CATHOLIC MORAL DRESS CODE
“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Blessed are they that search his testimonies that seek him with their whole heart.” (Psalm 118)
Being a Catholic, a practicing Catholic, means living a life in accord with the Laws of God (Commandments) and the Church (Magisterium). Catholic is a way of life. We are not just members of a religious group. In fact, at one time the world could pick us out of a crowd. But today, I don’t think so. There have been a lot of changes since Vatican II that have made Catholics virtually invisible. There is one change that has really been a thorn in my side for some time. It is something that I see when I enter the church for Mass on any given day that sometimes has almost brought me to tears. Oh, the sin! I’ll do my best to explain what I mean.
There are many different ways in which we can sin or cause others to sin such as: our words, actions, neglects and immorality; however, in this day and age the most frequent way we cause ourselves to sin is by our immorality by being immodest in our manner of dress.
Sexual self-consciousness, shame and the covering up of the body followed the Fall in the Garden of Eden (Gn 2:25; 3:7; 3:10-11). The wisdom of biblical literature warns against the snares of feminine shamelessness (Prov.2:16;5:3; 7:5-27). In the New Testament modesty in looks, words and general behavior is inculcated (Matt. 5:28; Eph. 5:3-20; 2 Peter 2:14). General sexual modesty – “a gentle and quiet spirit” – should characterize the Christian(Catholic) woman (1 Tim. 2:9-12; 1 Peter 3:1-6)
Saint Thomas treated modesty as a part of chastity, not a distinct virtue from it. All kinds of things could be and were considered in St. Thomas’ context – words, looks, touches, embraces, kisses, fantasies, the nude in art, dress, reading, bathing, dancing, theatrical shows, now in recent times, movies and television shows would certainly be included. Remember before Vatican II, each year we had to stand up in Church and make a vow to God not to go to indecent movies which consisted of anything that was on the Banned List at the back of the Church? This List would now have ratings such as: PG, R, X, XX, XXX. Is there even a mention of these vows being made in any Church now? I don’t think there is a TV program or movie these days that isn’t in one of the rating categories. This type of viewing is on going because the producers are given the impression that that’s what we all want to see. Did you know that every time an indecent program is watched it’s a sin against purity? You might say that you watch it for the comedy and don’t pay attention to other things. Well, by watching you put before your eyes all that is base and unpleasing to God. Movies and TV are constant weapons used against us and especially the young by Satan. We become accustomed to it and don’t fight against it. Satan’s ploy of chipping away, chipping away weakening our morals and virtue.
You are probably wondering what all this has to do with what I see in church? Keep going, it will all come together. Television, movies, magazines, they are all a huge influence on the way men, women and children act and dress. Celebrities are held up as icons, kings and queens that dictate on how we should conduct ourselves. All you have to do is look around you and you will see the influence they have on especially the young adults and teens, not to mention those pre-teens. Have you noticed all the advertisements on T-shirts, jackets and sweat shirt when you are Mass? We see everything from Veterans of Foreign Wars to the local bar and pub, not to mention rock groups.
There is a saying, ‘that in proportion to the amount of flesh’ mortal sin seems to increase. This being the case, one would assume that at least our Catholic men and boys, women and girls would have the good sense to ALWAYS wear clothes that tend to conceal, rather than reveal or call attention to the body. This moral dress code should be Universal, just as our Church is Universal or Catholic. There should be no excuse for moral dress codes being different just because a person lives in a different country, state or county; either a person is dressed decently or not! True Roman Catholics should wear decent clothes that would show they are conscious to the fact their bodies are “temples of the Holy Ghost”.
Women often deny that their semi-nude attire is the source of serious temptations to the opposite sex. Some reject any responsibility for leading others into sin. The culture these days seems to be one of sex and money and that’s what rules so many lives. Others try to cover their own guilt by such statements as: “He must have a dirty mind. Scanty attire in men doesn’t affect me at all. Why should men be tempted by the scanty attire of women?” When a woman is dressed immodestly, she becomes the temptress for men. Remember Our Lord’s words to men who fall prey to such allurements: “Whoever shall look on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28) Directly, immodest woman are cooperators with the sins of men. God has made woman beautiful and attractive to men so as to fit with His plan for procreation but only in lawful wedlock. Now men, don’t sell yourselves short. Many of you dress to attract attention to your bodies as well, thus causing the same reactions of women toward you. This sin is a two-way street. As a result of Original sin, mankind must constantly struggle to regulate this attraction. Unless both men and women fortify themselves by prayer, sin quickly takes over and enters their immortal souls.
Many men and women will say they wear the modern fashions because they are more comfortable, and the weather is hot (Remember, it is very hot in Hell too!). Why is it so necessary to follow the latest fashions, especially when they are so degrading and sinful? 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. Catholic 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 a young child at the time, had a wisdom taught her by the Mother of God. Our Lady also said to Sister Lucia 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 of serious sin, by reason of the sinful thoughts, desires and actions which they provoke.
What about the children?
