) children are rarely concerned about modesty. The toddlers in our family, for example, display an innocent disregard for modesty, and are fascinated with their own bodies. The sexual organs are as interesting (or not) as the toes and fingers. But by about the ages five to seven, with hardly a word (and in some cases with no word) of prompting from their parents, our children begin to be rather fussy about pajama time, bathing, or scampering around the house looking for underwear. They want to be “private.” Of course, this does not reflect an undeclared anxiety that they are in danger of sexual exploitation-for they do not even know of the existence of overt sexuality at that age. Operative here is a profound instinct which is rooted in the Fall, a latent sense of danger to their personhood which began with that original sin. At a very deep level each of us knows that we can be loved only for who we are as persons, and that to be valued or not valued according to our sexual qualities is to be loved in an incomplete, even a deformed manner, which is, in fact, to be not loved.

In 1960, Karol Wojtyla, wrote a book titled Love and Responsibility, in which he discussed the universal human instinct to conceal our sexual qualities from the eyes of others. Man hides these aspects of his being because “the spontaneous need to conceal sexual values bound up with the person is a natural way to the discovery of the value of the person as such.” He adds that “the feeling of shame goes with the realization that one’s person must not be an object for use on account of the sexual values connected with it . . . and with the realization that a person of the opposite sex must not be regarded (even in one’s private thoughts) as an object of use.” Of course, he did not mean by “shame” any morbid sense of self-negation, horror of the body, or puritanical attitudes. Quite the reverse, for “shame” properly understood is a way of protecting and valuing the dignity of the person. It is those who no longer value themselves who become “shameless.” Married couples pass beyond shame in an entirely different way, because they have chosen each other and have committed their whole beings to each other, and thus do not feel embarrassment upon being seen naked by each other.

Believing the Lie

In the beginning, Adam and Eve had the ability to express their personhood perfectly through their bodies.



There was no inward tug-of-war between their wills and the desires of their flesh. The devil could not tempt them through sensuality, as he so persistently tempts us. He did not seduce Adam and Eve by descriptions of the delicious tastes, sights and textures of the fruit of the forbidden tree, for such an approach would not have touched our first parents in the least. The evil one’s only hope of success lay in an assault against their intellects, in their understanding of the proper order of creation, by inserting a radical doubt into their minds: “Did God really say that?” he suggested.

This deceptively simple question has riddled and ruined believers ever since. “Did God really say that?” is expressed in various forms in countless situations, all of which repeat the first fatal flaw. It is an ancient device of the enemy, and a favorite one, because it is so productive for him. Where the flesh cannot be enticed, pride usually can, and the world’s first exegete knows it well.

The primeval seduction had two fronts: the undermining of Adam and Eve’s understanding of who God is, and the distortion of their understanding of themselves. The serpent told Eve that she could become like God if she ate the fruit God had forbidden her and Adam to eat. The subtlest and most horrible part of the lie was the inference that God did not want them to eat this fruit because he did not want to share his lordship over creation. That Adam and Eve had already been given a lordship over creation, naming and knowing all things in love, seems to have escaped them at the moment of temptation. Perhaps the great conjurer blinded that perception before implanting the falsehood.

When they said yes to the lie, darkness entered them. The harmony of their inner life began to break down until heart and mind and body became separate parts of themselves, out of harmony, working against each other, fractured, struggling to reunite and completely unable to do so. Adam and Eve looked at each other and they no longer liked what they saw. They looked at each other’s minds and saw minds that had believed a deception, minds which could no longer be trusted. They looked at each other’s hearts and saw hearts that had turned away from the great Love who had made them. And then they saw flesh and touched it and to their surprise it was still pleasurable.

And so lust entered the world. Although it felt good to the senses it left that mysterious center of their being, which was their personhood, feeling cold and apart. Their pleasure was henceforth to be taken in the midst of an agony of loss, the anguish of remembering what they had once been. This truth became too hard for them to bear and they fled from each other in the dark. Only the powerful magnetism of the senses drew them back. Then they looked at each other again and they lusted again and when they knew they were loving with only a fragment of what they had once been, with only a remnant of the great love they once had for each other, they were ashamed. Genesis records that “they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin-cloths.” John Paul II points out that, “This passage speaks of the mutual shame of the man and the woman as a symptom of the Fall.”

When God asked them for an accounting of what had happened, they were ashamed again, for they saw that He knew what they had done. They were afraid, and fear had driven out love of Him whom they had known and walked with in the Garden, long ago in the time of original unity. He had made them for himself, and they had abandoned his love in favor of an artful deceit. They no longer shared the life of paradise. And so they were expelled from Eden. No doubt it was an angel who drove them forth, just as the Scripture says, but even without that angel they would probably have fled from Eden, for this was the home of their original unity, now so ruined, so betrayed. They and their descendants would thereafter be strangers and sojourners on the face of the earth, always yearning for a true home, never quite finding it; always longing for union and communion, and never quite finding it; always subject to the cravings of the flesh, ever slipping away from consciousness of the full meaning of each other; self-absorbed, selfish, swinging from humiliation to pride in an unstable trajectory through time. This alienation, this disintegration, this lack of control over their bodies, was certainly a just consequence of their choice. It was important that they who had wished to rule over creation by achieving equality with God realize that they could not even rule their own flesh. In their very blood and marrow and feelings they would know the effects of their seemingly abstract disobedience.

After original sin, the mind and will could no longer master the body. The body was in opposition to the will-and it was often the stronger. Even to this day when a man or a woman is dominated by lust, the gift of love becomes almost impossible. Rather than a self-donation, as John Paul II calls it, the person compelled by the lust of the flesh seeks self-gratification through use of the other as an object of pleasure. He seeks to find in a fragment the missing whole-which is, I think,  a working definition of idolatry.

One of the most curious things to happen during the period in which John Paul II gave his discourses on the “Theology of the Body” was the reaction of the world’s media. For the most part journalists simply ignored what he was saying, and this, sadly, included much of the Catholic media as well. However, at one point in his talks he maintained that if a husband looks upon his wife with lust he is guilty of a grave sin. The world media suddenly went into an uproar. The Pope’s statement seemed to them so completely absurd that many commentators found it more comedy than error. This reaction was an indication of how poorly people understand their own natures. They could not grasp the difference between the selfish use of a spouse on one hand, and passionate sexuality flowing from a foundation of generous love for one’s spouse, on the other. The Pope was not for an instant suggesting that sexual desire is sinful in itself. He was saying that sexual acts or attitudes which render the spouse into an object to be used are sinful. He was asking married people to consider the motives of their hearts.

Am I in my Body?

During the past few centuries, the full meaning of the human person has steadily shrunk in social consciousness, and strangely, this has occurred in direct proportion to man’s exaltation of himself as the lord of creation. Man without Faith sees himself, consciously or subconsciously, as the master of all that he is and all he surveys. The body is considered no longer as an integral dimension of his whole being, but as a thing which he possesses, like any other piece of property. Ironically, this view rarely bestows self-mastery.

Even we Christians have not resisted such errors very well, partly because of an undeveloped theology of the body, a gap which the Holy Father is attempting to fill. I suspect that most of us have a vague notion of the body as a container and ourselves inside it-something like those poor captives my children bring home from time to time: fireflies or butterflies fluttering around in a bottle.



“Dad,” each of our children has asked me at one time or another, “Am I in my body or am I my body?”

The look of puzzlement and intense curiosity on their faces when they ask this is a sign that ultimate questions are working their way up from the soul to the consciousness. But how do you explain it to a six year old, or a twelve year old, or a fifty year old? Of course, the body is not a container, nor simply a biological organism, nor is it a machine. It cannot be owned, manipulated, used, bought, sold or violated without something drastic and negative happening to one’s well-being. Which is why the Pope was so insistent about lust in marriage. The body is part of the gift of life from God. We are in exile and weakened, but we are beloved of God and capable of sharing in his divine love. We are made in his image and likeness. We are damaged but not destroyed. Since the Incarnation an added significance has been given to our flesh, for we are now temples of the Holy Spirit and Christ dwells within us.

Saint John of Damascus once wrote that when man first sinned he retained the image of God but lost the likeness of God; and since the coming of Christ we are freed to be restored to the original unity. Thus, any diminishment of this truth is an offence against God; any harm inflicted on our bodies or the bodies of others is ultimately an act against Love. In his encyclical on the family, Familiaris Consortio, John Paul II teaches that God calls man into existence through love and for love:

“God is Love, and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation and thus the capacity and responsibility of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being . . . Conjugal love involves a totality in which all the elements of the person enter: the appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affection, aspiration of the spirit and will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, the unity that beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive self-giving; and it is open to fertility.”

Freedom and Responsibility in Cultural Choices

In Love and Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla pointed out that the scientific rationalism of modern man has obscured the sacred order of creation, and this makes it difficult for us to understand the principles on which Catholic sexual morality is based. He says that the order of creation, which we call Natural Law, has its origin in the divine will of God the Father. It cannot be tampered with. To alter the order of existence is a right that belongs only to the Lord himself. When Christ walked on the water, multiplied the loaves and fishes, and (most significantly of all) rose from the dead, he was exercising his divine right. The Apostles understood this and worshipped him. Only the Creator, who holds authority over all creation, can suspend the laws of creation. But even in his omnipotence God never violates the moral order of the universe. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus always acts with total responsibility.

Scientists all too frequently study human biology as if it were divorced from moral order. Since the body is a revelation of the meaning of the human person, the study of human biology should always be an effort to understand the whole mystery of the human person. In this light, sterilization, contraception, abortion, mutilation, fetal experimentation, and the proliferating fields of bio-engineering are revealed as acts of violence against humanity and as insults to God. The physician, for example, should not be merely a technician, a kind of mechanic tinkering in the motor of naked human flesh disassociated from its ultimate meaning. He must serve the patient with attention to the full significance of his being, as God intended it to be “from the beginning.”

Similarly, if an artist paints the naked human figure, he must portray it in a way that contributes to our awareness of the whole truth about man-an example of which is Masaccio’s “The Expulsion From Paradise.” Though the subjects of this painting are naked, their bodies are not the primary focus. Rather the truth of their interior condition is revealed. While prudence demands that such scenes be depicted with a certain restraint, there is a place for them as long as the ultimate meaning and dignity of the human subjects is primary. To make of the body an end in itself is lust, which can be a form of idolatry.

The Church maintains that in every act of freedom, whether it is in the realm of creativity, marital love, scientific research, fashion design, et cetera, there must be a parallel responsibility, responsibility to the whole truth about man. In all the fields of human endeavor, we must reverence human dignity, that of others as well as our own. For example, a young woman who considers wearing provocative clothing should think twice about the effect this would have on the eyes of young men-for to deliberately provoke them in this manner does more than offer them an occasion of sin; it is also a veiled insult, and an insult to herself as well. A scientist who would destroy a child for research purposes, arguing that his increased knowledge will benefit other children, has in effect devalued all children. A film-maker who graphically portrays sexual intercourse in the name of “realism” damages the broader context of the Real by undermining the moral foundations on which truth is built. When the Church condemns such activities, she is not for a moment being unscientific or prudish or anti-culture, for she is ultimately concerned with freeing us to know ourselves as we truly are, and to value ourselves by a measure that is the highest and most eternal. She also protects us from those theorists who wish to recreate man in their own images-the perennial temptation of those who have knowledge and power- “You shall be as Gods.”

Back to Eden or Forward to Paradise?

It is impossible for us to return to the state of original innocence. The Fall of Man was not simply an unpleasant mistake, best forgotten, as if we could clear up the whole matter by pretending it never happened. (This, in effect, is what residents of nudist colonies would like us to believe). It doesn’t work. It’s a lie. The gates to Eden remain resolutely shut. The mistake was made and a lesson is being learned about the state of the universe and what goes on in it. Yet God in His infinite mercy and justice has sent His only-begotten Son to redeem us from the tyranny of lies. Jesus allowed himself to undergo the humiliation of being stripped naked, and through this moral agony combined with his physical agony he bore the pain of our evil choices. In the process he accomplished the redemption of every aspect of our being, including the body. He atoned for all the disorders to which the flesh is heir.



We cannot return to Eden, but Christ has opened the way to restoration of the original unity we were blessed with before the Fall. He calls us to struggle at every moment to act in conformity with God’s original intention so that we may one day come into the inheritance of our true identity. “For what we are to become has not yet been revealed,” says St. John (1 John 3:2-3). Yet we know in part, for we are told that in Paradise after the “resurrection of the flesh” we will be blessed forever with new and glorified bodies. Until then, the Lord assures us that his grace is sufficient for us. He wants our bodies to express our complete personhood, either in the celibate life or in chaste spousal love. By supernatural grace dispensed through the sacraments of the Church and invoked through prayer, it is possible to learn to love fully, to know what we once were and what we can become.

In Christ the marks of our ancient defeat are transfigured. They are icons of the blessed unity which is waiting for us, and for which he paid the price. Our task is to cooperate with grace, to bear a part of the cross every day of our lives, to struggle against the very forces that stripped him naked and degraded his flesh. In this struggle, modesty guards our personhood like a wall around a palace, and shame functions like an invisible watchman at the gates. Shame also begets repentance. Repentance breaks the grip of selfishness, and permits the work of real love to begin. And when Love has completed its work there will be no more shame.

We must not underestimate the urgency of this call to struggle, nor should we forget that our adversary is described by Scripture as the most subtle of all creatures. Christ calls us to stay awake and watch, maintaining a calm vigilance about the devil’s tactics, especially his particular interest in our children. The temptations usually begin subtly with “small” compromises, but we should realize that the enemy’s purpose is to gradually ease us toward greater ones. The massive pressures of an immoral society make it difficult for us to resist, because it is in our nature to want our children to be happy. And the young can behave most unhappily when their desires to be in fashion with the times are resisted. But we must take the long view. God our Father wants our children to be happy eternally, and so we must keep their true happiness always before the eyes of our hearts.

The times are very ill, indeed they are nearly sick unto death. “The culture of death,” the Holy Father calls it. And by this he means far more than the death of the body. Within the short space of a century, Western society has degenerated from a Christian culture to a despiritualized one, and from there it has further degenerated into a dehumanized one. The next stage is the diabolization of culture, a process which has already begun. At this moment in the great war between good and evil, we must turn with renewed confidence to Our Lady, asking her for the particular graces of wisdom, prudence, and modesty for our young people. Daily we should invoke her protection against the spirit of the world and the spirit of our ancient adversary. If we do, she will help us see the areas of our lives where we have been deceived. She will help us find a better way, if we respond to her outpouring of graces. Then our children will learn to love more fully. And they will be loved for who they truly are.

Pope John Paul II’s collected addresses on his theology of the body can be found in Original Unity of Man and Woman: Catechesis on the Book of Genesis and Blessed Are the Pure of Heart: Catechesis on the Sermon on the Mount and Writings of Saint Paul, Saint Paul Editions, Boston, Ma., 1981, 1983. I am also indebted to Fathers Richard Hogan and John LeVoir. The foregoing article draws upon insights in their book, Covenant of Love: Pope John Paul on Sexuality, Marriage and Family in the Modern World, Doubleday & Co., Image Books, Garden City, N.Y., 1986.


Immodest Dress in the Church: Like Frogs in Boiling Water


Commentary by Jenna Murphy, August 5, 2008

In recent years what with acceptable fashion standards taking a major plunge (literally) into the realm of ‘anything goes’, young women are left to face conscious decisions in how they dress themselves, not realizing the weight that such decisions carry.

Speaking to youth in Australia on July 18, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned modesty as he told of how becoming fully human means rejecting those voices that lead us into worshipping ‘false gods.’

“People sometimes treat others as objects to satisfy their own needs rather than as persons to be loved and cherished. How easy it is to be deceived by the many voices in our society that advocate a permissive approach to sexuality, without regard for modesty, self-respect or the moral values that bring quality to human relationships! This is worship of a false god. Instead of bringing life, it brings death.”

Those women who wish to remain modest in their dress have been increasingly left to their own defenses as recent fashion trends leave ‘conservative dress’ virtually impossible, if not extinct. Nowadays, anyone left clinging to conservative dress in the incoming tide of cleavage-baring tank-tops and clothing requiring classification (i.e. ‘is that a shirt or a dress?’) is left feeling, quite simply, alienated.

A specialized group called ‘Pure Fashion’ has suggested that being fashionable does not need to mean lowering ones standards and one’s dignity. Pure Fashion challenges young women to embrace the fullness of their femininity: which means recognizing the power inherent to the human body and respecting this great gift (through dressing modestly) instead of harvesting its power for selfish reasons.

In his bulletin article become blog entry entitled “Immodest Dress: A Priest Cries for Modesty,” Father John Lyons OMV, addresses the issue of immodest dress even among the most faithful Catholics (‘daily communicants’) let alone the general population.

Defining immodest dress vaguely as ‘anything revealing,’ Father Lyons mentions that the problem is not only relevant for young women but more particularly for older women.

“Maybe [immodestly dressed older women] think that they’re beyond the age of posing a temptation (and maybe they are).




However, they are giving bad example to others – most notably their own daughters and grandchildren. They, too, are committing scandal. Those who see them will think: ‘She’s a good Catholic, and she wears revealing clothing. It must be okay.'”

And so begins the downward spiral towards the complete dilution of a sense of modesty.

In a time where what was previously morally unthinkable has become our reality, it seems that modest dress has become an ‘irrelevant’ consideration, even amongst some of the Church’s most faithful. At the very least it seems to have taken a backseat in the effort to uphold the larger moral framework that continues to threaten its own collapse. Pro-life groups have even suggested modesty should not be ‘part of the program’.

In an era where the ‘wisdom of the ages’ has little to no weight, and, like rebellious teenagers, our society seeks to forge their own feel-good method of approaching morality, it is widely believed that traditional views on the intrinsic value of modesty have been proved to be laughable.

In the 1950s, however, Pope Pius XII was very frank with Christian mothers, underscoring the central importance of modesty:  “The good of our soul is more important than that of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts… If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up…  O Christian mothers, if you knew what a future of anxieties and perils, of ill-guarded shame you prepare for your sons and daughters, imprudently getting them accustomed to live scantily dressed and making them lose the sense of modesty, you would be ashamed of yourselves and you would dread the harm you are making of yourselves, the harm which you are causing these children, whom Heaven has entrusted to you to be brought up as Christians.”

In many efforts to ‘build up’ and to ’empower’ women, the world often facilitates precisely the opposite. Womanhood has been contracted and constricted to an unattainable, inhuman picture of pseudo-femininity and the sooner we jump out of the pot, the better.
See the blogspot with Fr. Lyons’ homily here:


Catholic Church in Africa, Philippines and Mexico Addresses Immodesty in the face of Fierce Opposition


By Tim Waggoner, August 22, 2008
Abuja, Nigeria– Despite defiant and scantily clad opposition, Nigerian, Filipino and Mexican Catholic Church officials are taking steps to quell the growing trend of immodesty that is becoming prevalent among Catholics.
After Mexican priest, Rev. Sergio Roman, said in an online publication, “When we show our body without prudence, without modesty, we are prostituting ourselves,” a group of women dressed in miniskirts and tank talks protested outside the Mexico City Cathedral holding signs that read “Clothed and naked, I am the same.”

The secular media has also jumped all over the priest’s words saying he is justifying acts of rape against women.  The Catholic Church in Mexico, however, have defended Father Roman saying he was offering “moral guidance for the Catholic community,” and was preparing Mexicans for next year’s family values forum in Mexico City.
 In Africa, The First National Catholic Festival of Arts and Culture has been scheduled to occur in Abuja, Nigeria on August 28 and 29 with the purpose of revealing the beauty of the African culture in hopes of combating immodesty in the Church.
 The two-day program, which was announced by Chairman of the Inculturation and Translation Committee, Most Rev. Martin Olorunmolu, is expected to attract 500 participants and will feature Church arts and artifacts, books, documents, vestments, paintings, sculptures and other relevant materials.
“We have observed these abuses. The festival will be used to correct these abuses observed in the way our female members dress, some songs that our choirs sing and in the celebration mass. Some bishops have frowned at these things and have decided that we should find a way of addressing the issues,” explained Olorunmolu, as reported by the Vanguard.
Olorunmolu recited a quote from Pope Pius XII to further express his point: “Let not the Gospel on being introduced into any new land, destroy or extinguish whatever its people possess that is naturally good, just or beautiful. For the church when she calls a person to higher culture and better way of life under the inspiration of the Christian religion does not act like one who recklessly cuts down and uproots a thriving forest”.
“This is another opportunity for us as joint stakeholders in nation building to collaborate and ensure the success of the festival in question,” said Olorunmolu.  “It will not only bring out cultural features and arts that can be of liturgical benefit to the Catholic Church but also showcase the moral values of our culture and people to the world.”
In a similar push for modesty, the Filipino Church, under the leadership of His Grace, Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), led a ‘prayer rally for life’ on July 24 in Lloilo City, Philippines.
The News Today reports he called for a change of hearts and minds, looking to “promote through all possible means abstinence outside marriage and fidelity in marriage as well as modesty in our thoughts, words and actions.”


The following was published in the Mangalorean Catholics forum, digest no. 1960 dated April 10, 2010

Genelia D’Souza on the Holy Week Posted by: “Bro. Joe Dias www.thecsf.orgMangaloreanCatholics@gmail.com

Sent: Friday, April 09, 2010 7:33 PM Subject:
Genelia D’Souza on the Holy Week

The below write-up by is by noted actor Genelia D’Souza during the Holy Week, which appeared in the Hindustan Times, (Hindustan Times, Delhi Edition, 8-Apr-2010, HT City Supplement: Page 1) giving her email id as genelia.dsouza@hindustantimes.com which could be a good idea to send her our words of appreciation. 



PS: Here is also what Wikipedia has to say


D’Souza is deeply religious and is a devout Roman Catholic. She says that, she regularly attends Sunday Mass at St. Anne’s Parish (Bandra), and whenever the family is home, a part of their evening is reserved for saying the rosary together. In an interview with The Times of India, she comments, “I keep a Novena every Wednesday at St. Michael’s Church in Mahim.” In an interview with Daily News and Analysis, she said that “My communication with God is conversational, […] I’m God’s favourite child; I believe that God has always been kind to me.”

Joe Dias – www.thecsf.org

Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 9:16 AM

Subject: Your article in the Hindustan Times BCC: CSF

Dear Genelia,

As a Catholic lay evangelist, I was edified to read this article in which you give public witness to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the circumstances in which Christians in this country find themselves today, few Catholics will do what you have done.

Especially if they are celebrities.

Jesus said, “If you deny me… I will deny you before My Father…” [paraphrased], and the opposite too. So, you are greatly blessed as Jesus himself will be your witness before His Father.

However, I want to be corrected by you in case I am wrong.

In May of last year, I had published a letter in a Catholic forum in which I criticised you for your skimpy and often very immodest dress on screen. I believe that such dressing causes men to sin (adultery with their eyes, and so on) and that women who dress that way become a role model to others, thus again encouraging others to sin. Christians are different from all other people. We are “set apart”. How do you reconcile your relationship with God as a Catholic with immodest dressing?

I have included your name in the draft of an article that I have prepared for my website www.ephesians-511.net on the correct dress code for Catholics, and I would like to remove your name from that list which names other Catholic celebrities like Freida Pinto, Leander Paes and Remo Fernandes. After reading your witness, I would not like to include your name in my article.

In the names of Jesus and Mary, Michael Prabhu, Chennai michaelprabhu@vsnl.net


Fr James D’Souza
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 10:49 AM

Subject: Re: Your article in the Hindustan Times EXTRACT:

Excellent reply to Genelia D’Souza. I was very distressed with the photograph of Genelia inserted in CSF by Joe Dias, and asking us to send her letters of encouragement. Most women are blind (diabolical cataract) to what they dress. I am unable to reply to such testimonies, but I pray that the Lord will anoint someone to reply. I never thought of you, and there you are. The Lord picked you up to do this excellent job. Praise the Lord. Keep up the good work, Michael. Fr. James, Goa


Flavia Maria Tecla Fernandes
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 8:32 PM

Subject: Re: Your article in the Hindustan Times EXTRACT:

Read your email to Genelia.  It’s good, but will it really go to her? There may be a secretary who will be reading all the replies and may give her only flattering emails. I too wanted to send her my article but i would prefer her personal email address. Let’s hope and pray your email really reaches her. I’ve seen her pictures in the Times — she does wear immodest clothes. Flavia, Mumbai


Sent: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 6:40 AM

Subject: Re: Genelia D’Souza on the Holy Week

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but:

It is enough to see Genelia in her skimpy, revealing, immodest dresses to know how truly Catholic she is and what Christian witness she is to the outside world. She’s old enough to know that she is as much popular as an actress for her figure as for her acting talents and if she didn’t reveal her body as the directors and producers will demand her to do, she’s not going to be asked the next time around. Women reveal their bodies only to seduce men. The Bible calls that mortal sin.

A leading priest from Goa wrote me that he was shocked by some of her photographs.

Simply praying the rosary, attending novenas and masses aren’t good enough. Genelia has to walk the talk. Michael Prabhu, published in the Mangalorean Catholics forum, digest no. 1965 dated April 16, 2010


Vatican City bars scantily clad (See pages 67, 76)


July 27, 2010

Swiss Guards turn away visitors in revealing clothing
Vatican City – Tourists and Romans clad in scanty summer clothing were being told to cover up before entering the Vatican City on Tuesday. Long-standing rules on modest dress, previously applicable only to those visiting St Peter’s Basilica, appear to have been extended throughout the tiny walled state. Swiss Guard officers manning the official customs point between Rome and the Vatican City began pulling aside members of the public dressed in ‘inappropriate’ clothing early in the morning.





Men in shorts and women with exposed knees or uncovered shoulders were all stopped by the officers, who asked them if they knew “how things worked here”. Bewildered locals, accustomed to treating the Vatican much like any other part of Rome, initially assumed a new bureaucratic procedure was in force. Prescriptions, letters and shopping permits were hastily produced as evidence of plans to use the Vatican’s pharmacy, post office and shop.
Only to be told the real reason was their clothing. “This is the Vatican City and for reasons of respect, you are not allowed in with uncovered shoulders or wearing shorts,” was the standard explanation. Some retreated without protest, while a number of the women made impromptu purchases from one of the many stands selling shawls and scarves near the Vatican gates. A cheap, quick solution to cover the bare legs of men in shorts was harder to come by, although some duly trudged off to the nearby shopping district of Cola di Rienzo to buy a pair of trousers. However, a number of visitors, especially the more elderly, refused to budge.
The Vatican pharmacy tends to draw older Romans from across the city, as it is slightly cheaper and offers a different range of medication than its Italian counterparts.
Maria, in her late 70s, was one visitor to the Vatican who refused to be cowed by the Swiss Guards. After travelling from the Centocelle neighbourhood on the other side of Rome in 30-degree heat, she was advised that her calf-length flowered dress was “inappropriate” because it showed her shoulders. “I’ve come all the way here from Centocelle and you want to send me back?” she complained.
The Swiss Guards eventually relented and allowed her through, quietly advising her to dress more appropriately next time. But Maria was unimpressed. “Given all the scandals the Church has been involved in, what possible right can it have to be preaching about the morality of sleeveless dresses?” she declared loudly, marching past indignantly.
Modest clothing for visitors to St Peter’s has been the rule for decades. While most tourists are aware of this beforehand and dress appropriately, the sheer number of pilgrims visiting the basilica in the Jubilee year of 2000 prompted street vendors to expand their long running trade in cheap shawls to include long, lightweight cloaks as well. These later vanished from stalls once demand dropped but are likely to reappear for some months to come, at least until word of the new rules gets around.


The following was published in the Mangalorean Catholics forum, digest no. 2000 dated May 14, 2010

Should a Christian woman wear immodest dress like bikini, mini skirt

Posted by: “Shaila Touchton, Bangalore” MangaloreanCatholics@gmail.com

Thu May 13, 2010 8:35 pm (PDT)

1. Summer and today’s society

We need to dress to please the Lord not the world. We live in an age that glorifies immodesty and immorality. Civilization is good; civilization in exposing nakedness is not good. God himself created summer, and all seasons. If God was not serious to give command for women to dress properly he would have said thou shall dress half naked in summer or full in winter. Gods command was for all seasons, for all situations and for all cultures and for all women, for all time.
Summer should not be excuse; souls are more exposed to occasions of offending God through sinful fashions of dress.
Immodesty has become so commonly accepted that it doesn’t bother most people. Most people feel no shame if they see someone on television or in public who is dressed immodestly, and wouldn’t have any problem dressing the same way. As summer temperatures rise standards of modesty seem to fall. In the U.S.A., as well as many other nations of the world, our societies have become the most sexually saturated societies. Today’s society says, “You can do whatever you think is right”. In the summertime especially, we have our biggest opportunity to test our consecration to Jesus. Sheer blouses, halter-tops, “short” shorts, and skimpy bathing-suits are the norm for many careless Christian women. They use the rationalization that “it’s hot” or “I’m swimming” to excuse their lack of modesty. Clothes that fit too tightly, tops that are cut too low, and skirts that are cut too short are not only a distraction to those around us-but the wearers show an unloving lack of concern for their responsibility as a representative of Jesus.
Unfortunately, it seems that many Christians are lost in their own selfish little world-either oblivious or uncaring about the affect they have on others. They may even appear to have a real excitement and love for the Lord-however, their body is sending out a totally different message. “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but the woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

2. True Godly and Christian women

Godly women in the bible never dressed improperly. Godly women should stand firm with holiness and modesty being her watchword. Mother Mary (Mother of Jesus), whom God has presented to us, was the Perfect Model of Modesty and Purity.
True beauty radiates from the face of a godly woman, clothing with the righteousness of God. If a woman dresses with dignity and carries herself with grace, most men will approach that woman with respect and honor. If a woman dresses a man will often view her as a sexual object.
But God wants women to be people of influence not because of their female “charms” but because of their character. We have the Holy Spirit living in us and that is supposed to make us different. We are supposed to be watching out for each other and bringing each other closer to Christ, not causing another to lust. Women who love and respect the Lord won’t wear bikinis at the beach, or wear miniskirts or pose in filth magazines. Any swimsuit or any mini skirts or shorts, no matter how modest it claims to be will inevitably cling to your body, drawing attention to the parts that cause men to stumble.
What a privilege it is to honor Him with more than our lip service, but also with our bodies and minds as Paul states in Romans 12! The Godly woman is the woman who draws attention to herself for the cause of the Gospel, not to be considered sexy, freedom of dress.

3. What God and Bible says

The Bible will be our guide and authority not our choice and feelings. Our priority as a Christian is the biblical not the cultural. Dressing modestly is a gift from God. Modesty in dress is one of the identifying characteristics of true saints.



In the Bible, God clearly indicates his desire for us to hide our nakedness from others. He helped Adam and Eve hide their nakedness after they sinned against Him. Evidently, the “aprons” that Adam and Eve made for themselves didn’t provide enough coverage in God’s eyes, so He made them garments of skins and dressed them properly. “And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons… And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, garments of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:7, 21) Our Outward dress should match our inward holiness; and if our inward holiness isn’t up to standard, then let our outer dress reflect the lofty goal we aspire to be in Christ Jesus.

4. Parents have responsibility

As the twentieth century progressed, the Bible and Godly standards was increasingly ignored in our families, relationships, in our society and cultures and shunted aside as an absolute guide and authority for life.
Parents should be committed in raising modest daughters. : A true Godly and a Christian parent will instruct from earliest childhood, how their daughters are to be dressed. We must teach them God’s perspective of modest dress, and educate them about the temptations of men. And we must have clear standards, informed by Scripture and not culture. This will make it easier for them to follow our leadership when difficult choices are necessary. So many girls and young women are growing up today without direction and, like so many misled sheep, are following immoral fashions to the destruction of souls. If we want our girls to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve, we’ll teach them to dress modestly. If we want to protect them from boys who are more interested in their bodies than in their minds, hearts, or spirits, we’ll teach them to shop for clothes that present a passion for purity rather than a plea for attention. But as followers of Christ we are to pursue not just physical purity, but mental, emotional, and spiritual purity as well.
When parents let their twelve-year-old dress like she’s twenty, they are not protecting her from vulnerability to unhealthy, premature relationships. Regardless of how powerless we may feel, we do have control over our daughters’ wardrobe as long as they’re living under our roofs. We simply have to be secure enough in our role as parents to exercise that control. If your daughter looks to others to determine what she should wear, she will be more likely to look to others to tell her what to do in other areas of her life. She will be more likely to follow the crowd into sexual compromise. Teach her to blaze her own trail through life — one that will steer clear of the many pitfalls to sexual compromise. Better to prepare her for modesty in the near future by expecting it today. Every struggle you may experience along the way toward instilling these values is worth the fight. Every ounce of energy you pour into encouraging these concepts is a worthy investment. These lessons on modesty and responsible stewardship will guide your daughter not just through puberty and her upcoming teenage years but also throughout her lifetime. The “accepted styles” of clothing generally tend to be immodest, and it is often the case that even Christians, will either encourage or at least allow their children to dress immodestly in order for the child to be accepted by others. They want their children to “fit in” with their friends and classmates, and this desire leads them to compromise biblical principles of modest dress.
This is especially true in the areas of sports and cheerleading. Though these particular activities usually require participants to dress immodestly, yet many parents are so excited about their son or daughter’s abilities and accomplishments in these fields that they are willing to compromise their scruples to promote the child’s physical excellence and acceptance. These parents will sometimes argue “the children are young, and these things do not matter as much at this time in their lives.” Oh, to the contrary! It is exactly at “this time in their lives” when these things matter most! Young people are often more impressionable and teachable than older ones. It is in one’s “youth” that he should “remember His creator” and develop a deep-seated God-Consciousness (Eccl. 12:1). It is in these early years that the principles of Godliness, including the principles of modesty and decency, must be ingrained in the children. The sense of needing to be covered, as well as the sense of shame when uncovered, should be a part of a child’s early psyche. Immodesty leads to lasciviousness, lasciviousness often leads to fornication. God wants people, including young people, to dress and behave in such a way that will not present a stumbling block to others. And once again, let us not be naive. If 10-12 year old children are sexually active, and 12 and 13 year old girls are getting pregnant, then those in this age group are certainly capable of lustful thoughts! As for stumbling blocks, Jesus said, “It would be better for them if a heavy mill stone was tied around their neck and they were thrown into the depths of the sea” (Matt. 18:6). This “stumbling block” is exactly the kind of offense which could lead to the sin Jesus discussed in Matthew 5: 28. There He said, “But I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” This “adultery in the heart” is mental only because it lacks opportunity to be fulfilled physically. Those who dress immodestly will generally make the argument that the fault is not with them (or with those whom they defend), but that it is with the person who does the lusting. No one denies that the man who lusts after a woman is wrong, and Matthew 5:28 clearly teaches this. Furthermore, the man’s lust for the woman is wrong regardless of how she dresses! James 1:14-15 coupled with 1 Corinthians 10:13 proves that each person is responsible for his own lust and any subsequent sin that may follow. However, depending upon her attire and demeanor, it is possible for the woman to also be wrong on such occasions. Such would be the case if that woman either dressed or behaved so as to incite the man’s lust, thereby laying a stumbling block and contributing to his sin. Immodest words, clothing and actions are all potential contributors to this sin.
When parents either encourage or allow their children to dress immodestly, they fail to instill a sense of shame in those children, and instead, they succeed in training those children to be shameless and indecent.

5. Worldly fashion is moral confusion

Today’s fashion says that are women are sex objects and can ignore God’s purpose for clothing. The goal of many women today is not dressing to be Godly and covering up nakedness, but rather to be sexy. Sex crimes have increased in numbers and women’s dress habits have contributed to this problem. Some women are good at trying to use their physical beauty, their charms, their bodies to “win” with the men in their world. Today’s fashions are unbelieving designers without the true Spirit of Christ.




Fashion or style is not bad as long as it does not violate the modesty and sobriety standard of the Scriptures-I Timothy 2:9. We are living in a time of moral confusion, and our generation’s indifference to moral concerns is reflected in many of today’s styles. Christians should be concerned that many fashions, particularly for women, are harlot-like and amount to public undress. A swimsuit will expose nakedness and I have seen some men and women defending themselves that swimsuit will cover important parts. We think that if we get on a swimsuit, our genitals are covered and we are clothed. God says no, you don’t just cover your genitals. You cover the thigh. Plus the swimsuit shows off the form and the figure, and is not shamefacedness. It doesn’t flow. It is not long. It is not modest.
The Bible says we are not to be conformed to the world, in Romans 12:2. And in Proverbs 25:29, the Bible teaches us that “the fear of man bringeth a snare.” We don’t have to have the latest style. We do not have to be afraid of fashion. But at the same time, First Corinthians 7:31 says, “And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.” So we don’t want to be a slave of fashion.
The fashion industry does not believe that the principle purpose of clothing is to cover the body; it believes that the principal purpose of clothing is sexual attraction. At the beach or pool, nakedness is on parade. Wearing a bikini is sinful because the purpose of it is to show off as much flesh as possible while still covering the absolute essentials of private parts. There is nothing God-honoring about bikinis and much that is gratifying to the flesh: for men to leer and for women to show off their bodies. Scripture calls us to live and dress modestly, not to gratify the flesh. It calls us to do everything to the glory of God: wearing bathing suits that are designed to cause men to lust and women to publicly display their bodies is the opposite of glorifying God. Clothes that begin to reveal what should be covered, such as low necklines and skirts with slits up the side. Many young ladies have fallen to the trend of wearing spaghetti straps that don’t cover their under garments. The harlot of Proverbs 7:10, intentionally dresses in such a way to lure men to her body in a sexual way. Much of the modern ladies clothing that we see today would be even more revealing than the harlot’s clothing years ago. There is no reason why decent leg coverings can’t be worn under a dress or skirt. They may cry out, “but what about my Christian Liberty?” Please turn your attention to what God says in Galatians and Romans:
Galatians 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Romans 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

6. Some women dress immodestly even in Churches

There are some other women who says that they are Christians but still dress inappropriately even in churches. There are some women comes to church wearing garments which will display all their inner garments. Revealing clothes that attempt to draw attention to yourself in a sexual way, that begins to reveal your “nakedness” , that will cause others to “lust” or “commit adultery” even in their imagination.
The Bible says: Today’s fashions, on the contrary, dishonor and corrupt the Christian woman. Christians should dress in a modest and decent way, showing respect for God, themselves, and others. A woman professing to be godly would never knowingly adorn herself in a way that excites lust in another person.
Modesty then clearly involves an attitude of reservedness, propriety, moderation, of one professing godliness, chaste conduct, one who fears God, whose hidden person of the heart reflects a gentle and quiet spirit – meekness. A great inner spiritual strength that comes to be manifested in the outward demeanor of the woman. Prophets of God have always counseled His children to dress modestly. The way you dress is a reflection of what you are on the inside. Your dress and grooming send messages about you to others and influence the way you and others act. Today, the fashions are so pervasively broadcast over every media outlet that everyone dresses the same when they swim. But, there are lots of people in our churches who think that if you are swimming or competing in track and field, it is ok to go half naked or wear revealing clothing.

7. The Way of the Harlot

A woman in the Bible, named Jezebel, also refused to maintain a shamefaced appearance. According to 2 Kings 9:30, she painted her face and “tired” her hair. This was only a symptom of the inner workings of her heart. She was a deceptive and evil woman. In describing this woman throughout I and II. Kings the Lord felt it important to mention how she conducted herself, wore her hair, and adorned makeup. If the Lord found it noteworthy then so much more should we. Christian men have trouble in controlling their sexual thoughts toward the opposite sex. Seeing immodestly dressed women does not help Christian men become more virtuous. Immodesty in dress is worldly, excites passions and lusts, places undue emphasis on sex and lewdness, and frequently encourages and invites petting and other immoral practices. It is an outward sign that the immodest person has become hardened to the finer sensitivities of the Spirit and been overcome by a spirit of vanity and pride. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. – 2 Tim. 2:22
Some women who dress like worldly claims as a Christian and Godly: Those who claim to “love the Lord,” and yet wear these styles, testify to little more than their lack of discernment and confused loyalties. They put their personal reputation and the integrity of their Christian witness at risk. The Bible speaks of those that are “double-minded,” and warns that they are “unstable” in all their ways and receive nothing from the Lord (James 1:7, 8). More serious, particularly in the church, they pose an unholy distraction and a stumbling block for others. Scripture is clear: it’s fundamentally a matter of discernment, self-discipline, and self-control (Mark 9:47; Rom. 12:2; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Titus 2:6). A wise man will do his best to avoid situations that invite impure thoughts and lust (Luke: 9:23; 1 Cor. 6:18). He will do this through faith in God and in His power (1 Cor. 10:13; Eph. 3:20; Phil. 4:13). He will do this because he fears God and doesn’t want to offend His holiness (Ps. 51:4; 2 Cor. 5:9-11, 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:2-5). He will do this because he understands and fears the consequences of disobedience (Heb. 12:9-11; James 1:13-15). And knowing that lust rarely remains a private matter, he will do this on behalf of his own reputation (Proverbs 22:1; Eccl. 7:1a) and out of consideration for others (Eph. 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:6, 5:22).



People will claim and profess godliness, but their worship will be only a form, only an outward profession, only an appearance of godliness. They will not possess God; they will not have God in their hearts and lives. The look-a-likes will: profess God, be baptized, attend service, participate in the church and sometimes talk about God. Sadly, the people that have a form of godliness will deny the Power of God.
Paul tells Timothy to be careful for there is a form or type of godliness.
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” – 2 Timothy 3:5
Paul continues to tell us to “exercise ourselves unto godliness”. People that exercise themselves unto godliness have the necessary key for accomplishing anything in this life. This is a personal call that Paul is giving Timothy, “train yourself unto godliness”, not the Church or a group of friends but you, train thyself. The call to train ourselves for godliness also demands directing all of our energy toward godliness. Each person can enjoy different styles of dress as long as they do not violate the principle of God’s word.

8. Scriptures for all the women who keep trying to justify nudity and immodest clothing

We are living in evil times, when unrepentant sinners are trying to justify every sin imaginable with the Bible. To reject the instruction of Scripture because you have already decided what you want to do, is sin and rebellion against God. I heard a woman on the news, a professional pornographic model, claim that God approved of her vile career. She said that God created Adam and Eve naked, so nudity must be ok. Evidently she’s never read Genesis 3:7 or 1st Timothy 2:9. God expects all Christian women to be more concerned with displaying their godly character, than their skin and wealth. The Bible rebukes such compromising Christians in the following verses;
1 Timothy 2:9 says, ‘Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness.’
“Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” (Malachi 2:17).
‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ (Matthew 15:8-10)
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”. (Luke 6:47-49)
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26)
So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:40-42)
For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do-living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. (1 Peter 4:3)
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (Ephesians 5:3)
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. (1 Corinthians 5:1)
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
James4:4: You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did-and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. (1 Corinthians 10:8)
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7)
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1Peter 3:3-4)
We have been called out (1 Peter 2:9 by God, to be His workmanship (Eph 2:10) for good works. We belong to Christ and are the ones who have crucified our flesh and its passions (Gal 5:24). We are to be as aliens on foreign land, and the world is not to have the same influence over us, as it does those who don’t know God (Eph 2:3).

9. There are some spouses who encourage being immodest

Nakedness in front of a husband is different because they are made of one flesh. But if we dress up either by partially also you showed him something that your husband and only your husband has the legal right to see. First Corinthians 7:4 says, “The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband. You showed him something he had no right to see.



There are many husbands and wives who encourage and sometimes even demand their mates to “look sexy rather than to Look graceful and glorious at the expense of others. We must stay within the boundaries of the Holy Spirit, putting Jesus and His pleasure first in all we do. Some women claim to be doing this to attract their husband’s attention. As we noted from Proverbs 5, marriage partners should certainly be “exhilarated” by each other’s love. Obviously, the principle of Ecclesiastes 3:1 applies here. That is, there is a time and place for everything. No sin is committed by the wife wearing suggestive clothing for her husband, in the privacy of their home, but that is not what we are here discussing. The wife who dresses loosely in public attracts more attention than just that of her husband. She attracts the attention of other husbands, and other men! Her actions do nothing but intensify the problem of immodesty. In fact, her actions are self-defeating. All she really accomplishes is training her husband to focus his attention on those particular parts of her body that are uncovered while in public! A woman is sorely deceived if she thinks that her dressing immodestly will keep her husband’s eyes on her and off of other women. Men do not think that way. What this practice actually does is stimulate the man’s thinking and attention on those areas of the body. This increases the likelihood that he will focus his attention on those same areas of other immodestly clothed women.
It sickens me to hear of “Christian” men who actually encourage their wives to dress in a revealing way in public. By so doing, they not only encourage their wife to sin; they also encourage sin in the lives of any that would look with lust upon her. The man who encourages his wife to dress immodestly has no business condemning her if she commits adultery against him. The Bible speaks of “the attire of a harlot” (Proverbs 7:10). If a man is going to encourage his wife to dress like a harlot, he has no business blaming her for acting like one.
Shorts, mini Skirts attract unnecessary attention, by wearing provocative clothing increase the temptation and chances for an accidental look. Modesty in dress reveals a modesty and godliness of the heart, attitudes that should be the desire of all women who live to please and honor God.
Glorify God with your body. Do not allow your body to be on display for the whole world to gaze upon. If you do, you are not glorifying God. You may be glorifying yourself, and you will be leading others into sin.
(This article has been adopted from various internet websites. I give credits to all those websites)


Holding hands during the Our Father


From the Catholic Answers Forum,
June 23, 2010

I personally miss the reverence of The Mass. When you bring in happy clappy (I don’t know what else to call it. sorry) then you all join hands then everyone is talking and chatting before during and after Mass and then
people wear
shorts and sleeveless tops
, and then the tabernacles are somewhere out on the parking lot and it gets worse, we need to re-claim our Catholic Church. I am from Europe and when I moved to the US I was horrified at how slack the Church is here. I waited for confession and the Priest said he was busy and to come AFTER Mass!!!! I am moving house near a Church that is right for me… that’s all

Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.” (Spirit of the Liturgy p. 198) Pope Benedict XVI estesbob

I hate it when that happens. In some churches they applaud the choir. In my humble opinion, the mass is for the glory of God not for anything or anyone else –CatholicFireman

In Malta/Gozo if you enter a church with shorts or a sleeveless t-shirt (man or woman) you are instantly greeted with a large shawl to cover your body as it is grave to show yourself in that way on Sacred ground, or you are asked to leave and return with modest attire. –tapinu33


Holy Communion

By Fr. William G. Most

Of course one should
be decently dressed to receive Holy Communion. Some give scandal and lead others into sin in the very act of coming.

Modesty, the other kind…

Father Cantalamessa on Modesty


Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday’s Readings

Rome, August 31, 2007

Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday’s liturgy.

Be Modest in What You Do!
22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sirach 3:19-21, 30-31; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a; Luke 14:1, 7-14

The beginning of this Sunday’s Gospel helps us to correct a widely diffused prejudice: “One Sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him.” Reading the Gospel from a certain angle we have ended up making the Pharisees the prototype for all vices: hypocrisy, duplicity, falsity; Jesus’ enemies par excellence. The terms “Pharisee” and “Pharisaical” have entered into the vocabulary of many languages with negative connotations.



Such an idea of the Pharisees is not correct. There were certainly many among them who corresponded to this negative image and it is with these that Jesus has serious problems. But not all of them were like this. Nicodemus, who comes to see Jesus one night and who later defended him before the Sanhedrin, was a Pharisee (cf. John 3:1; 7:50ff.). Saul was a Pharisee before his conversion and was certainly a sincere and zealous person then, if misguided. Gamaliel, who defended the apostles before the Sanhedrin, was a Pharisee (cf. Acts 5:34ff.).
Jesus’ relationships with the Pharisees were not only conflictual. They often shared the same convictions, such as faith in the resurrection of the dead and the love of God and neighbor as the first and most important commandment of the law. Some, as we see in Sunday’s Gospel, even invited Jesus to dinner at their house. Today there is agreement that the Pharisees did not want Jesus to be condemned as much as their rival sect, the Sadducees, who belonged to Jerusalem’s priestly caste.
For all these reasons, it would be a very good thing to stop using the terms “Pharisee” and “Pharisaical” in a disparaging way. This would also help dialogue with the Jews who recall with great respect the role played by the Pharisees in their history, especially after the destruction of Jerusalem.
During the dinner that Sabbath, Jesus taught two important things: one directed to those who were invited and the other to their host. To the host Jesus says (perhaps privately or only in the presence of his disciples): “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors …” This is what Jesus himself did when he invited the poor, the afflicted, the meek, the hungry, the persecuted — the persons named in the beatitudes — to the great banquet of the kingdom.
But this time I would like to focus on what Jesus says to the invitees. “When you are invited to a wedding feast, do not take a place of honor …” Jesus does not intend to give a lesson in good manners here. Neither does he wish to encourage the subtle calculation of those who take a lower place with the secret hope of gaining a more honorable place from the host. The parable could deceive us if we do not think about the banquet and the host that Jesus has in mind. The banquet is the most universal one of the kingdom and God is the host.
In life, Jesus wants to say, Choose the last place, try to work more for the benefit of others than for your own benefit. Be modest in evaluating your merits, allow others to do this instead (“No one is a good judge of his own case”), and already in this life God will lift you up. He will lift you up in his grace; he will make you rise in the ranks of Jesus’ friends and true disciples, which is the only thing that really matters.
He will also exalt you in the esteem of others. It is a surprising fact but a true one: It is not only God who “comes to the humble but holds the proud at a distance” (cf. Psalm 107:6); men do the same, whether or not they are believers. Modesty, when it is sincere and not affected, conquers, makes those who practice it loved, makes their company desirable, their opinion appreciated. True glory flees from those who seek it and seeks those who flee from it.
We live in a society that has an extreme need to hear this Gospel message of humility again. Running to take the first seats, perhaps without scruple using others as steppingstones, being opportunistic and viciously competitive — these are things that are universally condemned but, unfortunately, they are also universally practiced. The Gospel has an impact on society, even when it speaks of humility and modesty.