Our daughters should be pursuing lady-like activities and hobbies which will prepare them for marriage and their proper role as mother and wife. They should be learning to sew, embroider, knit, crochet, cook, proper house cleaning, how to make rosaries, sing good Catholic songs and other decent, patriotic songs, play musical instruments, paint and draw. Above all they should be learning to talk, dress, sit, walk, stand, kneel, stoop and act like a lady at all times. Our girls have many options open to them with the constant changes in day and age, if they will only pursue them in a moral decent manner; instead of being bombarded with music, soap operas and magazines that can only lead them to sin by all the suggestive material portrayed in them. They pursuits are for things that are not for them because they seek to be like men, and oh my, men seek to be like women. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who is standing in front you at Mass. There is no sign of differentiation between man or woman.
Have parents lost their sense of purity? Unfortunately for many, I feel the answer to that question is yes. Parents are the first teachers and examples that our children learn from in regard to everything… the way we dress, walk, talk, pray, if there is even any type of family prayer. Children are the products of parents, not just in the biological sense, but also of the effort or lack of to teach them what a Christian is or how to conduct themselves according to the Churches teachings.
Our Immaculate Mother, whom God has presented to us as the Perfect Model of Modesty and Purity, is terribly saddened by the immodest and the impure. However, it has not all happened by accident as I said before; it is Satan’s plan, just as he has done with such evil movements as Freemasonry, Atheistic Communism, Socialism, Modernism and Liberalism, so also he has planned out a program of gradual destruction of the sense of modesty and purity. A mere look at the past 50 years or more shows us very plainly how gradually it was all done, first by apparently innocent abbreviations of garments, by slight revelations of bare flesh, by subtle little displays of the figure, and then, as protests died down, by more and more abbreviations and displays until the crude immodesty of our day has become the norm and a shocking reality.
Many of us living today have seen it all happen before our very eyes. We have lived through it and, if we have manage to retain our God-given moral sense, we find the barbarian immodesty of this day intolerable and we look upon it as a sin crying to Heaven for the vengeance that must inevitably come if sinners continue to refuse to amend their ways.
Those who taught or spoken out against immodesty.
Several Popes, Prelates and Religious Men have spoken out with authority on the subject of modesty. Read on and see what they said then and how it still applies today:
**Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922) and his two successors, Popes Pius XI and Pius XII, have promoted modesty in dress. These are a few words of Pope Benedict XV: “One cannot sufficiently deplore the 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 Holy Altar, where one receives the Heavenly Author of Purity.” (January 12, 1930, the Sacred Congregation of the Council)
**It is necessary for us to promote standards of attire for Catholic women and girls, standards such as Pope Pius XI had in mind when he said: “A dress cannot be decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breath under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper.” Ladies, men, girls and boys should always wear underwear and no beige material (it leaves the impression at a distance of having no clothes). If a skirt is snug, it should reach well below the knees; no shorts, no bathing suits, and no pants (for females).
**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 Pla y Daniel, Archbishop of Toledo, Spain, stated in 1959: “A special danger to morals is represented by public bathing at beaches… Mixed bathing between men and women, which is nearly always a proximate occasion of sin and a scandal, must be avoided.”
**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.)
**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.”
What does Scripture say?
Christ’s words are very clear. His teachings about wearing apparel leaves no doubt as to what He meant (“A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel neither shall a man use woman’s apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God.”) If Christ said that the sexes should not wear each others clothes and they understood Him, it stands to reason that there was a distinct difference in the men and women clothes. If the people of Jesus’ day could tell a distinction in the clothes, how much more so can we tell a distinction in the pants and dresses of the men and women of today?
Many people lament the terrible state of immorality that is prevalent in our society, wondering what can be done about it. Among other things such as praying the Rosary daily and reading the Holy Bible and the lives of the saints, we can promote modesty by not wearing the fashions of today. When we shop for clothes look for things that are modest. It may take longer to shop and find them, but they are there. You just have to look. If you have very revealing bathing suits and summer wear, discard them or make modifications to them. Let us always keep in mind that the ultimate success is gaining heaven and nothing else really matters.
We are all born with a fallen nature and, consequently, we must keep our bodies covered in order to avoid the dangers of concupiscence. This fact, a result of original sin, is deliberately ignored each time that naturalism attempts to insinuate itself into our Christian customs. Then it is that the purpose of clothing is lost sight of, and instead of being an invitation to virtue, it becomes an incitement to sin. The Church, like a vigilant Mother, full of tender care for the holiness and eternal salvation of Her children, has often been obliged to warn the faithful so that they might avoid the errors of fashion, and to take the measures necessary to ensure that the holy places and sacred things should not be profaned by immodesty in dress.
Our priests (and bishops) must try anew 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, especially now with summer just around the corner. 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 and the bride as well. 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 the Dress Code of the Catholic Church be posted at the entrance to the church for all parishioners and guests to see. Ushers should do their duty and turn away those who are ill-clad. All of us should be responsible for the way we dress ourselves and our children. When we enter the church for Mass, we are entering the House of God not some meeting room. We should be dressed to meet the King of kings, silent and reverent, not to chat and catch up on the latest happenings to cause distractions by the noise and our poor manner of dress.
So, now do you understand why it brings tears to my eyes when I see all these things when I enter for Mass? If you truly believe Jesus is there in the Tabernacle, why do you want to approach Him dressed so inappropriately. After all, He is the King of kings.