Dress, Demeanor, Discipline Show How We Value Holy Mass


By Bishop Robert Vasa, November 2000, Adoremus Online edition, Volume VI, No. 8

Several years ago I had the opportunity, while visiting Washington, DC, to observe the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

I was so struck by the simple, deliberate elegance of the ceremony that I stayed for extra minutes simply to watch the young man march to and fro with that same simple, deliberate elegance. The uniforms were absolutely impeccable, the shoes shined to pure gloss, the faces of the guards set like granite, the measured steps precise, the entire person focused on the job at hand. It was clear from all of the above that the young men knew that what they were about was serious and important.

I have reflected repeatedly on the Arlington experience as it relates to what we do in our Catholic Churches. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most significant event in the world. As the priest and ministers enter the church and proceed down the aisle, there is not the expectation that they imitate the guards at Arlington, but it would be most appropriate to do so. The guard at Arlington processes solemnly in front of a tomb of national significance, and he is rightfully dignified. Every altar in every Catholic Church has eternal significance and deserves a regard greater than that demanded by the national tomb.

I am not advocating a religious solemnity devoid of joy or humanity, but it appears that Arlington may have something which the Catholic Church needs. The dignity manifested by the guard points towards and accentuates the dignity of the place. Silence is observed at the National Tomb. Silence is a sign of respect for the place and the meaning of the place. Silence is appropriate and enforced vigorously there. Order is enforced there.

As I stood watching the guard making his seemingly routine and non-variable march, he suddenly broke out of line two steps at an angle to his right. He removed the rifle from his shoulder, held it in his hands, and said very forcefully, “Stay behind the barrier!” A couple of seconds later, he repeated the command, at which a woman who had crossed into forbidden territory to get a better picture retreated to the area reserved for visitors. He then returned to his line and resumed his march. No apology, no explanation; the sign said “No Trespassing”; what part of “No” was not understood?

The trespass onto sacred secular soil was deemed unacceptable. The dignity of the place demanded order and an observance of that order. Once again, I do not advocate this kind of rigid, cold enforcement, but the dignity of our churches needs to be fostered and preserved. The dignity of this sacred place will be lost as the sacredness of the area around the tomb would quickly be lost, if there is not a decided effort to preserve it.

Wouldn’t it be cute if four or six little 5-year-olds dressed up like Marines and marched back and forth with the guard? It might be cute, but it would not befit the dignity of the place or the solemnity of the occasion.


Yet time and again, we try to introduce people and behaviors into our churches which are deemed “cute” and therefore somehow mandatory. I suggest that “cute” has its place, but Arlington National Cemetery is not one of them, and neither are our churches which house Jesus Himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Several years ago, the Holy Father reinstituted a dress code for the churches of Rome, his diocese. No one in shorts or sleeveless shirts was to be admitted into the church building.

An American sense of rights and freedom rebels against such rules, calling them absurdities. Yet it was done and it was enforced. Tourists who had traveled across an ocean to see a church were turned back at the door unless they were properly attired. This was only to visit a church while no other liturgical action was going on. The Holy Father saw a need to institute a policy aimed at restoring, in a very concrete way, a proper sense of reverence for the house of God.

I have often heard the argument that the administrators of churches should be pleased to see that people come, regardless of how they are dressed. The other side of that is that people need to demonstrate in word and deed the proper disposition and attitude. I am certain the American people would be rightfully chagrined if the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were to show up in plaid shorts, a tank top and half-laced tennis shoes. It is hard to imagine that he could have a proper interior attitude to the job at hand were he to come to “work” dressed like that.

Our liturgy is a sacred “work”. How we come to that work is probably as important as the fact that we come. We must recognize that we come to church for sacred work, sacred worship. This demands a decorum commensurate with the dignity of the work to be done. Even if that “work” is to utter a private prayer, it still demands an appropriate decorum.

The soldiers at Arlington know the sacredness of the work which they do. Their dress, their demeanor, their discipline all speak of their recognition of that sacredness. Seeing them is a source of pride for me.

I am proud of what they represent, proud of the values which their discipline bespeaks, proud of the country which at heart still knows that honor and fidelity are worth defending.

For these values people live, and for these values people give their lives. The dress and demeanor of these troops says that they truly honor and respect the life and death of those represented at the Tomb of the Unknown.

Catholics likewise need to know the sacredness of the liturgical “work” which they do. Their dress, their demeanor, their discipline, ought all to speak of their recognition of that sacredness.

Seeing the dress and demeanor of Catholics in Church ought to be a source of pride. They ought to manifest a genuine respect for Jesus present, as well as for the values of the Catholic Church. For these values, saints, declared and not declared, gave their lives; for these values each Catholic must be willing to dress in a fashion which shows recognition and respect.

Bishop Vasa, a native of Lincoln, Nebraska, was made bishop of the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, in 1999.

This essay originally appeared in the Catholic Sentinel June 30, 2000.


Marylike Modesty Handbook of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate




Out of respect for Our Lord and for the edification of our neighbor, we beg women and girls to appear in Church modestly dressed.
Slacks, shorts, sleeveless and low-cut dresses do not meet the norm of Christian modesty. Your cooperation is evidence of your love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and respect for the House of God.
“Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.” -Our Lady of Fatima, 1917.
Marylike Modesty Handbook of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate
Nihil Obstat: Leonard A. Bauer, S.T.D.



The booklet you are about to read is, for the most part, the original copy of the “Marylike Modesty Handbook of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate.” This was a movement established and managed by the Reverend Bernard A. Kunkel. Father Kunkel died in May of 1969.
After reading the original Marylike Handbook, realizing the research and labor that went into bringing this project to print, it would be difficult not to believe that our Blessed Lady and Her Angels were there to escort Father Kunkel’s soul into Everlasting Glory.

Three years before Father Kunkel’s death, he made the following statement, not knowing at the time that in three short years it would happen. Father said, “I have a feeling when I fade out of the picture that will be the end of the Crusade. I cannot find anyone to help who will carry out my principles, as I would like them carried out.” He added, “Of course we cannot worry too much about these material things; I will do what I can while I am able and after that, if it should continue, it will be in Our Blessed Mother’s hands.” Father always wanted God’s Will to be done.

Just two months before his death, Father was sitting at his death, the layout of the May-June issue of the crusader before him and he said, “This is the last issue of the Marylike Crusader that I am writing. If I am still alive by September, I will be too weak, because I am getting weaker every day. The next issue is in Our Blessed Mother’s hands. I have not found a new Director yet for the Crusade. If I cannot find the right one, I would rather see it fold up.”

This was the difficult decision which had to be made by the Most Reverend Bishop of the Belleville Diocese who was also President of the Marylike Crusade. Father could not find anyone to carry on this unique Crusade when he was alive. No one could be found after his death to be the new Director and carry out his principles so to respect his wishes, the Crusade was terminated.

Ask yourself: How could it be that no one could be found to carry on this work which was first implemented by the Magisterium of the Church through several of Her Holy Pontiffs?

After reading this booklet, you will see that the writings contained herein are not Father Kunkel’s but rather those of the Holy Spirit Himself and materialized by the Old and New Testament, by Our Lady and the Popes. So how comes it, that this work of TRUTH could not be perpetuated?

The devil is the father of all deceit and has, through gradualism, caused humanity (especially the clergy and the hierarchy of the Church) to be lulled into a false sense of security and a lackadaisical attitude about the moral issues of the day and as to what it means to be a True Christian.

If you love God, and you mean it, studying this booklet should change your life. It’s going to cost you something. But then, anything worth- while does not come cheap. This booklet will be for many a test. You will know of what cloth you are cut once you have consumed and digested its content.

We said that this booklet is, for the most part, the original copy of Father Kunkel. It would be safe to say that 90% of the copy is the original. We have interjected small bits of copy into appropriate sections to update the text from the 1950s and from private revelation which we have prayed over for a considerable time and feel comfortably sure of their accuracy. In re-printing this work of Father Kunkel, furthering the cause of Truth, the name of the organization was considered and although the original organization had two names, “Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate” and “The Marylike Crusade” (one seemed to grow out of the other), the shorter of the two was chosen – The Marylike Crusade.
We have undertaken the reprinting and direction of this noble work and consider it a great privilege to be allowed by Our Blessed Lady to continue this Crusade of Purity started and carried out for many years under the able direction of Father Kunkel. Although it will not be carried on in the same manner as Father Kunkel directed, the organization (i.e., there will be no newsletter) it will be carried on in the original spirit intended. Father Kunkel will be directing The Marylike Crusade from Heaven.

It is quite clear that this little work will meet with much criticism and stubborn refusal just as it did in Father Kunkel’s time. Most people who pick it up will not read it simply because they will not waste their time on such a subject or because they don’t want to know. We who have enjoined ourselves to the Marylike Crusade are not pointing fingers but are striving to love our fellow man as Christ did. That love must be based on truth and honesty. But in any case the republishing of this little work will be done for the greater honor and glory of God the Father and for those seeking the Truth.

Consider these three sins against the Holy Spirit:

* Resisting truths that have been made known to us.
* Stubbornness in sin.
* Fatal obstinacy in one’s sins.
One of the Seven Deadly Sins is Sloth: Laziness to do right or carelessness to do right and to practice virtue because of the trouble attached to it.

Three Spiritual Works of Mercy are:

* To counsel the doubtful.
* To instruct the ignorant.
* To admonish the sinner always with charity
The Eighth Beatitude: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

The content of this booklet is surely required reading for those who love Jesus and our Blessed Mother and those who desire to go into the New Era of Peace. No one will be admitted to this New Era until they are purified and purged of their earthly habits and become meek and humble of heart. Modesty and purity are a major moral problem in the present day, this being one of the greatest stumbling blocks to our salvation, there needs to be a changing of life-styles and a cleansing.

If you accept and implement, in your life, the Divinely guided Truth of the Church concerning purity and modesty expressed in this booklet, you can be assured sufficient grace, in an unbelieving age, to save your soul – even more – to become a GREAT SAINT. But, if, after reading and understanding its content, you decide of your own free will to reject this Truth, pause and consider the Final Judgment Day, when, out of grace and among the goats on the left, our Lord pronounces the words, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting damnation, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.”

God will not be mocked.

If Our Most Holy and Pure Blessed Mother has arranged for this booklet to be put into your hands and you are reading these words, you have been given a Great Grace through the love of God, to change your life to coincide with His Will. The greatest sin man commits is the rejection of God’s Grace.
Some 50 years ago or more, a publication known as “The Frenchwoman” presented the following satanic program for the
destruction of the virtue of modesty: “Our children must realize the ideal of nakedness… Then, the mentality of the child is rapidly transformed. To escape opposition, progress must be methodically graduated: first, feet and legs naked, then upturned sleeves; afterwards, the upper part of the chest; then, the back…In summer, they will go around almost naked.”

Even if such a daring statement of the powers of darkness had never come to light – though “enlightened” liberals have tried to keep it in the dark – we would still know that it had to be planned that way and could not have happened by accident; and we would also know that such a program for immodesty could not have originated anywhere but in the mind of Satan.

May the Grace of God poured out through the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Our Mother Mary influence and soften your human will to conform to His when reading this booklet.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us, we have recourse to Thee.



Christian modesty is the forgotten virtue today. Yet, it is indispensable for the protection of chastity. It is useless to try to
restore chastity to the individual, the family, and society, as long as its safeguard, modesty, is either ignored or violated on such a large scale as it is today.

This handbook of the Marylike Crusade deals almost exclusively with modesty, as we embark on our organized campaign for Christian chastity. There is so little written today on modesty, and most persons who do write on this subject only serve to confuse Catholic women more and more by their many sophisms, their compromise with worldly views on this frail virtue, or even their full acceptance of pagan principles.

Yet five modern Popes have, time and again, issued directives on Christian modesty and refutation of many of these modern errors.

Is this not the reason why Christ established in His Church the Supreme Teaching Authority? To protect the Church from errors and to correct the clergy, the teachers and the parents who, intentionally or in good faith, would propagate errors?

Anyone who today dares to advocate traditional Christian modesty, is considered, even by a large number of Catholics, a scrupulous person, a disturber of conscience, or a crackpot. But did not Christ foretell that this is the price every one of His followers must pay who strives to be loyal to Him and His Church?

The Marylike Crusade holds up Mary as the perfect model for all Christians, and relies on the Magisterium of the Church, the Saints, private revelation and the Popes who are the Supreme Teaching Authority of the Church on modesty. Hence, its two-fold motto: “Whatever Mary approves – Whatever the Church approves.”



The Marylike Crusade is a movement to promote chastity and modesty through the imitation of Mary, our Queen and “Mother Most Chaste,” as the perfect model of those virtues.


It was initiated by Reverend Bernard A. Kunkel (having passed on to his eternal reward), pastor of St. Cecilia’s Parish in Bartelso, Illinois, USA, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1944. It received the warm approval of the late Most Reverend Henry Althoff, Bishop of Belleville, Illinois, who also imparted to it his Episcopal Blessing.

Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, imparted on two different occasions his Apostolic Blessing to the Marylike Crusade, on July 14, 1954, and on May 11, 1955, “to the members, to their Directors and Moderators, to their families, and loved ones, and to all who further their laudable movement for modesty in dress and behavior.”


Yes. It received an official status in the Belleville Diocese at the time of its incorporation in September 1955.
The incorporators of the Marylike Crusade were: His Excellency, the Most Reverend Albert R. Zuroweste, Bishop of Belleville, as President; the Right Reverend Monsignor Leonard A. Bauer, Vicar General, as Vice President; and Reverend Bernard A. Kunkel, as Spiritual Director. The headquarters were in Bartelso, Illinois. There were no branch offices, no representatives.


Yes. Pope Pius XII has asserted, “Mainly through sins of impurity do the forces of darkness subjugate souls.”
This same message was given by Our Lady of Fatima in similar words; “The sins that lead most souls to hell are the sins of the flesh.”
Following a general breakdown of modesty, impurity has become the ruling passion of the world. It is like a spiritual cancer slowly eating away the spiritual life in souls. It has brought the world to the brink of another Sodom and Gomorra, this time on a worldwide scale. We are facing the threat of “The greatest catastrophe since the deluge.” (Pius XII)


This is what the devil would like to have us believe. By our silence we would be letting the entire field of morality in his hands. Pope Pius XII points out the seriousness of the general world situation as well as the remedy: “The threat of this fearful crisis fills us with a great anguish, and so with confidence we have recourse to Mary our Queen.” (Oct. 11, 1954)

So also the Marylike Crusade does not rely mainly on natural means, but “with confidence turns to Mary Immaculate.” Under her banner, who foretold at Fatima: “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
The Marylike Crusade is assured of ultimate victory, for, the restoration of purity and modesty to a corrupt world is a prerequisite for Mary’s “triumph”.
Never may we allow ourselves to be disheartened in this “Battle of the Ages,” when the serpent dares to fling his final challenge openly and publicly against the Queenship of our Mother Most Chaste.”
Not only do we have Mary’s prediction in a private revelation, but God’s own promise in Scripture that “She shall crush thy head.”
Certainly, Mary Our Queen and Mother, will “crush the head” of the most insidious and poisonous serpent, the Demon of Impurity. But God wills that this triumph be accomplished, not by our indifference and lethargy, but by the cooperation of Mary’s children marching under her glorious banner.


Certainly not. This is condemned by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical, Christian Education of Youth (December 31, 1929).
Necessary information on the physical aspect of sex is primarily the responsibility of parents; only secondarily and in a limited degree, of teachers and superiors. But always with reverence and modesty. “It is of the highest importance,” Pius XI states, “that a good father, while discussing with his son a matter so delicate, should be well on his guard and not descend to details.”


Persons who deliberately place immoral books into the hands of our youth make themselves responsible for the moral corruption of numerous youthful readers. “Woe to that man by whom the scandal cometh,” warns Jesus. (Matthew 18:7)
The Church has always held that the reading of immoral literature is a mortal sin. Canon law prohibits such reading. Popes and Councils have consistently condemned it. Only two of such condemnations are here adduced, and very briefly:

: – “Books which professedly deal with, narrate, or teach lewd and obscene things are absolutely
forbidden…Those who possess them must be severely punished by their Bishops.”

HOLY OFFICE – May 3, 1927 – “Let no one make these excuses…” (The very excuses advanced by liberal educators are then listed and condemned.) “Persons who without due permission read a book that is undoubtedly salacious (lustful) commit a mortal sin.”


The Marylike Crusade is concerned with the moral aspect of this problem. It strives to point out the many spiritual pitfalls and snares laid by the Demon of Impurity to entrap especially our youth. It is not content with empty and futile denunciations which have so long been in vogue, but offers a positive approach to the problem of impurity.


In accordance with the general plan of the Marylike Crusade, our Blessed Mother is presented as the “Virgin Most Pure” and “Mother Most Chaste,” as our ideal of purity and modesty, and our perfect model for imitation. Each Crusader strives first after the Marylike ideal in their own life. Only then can they hope to reap results in their efforts to reform family and social life. Prayer and Sacrifice form the basis of all crusading efforts.


Chastity means control of the sex instinct, or sex appetite in accordance with the sixth and ninth commandments. [Thou shall not commit adultery; thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s wife.] Modesty, on the other hand, is the safeguard of chastity. It is often compared to a wall protecting oneself and others against the frequent attacks made on chastity.


There is a personal and a social modesty. Personal modesty is concerned mostly with the exercising of a strict control over one’s own senses, especially the eyes, which are often called the windows of the soul.
Thus, a modest person will not unnecessarily permit his eyes to gaze on any person, picture, printed story, or other object which is apt to introduce bad or impure thoughts into his mind or bad pictures into his imagination. For these, when deliberately entertained, lead naturally to impure sensations and desires for impure acts. The same rule holds for the ears, which must be closed to immoral or suggestive songs, filthy talk, etc. Likewise, for the other senses of touch, taste and smell.


Of course it is a sin, in spite of the wishful thinking of some persons who try to invent a sinless type of immodesty. The removal of the wall of modesty admits the enemy, impurity. The weakening of this wall invites him to enter. Personal immodesty has, by its nature, the capacity to be mortally sinful. It may be a venial sin if the immodesty is not serious, and is therefore not a serious threat to one’s purity in thought, desire, word or deed. (See appendix on sin at the end of this




Social modesty may be defined as a virtue which seeks to protect the chastity of other persons, or at least not to endanger it. It is ever careful to avoid anything that is calculated to excite bad thoughts and desires in others or to lead them to sinful actions.
Social modesty requires decent attire in the presence of others, even about the home; the avoidance of all undo familiarity, especially with the opposite sex, and suggestive looks, speech, gait, etc.; and in general a prudent reserve in one’s whole appearance and behavior.


Again, there are some who try to excuse from sin if there is no bad intention connected with social immodesty. Thus, they see nothing wrong in wearing an immodest dress just to be in style. Yes, it is wrong, and it can be seriously sinful. For in this case, another commandment is involved, the law of charity.
Regardless of one’s intentions, there exists an obligation in conscience to avoid unnecessary temptations to others by such
immodesty, be it in dress or otherwise.


If one has the intention to tempt others to impurity by one’s immodesty, it is always a mortal sin, no matter how slight the
immodesty may be. When this bad intention is not present, the same rule applies as for personal immodesty; serious immodesty, causing serious temptations to others, constitutes a mortal sin; not serious, a venial sin.

Social immodesty is classed under the sin of scandal. Not only is serious or grave scandal a mortal sin, but it is a very serious one. This is proven from the awful “woe” pronounced by Jesus against the givers of scandal, and this awful condemnation, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea.” (Mark 9:41)

“How many young girls there are who do not see any wrongdoing in following certain shameless styles like so many sheep. They certainly would blush if they could guess the impression they make and the feelings they evoke in those who see them. Do they not see the harm resulting from excess in certain gymnastic exercises and sports not suitable for virtuous girls? What sins are committed or provoked by conversations which are too free, by immodest shows, by dangerous reading. How lax have consciences become, how pagan morals!” Pope Pius XII, July 17, 1954



It is extremely important, far more than most women and girls realize. In fact, it is the necessary starting point for any genuine Purity Crusade.
It was only after the large-scale introduction of immodest fashions in society, the powers of corruption could succeed in flooding the market with highly obscene literature, and clutter the airwaves and theaters with brazenly immoral pictures. How then, can we ever hope to clean them up, as long as we lack the courage to take to task our own Catholic women for marching in the “shameless parade of the flesh?” The first step, then, to social purity is social modesty in our women.


Many refuse to believe that their semi-nude attire is the source of numerous and serious temptations to the opposite sex. Some disclaim any responsibility for leading others into sin thereby. Others try to cover their own guild by nasty insinuations such as, “He must have a dirty mind.”


Some women certainly know better. Yet, many others actually are unaware of the fact that the sex urge is much stronger in men than in women. “Scanty attire in men doesn’t affect me at all.” some women assert, and often with sincerity. The implied question is, Why should men be tempted by the scanty attire of women? Others flippantly remark, “It’s only skin,” having no suspicion that it is precisely the skin that arouses concupiscence in men.


Some men are afflicted with impure thoughts and desires when only looking at a pretty feminine face, even the woman is modest in attire and behavior. But when the latter is immodest, she becomes the temptress for many normal men, who succumb to such allurements:
“Whoever shall look on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28 ) Indirectly immodest women are included in this indictment, being cooperators with sins of men.


Not at all. God has made woman beautiful and attractive to man, to fit in with His plan for procreation in lawful wedlock. As a result of original sin, the man must constantly struggle to regulate this attraction. Unless he does, and unless he fortifies himself by prayer besides, sin quickly enters his soul, “adultery in his heart.”
This is the reason ascetical writers caution men against gazing intently into the face of a woman. The world would consider St. Aloysius a fool for making a vow never to look into the face of a woman, including his own mother. But the Saint realized that, for a man who is determined to pass through life without stain of mortal sin, “the life of man upon earth is a warfare.” (Job 7:1)


The world, including worldly Catholics, ignores the sound rules of asceticism, which were already laid down in the Old Testament, such as: “Gaze not upon a maiden; lest her beauty be a stumbling block to thee.” (Eccles 9:5) “For many have perished by the beauty of a woman, and thereby lust is enkindled as a fire.” (Eccles 9:9)


No! But this question is entirely beside the point. Her degree of goodness depends on how faithfully she carries out her God-given role as man’s helpmate, rather than his temptress. By her modesty she can use her charm to tame the passions of man; by her immodesty “her beauty becomes a stumbling block” to man.
This makes women the guardians of chastity in the world.
This is why God has given woman a much more delicate sense of modesty than man. Not only to protect her own integrity, but also to protect man against the fury of his passions. When woman is modest, man has only himself to blame if he succumbs to the temptation of the flesh. But when she decides to display parts of her body which should be covered, she becomes a seducer, and she shares in the guilt of the man. In fact, Theology teaches that the sin of the seducer is far greater
than that of the seduced person.


They have lost it. This often occurs in infancy, when foolish mothers train their little daughters to consider scanty attire as the normal thing.
This sense of shame or guilt is noticeable, though in a lesser degree, in other sins. Thus, when a child tells his first lie, he blushes. After his 100th lie, nothing happens. So also, when a girl appears in public for the first time in immodest attire, she experiences the feeling of shame; the sense of modesty is still present. After repeated performances, this feeling of shame quickly vanishes. But God planted that sense of modesty in every woman’s heart.

This feminine loss of the sense of modesty is indicated by Pope Pius XII who says, “How many girls there are who do not see any wrongdoing in following certain shameless styles like so many sheep.
They certainly would blush if they could guess the impression they make and the feeling they evoke in those who see them.” (July 17, 1954)


Yes, very much so. Many girls want to dress modestly, only to have the vain and foolish mothers discourage them, and often even block them. Take to heart the SERIOUS ADMONITION of Pope Pius XII: “O Christian mothers (and Fathers), if only you knew the future of distress and peril, of shame ill-restrained, that you prepare for your sons and daughters in imprudently accustoming them to live hardly clothed and in making them lose the sense of modesty, you would be
ashamed of yourselves and of the harm done the little ones whom Heaven entrusted to your care, to be reared in Christian dignity and culture.”
This warning should give parents cause to consider even infant fashions; boy’s “rompers” that barely cover the diaper and have only straps and no sleeves – and little girl’s “dresses”, more rightly called “smock-tops” which leave the diaper fully exposed – the common remedy for which is adding a frilly or lacy diaper cover, which in fact, only draws more attention to unmentionables and does nothing to cover the entirely naked legs. The Bible teaches us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, etc.”; is it any wonder then, as these children go, from such shameful beginnings, they have lost their sense of
modesty? From semi-nude infant fashions, the tidal wave of immodest fashions swept all age groups and both sexes into even greater degrees of nudity.
Consider also, the culpability of parents, who not wishing to be termed old fashioned, eschew the God-given parental authority and permit their daughters and sons to wear immodest or transsexual clothing (that of the opposite sex), saying, “It’s just a teenage fad – everyone is wearing it – it’s harmless!”

Feminism has made tragic inroads in undermining the lawful authority of the father in the home, deriding his natural instinct to protect and safeguard the modesty and purity of his female offspring.
His noble, God-given nature is called chauvinistic and patriarchal — assisting Satan to expose women and girls to the lusts and passions of worldly fashion appetites, with no defender to guard their honor!
Many loving fathers have been bullied into silence by fashion conscious wives and daughters, when they object to their immodest attire. Sadly, their “peace-in-the-home” compromise is not charity but cowardice! Tantamount to an abandonment of their duty to be Christ- like protectors of innocence and virtue.


YES! One of the most subtle and insidious forms of corruption our children are exposed to are anatomically correct dolls. Especially offensive are the “fashion dolls.” Plastics revolutionized the ability of manufacturers to create “life-like” dolls. Unfortunately, modesty was the least of their considerations. Without a thought, foolish parents lined up to ensure their children had the newest and “best” dolls. The wildly popular fashion dolls, however, were an exceptionally effective
tool, through which the devil provided little girls with effigies of naked women to play with, not to mention the curiosity it aroused in little boys, sewing the seeds of concupiscence in their hearts. When children play, they imitate life to prepare for adulthood. A child’s first impulse is to undress a doll. What parent would give their child a book with pictures of naked women to look through? Yet parents have no qualms about giving their child a little plastic naked woman to touch, look at and act out fantasy with! We should blush to see these “toys” lying about!

To top it off, the immodest fashions these dolls are equipped with encourage our daughters to aspire to wear such outfits. The
“glamorous” clothes become a standard for beauty for our precious innocents at a most impressionable age. Honestly consider the type of advertising which promotes these dolls to our children. The doll is always “cool,” “in the latest style” and “don’t you wish you were like this?” What a diabolically opportune scheme! In this way our blind or naive attempts to offer them entertainment become a two-fold source of scandal!


Yes! Don’t buy dolls with anatomically correct plastic bodies. There are many acceptable dolls available with cloth bodies and plastic heads, feet and hands.


Use this opportunity to give your children a lesson in modesty. Have them assist you in glueing on or permanently sewing on modest undergarments. Modify or remove immodest garments from the dolls’ wardrobe. Remember – you will be exercising your God-given parental authority for doing this. God will provide you with the grace to be strong and tactful in implementing and maintaining your position!


They cannot unaided. They have developed a faulty conscience, or one that is lax or perplexed. The sense of modesty was to them what a compass is to the mariner on the seas. Having lost this God-given compass, they must seek another to direct their course and, as much as possible, to restore that shame which we term the sense of modesty. They need to follow definite standards of modest dress set by competent authority.


There are some Catholic leaders who teach that “Modesty in dress is a matter of custom and convention.” Such teaching is false, since it ignores the supreme authority of the Church and vests it in a fallible human society. It leads to all kinds of absurd conclusions.
If custom could make public nudity a virtue, why did God find it necessary in paradise to change the custom of Adam and Eve by Himself providing garments for them to cover their shame after the fall? Custom could just as logically decide that public dishonesty has become a virtue.
The opinion which allows custom to decide the question of modesty is refuted by Pope Pius XII in one short sentence, “There always exists an absolute norm to be preserved in modesty of dress.” (Nov. 8, 1957)
Custom pays little attention to absolute norms, but is a product of another false principle, “The majority cannot go wrong.” “Modesty is a matter of custom” is just as wrong as “Honesty is a matter of custom.”
Sin is just as nasty and harmful today as it ever was. Do not excuse shortcomings in dress on the plea that everyone is doing it. Evil may never be done even if everyone is doing it. Because it is not fashionable to dress modestly, it cannot be said it is all right to dress immodestly. It is God, not people, Who declares what is right and wrong; He is right and His Church and His Vicars of Christ with Him, even though the whole world may call Him wrong! The misery of the world is due to that selfishness which puts our own pleasure, pride and convenience ahead of God’s Will.


Pope Pius XII, again, calls this application of an ancient principle to modesty one of the “most insidious of sophisms.” He calls attention to the fact that some use this sophism “in order to brand as old fashioned the rebellion of honest people against fashions that are too bold” (Nov. 8, 1957).
Customary sights may not always register in one’s consciousness. Nine successive superficial looks at half-dressed women might fail to stir up seriously the concupiscence of the flesh, whilst the tenth may prove fatal to the soul. Concupiscence may often lie dormant, but it never dies in a normal man.
There is another important consideration. Every conscious look flashes a picture in the imagination. This picture of an indecently dressed woman may fade quickly from the memory. Then, suddenly, perhaps even five or ten years later, it emerges from the attic of the mind and projects itself back to consciousness to plague its victims against holy purity.
These timely lessons of spiritual writers are unknown to, or ignored by, worldly minded persons. Otherwise they would not excuse immodest dress with sophisms as, “Whatever is customary does not affect us.”


This is another sophism. It has no solid foundation in Theology. It represents a sugarcoated compromise. Being a relative term, “extreme” can be made to mean almost anything to fit its user’s convenience. One might almost as well hold this error, “Sin is not sin until it goes to extremes.”


In the first place, it is not true that “Everyone else is doing it.” It is a gross exaggeration. Many modest women still “dare to be different” from the “crowd.”
Even if it were true, it is based on still another sophism. Sin remains sin if only one person in a million is avoiding the wrongdoing. There is no safety in numbers. The only thing that counts is how God judges the modesty or immodesty of one’s attire.


Naturally, just as a dishonest businessman condemns any fair- practices law. A society which has knocked down the traditional standards of modest dress would hardly welcome attempts to set them up again. Even some liberal Catholics oppose specific standards of modesty in dress. For, Liberalism by its nature seeks false freedom from laws, rules, regulations, and all kinds of restraint.
Nevertheless, whether people like to admit it or not, their whole lives are regulated by standards in one form or another. Twelve inches makes a standard foot, and sixteen ounces a standard pound. We have standard colours and sizes, trademarks which standardize quality, and even a standard time dictated by the sun. We have standards of manners and of politeness directing us in the minutest details.
At every turn one is confronted with standards. People accept these without question, even to the point of slavishness and absurdity. Shall only the virtue of modesty be denied the right to be regulated and protected by standards? If we are ready to accept whatever secular authorities approve, much more eager must we Catholics be to accept “Whatever Mary Immaculate Approves,” which is our Crusade motto.


This is a very important question. Too many women, or groups, attempt to reduce Mary’s evaluation of modesty down to their own level of thinking. They sacrilegiously believe that the Blessed Virgin would be willing to cut off her sleeves and plunge her neckline, and compromise her sublime modesty in favor of the pagan fashion dictators and their nudest trends. Mary approves only “What the Church Approves,” which is another Crusade motto.


Yes! The Church has issued specific standards. But they were almost completely ignored by our liberal press, so that we were unable to fully establish their authenticity until 1965, more than 35 years after their publication. We are indebted to Father Jesus M. Cavanna, C.M. (of the Philippino College in Rome) for discovering them in the Bulletin of the Roman Clergy, issue of October 1928. Father Cavanna graciously sent us a translation of the document containing the standards of modesty (dated Sept. 24, 1928), which we proceeded to publish. The discovery of this “missing link” enables us now to publish a fully authenticated history of the Roman Standards. We give here only the bare essentials.

1. On August 15, 1928, Pope Pius XI, in the consistorial chamber, “denounced once again the danger (of immodest dress) which, by its seductive fascination, threatens so many unwary souls.”
2. On August 23, only eight days later, the Holy Father ordered the Sacred Congregation of the Council to issue a very strongly worded letter to all the Bishops of Italy inaugurating a “Crusade Against Immodest Fashions.” The Bishops were to communicate the specific injunctions of this letter to be enforced “in all schools, academies, Sunday schools and laboratories directed by female religious,” to ensure “perfect conformity of conduct among all institutes of female religious in the diocese.”
3. To ensure such “conformity” Pius XI, on September 24, 1928, only one month later, ordered the Sacred Congregation of Religious to issue another letter on the “Crusade against Immodest Fashions.” It was in this letter that the following standards were prescribed: “We recall that a dress cannot be called modest 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
knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper.”


They are binding throughout the world because Pope Pius XI extended this same Crusade for Modesty to the whole world. By his mandate, the Sacred Council issued a letter with special instructions to all the Bishops of the world on January 12, 1930. These instructions were essentially the same as those given to the Bishops of Italy. But they went even further. Not only were they directed to Sisters and to their schools and institutions, as in Italy, but they were extended to include also pastors, parents and the laity in general. This 1930 letter opens with these solemn words:
“Therefore this Sacred Council, which watches over the discipline of clergy and people, while cordially commending the actions of the Venerable Bishops, most emphatically exhorts them to persevere in their attitude and increase their activities insofar as their strength permits, in order that this unwholesome disease be definitely uprooted from human society. In order to facilitate the desired effect, this Sacred Congregation, by mandate of the Holy Father, has decreed as follows . . . (Here the specific instructions emphasize in very serious language and in nine decrees, the obligation of Bishops, Parish Priests, Nuns and parents to enforce the rules of modesty.) It is in number 6 that the Holy Father asks for “compliance with the letter dated August 23, 1928.”
Thus, the Roman Standards were implicitly prescribed for the remainder of the Catholic world.


Not only were they made known in North America, but they were posted for years in the vestibules of many churches. Further, a “League of Modesty was formed in Chicago, Illinois, USA, as directed in the Instructions of January 12, 1930, to promote these standards given by “the Cardinal Vicar of Rome.” In 1935 this league issued a folder with the Imprimatur of His Eminence, George Cardinal Mundelein, in which these standards were incorporated.
The central Bureau of St. Louis also distributed large quantities of free folders containing the 1930 circular of the Sacred Council calling for a worldwide Crusade for modesty in dress.



Modesty is a very unpopular virtue in our day, and the general tendency seems to be to search for alibis to evade its practice.
This made it quite easy for the devil, who reaps many souls through immodesty, to bury the document in oblivion.
It seems to be a repetition of the Gospel story, “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” (John 1:11) We Americans like to boast about our loyalty to the Vicar of Christ. Yes, we are very loyal – when it costs us nothing.
In spite of all the warnings of the last five popes, we persist in the mass rebellion against Christian modesty, preferring to submit to the disgraceful slavery of the pagan fashion dictators, and to abet the disciples of the nudist cult, the “powers of corruption,” the “Goddess of Reason.”
Long ago did these disciples publicly raise the nudist banner of rebellion against the Church’s teaching on modesty, inviting Catholic womanhood to enlist under it. It was on December 10, 1793, that an angry mob rushed into the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, seized the statue of the “Virgin Most Pure”, and dashed it to the floor.
Thereupon, as a symbol of the nudist program, they enthroned in Mary’s place on the altar a nude woman, the “Goddess of Reason.”
How well have their plans succeeded! In how many Catholic women’s hearts has this “Goddess of Reason” been enthroned! The Marylike Crusade aims to reverse this awful sacrilege, and to re-enthrone in feminine hearts the Virgin Mary’s glorious banner, on which are inscribed in bold letters THE MARYLIKE STANDARDS.


No. The Marylike Standards are the identical standards issued by the Holy See, differing only in form. In their present form they have received specific Episcopal Approval as conforming as closely as possible to the official document of Rome. Because they represent the Christian tradition on modesty in dress, they satisfy the motto, “Whatever Mary Approves.” Hence the name, “Marylike Standards.” Not only are they approved, but they are the only minimum standards
that have been given formal approval by members of the Hierarchy.
This insures their conformity with the “Teaching Authority of the Church.”


“Besides the lawful successors of the Apostles, namely the Roman Pontiff for the Universal Church and Bishops for the faithful entrusted to their care (Cf. Can. 1426), there are no other teachers divinely constituted in the Church of Christ.” (Pope Pius XII, May 31, 1954)
Accordingly, the 1930 instructions from Rome placed the problem of social modesty in dress into the hands of the Bishops as the only Official Teaching Authority in union with the Pope.


No. None of the Bishops have officially approved this lowering of standards issued by the Holy Father’s Cardinal Vicar, in spite of claims made by some people. For this reason the Marylike Crusade refuses to accept watered-down standards.


Unfortunately, they do. But they are exceeding their authority, since they are not a part of the Official Teaching Authority of the Church. Theirs is a delegated authority, which must conform with the Official Teaching Authority. As Pope Pius XII defines it: The Supreme Teacher and the Bishops “delegate to them the faculty to teach, either by special grant, or by conferring an office to which the faculty is attached. (Cfr. Can. 1328) Their faculty always remains subject to that authority.” (May 31, 1954)


Theologians are not lawmakers, but interpreters of the law. As such, their opinions, too, must conform with the Official Teaching Authority of the Church. Again, Pope Pius XII explains: “Theologians . . . do not carry on their work through divine right, but through delegation of the Church, and hence remain subject to the vigilance and authority of the legitimate Teaching Authority . . . So the divisive factor is knowing the truth is not the ‘opino theologorum’ (opinion of theologians) but the ‘sensus Ecclesiae’ (the mind of the Church). To reverse the matter would be making Theologians practically the magistri Magisterii’ (Supreme Teaching Authority) which is obviously an error” (Sept. 14, 1956).


Times and customs may change, but God’s laws never change or become outmoded.
Neither does concupiscence change.
“There always exists an absolute norm to be preserved, no matter how broad and changeable the relative morals of styles may be.” (Pope Pius XII, Nov. 8, 1957)
The standards of 1930 have not been changed. If there are any future adaptations allowable because of peculiar circumstances, this is not a question to be decided by individual Catholics, but by the authority that issued the standards – the Pope or the sacred Council.
This is in agreement with the stand taken by His Eminence Rufino Cardinal Santos, Archbishop of Manila, December 6, 1959. On that date was issued a lengthy and masterful Pastoral Letter to “confirm once more and declare in full vigor in our Archdiocese what the Holy Father and the Catholic Hierarchy have stated on different occasions.”
The Cardinal then repeats the “Church’s stand concerning modesty in dress” by quoting the standards set by Pope Pius XI; “A dress cannot be called modest which is cut deeper, etc.” (which we quoted previously)


To wear garments proper to the opposite sex is wrong, because it is suggestive, even when the garments are otherwise modest. While custom cannot make modest an immodest garment, custom can and does decide the type of garments proper to either sex. Thus, in the time of Christ men wore garments which today would be considered proper to women.


By applying the general principles of Moral Theology, it would be hard to see how, objectively speaking, one can escape venial sin by wearing ANY of these garments in public. It cannot be denied that these immodest garments can easily, and often do, bring serious temptations to men. Further, they promote the nudist program. It cannot be repeated often enough or strongly enough, that regardless of the garment or occasion, proper concealment of the body is the sole objective!


Very many are not. Mortal sin is such a terrible thing that it is not committed unless all of these conditions are present:
1. The sinful action must be serious.
2. It must be performed with full knowledge, and
3. With full consent of the will.
Thus, if a woman or girl, through no fault of her own, is sincerely unaware that her attire seriously offends against modesty, one of the essentials for mortal sin is missing. She is said to be “in good faith.”

True happiness comes from God. It fills your heart if you live according to God’s plan and His commandments. Unhappiness comes from breaking these Commandments by sin. Disobedience is the spirit of Lucifer; “I will not serve! God and His Church can’t tell me what to do!” Since mortal sin is a grievous offence against the Law of God, it is the greatest tragedy in the world. The emphasis is on God. He made you His child and friend in baptism. He gives you His Life, the supernatural life through the Sacraments and then through selfishness you turn your back on Him. Do not try to make yourself believe that hurting those around you is the only possible evil. God does not agree with that view. When you break God’s law you hurt
God – and yourself by severing your love relationship with Him! “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23) Breaking God’s law by impurity spells death; death of the soul through the loss of sanctifying grace; death of the peace of conscience through the crushing remorse for sin; death of high ideals; Spiritual death through mortal sin brings misery and unhappiness in this world and eternal damnation in the next.


No. Parents and teachers have the obligation to give thorough instructions on the obligations of our Holy Religion. Otherwise people would soon lose all sense of sin. The devil has already made use of this trickery on a grand scale, by keeping responsible persons silent. For, as Pius XII has said, already “the world has lost all sense of sin.” (See appendix on the Spiritual Works of Mercy.)


“A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel: neither shall a man use women’s apparel. For he that doth these things is
abominable before God.” (Deut. 22:5)
The purpose of this Old Testament Law will never change, because undue promiscuity of the sexes will always be a source of sins against chastity.
Hence, in the absence of any Church approval, we cannot approve the feminine trouser type garments, until it is proven that trousers are no longer a distinctive male garment.
Are we sure that this modern innovation was not an invention of Satan? We are aware of his hellish program of disrobing womanhood in order to more readily carry out his goal of moral corruption of mankind. If feminine trousers were not the invention of the devil, we now know definitely that he is using them very effectively for his purpose. Very gradually did he proceed (1917 to the present day), so as to avoid detection and to forestall a mass rebellion of womanhood had she even suspected in advance this inch-by-inch development: ankle-length slacks, above-the-ankle slacks, below the knee bermudas, knee length shorts, above the knee shorts, shorts (still called bermudas), medium shorts, short shorts.
Our Lady of Fatima did know in 1917 this pending denuding program.
It should FRIGHTEN US to recall the prophecy she revealed to Jacinta, “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.”

The following is most important:

It was in 1917 at a Legion of Mary meeting in Baden (Black Forest), Germany that Father King from the Church of Miuester spoke to the women at that meeting in regard to Our Lady of Fatima’s prediction of that same year: . . . “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much.” He had consulted the fashion designers of Paris, France, concerning the next fashion for women to be introduced. He reported that it was “pants.”
Being a holy priest and concerned about the spiritual welfare of the women in his Legion of Mary group, he asked them to promise never to wear pants.
Since a woman wearing a man’s garment is abominable before God, the mere use of the word “abominable” meaning hateful; offensive; unclean; it certainly is worthy of our attention and study.


If a woman really loves Our Blessed Mother and Our Blessed Lord, why would she hamper the “Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart” and offend Our Lord very much by wearing “pants”?  



“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 knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper.” (The Cardinal vicar of Pope Pius XI)
1. Marylike is modest without compromise, “like Mary”, Christ’s Mother.
2. Marylike dresses have sleeves extending at least to the elbows; and skirts reaching below the knees. Acceptable Marylike Standards have been revealed in many private revelations since 1917 throughout the world. One of these standards is the dress or skirt should be at least three inches below the bottom of the knee. Our Blessed Mother was very specific in one of these private revelations commenting that when a woman sits down her dress or skirt should cover her knees with the requested three inches.
Our bodies are not all the same size and contour. Therefore some women may have to add additional inches to their dresses and skirts because when sitting down the dress or skirt has a tendency to pull the garment up leaving the knees exposed.
(NOTE: Because of market conditions, quarter-length sleeves are temporarily tolerated with Ecclesiastical Approval, until Christian womanhood again turns to Mary as the model of modesty in dress.)
3. Marylike dresses require full coverage for the bodice, chest, shoulders and back; except for a cut-out about the neck not exceeding two inches below the neckline in front and in the back, and a corresponding two inches on the shoulders.
4. Marylike dresses do not admit as modest coverage transparent fabrics, laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc. unless sufficient backing is added. However, their moderate use as trimmings is acceptable.
5. Marylike dresses avoid the improper use of flesh-colored fabrics.
6. Marylike dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer; they do not emphasize, unduly, parts of the body.
7. Marylike dresses provide full coverage, even after jacket, cape or stole are removed and after assuming a sitting position.


This set of standards avoids a long litany of rules and details, which often only serves to complicate matters and add to existing confusion. Its form is concise, resting on the two fundamental rules of modesty: sufficient coverage and proper fit.
Therefore, a few added points of clarification are here in order.

MARYLIKE — The first standard seeks to re-enthrone Mary, the perfect model of modesty, in the hearts of her children.
TWO-INCH CUT-OUT — “Two inches” is the equivalent of the measure given by the Cardinal-Vicar of Rome, “two fingers’ breadth below the hollow of the throat.”
TRANSPARENT FABRICS — Many women fail to realize that transparent dresses are suggestive and cause serious temptations to men. In some cases, because of the emphasized seductiveness of a pretended coverage, they are even worse than the bare skin. They tease the passions. Hence transparent fabrics are outlawed for those parts of the body which require coverage unless they are backed with sufficiently solid material to conceal the flesh.
Marylike women will refuse to become the pawn in Satan’s hands to promote this modern ruse for seduction, which he uses on an extensive scale. Marylike brides and their attendants will not dare to stand at the bridal altar, in the presence of their Eucharistic Lord, attired in gowns of flimsy material, thus placing in jeopardy the blessing of God offered by the Church for the marital life.
Marylike mothers will never permit their innocent daughters to don the flimsy and transparent First Communion dresses now flooding the market, which are an insult to the King of Kings Who deigns to enter their innocent little hearts for the first time in their lives; and which causes them to lose their “sense of modesty” in tender years, even for the House of God.
FLESH COLOUR — This color is not considered objectionable in itself for dresses, but only when used to suggest the bare skin in parts of the body requiring coverage. Thus, flesh color would be highly objectionable when used as trimming on the chest, the midriff, etc.
CONCEAL THE FIGURE — Dresses which provide sufficient coverage may still be very immodest by reason of the fit, which renders them suggestive. Thus, a tight or form-fitting bodice is highly objectionable. On the other hand, a fit which is too loose at the two inch neckline allowed in standard number 3, especially over the shoulders and on the chest, does easily “reveal the figure” of the wearer of the dress, especially in bending or stooping.
BRAS AND SLIPS — Modest women always wear slips that conceal, and bras of proper fit. The most Marylike dress can become very immodest, e.g., if worn over pointed or uplift bras.




Mary does not ask any woman to wear the STYLES of dresses in vogue in her day, but “Whatever Mary Approves” for our day. Modesty is not directly concerned with the type, style, or cut of the dress, but with proper covering for the body.
“Old fashioned” is a very effective bogie-man set up by the Demon of Impurity to scare the wits out of many women. He even succeeds in enlisting Catholics in responsible positions to flash this scarecrow of ridicule before the eyes of feminine slaves of the pagan fashions. Here is an illustration:


A writer in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review of December, 1955, made the following sneering remark about a Catholic school trying to popularize the “Marylike” look: “Indignant correspondents wrote to TIME – to protest the sinister popish plot to clothe American womanhood in Mother Hubbards…”


It will be a revelation to many persons to learn the correct meaning of “prudish.” In Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary it is defined as “discreet, modest,” and “from the French prudefemme, an excellent woman.”
As a synonym for “modest,” prudish is being used also by some Church Authorities.
The devil hates “discreet, modest and excellent” women. So, he resorts to another bogie-man for modest women, seeking to drive them into accepting immodest garments by ridicule. He clothes the respectable word “prudish” with a “Mother Hubbard Dress” and tries to make them believe that the Marylike Crusade advocates skirts reaching down to the ankles – not one half inch less – and collars up to the chin.
Many Catholics have a morbid fear of ridicule, and will let the devil lead them by the nose to escape it. Yet, ridicule is no argument at all.
It is often the only resort of persons who are not conversant with the matter they are treating, or do not wish to see the truth. Mary’s Crusaders, defying this deadly weapon of ridicule, “dare to be different.”


It is not accurate rules that usually make persons scrupulous. Rather, it is the confusion caused by those who would abolish all standards, that leads to scrupulosity and confused consciences.
The Marylike Crusade does not ask women to carry a yardstick with them when shopping for a dress, as some writers have foolishly insinuated by referring to the Marylike Standards as “yard-stick modesty.” All that women need is common sense combined with a serious conscience in applying the Marylike Standards when buying a dress.

The Marylike Standards are intended to serve as a guide. Because of the many kinds of cuts, and the various degrees of angles and curves found in the assortment of styles appearing on the market, mathematical accuracy in applying the Marylike Standards is not always possible. In such cases, the “letter of the law” must be interpreted by the “spirit of the law.” Thus, a V-neck cutout may extend lower than the two-inch limit; but if it is very narrow, it may be more modest than a broader two-inch cutout. A woman with a normal Christian conscience will hardly suffer scruples in this case. If she is sincerely trying to comply with the Marylike Standards as closely as possible, she will have no qualms of conscience about a slight deviation. On the other hand, she will not allow herself any intentional deviations from the Marylike Standards.


Let it first be noted that to the slaves of fashion, “attractive” and “latest style” are synonymous. To such, the most outlandish dress is considered “attractive” provided it is the “latest style.”
Before the mid-sixties the Marylike quarter-length sleeve was sneeringly greeted with, “Who wants to be seen in such a ‘Mother Hubbard’ dress?” Only sleeveless dresses were considered “attractive” by many. Then, overnight full-length sleeves appeared on the market as the latest style, and this “Mother Hubbard” was once again declared “attractive” and was accepted as such.
A decade or two previously — and this would be incredible had it not actually happened — the ankle length “hoop-skirt,” the most exaggerated “Mother Hubbard” of the last century, was dug up and declared “attractive” and “the latest style” in our own day.
Thereupon, for many years, the fashion-worshipping bride believed she could not be attractively attired except in this “Mother Hubbard.”
Thus, the word “attractive,” as used by fashion-worshippers, is a cover-up for sinful vanity. Of course, a well-designed MODEST dress is always attractive to the eyes of modest persons. Of course, an immodest dress is always “attractive” to immodest eyes — provided it is the “latest style.” For, as St. Paul writes, “The sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the spirit of God.” (1 Cor. 2:14)


The Marylike Standards were issued by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome to be applied to dresses. Certainly, men are as much bound to modesty, as are the women. However, there is a difference of standards based on the natural difference of sex. Thus, a basketball suit which is somewhat too scanty for women, may be modest for men.
The so-called “equality of women with men in all things” is a myth.
Equality of the sexes in conformity with the natures of the respective sexes, by all means let it be respected. But not the false “feminism” which is promoted by Naturalism and which ignores the natural differences of the sexes.
The reason for the variation in standards bears repetition: woman’s attraction to man is more psychological; man’s attraction to woman is more physical. Hence, man is much more easily tempted by scanty feminine attire than vice versa.
By no means, however, is a man exempted from the virtue of modesty.
Masculine modesty is needed today as much as feminine. But the fact remains that the Marylike Standards were prescribed specifically for women and girls. The Holy See has not yet found it necessary to prescribe standards for men and boys. Although, again private revelation, which given for our direction in a time when it is most needed, has been very explicit about men’s clothing. Our Blessed Mother has stated that tight fitting clothing that reveals the body is not to be worn. Our Lady has also stated that men should wear darker clothing and loose fitting. Bright or loud colors in shirts and pants are
not to be worn by men. She also warned against such attire as checkered and flowery pants and shirts. Men should wear the darker colors and plain material. The bright and patterned material belongs to the attire of women.


Yes. The Holy Father has insisted that girls be “fully dressed” for games and contests, in the special instructions of January 12, 1930:
“Let parents keep their daughters from public gymnastic games and contests; but if their daughters are compelled to attend such exhibitions, let them see that they are fully and modestly dressed. Let them never permit their daughters to don immodest garb.”

All orders from Rome notwithstanding, the gym suits in most Catholic schools are scandalous in their scantiness; and anything but a credit to our Catholic school system, in which the Pope commands that “the Superioresses and teachers do their utmost to instill love of modesty in the hearts of maidens confided to their care and urge them to dress modestly.” (Ibid.)

To such an extent had even our Catholic schools begun to ape pagan fashions, that by 1956 Marylike gym suits were no longer available on the market, having been labeled as impractical or an impediment to effective sports play. The extent to which pagan nudity has grown in sports is easily seen in the body-conscious attire at international sports meets [Corinne: just look at the female gymnasts, swimmers and skaters at the Olympics!], in the name of aesthetics (figure skating), more accurate judging (gymnastics), lowered wind or water resistance (track and field, cycling, swimming). One should also
consider the scandalous attire of other popular recreations, such as aerobics, yoga, ballet, etc.


The same two basic rules as apply to dresses: sufficient coverage and proper fit. Two-piece bathing suits are eliminated as a matter of course. As to coverage, the Marylike ideal requires the same amount of coverage, no matter what type of garment is concerned. It is not primarily the type of feminine garment that makes it modest or immodest, nor the style. Rather, modesty is concerned with the proper concealment of the body. In this regard then, EVERY modern style of swimsuit violates the Marylike standards of modesty in dress!!
(Especially offensive is spandex.) Further to this, public bathing is a violation of modesty as it becomes a diabolical feast for the eyes, fueling concupiscence brazenly, as any attire, no matter how modest becomes immodestly clingy and physically exposing when wet. In the Catholic ideal however, private family swimming is acceptable, if undertaken in a loose fitting shirt and bermudas or similar garb.
There is nothing objectionable about private family recreation, as opposed to the worldly public exhibitionism so widespread today.


This is one of the principles advanced by the disciples of the so-called “relative modesty.” It makes modesty depend less on its real basis — concealing the body — than on the circumstances of time, place and occasion. It provides a sliding scale for measuring modesty, which gives it a strong flavor of sophism. It is often used as a handy mechanism of escape from the natural requirements of modesty.

Some liberals interpret St. Thomas Aquinas’ prescription to dress according to the circumstances of time, place and occasion as an approval of modern semi-nude fashions. They should know better. St. Thomas was referring to the modest feminine garments in vogue in the thirteenth century. It is stupid to claim that he was referring to our strapless gowns, shorts, bikinis, etc. How could he, since these are products of the twentieth century?

The Marylike Crusade challenges the soundness of this principle. Its proponents should either come forward with a sound argument for it, or relinquish it as another sophism.


Yes. This mechanism sets up a double standard for public modesty: one for bathing shorts, another for street shorts; one permitting only halters, another requiring more coverage. Double standards are bound to lead to confusion of standards, or a pulling down of the higher standard to the level of the lower. Even now the tendency is growing to establish as a “custom” the appearance on the street in beach attire. Here you see the “mechanism of escape from the natural requirements of modesty” in action. The pronouncements of the Popes seem to make no distinctions for various types of garments.
Thus, Pope Pius XII states that “An unworthy and indecent mode of dress has prevailed,” without indicating any distinction of place, ‘on the beaches, in country resorts, almost everywhere, on the streets, etc.'” (Aug. 20, 1954)
Further, His quotation of the “ancient poet” as saying that “vice necessarily follows upon public nudity” (Ibid.) applies to all places, beach or elsewhere. American modernists will be shocked to learn that His Eminence Enrique Cardinal Pla y Daniel, Archbishop of Toledo, Spain, issued the following directives in 1959: “A special danger to morals is represented by public bathing at beaches, in pools and river banks . . . Mixed bathing between men and women which nearly always is an approximate occasion of sin and a scandal, must be avoided.”
The argument, “Bathing suits based on the Marylike Standards are not practical,” does not hold. They were practical enough years ago, before the style dictators dared to make them more scanty. Why should they be considered impractical today? Experience shows that, if the fashion designers would dictate sweaters as “the style” for July and August, skimpy shorts for January and February, many women would slavishly accept their unreasonable decisions. But when the Church demands only the sensible rules of Christian modesty based on nature, they immediately object and have recourse to all kinds of

Finally, this theory of double standards pushes concupiscence far into the background. Sound Theology always emphasizes it as the important factor in making decisions on the modesty of garments.


By the pretense that in men, who are seriously tempted by the sight of a woman in shorts parading the streets, this temptation suddenly diminishes, sleeps, or perhaps dies, as soon as that same scantily dressed woman sets foot on the beach. And this, in spite of the added license of rolling around on the beach, and assuming other suggestive postures which would be condemned in any other place as downright seduction.
King David was a Saint, a man “according to the Heart of God.” Yet, it took only a “bathing beauty,” Bathsheba washing herself, whom he spied from the roof of his palace, to smite him down. It was this “bathing beauty” who so kindled in his heart the fire of concupiscence, as to lead him to the double crime of adultery and murder (2 Samuel, Chapter 11).
Today “bathing beauties” continue to smite their victims, regardless of all loud professions of good intentions. So alluring is the bait of these “bathing beauties” which is dangled before the eyes of concupiscence, that Church Authorities find it necessary, at times, to threaten Catholics, who are brazen enough to enter “bathing beauty contests,” with denial of Sacraments.
Add to these considerations the testimony of letters written by men to the Marylike Crusade headquarters, lamenting these conditions as preventing them from enjoying the innocent pleasures which a beach could afford — and there should be ample reason for abolishing all double, or multiple, standards of garments.


Canon Law requires a proper head covering for women and girls in church. A Piece of Kleenex, a handkerchief, or any skimpy substitute for hat or full veil, do not carry out the spirit of the law.
Only dresses with the Marylike Standards should be tolerated in church and other sacred places such as shrines, convents, rectories, etc. It should not be necessary to add that the wearing of slacks, tight pants, shorts, and similar garments in sacred places is a horrible insult to God, a sacrilege.


Pope Pius XII condemns the following opinion as vain and presumptuous: “I am no longer a baby girl; I am not a child anymore; At my age, sensuous descriptions and voluptuous sights no longer mean anything.”
His reply is: “Are you sure this is true? If it were, it would be the indication of an unconscious perversion. But do not believe, young men and women, that you may sometimes allow yourselves, perhaps in secret, to read condemned books; do not believe that their poison can be without effect, by not being immediate, should be all the more malignant.
“There are times when the dangers of bad reading are even more tragic than the dangers from bad company.” (To the newly married August 7, 1940)  



Prayer and sacrifices are essential to the success of the Marylike Movement in general, but especially the Marylike Crusade. For, the Demon of Impurity has dared to challenge the Queenship of our “Mother Most Pure” with unusual cunning in our day, and to set himself up as the dictator of immodest fashions and of an impure body cult. It would seem that this Demon of Impurity is one of those fallen angels of whom Jesus told His Apostles: “This kind of devil is not cast out but by prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17-20)

1. Reparation to the Twin Hearts, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the innumerable sins of impurity and immodesty committed daily over the world.
2. The success of the Marylike Crusade in: a) Promoting Marylike chastity and modesty; b) in hastening the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

THE PRAYER PROGRAM (for men, women and children)

1. Recite daily three Hail Marys for personal purity and modesty, each Hail Mary to be followed by the indulgenced prayer, “By thy Immaculate Conception, O Mary, make my body pure and my soul holy.”
2. Consecrate myself daily to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by any approved “Act” (or at least in your own words).
3. Wear the Brown Scapular always.
4. Wear the Green Scapular or carry on your person.
5. Attend and pray the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as often as possible.
6. Receive Holy Communion as often as possible.
7. Go to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on First Fridays and receive Holy Communion if possible.
8. Observance of the First Saturdays of each month (according to our Lady’s intentions) consisting of Holy Mass and Holy Communion; reparation to Mary’s Immaculate Heart; the Holy Rosary; plus a 15- minute meditation on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
9. The daily Holy Rosary. This is a must. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of saying the Holy Rosary daily.
10. Holy Hours of prayer when possible. Either before the Blessed Sacrament if possible or at home.
11. Daily Sacrifices offered to our Heavenly Father through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
12. To venerate the Blessed Mother as my model, striving each day to please God by the avoidance of sin and the imitation of her sublime virtues. “Let them offend God no more, for He is already much offended.”

13. To practice chastity and modesty habitually, both exterior and interior. “More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”
14. To add after each decade of the Rosary, “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those who are most in need of Thy mercy.”
15. Go to private confession often. We suggest every two weeks.

This program includes the following:

1. To strive to be modest in thought, word and conduct, at all times and in all places
2. To refuse to wear the pagan fashion known as “shorts”

3. To refuse to wear slacks (Which our Lady made reference to at her Fatima apparition in 1917 and said would “offend our Lord very much”)
4. To wear only such dresses as meet the Marylike Standards
5. To strive to promote Marylike modesty whenever occasion
presents (An excellent way is by making this book available)
6. Reread often the contents of this book.  



Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee I come; before thee I stand sinful and sorrowful, O Mother of the Word Incarnate. Despise not my petitions, but in Thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

The Commandments of God are these ten:

1. I am the Lord thy God; thou shall not have strange gods before Me.
2. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain.
3. Remember thou keep holy the Lord’s Day.
4. Honor thy father and thy mother.
5. Thou shalt not kill.
6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7. Thou shalt not steal.
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.


1. Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and soul and strength.
2. Love thy neighbor as thyself.


1. To assist at Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
2. To fast and abstain on the days appointed.
3. To confess our sins at least once a year.
4. To receive Holy Communion during the Easter time.
5. To contribute to the support of the Church.
6. To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage.


1. Christmas (December 25)
2. The Octave of Christmas (January 1)
3. Ascension Thursday (Forty days after Easter)
4. The Assumption (August 15)
5. All Saints Day (November 1)
6. The Immaculate Conception (December 8 )


1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
2. Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.
3. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
4. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall be filled.
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
6. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
8. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.


1. To feed the hungry
2. To give drink to the thirsty
3. To clothe the naked
4. To shelter the homeless
5. To visit the sick
6. To visit the imprisoned
7. To bury the dead


1. To counsel the doubtful
2. To instruct the ignorant
3. To admonish the sinner
4. To comfort the sorrowful
5. To forgive injuries
6. To bear wrongs patiently
7. To pray for the living and the dead


1. Presuming to gain salvation without meriting it
2. Despair of salvation
3. Resisting truths which have been made known to us
4. Envy of another’s spiritual good
5. Stubbornness in sin
6. Final obstinacy in one’s sins


1. Pride: an unrestrained appreciation of our own worth
2. Avarice: an immoderate desire for earthly goods
3. Lust: a hankering after impure pleasures
4. Anger: an inordinate desire of revenge
5. Gluttony: an unrestrained use of food and drink
6. Envy: sorrow over the good fortune of our neighbor
7. Sloth: laziness to do right or carelessness to do right and to
practice virtue because of the trouble attached to it


1. Willful murder
2. Sodomy
3. Oppression of the poor
4. Cheating laborers of their wages


1. Counseling or advising another to sin
2. Commanding another to sin
3. Provoking another to sin
4. Consenting to another’s sin
5. Showing another how to sin
6. Praising another’s sin
7. Concealing, remaining silent about, doing nothing to prevent another’s sin
8. Taking part in, or enjoying the results of another’s sin
9. Defending another’s sin


The free transgression of a divine law is a sin. Since every law is derived from the divine law, natural or positive, every transgression of a punitive law of legitimately constituted authority, is a sin. Sin may be mortal or venial. It is mortal when the transgression is of a divine law in a matter that is serious and when the consent to sin recognizes both the law and the serious matter. [Corinne: it’s a sin of grave matter, committed with full knowledge of the sinner and with deliberate consent of the sinner.] A sin is venial when it is either committed out of imperfect knowledge and consent, when one transgresses a law that does not bind seriously, or when a sin is actually grave but, because of an invincibly erroneous conscience [a conscience that has not been properly formed in the knowledge of good and evil], the one committing it is ignorant of its gravity. Sin is also classified as to type: internal sins are those committed through use of the spiritual faculties, e.g., imagination; actual sin is any sinful act or omission of a prescribed good act; habitual sin is the state of sin of one who has not repented. The sin is formal when it is deliberate against a law, even if the law is only supposed to exist; it is material when the transgression is against a law, but when knowledge of the transgression’s sinfulness is lacking it is actually no real sin because it lacks consent. (Cf. Commandments of God; Precepts of the Church)



See Colleen Hammond’s Dressing With Dignity Outfit Check:


Clothes Make the Person


By Eberhard Heller, translated by Fr. Krier and Elisabeth Meurer, from Einsicht no 8, October 2004

The novel of “Kleider machen Leute” (Clothes Make the Person) of Gottfried Keller (1819-1890) 1 was brought to my mind when I recently learned of the really disturbing news of what had happened to the community in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA).

1 The novel deals with a tailor who, because of his good clothes, is mixed up with a count and thus causes a lot of confusion. The author wants to state hereby, that you should not judge people only by their outward appearance.


There a group of the faithful split and opened a new Mass site because they did not want to be part of the present Community any more. Their excuse, apparently, is because the youth went to Mass with current fashions. It is especially the young girls who seemed provocative, in the words of some parishioners, and who excited some of the older ladies, among others because they did not wear a veil while in Church. These ladies push the veil as an absolute sign of their Catholic faith, and together with a priest having the same attitude caused a split between the “decent and respectable” Catholics and the rest – less ‘honourable’ – the remaining parishioners.

So therefore not only does “clothes make people”, but even scarves make (true) Catholics, whereby the Catholicism of certain Ladies only consists in the wearing of the scarf – and they evidently succumb through self-deception regarding faith. These privileged souls never come to the realization that with their intolerance of externals and their self-righteous pretentiousness they simply drive away young people who are searching for God, who are in the budding stages of faith, who, spiritually viewed, are pushed from God; for expecting love, they are met with pride and self-righteousness. It seems, therefore, not only the Moslems have a scarf problem, but even the Catholic Traditionalists.

This provides a formal parallel between the two. (The scarf-bearers and the scarf-advocates should consider whether it is in their best interest to be possible allies to Islamic ideology).

It goes without saying, for your information, that among the “shabby” remainder who are for the most part, the young persons who have been won over from an ideological void to the true faith and true Catholic church by the spiritual and sacrificial exertions of pastoral hard work and now see in this priest their shepherd, by whose engagement in their ordinary modern daily life and its threatening problems, they feel dependent for solutions.


In answer to my looking into this problem, I received the following letter from the priest:

“11th of December 2003

Dear Dr. and Mrs. Eberhard Heller,

Thank you for the letter. It seems difficult to believe that people would wish to leave when the Church was growing and becoming a visible structure to say to both the Modernist Church and the Public that the true Catholic Church has not disappeared. But some believe that we must be in cellars and completely separated from the world, that only a few will be saved (themselves alone), and forgot the missionary role of the Church. I have repeated many times the Church is not a museum piece for people who want to relive the past, but that we are in the present. They take that as Novus Ordo and cling to a ‘golden age1 that never existed, i.e., ladies with the dresses to the floor and long veils over their heads and everyone talking only English. 2 We have not greatly suffered from their departure, but rather it has given more life to the faithful to participate in activities at the Church.

Before, these people who left would only complain and argue and give excuses for not helping. I have only to think of what bishop will administer the sacraments here in Las Vegas. (…) Presently we are saying the Novena for Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast is tomorrow. (…)

Father Courtney Edward Krier”

2 The author means hereby, that these people make no effort even to talk to the Latinos, i. e. the Spanish-speaking immigrants from South and Central America, in their language. Spanish has practically become the second official language in the southern states of the USA. Father Krier had learned Spanish in order to be able to take care of the young people coming mostly from Mexico.


It would be nice if we could just check this off as a sad episode, but there are similar biases (prejudices) with respect to an intransigent attitude that causes unrest and annoyance even here. Therefore, after a period of hesitancy, I decided to tackle this disagreeable problem.

A few years ago, I was with my family on vacation in a mountain village. My oldest daughter, who had especially followed us later to enjoy the mountains and ski, wanted to take advantage also of going to confession to a traditional priest at the Church. Before she had yet begun her confession, the priest sent her out of the confessional for the only reason that she came wearing a pair of trousers and not the expected dress (for she had not brought one with her). When later talking to my weeping daughter to explain what had happened, since she walked out of the Church, she asked me the question: What would happen if possibly having had a mortal sin, I now, while mountain climbing, had a serious accident? I, without hesitating, replied that the priest would have to give an account to God for denying her confession, but she did not need to worry because she had the intention of reconciling herself with God. Christ said: “Come to me all you who suffer and are burdened”; he did not add: “But first change your clothes.” 3

3 As a father confessor, this priest ought not to have looked at the trousers but at the spiritual need, at the sins. Christ so often indicated to the Jews that it was not only fulfilling legal prescriptions which was important, but before all showing mercy. When such rigorous claims are concerned, it is generally shown that the persons with such an attitude have themselves never had any children or only have developed a troubled attitude to them.



Now what stands behind such intransigent behaviour? The advocates of a severe exterior discipline are quite right to indicate that women show respect before God and the Blessed Sacrament by covering their heads while in Church, especially during Mass. This was in fact the custom in the Mediterranean countries and in the Orthodox Church. They can also appeal to the Ecclesiastical Canon Law of Pope Benedict XV (CIC 1917), where in Canon 1262 §2 decrees: Women should have their heads covered while assisting at sacred rites whether in the Church or outside, especially when they approach the Holy Table.

A biblical appeal for wearing the head covering is given by St. Paul: “Every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered Disgraces her head” (1 Cor. 11; 5), to which, among others, the Mennonites, an off-shoot of the Calvinist Sect, comply. Paul gives this directive in connection with the position of man and wife in relation to Christ: “I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11: 3).

The Jewish clothing of a woman at the time of Christ was very similar to that of the man, only the outer garment was more richly decorated and the under clothes were longer than those of the man.

As a head covering the men, too, wore a sort of turban. It was therefore usually only the veil that allowed one to clearly distinguish a man from a woman (cf. Wetzer und Weite’s Kirchenlexikon oder Enzyklopädie der katholischen Theologie und ihrer Hilfswissenschaften”, vol. 7, Freiburg i. Brsg., 1891, Col. 763 f.). The veiling of the head, according to St. Paul, is a result of the subjection of a woman to a man: “A man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory

of God. But woman is the glory of man (1 Cor. 11, 7). 4

4 The total relation between man and wife – without considering the specific importance of each, is defined by St. Paul as follows: “In the Lord, however, neither has the man any value independent from the wife nor has the wife any value independent from the man. For as the wife comes from the man, so the man comes from the wife, but everything comes from God.” (1 Cor. 11; 11 f.)


It is clear that an existing custom should be kept where it is valid; for to offend against a living tradition is not merely an external formal denial, but also a deep revolt against a respected attitude, that the custom was instituted to express. With the precept for women to cover their head when they pray as a sign of their subjection would mean: If a woman denied wearing the veil, she would be revolting against her subordination to man. She would become a scandal within the community where this subordination exists.

Those traditionalist minded Catholics who insist upon the wearing of the veil have a similar fear: if the covering of the head is a sign of respect before God, then women who don’t wear a covering in the Church don’t show God the respect He demands. Therefore, they expect exact fulfillment of this rule.

But it isn’t so easy as this. Not only because we live in an age that accepts relativity (no principles), where even the expected conventions have lost their binding force. Therefore insisting on these to be respected by foreigners as well does not make much sense. No, the wearing of the veil was already long before the Council (Vatican II) no longer observed as a (religious) custom. I still remember, during a study-trip to Italy, as we were visiting the local Churches, that we were told to show a more respectable appearance than in Germany. Even in a Spain, known for its strictness, women haven’t worn the veil for over forty years. I personally don’t know a single woman, who, in not covering her head, looks at it as giving scandal by not respecting God, or even intends a denial of that respect.

If therefore someone by means of direct pressure attempts again to introduce certain forms of respect, for example, wearing a scarf (!), he should acknowledge at least that there has been a changing of attitude, and that such authoritarian efforts to do so will usually not meet with understanding, and that sooner or later the faithful will rather be invited to cease coming than to attend Mass.

And what about the reference to St. Paul and the interpretation of Canon Law? Even the commentary of Hamp, Stenzel and Kiirzinger, in the new edition of the Biblical Scripture of the Old and New Testament (Pattloch Publishing House, Würzburg 1960, with the “Imprimatur” of the general-vicar of Würzburg, Dr. Fuchs, February 19, 1957) speaks, with regard to the citation of Paul, as “corresponding to an arrangement of a time-limited custom” (p. 228). Concerning Canon 1262, § 2, one can with good reason object, that this is a law made by the Church an that such laws can also be changed. Pope Pius XII, one of the few who involved themselves with issues concerning women, recognized the fascination women had with fashions and gave room for an individualized aesthetic form, that would itself be according to the principle of decorum (cf. Leiber, Robert: “Pius XII. sagt”, Zürich 1956, p. 62 ff.; Seibel-Royer, Käthe: “Pius XII. – Rufan die Frau”, Graz 1956, p. 235). As a Shepherd who dealt also with such subtle problems as the likes and preferences of women, a solution cannot be appended to mere paragraph.

One does not introduce local traditions and customs again, that have become, in practical life, meaningless for a long time, without renewing and re-animating the ideas standing behind them. In our age of relativity I can construct principles only through self-reflection of my perception. The process passes from within outwardly. I must be humble so others may know what humility means. This means publicly practicing it until it becomes a habit in everything I do.

Similarly Prince Asserate, whose book, “Manners” – which is receiving an unprecedented success – advises for good manners: “The observance of known rules doesn’t make someone a man of good manners. It is better to say manners is the fruit of a moral man – the external, aesthetic expression of an inner composure” (interview with the journal JUNGE FREIHEIT on January 16, 2004). 5

5 Prince Asfa-Wossen Aserate: “Manners”, Eichborn, 2003. The book which was not written as an encyclopedia of good manners but rather represents a kind of “ethnology of our manners” (blurb) has in the meantime become a best seller. The prince is the grandnephew of the Christian emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, who was murdered by the communist regime of Mengistu in 1974/75. The prince was born in Addis Abbaba in 1948 and came to Germany as a refugee in 1968.


Unfortunately, the insistence on a dress code which has not been reflected causes aversions which rather suffocate the supposed spiritual life.




Here the importance of this matter must also be estimated exactly. At this point it should be clear at the latest that this clothes issue is a poor minor theme close to sectarianism. This issue partly even seems to fit quite well into the latter, (…) and its description was a real effort of will for me -just to show my personal reaction on this – since you then risk to make a laughing stock of yourself. We are faced with a lot of real problems to be solved in order to withstand this precarious situation of the Church. But instead of facing these vital, extremely vital tasks – e. g. the creation of parishes, catechesis (including the whole current modern problem), the nationwide joining together with a safe legal position and pastoral guidance, the foundation of congregations of priests to elaborate general pastoral care, they think about the problem whether sneakers are the necessary ‘Catholic’ outfit.

In order to point out how grotesque such a ‘prejudiced’ view of these problems is, I would just like to present you, dear reader, the following example: My family and myself have been living here outside of Munich for quite a few years, in a rural area where there are still living traditions. We are very close to people out here and also take part in their traditional events … in the appropriate costume. Now imagine that I would only invite guests to my home who submitted to this tradition, i.

e. men would have to turn up in a pair of leather trousers and women would have to wear a ‘Dirndl’.

Everyone would shake their heads. You will get a similarly uncomprehending reaction from young people if you give them instructions regarding their way of dressing which they do not understand.

It would certainly be interesting to see who among the theorists of this order would then be able to quote the Theory of Archetypes by a certain C. G. Jung.

One can only solve this problem by the revival of contents which then get formed by themselves.

However, such a kind of work, somewhat more stressful, would just be appropriate today, when young people are not only left in the lurch by those institutions pretending to provide support and salvation but also lead astray – into ideological adventurousness.

To state one more pastoral pedagogic aspect: How should one deal especially with young people who possess nothing in the spiritual area any more or who do not yet possess much in this area (again)? Should he exclude them or treat them with school-marmish self-righteousness? In his book “Giovanni Bosco – Motive of a New Education” (Olten, 1946), Franz Dilger describes how Don Bosco influenced his children:

“All kinds of disappointment in the common way of education show themselves to be a consequence of attempted spiritual violation of the young people. He who only wants to serve life and the young people’s good will be more successful in forming them than he who faces the developing human being with his categorical imperative. The old people serve the young, not the other way round, this is Don Bosco’s maxim. He had experienced a hundred times that so much evil arising among young people comes from the adults, whether they awake evil in the developing nature by forcing them, by their inclination to terror or whether; by lack of dedication, they do not prevent it. The mistakes of young people are mostly reflexions of adults’ vices.

This may sound revolutionary in the ears of all traditionalists who do not want to admit that the young person could also be different from the way they think him to be according to their view strongly influenced by antiquity. What a battle Don Bosco had to fight against this seemingly Christian tendency to consider the historically conditioned image of man to be as unchangeable as a dogma! But he proved and his successors will believe that educators who only know the order of dedication and an imperturbable love for Jesus Christ will show the youth in a new light. They will neither preach in the usual meaning of this word nor will they moralize, but by giving an example of a Christian existence full of enthusiasm and approval of the world, they will have a magnetic attraction for young people.

Who will doubt this? What is, then, the reason why young people who have been educated in a religious way so often attend lessons of religious education lethargically, with conscious reluctance, by tiresome obligation, because they were just detailed to do so? There is no question on their lips, no problem in their minds, no longing in their hearts and no emotion on their faces!

The others, however, those not forced in religious matters, even many who have been educated in an almost pagan way, press towards the light of Jesus Christ. Where does this fatal difference come from? Give freedom, educate from within towards Jesus Christ! Anything else is the rudiment of an antiquated way of exerting power. What a lot of harm did we do to our cause with imposed religion! Bosco would change our religious education to a great extent.

Religion is a matter of love between God and man. Have they forgotten how subtle and fragile love is? If Jesus Christ finds that young and not old people are best disposed for the Kingdom of God and you observe that reality apparently is the other way round, are we now supposed to lose our faith in the Master or should we not rather lose our faith in the wrong attitude of the preachers of faith towards the youth? It is only those who are moved by religion and who, at the same time, really know the height and depth of life who should initiate young people to the love secret of God.

But unfortunately it is too often quantity which is decisive, and therefore they think that everything is all right if the imposed practice goes on trouble-free and organized in classes. What was Bosco’s warning against imposed practice? “Esortare, esortare e niente di più!” (Admonish, encourage – and nothing else!) (p. 201 f.) (From EINSICHT Number 1, January 2004, page 17 ff.)


St. Gregory the Great:

“In its last days, the Church will be deprived of its force. An army of apostate priests are preparing for the Antichrist. At the end of time there will be an entire unity among the godless, whereas there will be separation and division among the righteous” (Dialoghi, lib. IV.)


Dress Code for Religious functions


Archdiocese of Bombay, July 2005




The Church is the House of God (Domus Dei). Although God is present everywhere, He dwells in a very special way in the Church, for it is there that Jesus descends from heaven at Holy Mass to re-enact His sacrifice of Calvary, and then remains a Prisoner of Love in the Most Blessed Sacrament. In these sacred precincts most of the Sacraments are administered, and the faithful enter into an intimate communion with God and God with them. It is therefore fitting that everyone – priests, religious and lay-faithful – who come to Church should present themselves in a manner befitting God’s sacred presence there. In the first place, they must come interiorly adorned with the gems of Christian virtues – viz. purity of mind and heart, meekness and humility, justice and love for all – and with the sincere desire to worship the Lord with piety and devotion, even if they are heavily burdened with their daily crosses and many challenges.
They must further remember that, while God looks at the heart, human beings look at outward appearances. The Church is a community and, as such, has a social dimension which cannot be ignored. In society at large, there are dress codes and behaviour patterns for different occasions. There are, for instance, those for recreational activities, for moments of leisure at home, for gala dinners; and others for condolence visits, for concerts, for official or informal receptions, etc. Each attire must naturally be worn as the circumstance demands.
The dress code and behaviour patterns in the Church require our special attention. One cannot ignore the critical remarks being made by many, even by those of other faiths, with regard to the attire used by some persons, men and women, when they worship in Church. Whereas in days gone by the “Sunday best” used to become at times a sort of fashion-parade, the modern tendency would seem to go to the other extreme, with people wearing an attire which is considered casual and unbecoming of the sacred dignity of the Church and the members of its Congregation as, respectively, the House and the People of God.
The Archdiocese of Bombay is carefully attending to matters relating to the dress and behaviour of those involved in Church liturgical ceremonies (altar servers, lectors, choir, sacristans, etc.). Priests are required to use the cassock when on official Church duty, and to wear the appropriate liturgical vestments whenever they perform the sacred rites. I earnestly exhort the lay faithful to come to Church functions attired in a way that shows their respect for the sacred place they are worshipping in. Parents would do well to attend to this aspect of propriety when they send their children to Church services. Parish Priests are kindly requested to communicate and to explain these observations to their parishioners.
+ Ivan Cardinal Dias,

Archbishop of Bombay,

July 4, 2005


From: Nelson Lopes <nellopes25@gmail.com> Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2011 20:13:55 +0530
Subject: [Goanet] dress code in religious places
Dress Code In Religious Places
The idea seems to be to maintain the sanctity and religious decorum of the sacred precincts By in itself it appears to be a worthy exercise to enforce what is believed to be appeasing to the resident Gods people enter the places of worship for a darshan, meeting and glimpse of their favourite God In some places their is an entrance fee and at other places there is strict code of dress emphasis. Some said that God can be reached from outside, as all religious places are not the real abode of God’s It is only a human approach and system devised to make it practical The Gurdawaras require covering of head and removal of foot wear The service of free polishing is undertaken as a voluntary penance and sacrifice. In the south, the temples need to borrow their apparels totally, depositing valuable including purses and in some places it can cost as much as Rs 500 depending on the popularity of the house of worship. Every item deposited is priced.
Many an unwary visitor to sacred places have lost their foot wear causing embarrassing situation leaving a feeling of disgust, that things are not safe even in the house of God. One cannot but feel it is indiscreet method of generating sizable revenues. In such cases those who cannot afford the price are left out in paying obeisance and for others it is awkward situation forced to change in uncomfortable attire Most of the visitors have religious motives but a few maybe drawn out of seer curiosity. The popular catholic places of worship, pilgrimages of historical significance, world over, normally do not have restrictions of entry and absolute dress code any where one definitely would discourage showing disrespect during services through photographs, talking, moving etc. All places of worship must be respected with dignified self imposed decorum and notice to that effect be displayed prominently with ushers cautioning visitors People of different faith specially in India have different sense of religious practices. The catholic church in Goa has been in the news recently for loud thinking and is fortunately not aiming at generating revenues Some churches in Goa enforce dress codes for marriage ceremony and receiving Holy Eucharist . But the limits of vulgarity and indecent exposure like beauty lie in the eyes of the beholder.
Nevertheless any distraction that deviates the worshiper is unwarranted Policing all such acts, identifying and enforcing the conduct can result in friction It is very difficult however, to enforce our standards of morality in a tourist dominated scenario ?Our absolute belief that God dwells only in Churches ,Temples, etc must be reevaluated.

Nelson Lopes, Chinchinim, Goa – 9850926276


GoaNet Digest Volume 6 Issue 1084 Message: 8
From: Cecil Pinto <cecilpinto@gmail.com> To:
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2011 10:53:20 +0530

Subject: [Goanet] Church Dress Code

Publication: The Times Of India Mumbai; Date: Nov 24, 2011; Section: Times Nation; Page: 12
Mangalore churches issue dress code

By Stanley G Pinto
Mangalore: Some churches in the Mangalore diocese have barred worshippers from wearing sleeveless dresses, T-shirts with cheeky messages and short skirts saying it would distract other worshippers.


Fr Victor Machado, parish priest, Bejai Church, said: “We expect the devout who come to church to be dressed decently. It’s a place of worship and not a party hall or place to display the latest fashion. We expect worshippers not be distracted by others dressed immodestly.”

He added: “We see people take extra care to dress when they attend a function. Why this disregard when they come to the house of God?”
His decision has been seconded by the parish council. Fr William Menezes, PRO, Bishop’s House. The bishop of Mangalore diocese Rev. Aloysius Paul D’Souza also has been vocal about showing less skin in the house of the Lord. “People come to pray. We expect Catholics to not only be modest in dressing, but also in behaviour and lifestyle,” said Menezes.
The dress code could go down well with the elderly but it could alienate the younger flock, the very people churches around the world are trying to keep on hallowed grounds, at least for Sunday masses.
“When our parents don’t object to our dresses, who is the clergy to tell us?” questions collegian Neetha.


How Brides Should Dress


ROME, June 8, 2004 (Zenit.org) Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.
Q: How should brides dress for a wedding Mass? What would not be appropriate? — J.Z., Chicago
A: This is a tangled question. The Church has historically granted wide berth to local traditions in weddings and funerals so customs vary from place to place.

There are few universal norms regarding brides and, although white is the traditional color for weddings in the English- speaking world, it is not obligatory, and there is ample room in multiethnic societies for other traditions, such as Asian or East European.
Many dioceses and even parishes do have guidelines in order to respect Christian values such as modesty and a respect for the spirit of Christian poverty.
These guidelines are especially important today, when what is fashionable is inspired by media stars who are not exactly paradigms of Christian virtue.
With regard to dress, these guidelines should emphasize the specifically religious nature of a Christian wedding and positively present modesty within this context. And while they should generally avoid being a list of prohibitions, they do well to provide clear parameters of what is expected.
The guidelines may also deal with other aspects, since weddings are very special occasions and should be treated as such. At the same time excessive opulence should be avoided especially if motivated more from vanity than a desire to emphasize the importance of the sacrament.
I remember a few years ago an Italian bishop publicly scolded a couple for their extravagance when the bride arrived in an open convertible, followed by a pickup holding her train. It seems that the hapless couple were trying to enter the record books for the longest bridal veil when they caught the prelate’s eye as he left the chancery.
This is just a singular example of what can happen when the social aspects of marriage predominate over the mystery of man and woman united sacramentally in the bond of Christ.


Follow-up: How Brides Should Dress

ROME, June 22, 2004 (Zenit.org) Answered by Father Edward McNamara…
Some readers asked for further comments on the subject of bridal couture and weddings in general (see June 8).
A reader from Westminster, in England, points out that white is the usual color in the Western world because it usually signified the bride’s virginity. For this reason, in most Western cultures, a widow entering a second marriage would almost invariably eschew the formal bridal gown for simpler attire.
Our reader points out that in today’s world: “many brides come to the altar after a long period of cohabitation, often after bearing children.”

The reader thus recommends that priests should encourage brides who arrive at marriage in this state to choose a less formal dress “out of modesty and honesty for herself, and through charity to those brides who approach their marriages in a pure state, that their traditional symbolic dress may not be debased or usurped.”
I certainly agree in principle and indeed numerous dioceses and parishes have regulations regarding couples who ask for marriage in irregular situations. Dioceses and parishes often recommend that the couples prefer a less solemn wedding celebration both out of respect for Church teaching and as a gesture of penance for their failings.
The world being what it is, some exceptions may be justified in particular circumstances. These must be carefully weighed by the pastor who prepares the couple for marriage.
In this context it is important to remember that couples approaching marriage are frequently open to higher spiritual values. Quite often they begin to take the practice of their faith more seriously in the light of the commitment they are about to make. These opportunities for evangelization should be used to the full.
In general, therefore, it is necessary to assure that couples approach a Catholic wedding fully aware of the total commitment involved and of the specifically religious nature of the celebration.
A priest should never accede to hold a solemn celebration if he realizes that the couple has superficial motives or if they are only interested in having a nice ceremony.
Some correspondents also inquired about the proper time for weddings, especially during penitential seasons.




Although there is no absolute prohibition on holding marriages during Lent and Advent (see Introduction to Rite of Marriage 13) many dioceses discourage them, especially during Lent. The Diocese of Rome, for example, asks pastors not to schedule weddings during Lent, although exceptions may be made for a just cause.
If a wedding is allowed to be held during Lent or Advent the couple are asked to respect the nature of the season which means that external aspects such as floral decorations should usually be far more frugal or even absent from the celebration.
Also, while a wedding as such may take place on Sunday of Lent or Advent, only the Mass of the day may be celebrated. Few couples would want to marry before a priest wearing penitential purple.
Another correspondent asks: “Is it still appropriate for the bride and groom to kiss after the marriage vows in church? Is clapping allowed after this?”
This ancient rite of the couple exchanging a kiss as a confirmation of their verbal consent survived during the whole Middle Ages. But it disappeared from the Catholic rite in application of the dispositions of the Council of Trent because it often gave rise to irreverence.
In some countries a vestige of this rite exists in that the wife lifts the veil, which until this point covered her face.
The rite may have survived in the Anglican usage and many people may believe that it formed part of Catholic ritual through the depiction of weddings in movies and television — mediums not noted for their attention to the finer points of liturgical history.
Although a spontaneous applause may be hard to avoid at this point of the rite, it should not be encouraged or provoked.
It is far more in keeping with the religious nature of the celebration for the assembly to sing an approved acclamation following the rite of Consent and again after the exchange of rings.


Beauty and the Best: Teaching Your Teen to Dress Well

By Molly Miller


It’s the time of year that puts mothers of teenage girls over the edge: back to school shopping. Many an argument has taken place in department store dressing rooms. Moms wonder why daughters want to wear certain things. In order to resolve these fashion dilemmas, every mother needs to know a few things before heading to the mall.

Consider the mind of a teenage girl. She may want to wear clothing that is suggestive, sexy, or immodest because

she wants attention, is trying to establish her own style, or wants to be fashionable. However, the most important reason lies in the fact that she doesn’t understand why she shouldn’t expose herself. She doesn’t understand or embrace her dignity as a daughter of God.


It’s all in the Face

Teach your girls at a young age how valuable they are in God’s eyes.

As a baptized Catholic, she is the daughter of the King with a worth far beyond any jewel. Being a princess, she must present herself in a respectful way, which includes her choice of fashion.

Her face should be her focal point; encourage her to draw the attention to her face and eyes. The eyes are the “window to the soul” that portrays thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Help her to choose a flattering hairstyle. Wearing earrings or other jewelry, appropriate makeup, and colors that are becoming to her skin tone will all draw the eye to her face. (If you are not confident in teaching these things, seek out help from a salon or cosmetics consultant.)

Conversely, putting emphasis on the bust, midriff, or bottom draws the eye away from the face and reduces her to mere body parts, or an object to desire. Instruct your daughter that by exposing private areas, she may cause those of the opposite sex to sin in their thoughts. This includes not only her peers but the old man at the grocery store.

Along those same lines, girls may not realize the negative impression they give of themselves when they choose to wear t-shirts with nasty sayings, or to show cleavage. Many a decent girl is walking around giving others thoughts of her that simply are not true.

Whether we like it or not, we are judged by the way we look. This may be wrong, but it’s a fact and all of us do it, even if it’s unintentional. A bad impression can cause the loss of a possible friendship or a part-time job.

Once your daughter understands why she shouldn’t dress immodestly, her desire to do so may be diminished. Offer modest yet stylish alternatives: She can get the attention she desires by being the girl who likes bright colors or wears hats. There are styles to choose from (not always in the junior department) that cover the appropriate areas and look hip. Many stores offer at least a few things that are acceptable.


Shopping Spree

When shopping this fall, expect that it will take a lot of time. You will have to hit many, many stores to find a few acceptable garments. Check the petite department to fit smaller bodies. Several stores have merchandise available to purchase online, which saves time. The selection can be better as well. There are a variety of gently worn clothes at thrift stores and consignment shops at a fraction of the cost. Be prepared to spend an afternoon at these establishments. Also, consider layering tops if a single piece doesn’t offer enough coverage.

Moms, after you have set some guidelines, let your daughter have some space in picking their fashions.

However, continually remind them of the desired focal point: always the face. Say “NO” when necessary, but try not

to veto her choices unless it is essential, letting her have some freedom in her choices.

You must help your daughter learn to choose appropriate items, which may cause conflict. Some of the disagreements arise when mothers and daughters don’t have the same taste.

(Take the fashion personality test at the left) Embrace these differences! Do not try to dress your daughter as a clone of yourself. Your girl is a unique person with a style all her own.



The reverse is also true. Instruct your daughter that you have a style that you prefer and no, you won’t be wearing that leopard-print tee shirt (unless you like that kind of thing).


Moms: Dress Thyself!

Mom, keep up your appearance in order to have a positive influence on your girls. You are the first and most important example of fashion to them. What teen will be open to mom’s advice on fashion if she looks sloppy and unkempt? Keep abreast of basic fashion styles. You do not want to embarrass her by neglecting your appearance.

Make no mistake; we are not talking about spending a lot of money or embracing vanity. We are simply speaking of knowing your own dignity as a daughter of God and expressing it in your overall look. You make a good or bad impression, just as much as your teen does. This can be a challenge for busy mothers, but think of it as an act of charity.

Fashion can be a major issue in families. There are girls that are rebellious in this area. The above strategies may fall on deaf ears.

Continue doing your best to influence your daughter and stick to your guidelines. It may be helpful to have a friend of yours, whom she admires, talk to her. Many times hearing the same message from someone else makes all the difference. Pray and keep things positive, using shopping as a fun activity to do together. Educating your girl on her dignity and using fashion to portray this can be rewarding and enjoyable for mother and daughter. Have fun at the mall!

Molly Miller is a wife and mother of three as well as a fashion consultant and hair stylist. She is one of four founders of Runway to Reality, a nonprofit organization which teaches women and teens about their dignity through fashion and image related workshops. Molly lives in Appleton, WI.


About Blue Jeans: Equal Shabbiness for Everyone


By Nelson Fragelli, November 29, 2011   

George Will wrote an article in The Washington Post titled “America’s Bad Jeans.” The article analyses the influence blue jeans have on those who wear them. In his piece, Will cites another article published by the American writer Daniel Akst in The Wall Street Journal, “Down with Denim.”

Akst denounced denim as a ubiquitous fabric, which is symptomatic of deep disorders in the national psyche. He said it was a manifestation of “the modern trend toward undifferentiated dressing, in which we all strive to look equally shabby. Jeans come prewashed and acid-treated to make them look like what they are not — authentic work clothes for the calloused-handed sons of toil and the soil.” In other words, Akst says, “Denim on the bourgeoisie is discordant.”

According to Akst, blue jeans expose a profound contradiction of one aspect of Western civilization, especially in the middle classes: “How is it that the middle classes dress in a way that does not reflect them? This egalitarian way of dressing of the American is the infantile uniform of a nation, used by young and old alike. It is the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy’s catechism of leveling – thou shalt not dress better than society’s most slovenly.”

George Will adds, “Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances. But the appearances that people choose to present in public are cues from which we make inferences about their maturity and respect for those to whom they are presenting themselves.”

Will concludes by saying, “Edmund Burke — what he would have thought of the denimization of America can be inferred from his lament that the French Revolution assaulted ‘the decent drapery of life.’ It is a straight line from the fall of the Bastille to the rise of denim — said: ‘To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.'”

What is the connection between a political event and a way of dressing? When the French revolutionaries invaded the Bastille, they proclaimed, among other things, the total equality between men: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” Since blue jeans have become a uniform, “an egalitarian way of dressing,” it is here that Akst saw the link.

Although the Levi Strauss name is indelibly associated with copper-riveted jeans, it was Jacob W. Davis who first fabricated them at his Reno shop in the State of Nevada in 1871. After several legal battles, he and Strauss jointly won patent rights to the invention, and Davis supervised their manufacture in San Francisco until his death.

Both men had the intention to sell strong fabric for tents and wagon covers as well as tough trousers for the men who knelt on the muddy, stony banks of Northern California creeks panning for gold, and for surveyors and teamsters working for the Central Pacific Railroad in the mid 1800’s.

These working men were frequently rustic, without any religion and with few moral principles. Tight-fitting to reveal the form of the body, from the beginning blue jeans expressed the strength of manual labor and of a sexually active youth. The sexual revolution was already present in its shape. From 1935, advertisements began to show women in blue jeans also.

Anna Schober, who has a doctorate in History and Art History (2000) and lives in Vienna, recently published the results of her study of blue jeans in a volume entitled Vom Leben in Stoffen und Bildern (Life in Materials and Images). In it, she describes her surprise to discover that the history of these trousers is the history of an immense advertising campaign to impose blue jeans as a fashion.

The distribution of blue jeans is identical to the history of religious and ideological propaganda techniques by means of the radio, film, magazines and billboards. In one of these billboards Marilyn Monroe appears in blue jeans with her midriff exposed – a fashion that only became generalized fifty years later.

The advertising campaign was effective. The copper-riveted jeans ceased to be a symbol of the worker and became one of social groups. In the 20th century no other item of clothing was pushed so much to the point of becoming one of the symbols of the century.

What is the psychological effect of blue jeans? What tendencies do they arouse? What revolutionary ambience do they create?




Social research reveals that the first two tendencies encouraged by this type of clothing are the desire to be the same as everyone else, and to blend in with the masses thus becoming imperceptible and like everyone else. However, if this piece of clothing gives to the wearer the sensation of imperceptibility, it contradictorily emphasizes the shape of the body, which gives the impression of notoriety.

At first, while blue jeans were being launched, they attracted those passionate for novelty who wanted to break with the formality and tradition of the dominant fashion. To wear jeans was a radical criticism of that society. Imperceptibility and pre-eminence is in fact the mysterious contradiction these trousers bring to the forefront. They seem to proclaim: “Do you want to be different? Then be like everyone else.”

Alongside these two psychological stimuli there is yet a third. Jeans evoke a sympathetic proletarianization of society. This proletarian effect refined itself in later models of jeans presented: first they were faded, then ripped, now shredded.

According to Anna Schober, a symbol acts especially in daily life by impregnating the mind with the principle symbolized. Jeans present a proletarian idea of a world in contradiction with itself. In this sense, Jeans foster a Marxist-like mentality of egalitarianism as well as the absurdity of communism itself.

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira says that the way of dressing denotes a preference for certain principles expressed symbolically by the type of clothes worn. He says that souls are influenced much more by living principles contained in ambiences and fashions than by philosophical theories expounded in treatises.

Blue jeans have become a uniform. Whole sectors of society have become equalized, after first having been led to do so out of rebellion by the mediocrity of the bourgeoisie world. Infallibly, clothing expresses the mentality of those who created and used them throughout the ages.

The popularization of denim reveals a prodigious process of the depersonalization of the peoples. It could easily be adopted by Brussels as the uniform of the countries of the European Union.


Selected readers’ comments (in reverse chronological order):

#76 Sharon 2011-12-19 19:38

I’ve worn blue jeans regularly since kindergarten. As a kid, they were very comfortable and I didn’t have to be super careful with them like dressy clothes. It’s hard to climb a tree or play baseball in a dress! I’ve always had jobs that didn’t require dressing up; jeans were always fine. One job required dressy clothes and I about went broke! I’m not meaning to offend anyone; I just like to be comfortable. I hope no one judges me by my casual choice of clothing. I still try to be a good person and do the things I should and not do the things I shouldn’t. Wearing jeans has never been a fashion, political or any other kind of statement to me. I just like ’em!

#75 Christopher Braun 2011-12-19 18:21

I have always thought that what we wear reflects our level of respect for the people around us and the level of seriousness of the occasion.
To me, wearing blue jeans to work or church reflects a lack of respect for the people and circumstances, not to mention God.
Some of the folks on here just don’t get first principles. Respect, deference, honor. They are part and parcel of Christian charity.

#74 Bernadette 2011-12-19 18:06

I have read some of these comments and can see that the culture has done something to the modesty of Catholics. Bishop Sheen said that we are living in the age of unisex. I can see no better tool than a piece of clothing that both male and female wear to make this happen. That would be blue jeans. Have these Catholics who want to wear blue jeans forgotten that Our Lady of Fatima told little Jacinta that certain fashions would be introduced that would greatly offend Our Lord? I can guarantee that most Catholics could not even write down what would be offensive to God in clothing because they have become so accustomed to the immodest dress we have been wearing. I would like to say – if you can not see Our Lady in a pair of jeans – I don’t think we who wish to imitate her should wear them (or any pants) – If you are a woman, make the sacrifice for Jesus and put on a skirt or dress! This will be reparation for the sins that greatly offend Our Lord.

#73 Kenyi 2011-12-19 15:32

In my opinion, the women should not wear blue jeans. Please go back to old fashions like modest dress.

#72 Will 2011-12-19 13:42

I’m always right there with TFP but this article is just bogus. I wear blue jeans to work in the yard; I don’t wear them to work. On a Saturday if I go to the store and wear them, so what? What fights are we raising here? What efforts are we putting our energy into? I thought I’d never see so much wasted space on TFP. Please forgo sending me anymore links to such articles. Good grief.

#71 Monica Davis 2011-12-19 12:04

I just want to point out something else concerning dress. The scapular. Once I started wearing it in the 1980’s, I realized I had to change the way I dress. I need to have my scapular covered, so my clothes had to be modest. often, pinned on the front to bring it closer to my neck. It also causes one to use penance, by accepting some little discomfort like a little hotter in the summer, etc. No matter what the clothes though, we have to remember the command to love others, especially those who may or may not be further from the grace of God. our hearts are more important than ideals in our heads or dress.

#70 Anna M 2011-12-19 10:29

Here is a term for y’all to ponder, since we are all offering thoughts here… A term Dr Plinio coined: “Tendencial Revolution”. Ponder that.
Then perhaps people will not judge and condemn the article because they will understand why Mr Nelson wrote it and where he is coming from.

#69 Brian Carey 2011-12-19 09:57

I admit that I wear blue jeans quite often, but only around the house. I’m 41 years old, so I don’t know any other society than the casually-dressed one we live in today.



Whenever I see old film footage or photographs from days before the 1960s, men, women and children are dressed in Sunday-best-looking clothes, very appropriate for their age and gender. Over the past 50 years, as people have adopted a more androgynous, ageless way of dressing, a deconstruction of the trappings of Western Civilization has progressed. Now things that were once taken for granted are controversial such as: getting married THEN having children, having more than two children, saying “Merry Christmas”, assuming that every child has a mother and a father. I could go on. And it’s not that the people who dress this way (I’m sometimes one of them) are particularly bad or bent on the destruction of society. I think this manner of dress is an outward expression of a culture of indifference and relativism.

#68 Eric Miller 2011-12-19 09:47

Don’t forget the parable about the wedding feast and what happened to the guy who wasn’t wearing a wedding garment. It seems that appropriate clothing matters to God.

#67 Rachela 2011-12-19 03:48

The best arguments have already been made, so I won’t exactly write a defense of this lucid article, but I will ask the naysayers to take a step back and look at their own comments. Those in favour of the article give logical reasons. Those against essentially say: ‘This insults me personally’ or ‘I like jeans.’ Those who attempt to rationalize wearing of jeans do not give sound reasons: 1) comfort? Go about in skirts and khakis for a few weeks and then try the jeans. You’ll see that denim is a prison. 2) economy? No, twill trousers are often cheaper, and as skirts don’t hug the body as jeans do, they don’t suffer from all the wear and tear that jeans have to take. 3) lesser evil? Not true. I do remember a time when jeans were relatively decent, but no trendy woman today would wear jeans that were loose at the thighs or sat at the waist. If she’s wearing jeans, they will be too tight–above the knees at least–and will show the top of her rear-end when she bends over or squats.

#66 Thomas 2011-12-19 00:50

How a person dresses and for what occasion sends a message.
A woman who wears tight fitting jeans or other revealing clothing is sending a message to attract attention to herself.
A man wearing a suit sends a message that something of importance is occurring.
People attending Mass with a desire to worship and adore God as their creator, and sincerely recognize that He is truly present, requires great reverence, which is exhibited in their posture, piety, attention and dress.

#65 Dennis 2011-12-18 19:44

I don’t see any problem wearing jeans, and it doesn’t mater if it is a women or a man. I was with the impression that a person should not be judged by the clothes he (or she) wears, but by their creed. I wear jeans most of the times, but on occasions I do wear Dockers and the like. Jeans are American, and probably more American than the Dockers I wear. Each country have their own way of dressing. We shouldn’t look down on the way they dress, but certainly nobody should look down at anybody that wants to wear jeans either.

#64 Marti Armstrong 2011-12-18 18:00

Are you serious? In our culture, where many of our women and young girls are wearing low-cut, revealing dresses and blouses because they are in style, and too-short skirts and dresses, someone is worried about fabric and its color? Yes, this immodesty is prevalent even in church. I began to wear blue jeans in the 1970’s as a practical, modest alternative to mini skirts. This choice was complimented by tasteful people who also cherished modesty! In my ample wardrobe, my favorite dresses and skirts are blue denim. I would rather see my grand-daughters wearing modestly-fitting jeans and modest tops out of respect for themselves and the souls of the men who will see them.
Modest blue denim slacks should be a non-issue in a group who cherishes the sacredness of human life, marriage between one man and one woman, and the love and laws of God and His Church. Pick your battles wisely!

#63 Ron 2011-12-18 17:17

I think a lot of people take this a bit too seriously. I see some humor in the fact that people with money want to wear torn and ripped clothing. We were poor as I grew up, and Mom lovingly patched our pants, which grew thing and torn with wear. Why would I want to look like that now?
Face it – whether at Mass, at work, or out in public, our attire is an extension of our attitude. In public, you are judged by your appearance, as well as your behavior. If you come to Mass in beach togs or ratty clothes, what are telling the Lord (or do you believe He is present?). If you wear shabby or overly sexy clothes to an office job, what are you communicating to the boss?
What is better, to look your best, or try not to stand out?

#62 William 2011-12-18 16:25

Clothes do not make the person and God looks into the heart. However, actions speak louder than words. What you wear does tell others a lot about you. So, one must watch his/her example.

#61 Patrick 2011-12-18 15:45

Dress to protect not to provoke, I think jeans are a very good investment for dress and work so as not to offend. They surely outlast any other material.

#60 Katherine 2011-12-18 14:47

I stopped wearing jeans, and all pants for that matter, 11 years ago when I had a “reversion” to the Catholic Faith and read somewhere that women should dress as nicely and modestly as the Blessed Mother. Read Colleen Hammond’s book “Dressing With Dignity” for a real eye-opener. I buy my skirts and dresses mostly from consignment shops, garage sales, and Good Will/St. Vincent DePaul stores since it is hard, but not impossible, to find them in regular stores now days. I agree, it is never appropriate to wear shabby work type clothes to Mass. One can always find dressy clothes at bargain prices. When we go to Mass, we are going to visit our God, and it shows how much respect we have for Him by how much effort we put in to dressing respectfully.





#59 Ed 2011-12-18 14:30

I’m 62 years old and have worn jeans all my life. They are durable and last a long time. Other types of pants are much more expensive. I buy my jeans in discount stores. I don’t go for the so called “high fashion” kind. I don’t wear jeans to Sunday mass. But I wear them every day otherwise. I don’t like the crazy things they do to jeans nowadays; such as ripping them up and fading them. Also, I don’t like them skin tight. I’ve seen other types of pants, especially women’s pants that are skin tight. Tight pants are not exclusive to jeans. I think jeans are fine as long as they’re not tight or cut up or faded.

#58 Walter 2011-12-18 13:14

Nice clean and non-cut jeans are OK for church if you have to, at least their better than I see what some of our young people are wearing to CHURCH especially in the Summer, dressed like they were going to the beach and also in those NASTY flip-flops. Altar servers should not wear other than dress attire on the altar, and no UGGGG boots in winter.

#57 James 2011-12-18 11:15

People are not being honest with themselves. They are unable to look inward and challenge their own assumptions about things. As long as they are this way, the truth will be lost to them, and their intellect. That is not to say that they won’t “stumble” across the truth occasionally, but the discovery of the truth through rational thought is a closed door for them. Finally, they will resort to name calling and characterization of those whom they disagree with. What we think of where we are is reflected in the way we dress. When we wear everyday clothing to church, this is a reflection of our attitude towards the worship of our Lord.

#56 James 2011-12-18 11:14

Jeans have become a fixture in our everyday life. Those who would protest that the manner of dress means nothing, are ignoring the fact that the widespread dressing of women like men, occurred in synchronization with the total breakdown of social morals. People become attached to what they have grown accustomed to and will use every irrational argument to defend. They are not being honest with themselves. They are unable to look inward and challenge their own assumptions about things. As long as they are this way, the truth will be lost to them, and their intellect. That is not to say that they won’t “stumble” across the truth occasionally, but the discovery of the truth through rational thought is a closed door for them.

#55 Marilyn 2011-12-18 11:01

I would love to dress more modestly, and forego pants for the most part. I believe it is my right, privilege, and duty as a Catholic woman to do so. But there is almost no finding modest skirts or dresses in stores, especially if you are hard to fit, as I am. Mail order dressmakers are expensive, and the styles are usually not at all what I’m looking for. I would love to see a resource list of local seamstresses, who will make practical, everyday skirts and dresses for ladies!

#54 Jason K. Renner 2011-12-18 10:34

What’s good enough for Christ’s presence? Dress pants? A suit? A tux? There’s nothing good enough. I’ll wear my jeans. Besides, how can one help their brother while constrained in fancy clothes?

#53 Donald 2011-12-18 04:35

Trousers for women? We men haven’t gone for dresses. Is this one good/bad reason for making women more masculine?
As a man, sure I look at “nice jeans”. But I never notice her eyes. I respect women in dresses far more.

#52 James Howard 2011-12-18 02:35

Let me make sure I understand this. Over 4,000 babies die per day here in the U.S.
and we have a world wide threat of Totalitarian International Socialism or Communism and we are elevating fashion discussions to the level of being a critical issue? I think sometimes we act a little stupid. I will wear my nice jeans and worship as a conservative Catholic who supports the church’s teachings and I will oppose abortion and all liberalism and secularism while you worry about my fashion. Let’s see who has their priorities in the right place. This is very eccentric and screwed up. Now are you against wearing shorts in 100 degree heat? Or Flip flops at the beach? Can we stop discussing unimportant issues and stop sounding like neurotic idiots? This is a cultural (Northeastern?) hang up and makes us sound stupid and I do not think we are. We are a people of love and intelligence. Would we want people in Hawaii to wear suits in 90 degree weather? Let’s get our priorities straight.

#51 Maureen 2011-12-18 02:26

I can’t wait to show this article to my 11 yr old daughter. Years ago she decided that were jeans were not comfortable, which is what I also decided as a youth. She loves fashions from the past and cannot understand why women would want to were jeans all the time. This leads to discussions about the power of marketing and lack of individuality, creativity, sense of femininity, and critical thinking skills!! Thanks!

#50 Linda Kuehl 2011-12-18 00:15

Thanks for the reminder! I always used to dress up but one Sunday recently I did wear unfaded, unrivetted dress jeans. I did not feel as comfortable as with more respectful clothes.
Peace & blessings, Linda

#49 Al 2011-12-17 23:42

Thank God, I shed my jeans for khakis years ago. The behavior shown with this product is peer pressure or shunned from a group who do not conform to wearing these britches. I have received tasteless comments from ill mannered people, why I do not wear them. I feel they symbolize rebellion, unconformity and totally lacks the uniqueness of an individual taste. Moreover, the person appears to be slovenly and immodest. I am a blue collar worker; when it came time to change from the navy blue uniform to jeans I refused. I received more respect from managers and customers out in the street for my insistence in maintaining the traditional uniform. Furthermore, what was disgusting to see married men who changed to jeans admiring other co workers (male) buttocks. They started to act like pretentious women. So go figure!

#48 Jeanne Breunig 2011-12-17 23:33

My husband and I met in college in 1969. He never wore blue jeans. I asked him why one day. His reply: they are for the barn. He was a lifelong farmer and wore them in the barn. At college, not being in the barn, he did not wear them.



Let me tell you:
Recently, I had to stop in at a business for a minute to talk to someone. Lo and behold, I knew the receptionist. What was she wearing? Skin tight jeans. I could not believe it. A total disconnect from the person I thought I knew.
When a gal went up to lector at Mass two days ago, she was wearing jeans. I closed my eyes until she went back to her pew.
Lord have mercy.

#47 William 2011-12-17 22:48

I think some people are acting defensive because the article challenges them personally, but you have to step back and look at the big picture. Why does EVERYONE, including the vast majority of people who DON’T work on a farm or in a factory, wear jeans? Denim is NOT the cheapest fabric as some have suggested. I work in asphalt paving and Dickies or Carthart work pants are superior to jeans anyway.

#46 Fr John Boos 2011-12-17 22:28

Sorry, it was not Davis who first made the jeans, it was Levi Strauss himself. He had seen the farmers in Italy using a blue cotton trousers in the valley of Genes, and in migrating to South Africa he copied the style of the farmers and called his clothes the “Bleu de Genes”. It was only later on that, once more migrating into the States, his style was taken over by Davis and produces by the two men together.

#45 Noralee 2011-12-17 22:06

This is nonsense. I wear jeans because they are comfortable, don’t allow for much weight gain, and are durable. They hold up during hard work and look fine going out. I don’t buy the shredded type because I put enough wear & tear on them myself. I thought distressed furniture was ridiculous too. To make a federal case out of the fact that jeans are well appreciated by everyone, as they should be for a multitude of reasons, comparing their popularity to a penchant toward communism is absurd! They are actually a credit to the free enterprise system that encourages an individual to notice a need, and have the ability to create a product to fill that need. In the process he advances his monetary gain, and allows all of society to benefit in numerous ways.

#44 Christine Esteves 2011-12-17 21:40

Would you go to a dinner with the President in jeans? I think not! Also what I think is even worse is wearing shorts to Mass! You are not going to a picnic or play golf. You are going to a banquet with the Lord! Where has all the class gone from the Americans and all people of the World!

#43 Mary Jane 2011-12-17 21:36

I wear jeans because they are comfortable, last a long time, wash over and over again and look nice, and go with all colors. I do NOT wear jeans to weddings or funerals. I have worn jeans, pressed and clean, to mass on rare occasions when I was going somewhere afterward and didn’t have time to change. I am fully covered with no holes or rips. I think Jesus would rather have me at mass than to skip. I realize that some people do go to far, but not all of us. I think a parent can keep a teen from wearing a revealing pair of jeans, especially at mass. It’s better to have a teen at mass than not. You never know what “message” they just might hear that will bring their faith alive for them. I think jeans, when worn appropriately, are fine in our everyday lives. Thank you for letting me share.

#42 Thomas Toenjes 2011-12-17 20:41

In the 1930’s there was a book called “1984” by George Orwell that described what socialism would be like in England in 1984. It described the uniform of Big Brother’s workers in the various ministries. All the workers had to wear bib overalls, the outer circle blue, the inner circle black. In the 1960’s when in college I noticed some of the social activists and hippies began to wear (you guessed it) blue bib overalls. They looked like and sometimes acted like faux pig farmers. Now here we are 50 years later and… voila!… all wearing blue overalls. Bib overalls were a bit clumsy and black was just not chic. The Clothes Police have it all figured out.

#41 Anna Asher 2011-12-17 20:39

I disagree with the assertions of this article. The ideas draw an incorrect conclusion by omitting the reality that jeans have classes. There are $700 jeans and there are Wal-mart 29.95 jeans. There are some ripped, faded jeans on which the author has built his argument how we there are also trouser jeans and dark wash jeans. People dress jeans up and dress them down and people absolutely use their jean style to distinguish themselves! I don’t even think it is a valid argument to say that women wearing jeans are trying equate themselves with men. While denim pants originated as men’s wear they are completely redesigned for women today. The valid argument against jeans would be to discuss the way they reveal woman’s body in a manner that clothing should conceal and can be used to seek to tempt our brother. That is a thought worth pondering.

#40 Vlad 2011-12-17 20:07

Well, I would mind a pair of ‘nice’ jeans to church with ‘nice’ shirt, rather than pair of short or torn jeans n t-shirt NORMAL people wear to the beach or around the car.
Understandably, people follow people, as to some that are blind, I often put them the question, “how would you dress before a judge, or a king?”
No matter how contemporary, whether the times of Jesus with robes (Jesus wore ‘nice’ robes Mary made for Him), the ‘quality’ of presentation is almost always OBVIOUS,
So one could, with common sense, apply such ‘quality’ to a fabric like denim.
Blessings to all for Christmas
#39 Martin Murray 2011-12-17 19:33

I would never ever dress in jeans to visit my Lord and Saviour. They are slovenly and do not fit the occasion to meet Almighty God. Would you wear jeans to visit a King or a Queen. Compared to Almighty God that would be all they deserved! If you are not bothered about Almighty God why should He be bothered about you? Dress accordingly!





#38 Pinky Cuenca 2011-12-17 19:31

I think blue jeans are the greatest invention. It is practical (can be worn in cold and warm climates), sturdy (can last a lifetime), and accepted in all strata of society (which is good rather than objectionable). I am uncomfortable with the article’s conjectures.

#37 Justin 2011-12-17 18:53

I wouldn’t dream of wearing jeans to Mass or any other formal occasion, but I don’t see much fault in wearing them elsewhere. I wonder if Mr. Will and Mr. Akst protest a bit too much here.

#36 Joan 2011-12-17 18:42

Jeans are comfortable, hardwearing and, yes, modest; though I do wish they still made them to come right up to the waist. You don’t have to spend extra for a fancy brand-name or those absurd rips. For everyday wear, you can’t go past jeans; of course you need something smarter for special occasions. Where I live it’s too hot in summer for jeans, so I wear skirts, but in winter I live in my jeans!

#35 scragsma 2011-12-17 17:38

Addendum: I agree with most of the commenters that wearing jeans to Sunday Mass is, in most cases, irreverent.

#34 scragsma 2011-12-17 17:36

I disagree strongly with this article. I like blue jeans. They’re simple, comfortable, and durable. The ‘fashion’ of deliberately tearing and fading them is idiotic, and the ‘fashion’ of wearing them skin-tight is disgusting, but well-cared-for clean blue jeans are the perfect everyday wear. I’m more interested in people’s behavior than their apparel.

#33 Liam 2011-12-17 16:54

I see Jeans in the better stores and they are purposely faded and some are even torn at a price of $50. However, I also see Carpenters and other Tradesmen wearing them to-day., If Jesus were here to-day, he would definitely wear them, furthermore, he would not be a poor carpenter. He would be a Chief Steward if not President of the Carpenters Union. He would make sure that his members would be getting the going rate which is around $50 per hour.

#32 Toni 2011-12-17 16:20

Denim gets a bad rap because of those who force the fashions down peoples throats. To get decent jeans, I have to buy mine out of the men’s section because the ones made for women are made to be indecent – we are not given a choice by those dictating fashion year to year. Also, the same can be said about trashy jeans – ripped and full of holes. Jeans are comfortable, rugged, versatile. In good condition denims can look quite nice – and I feel – be acceptable for (almost) any occasion, going to mass included.

#31 Christine 2011-12-17 16:17

I agree with Cindy about dress being reverent for God’s house. You would not wear blue jeans to the White House so why do we wear them to church where Jesus is present. as a young girl I only had 1or 2 dresses which I alternated wearing on Sunday. I don’t object if I see you wearing the same dress or skirt every week. Seeing someone dressing appropriately tells me they dress for themselves and God.

#30 Sarah 2011-12-17 16:16

I wear clean modest jeans to Mass. I would rather do that than spend money keeping up with fashion or comparing my wardrobe to others. Our community is a farming casual small town. I do not think that my clothing is a barrier to my communion with our Lord.
If the priest asked us not to wear jeans, I would change. I think we should all be more concerned with our interior condition before Mass and in our daily lives.
Furthermore, it is quite difficult these days to find modest women’s clothing.

#29 Gerantius 2011-12-17 15:57

We all know that the Mafia looked real good in their suits and put on appearances but performed some dastardly deeds. I think Jesus can read man’s heart and doesn’t pay that much attention to their garb.

#28 reginaangelorum 2011-12-17 15:40

There’s a reason companies impose dress codes. It’s because the better you dress, the better you perform. If it works for your boss, it should work for your spiritual “Boss.”

#27 Kylie 2011-12-17 15:25

I am a teenage girl, and I never have been tempted to wear jeans. I think they are ugly and uncomfortable. And very immodest for women. I find it disgusting that so many women and girls wear them to MASS.

#26 Lauraine Moody 2011-12-17 14:37

Alleluia!!!! finally someone can see the connection. I was so disappointing last year when I went to Europe and where we could at one time they were people with pride and respect. Jeans, jeans and more jeans is all I saw young; old and in between and many times could not even differentiate the sex. My biggest shock came when someone presented the Pope at offertory dressed in jeans I am from Canada and Fridays here are jean days in the name of charity. I absolutely refuse to deal at my bank on that day due to the lack of respect. I am a woman and I wear a skirt and love it. I feel good and look good.

#25 John 2011-12-17 14:35

In my opinion anyone’s degree of respect and reverence has something to do with the individual’s attitude in the manner of dressing when presenting themselves. Unquestionably a person properly attired to fit the occasion commands respect and its a sign of concern for others to follow suit for you are not going to wear a bathing suit to go to church when everyone knows its the kind of attire designed and reserved for the beach where the ocean is, the same as to the bride who wears a wedding dress to get married on and not to work in the kitchen with. Does anyone trust a Medical Doctor wearing jeans or confide on a priest in the nude…?

#24 Sandy 2011-12-17 14:29

I am a committed Catholic, loyal to the teachings of the church. It seems that many of those whom some would call “orthodox” or “conservative” lack a true spirit of charity when it comes to judging how others dress.



(Those labels, by the way, are not imposed by our Church. My pastor says there is only one type of Catholic: faithful. I wholeheartedly agree.) Wearing jeans does in and of itself does not a rebel–or heretic for that matter–make. I agree attire should not be immodest in any way, but there are bigger issues than this to focus on. While it’s certainly convenient to cite a particular cultural trend or behavior and present it as validation of society’s lack of values or for its need of reform, we really ought to avoid coming across in the process as judgmental and perhaps narrow-minded. Otherwise, we risk alienating those in most need of our and the Church’s evangelization and love.

#23 Joe H 2011-12-17 14:19

Why don’t you just keep the focus on abortion and other moral evils?
Wearing jeans is no longer a symbol of rebellion, and making an issue of it doesn’t make you look principled, but rather arrogant and distant.
If the goal of this group is just to possess all of the virtue in the world to themselves, they may well succeed. My goal as a traditional Catholic is to share virtue with the world. Since the vast majority of people wear jeans with out any ill-intent, making an issue out of this is just alienating and divisive.
Hope you can accept this critique in the spirit of charity with which it is intended. God Bless and Merry Christmas.

#22 Shorn and Anna 2011-12-17 14:09

My family does not wear denim to Mass. We do wear denim on other days. However, I am wondering why this article appears now when it seems that the majority of the “middle class” and “under” DO NOT wear blues jeans – they wear pajamas and sweats for daily activities. I have no problem with denim outside of Mass as long as the body is covered and respectful. Very Respectfully and God Bless!

#21 Robert 2011-12-17 14:08

I sometimes wear nice, new, freshly pressed jeans to church, with a dress shirt, and sometimes a tie. Nothing wrong with that. There are farmers who live in our rural area. About 10 years ago, at church, there were complaints that folks were wearing dirty clothes, jeans with holes, etc. A few weeks later our Priest announced at all the masses that ALL were welcome …Businessmen with suits and ties, and farmers right out of the field, with dirty, holey jeans. We all celebrate Mass together, hand in hand. The Priest said that as long as we are all there, he doesn’t care if we wear pajamas! I’m very grateful for Father John. As the Good Book says, Judge not, let thou be judged!

#19 Alejandro Sanchez 2011-12-17 13:52

Let’s not forge, that Jesus wore designer clothing and walked around in expensive shoes and lived a wealthy life of Calvinistic ideology. Wake up and smell the coffee in America. Looks like the author has nothing better to do, while most of us have to work hard to put bread on the table.

#18 Lisa 2011-12-17 13:50

I am the mother of 6 girls and 2 sons. We women/girls do not wear pants, let alone blue jeans. We do have denim skirts. We live on a farm and find denim to be most durable to work in. However, we never wear denim skirts to Sunday Mass. Sadly, as I look around at the majority of those in attendance, my husband, older son, and a few others are the only men wearing suit jackets. Many women as well as men (not to mention children) wear blue jeans to Holy Mass. TFP, you have hit the nail on the head with this article. We buy clothes through thrift shops as much as anyone. Modest, respectable clothing must be worn to Holy Mass. If parents can afford to buy all sorts of electronic gadgetry for their children, they most certainly can look for decent clothing for their family. The trend to “look the same as the Joneses” and to ignore how one looks in the presence of the King of Kings makes my heart ache.

#17 Daria J. Taylor 2011-12-17 13:40

Church is no place for jeans… We ladies young or old need to dress properly while attending mass. Follow OUR LADY ‘s example…cover our heads and wear a dress, or shirt… our priest need to set a “dress code” in their churches… especially in the summer time… jeans n JESUS… just don’t go together.

#16 Patricia Cornell 2011-12-17 13:37

The tightness to the body is a sure sign women should not be wearing them outside the home…a man looking at a woman in jeans sees the formfitting and his eyes go right to the crotch area and the brain fills in the blanks of what she does NOT show.
..unless a blouse covers to the knees area… much like the Vietnamese women wore their lovely slacks and top. The word is not heard much and should come back in style…the word is “modesty.”
#15 Bill Johnson 2011-12-17 13:34

Seems a bit of “much ado about nothing” to me. I agree with all those who feel jeans inappropriate attire for Mass or a house of worship. I was raised to believe that when visiting God’s house, one should dress accordingly. Jeans were a definite “no-no”. However, as an 81 year old, I find jeans to be comfortable, appropriate for almost anything I want to do, from painting and working on hands & knees (not too much of that any more – too hard to get back up)to going to the theater, a concert, and just about anything else. Dress clothes a de-rigueur when going to church, visiting with strangers, etc. I do not feel they are a fashion statement, or an indication of the state of the union.

#14 Teri 2011-12-17 13:29

Antoinette, Notice that the “traditional Catholic conservatives” make judgments about external things… Not people. You, however, just judged the internal hearts of this group of “you people.” THAT is what Jesus forbids us to judge…people. We are free to judge externals. Now who is the hypocrite?

#13 Kenneth Gallagher 2011-12-17 13:11

The dissidents want license, not love and liberty, and the traditionalists want control and order at the price of mercy and compassion for His dear little ones suffering the pain and poverty of His cross. Both ends of the spectrum do the work of the Pharisees. Very sad. This is why when I ask beggars who sit in front of our Cathedral if they would like to come in to the mass, I invariably get the same answer in one form or another, and as one so very plainly put it, “it is no more than a country club in there,” and he most certainly would not be welcomed in.




Don’t kid yourselves. As we do to the least of these, this is how we treat Jesus. Jesus sees through the so-called social justice that the dissidents pretend to be concerned with; but he also sees through the exterior phoniness of the Pharisees who wear all the finest garments and to whom appearances are so very important. Neither heart is right with our Blessed Lord Jesus who seeks mercy and compassion, not false sacrifice.

#12 Mary 2011-12-17 12:59

Very interesting….I hadn’t thought of jeans in such a manner. Thanks for the information. I will be praying and discerning my wearing jeans. I know that when “we know better we do better”!!

#11 Michael a. bimonte 2011-12-17 12:58

I usually agree with and enjoy the commentary on the TFP website, but I must admit you lost me on this one-with all the larger issues of abortion, rape incest, war, violence and all the rest, I personally give little thought to the wearing of denim. I could live with everyone wearing denim if we could all start treating each other with civility.

#10 Kyle 2011-12-17 12:55

I very much agree that folks–including young people–ought not to wear jeans to Sunday Mass, and other liturgical occasions. I love how the Catholic Church promotes modesty in fashion, but I don’t recall them ever coming out with a doctrine or some Magisterial teaching that states “JEANS ARE EVIL” or “Only ignorant and bad people wear jeans,” or better yet “If you wear jeans, you are committing mortal sin.” This article is simply promoting extremism. It gives the reader the impression that only the people who dress and think like you (TFP) are considered “good” in your opinion. That type of mentality causes more division in the Church–not unity–and yes, unity in the Church is important! I encourage this group (TFP) to reconsider your perspectives on matters as superfluous as this, and to cease putting innocent people down for wearing jeans, especially if they choose to wear them outside of Mass.

#9 Griselda 2011-12-17 12:55

I volunteer to visit the sick at a community hospital, all legal docs. and health records were presented in order to obtain a hospital I.D. one of the rules for visits: NO JEANS ARE TO BE WORN WHILE MAKING VISITS TO THE SICK.
The house of God is holy ground.

#8 Antoinette 2011-12-17 12:25

Jesus may be the king of kings but he was also the son of a humble carpenter and spoke the slang of his day. I will never understand why dress is such an issue among traditional conservative Catholics. What – should the middle class dress better than those of us who are blue collar working class citizens, as a reflection that they are “better” than us? What about that verse “Man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart?” Yes, I agree that we should be modest, but what the heck is wrong with blue jeans as long as your body is appropriately covered? Why is there such an emphasis on externals among you people? This is not at the heart and soul of what being Catholic is about. Why don’t you try changing the inside for a change, instead of slamming everything around you?

#7 Cindy 2011-12-17 12:20

Back in the day of the Cure De Ars, he didn’t chastise people for showing up in work clothes, reason being clothing was a big expense in the 1800s and they were going to work right after Mass during the week. Today there is no reason someone has to wear jeans to Sunday Mass. If new clothes are too pricey, there are thrift and consignment stores that carry good quality for low prices. Catholics have lost the realization they are in the presence of God in the Holy Eucharist. We need to show respect and one way we do that in dress. Most people wouldn’t dream of wearing blue jeans to a “black tie” event in the secular world.

#6 Joan 2011-12-17 12:16

Being the only girl and growing up in the ’40’s with 5 brothers, I wore hand me down jeans before they were popular. I had a dress for church. Other than that jeans were warm, practical, affordable and comfortable, and I still wear jeans today for the same reason, not as a fashion statement.

#5 John Lyons 2011-12-17 11:50

Women were created to attract men but I get upset when they wear jeans inappropriately especially when they wear them low slung over the hips and going to receive Holy Communion. I feel they should be dressed appropriately on these holy occasions. Very respectfully, John

#4 Patricia 2011-12-17 11:49

Very thought-provoking article. I confess I am rather attached to my jeans as they are tough and good for working around the house. I tried to make the move to all skirts some time ago but I have an aversion to tights and nylons. And jeans tend to keep me warmer.

#1 Michelle 2011-12-17 11:24

My family & I don’t wear jeans for Mass on the Sabbath Day although our older son is quite a rebel & chooses to do the contrary, choosing to go with the flow. Jeans are the cheapest garment available & also thru all charity stores. But the individual ought to choose to dress for the occasion especially for spiritual Masses, funerals etc. Jesus the King of Kings deserves the best of the best and so jeans just don’t associate with Jesus.


Tom 2013-06-19 19:94

Jesus Christ wants our hearts, not our appearances. You can dress nice and go to church your whole life, but if you don’t believe that Christ is who He is, and don’t follow him, you wont be saved no matter who well you dress. Plus we need to be welcoming to the broken and the lost, and dressing all fancy is no way to do that. In the Bible people would put on Sackcloth and repent, not their nicest attire. You should concentrate on the person, not the outside appearance.
Editor’s comment to Tom:
The central point is this: If one truly loves God, he will keep His Commandments. Fancy or expensive clothes are not the issue. However, even the poorest of the poor can dress with dignity and modesty which reflects their inner attitude and willingness to serve God in every way, even in the details of dress.



What about Inappropriately Dressed Lectors?


Rome, September 30, 2003, (Zenit.org) Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

Q: At what point should a priest not allow someone to enter the sanctuary? For instance, an inappropriately dressed lector or eucharistic minister? — J.A., St. Paul, Minnesota
A: Your question is very broad; obviously anyone who is drunk or aggressive should be prevented from entering the sanctuary, especially if there is a danger of sacrilege.
With regard to your example, a certain degree of formality is required of all who offer their regular services during the Mass, but a priest has varying degrees of control of what happens in the sanctuary.
First of all, the priest should preach by example, and attend to the state of what he wears under the alb. Next he should give clear indications to those who habitually carry out a liturgical function such as readers or extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and remind them that their spirit of service includes avoiding calling attention to themselves through their apparel.
He should guarantee an adequate degree of modesty, cleanliness and decor through a few specific guidelines so as to what constitutes proper dress.
The priest has less control over irregular events, but can probably head off some problems with adequate foresight. For example, when a couple is planning their wedding they should be reminded that the readers will be engaged in a religious duty and should dress accordingly. Funerals are harder to control, because of scant time for preparation, but problems of inadequate dress are rare on such occasions.
As to when to refuse entry? Once he has given clear indications the priest should be gentle yet firm in applying them but prefer to admonish privately those not up to scratch before the celebration begins.
In general, unless the situation is so obvious that failure to act would be a cause of scandal, it is best to avoid public scenes which may do more harm than the good sought and will probably be misunderstood by the majority of the faithful.
Almost every priest has had to face tough decisions such as the funeral where the brother of the deceased gets up to read in attire that might be offensive to local custom. In some such situations all a priest can do is bite his tongue and bear it.


Follow-up: Inappropriately Dressed Lectors


October 14, 2003

Some readers, mostly from the United States, requested more explicit details as to what constituted “improper dress” (see (Sept. 30).
As ZENIT is an international agency, I think that our readers can appreciate the difficulty, not to say temerity, of dictating norms that are valid from Walla Walla to Wagga Wagga, especially in an area where there are few prescribed norms. Therefore I tried to indicate principles to guide the prudential judgment of priests and other ministers.
The principle of maintaining a certain formality is especially hard to nail down and may even vary with the time of year. Thus, it has to be settled at the local level. One possible rule of thumb could be what most people in the region would wear to meet someone constituted in authority.
Unlike formality, the perception of a lack of modesty crosses cultural barriers more easily. Any style that is likely to distract attention away from the reading and toward the reader, or other minister, should not be permitted. This would include garments which are too short, too low, or too clingy. It would also include other aspects of personal apparel such as jewelery, hairstyles, piercings and, especially for extraordinary eucharistic ministers, the length and decoration of fingernails.
Serving divine worship as a liturgical minister is a privilege and the willingness to sacrifice one’s personal tastes, and at times, one’s personal comfort, in order to serve the Lord with due reverence falls under the heading of submission to God that the ministry requires.
One reader suggested that everybody who carries out a liturgical function should wear an alb. Liturgical law certainly allows for this possibility (see the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 339). For those functions that require only a brief entrance into the sanctuary the most common custom is that the minister wear lay clothing; a pastor, however, may opt for having some or all ministers wear an alb if it enhances the dignity of the celebration. It certainly eliminates most problems of formality and modesty.
One priest asked what I meant in saying that a priest should attend to what he wears “under the alb.” Because readers and other ministers are often the only ones who see the priest before vesting, he will be better positioned to demand that they observe certain norms of modesty and formality, if he does so himself. Moreover, his shoes and trouser hems are readily visible to all. Above all, he should don the prevailing clerical garb of his region and attend to its cleanliness and neatness


Modesty and God – Traditionalist?


By Luiz Solimeo

Modesty of Dress and the Love of God: An Effective Way to Defend the Family and Restore Christian Culture
“I love vulgarity. Good taste is death, vulgarity is life.”1 These words by English fashion designer Mary Quant, who took credit for inventing the miniskirt and hot pants2, reveal one of the most important, though rarely pointed out, aspects of the “fashion revolution” that started in the sixties: vulgarity.
Indeed, fashions have increasingly tended toward vulgarity.


Vulgarity not only tramples upon good taste and decorum but reflects a mentality opposed to all order and discipline and to every kind of restraint, be it esthetic, moral or social, and which ultimately suggests a completely “liberated” standard of behavior.

Are Comfort and Practicality Supreme Criteria?
The rationale for introducing ever shorter skirts was “to be practical and liberating, allowing women the ability to run for a bus.” The notion that comfort, practicality and freedom of movement must be the only criteria for dress has led to a breakdown in the general standard of sobriety and elegance, not to speak of the norms of modesty.
Thus, casual dress, being more comfortable and practical, increasingly becomes the norm regardless of people’s sex, age and circumstances. Jeans and the T-shirt (formerly a piece of underwear) became part of common attire.
Though one can wear less formal clothes at times of leisure, these clothes should not convey the impression that one is abandoning one’s dignity and seriousness. They should not give the idea that one is actually on vacation from one’s principles. In the past, even leisure dress, though more comfortable, maintained the dignity that one should never abandon.
It is curious to note that many companies require employees to wear business suits to convey an image of seriousness and responsibility. This is proof that clothes do transmit a message. They can express seriousness and responsibility or on the other hand, immaturity and a carelessness.


Unisex Garb
The premise that comfort and practicality must preside over the choice of clothes had yet another consequence: clothes no longer reflect one’s identity. In other words, they no longer indicate a person’s social position, profession, or even more fundamental characteristics such as sex and age.
Thus, unisex garb has become widespread: jeans and shorts have come to be worn by people of both sexes and all generations. Young men and women, the youth and the aged, single and married, teachers and students, children and adults, all mix together and wear one and the same clothing which no longer expresses that which they are, think or desire.

The Habit Does Not Make the Monk but Identifies Him

One could object that “the habit does not make the monk.” The fact that a person dresses with distinction and elegance does not mean, of itself, that he has good principles and good behavior. Likewise, the fact that a person always wears casual dress does not necessarily indicate that he has bad principles or a reprehensible conduct. At first sight, the argument appears logical and even obvious. However, analyzed in depth, it does not stand.
True, the habit does not make the monk. Nevertheless, it is a strong element that identifies him. Furthermore, it influences not only the way people look at the monk but the way he looks at himself. No one will deny that the loss of identity by many nuns and monks that took place over the last forty years was largely due to their shedding the traditional habits, which adequately expressed the spirit of poverty, chastity and obedience, as well as an ascetic lifestyle proper to consecrated persons.3

The Need for Coherence Between Dress and Convictions
Given the unity that exists in our tendencies, principles, convictions and behavior, the way we dress cannot fail to influence our mentality.
Wearing a certain type of clothing constitutes a form of behavior; and when clothing no longer adequately reflect our tendencies, principles and convictions, one’s mentality begins to undergo an imperceptible change to remain ‘in sync’ with the way one presents oneself. This is because human reason, by the force of logic inherent in it, naturally seeks to establish consistency between thought and behavior.
This rule is magnificently summed up in the famous phrase of French writer Paul Bourget: “One must live as one thinks, under pain of sooner or later ending up thinking as one has lived.”4
The process of transformation or erosion of principles can be slowed down or impeded by a person’s religious fervor, deeply rooted tendencies or ideas, and other factors. However, if inconsistency between behavior – reflected in the way one dresses – and one’s principles and convictions is not eliminated, the process of erosion, no matter how slow, becomes inexorable.

Living Faith, Inadequate Clothing
This subtle erosion is often manifested by a loss of sensitivity regarding the fundamental points of one’s mentality. One example would be the respect one must have for the sacred.
In some way, concessions to the principle that comfort must be the only rule of dress have ended up by giving a casual note to more serious and holy activities. How can one explain, for example, that persons who have true faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and who make admirable sacrifices to frequent perpetual adoration, nevertheless see no contradiction in presenting themselves before the Blessed Sacrament wearing shorts as if they were on a picnic?
The same person who shows up thus dressed for perpetual adoration would never don those clothes for an audience, say, with Queen Elizabeth II. This contradiction shows how, though the person has maintained his faith, to a certain degree the notion of the majesty of the Sacrament of the Altar — the Real Presence — has vanished from his soul.

There is a general tendency in our times to establish a most radical egalitarianism at all levels of culture and social relations between the sexes, and even, in the tendency of egalitarianism, between men and animals.
In dress, this egalitarianism is manifested by the growing proletarianization, the establishment of unisex fashions and the abolition of differences between generations. The same garb can be worn by anybody no matter his position, age or circumstance (e.g. in a trip, a religious or civil ceremony).


Chaos reigns in the domains of fashion today. It is often difficult to distinguish, by their clothes, men from women, parents from children, a religious ceremony from a picnic. Haircuts and hairstyles follow the same tendency to confound age and sex and to break down standards of elegance and good taste.

…That Leads to Infantilization
One of the aspects that stand out the most in the modern dictates of fashion is the desire to create an illusion of eternal youth, even perpetual adolescence with no responsibility, a phenomenon that has been called the “Peter Pan Syndrome.”5
Modern fashion shows a tendency to infantilize people. A Brazilian fashion critic thus expressed herself: “For a long time now, we have seen on catwalks, both international and domestic, fashions that should be displayed at the Children’s Expo, such is the level of infantilization they suggest. Stylists over 25 years old were designing (and wearing) clothes that could be worn by children in a day care center.”6

Modesty is Essential to Chastity
In addition to the extravagant, egalitarian and infantilizing tendency of modern fashion, one needs to consider the attack on virtue and the complete lack of modesty.
The human body has its beauty, and this beauty attracts us. Due to the disorder which Original Sin left in man, the disorder of concupiscence, the delight in contemplating bodily beauty, and particularly of the feminine body can lead to temptation and sin.
That is not to say that some parts of the body are good and can be shown and others are bad and must be covered. Such a statement is absurd and was never part of Church doctrine. All parts of the body are good, for the body is good as a whole, having been created by God. However, not all body parts are equal, and some excite the sexual appetite more than others. Thus, exposing those parts through semi-nudity or risqué low cut dresses or wearing clothes so tight as to accentuate one’s anatomy poses a grave risk of causing excitation, particularly in men in relation to women.
Therefore, clothes must cover that which must be covered and make stand out that which can be emphasized. To cover a woman’s face, like Muslims do, shows well the lack of equilibrium of a religion that does not understand true human dignity. The face, the noblest part of the body because it more perfectly reflects the spiritual soul, is precisely the part that stands out the most in the traditional habits of nuns.
Just as masculine clothes should emphasize the manly aspect proper to man, feminine fashion should manifest grace and delicacy. And in this sense, having longer hair is a natural adornment to frame a woman’s face.

Immorality in Fashions and Destruction of the Family
Garb that does not show a person’s self-respect as an intelligent and free being (and, through baptism, as a son or daughter of God and a temple of the Holy Ghost), contributes to a large extent to the present destruction of the family. It does this by favoring temptations against purity. It also does this by its vulgarity and childishness that corrodes the notion of the seriousness of life and the need for ascesis (self-discipline), all of which are fundamental elements that maintain family cohesion and stability.
The struggle for the restoration of the family by opposing abortion, contraception, and homosexuality will be much more effective if done together with efforts to restore sobriety, modesty and elegance in dress.

Dress and the Love of God
The role of clothing is not only to protect the body from the elements but also to serve as adornment and symbolize someone’s functions, characteristics and mentality. Garb must be not only dignified and decent but also as beautiful and elegant as possible (which requires more good taste than money).
If the “way of beauty” leads us to God by seeing Him as the exemplary cause of Creation, the “way of ugliness” turns us away from the Creator and places us on the slippery slope of sin. That is why ugliness is the very symbol of sin and is so well expressed by the expression “ugly as sin.”

1. Mary Quant talks to Alison Adburgham, Tuesday, October 10, 1967, http://century.guardian.co.uk/1960-1969/Story/0,6051,106475,00.html.

2. Cf., http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/mary-quant/

3. Fortunately, for some time now there has been a wholesome reaction against the abandonment of the traditional habit, a fact that has brought an increase in the number of vocations. According to a recently published book, “communities of sisters whose members wear an identifiable religious habit” are the most flourishing and attract young women the most. (Book says young women attracted to orders whose members wear habits, CNS, http://www.catholicnews.com/data/briefs/cns/20090526.htm

4. Cf. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, http://www.tfp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=691&Itemid=107

5. Cf. Dr. Dan Kiley, The Peter Pan Syndrome – Men Who Have Never Grown Up, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York, 1983

6. Gloria Kalil, Os kidults e a moda Alô Chics! http://chic.ig.com.br/site/secao.php?secao_id=1&materia_id=867


Selected readers’ comments:

# Louise Huberty 2010-11-17 12:11

Please accept my congratulations on this article. It has been years since I have heard someone use the expression “Where is your self-respect”. I was a teacher and said it to my students but they just looked at me like I was from outer space. Thank you for this timely article, I have printed it out and will make copies for my Women’s group. God bless you for your work.





# Monica 2010-11-17 12:11

Bravo! Why is it people don’t realize their dress demonstrates their respect for themselves–or lack thereof? Teens naturally do some rebelling, but so many have never grown up. Add to that the culture of selfishness and relativism that respects no one and we have this recipe for downward spiraling. Our hearts yearn for happiness since God made us that way. Only He can get us out of this mess. We need Him back in our culture. Pray, pray, pray.

# Marcella 2010-11-17 12:12

I commend Luis Solimeo for writing this excellent article concerning a very relevant topic. I agree with nearly all of his ideas regarding modesty, dress, the family and the love of God. I am watching, with alarm, the deterioration in modesty in our society. Young girls no longer being taught what is appropriate to wear and consequently boys more frustrated than ever in controlling their heightening libido. They are supposed to see but not touch and they are being made to see way too much of the opposite sex before they are ready to handle it. We do need a return to modesty–big time!

# Kirsten 2010-11-17 12:33

I will point out that it is the convert to Catholicism who is most likely to demand a certain degree of decorum, because they are seeking the majesty that is/was the church.
In my RCIA class we had three women who thought head coverings in church were a pretty good idea, and I notice that it’s the very old, and the young, that tend to show up in scarves or hats…
Of course, for those of us who grew up after the 60s, it has been very hard to develop a concept of “modest” dress that isn’t also ugly, because we didn’t have as many good examples. I am often discouraged from wearing long skirts, for example, from people I would most expect to *encourage* such modest clothing.

# Georgi 2012-06-06 10:11

Very true about toddler’s dresses, Teresa. And how are we to expect these poor children to grow up with any notion of decent dress or behavior?

# Hannah J. 2012-06-06 10:27

Thank you for this article. You’re so right about the inconsistency between wearing jeans in front of God and wearing a suit and tie in front of your boss or royalty. My friend always says the same thing: “If there are people who wouldn’t dream of showing up for a friend’s wedding in anything less than a tux, why are they content to show up for church in hobo clothes?”
Clothes inspire not only self-respect, but respect from other people. That’s why royalty wear fancy, expensive clothes. Obviously there is no moral obligation to be either fancy or expensive — on the contrary, we should maintain a certain spirit of detachment — but the point is about the psychology. We humans tend to believe what people say about themselves, including what they say by their dress and behaviour. I display a profound inconsistency if I wear a décolleté and then complain about men that “I have a face, too, you know.”

# CS 2010-11-17 13:51

God bless you! This was a great article that spoke TRUTH. I am deeply saddened to see how many good families let their children come to church without thought of dressing with Dignity for themselves and for RESPECT of GOD. Ugly has become such a normal appearance that I believe most parents don’t even notice if they and their children are dressed ugly.

# C.B. 2010-11-17 16:17

I am still in high school, and KNOW that dressing immodestly leads to all sorts of sin. I dressed in ripped jeans, tight tops, low-cut revealing blouses and short shorts and always was trying to look “sexy”. I don’t think any girl who dresses immodestly does not have that inclination. I wear long skirts and proper covering blouses and dresses now, and don’t even have the thought of being sexy, but of being a feminine woman for Christ. After all, Christ died on the cross, being pure and modest is the least we can do.

# Tom 2012-06-05 21:13

God bless you C.B. Please do what you can to be a role model for our young women and girls. It is so o