It is no secret that nothing makes Catholic women more spiteful and mean than a Modesty in dress debate; which always turns into a huge argument, and in turn, leaves everyone fit to forget the whole idea of Modesty in Dress. I honestly don’t blame them one bit. The biggest mouths in the Catholic Modesty movement are some of the worst, judgmental, Jansenist, biased and un-Christian people I have ever encountered. It is time to set things straight, for the educational purpose of all Catholic’s. And if anyone still disagrees, even when faced with every single bit of proof, information, whatnot concerning Catholic Modesty.. well? That’s their decision. It is honestly not the end of the world if people do not agree with each other, the biggest deal is if souls are damned in the process. The salvation of souls (our own primarily) should, and must be the main goal in our life. Therefore, this is no place for attacking anyone for their beliefs, but for educating them, praying for them, and wishing them well on their journey. I do hope they choose the correct path but that is not for me to force them. As St. Bernadette once said, “My job is to inform, not to convince!”
There are many, many, many, MANY excuses and arguments about modesty in dress. Most are coming from people who are just being honest about what they see and what we are promoting. There is nothing wrong with that. But most of their arguments are a bit off, and it is only natural that they be correctly answered with Charity and Clarity.
*If everything turns on a man, then why does it matter what we wear?
Because it is an act of charity to others and ourselves, that we cover our bodies.
(CCC) 1826 “If I . . . have not charity,” says the Apostle (Paul), “I am nothing.” Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, “if I . . . have not charity, I gain nothing.”103 Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: “So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.”104
“Speaking in concrete terms, it cannot be denied that along with seemly styles there are also immodest fashions that create confusion in well-ordered minds and can even be an incentive to evil. It is always difficult to indicate with universal norms the border-line between seemliness and shamelessness because the moral evaluation of attire depends on many factors. However, the so-called relativity of fashions with respect to times, places, persons, and education is not a valid reason to renounce a priori a moral judgment on this or that fashion which, for the time being, violates the limits of normal decency.
The sense of decency, almost without being consulted on the matter, gives immediate warning as to where immodesty and seduction, idolatry of matter and luxury, or only frivolity, are concealed. And if the artificers of shameless fashions are skilled in the trafficking of perversion, mixing it into an ensemble of aesthetic elements that are good in themselves, human sensuality is unfortunately even more skillful in discovering it and is ready to fall under its spell.
Here as elsewhere, greater sensitivity to this warning against the snares of evil, far from being grounds for criticizing those who possess it, as though it were a sign of interior depravity, is actually a mark of an upright soul and of watchfulness over the passions.
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 An Address of Pope Pius XII to a Congress of the ‘Latin Union of High Fashion Di gran cuore November 8, 1957)
Love exhales a continual sweet perfume
by which man suffers himself to be allured,
and so powerful is this fragrance that however great
may be the torments through which he passes to salvation,
there is no martyrdom he would not suffer gladly to attain it. —Saint Catherine of Genoa
Because we are all temples of the Holy Spirit, and we owe God this dignity.
“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 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Because if we do not have a solid foundation in moral dress; look at society for example. We wear what our baser passions want to wear.
Because the body is created to honor God. They, with God, have the capability to create new life. This sacredness must be veiled, as everything sacred is hidden/veiled.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, #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.
GENESIS 3;6-8:  And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat.  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. 
GENESIS: 3:21: And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, garments of skins, and clothed them.
Because public nudity and paganism go hand in hand. It appeals to the baser passions. Notice it is a Corporal Work of Mercy to cover the naked.
“Equally obvious, as the origin and purpose of clothing, is the natural requirement of decency, understood either in the wider sense, which includes proper consideration for the sensitivity of others to objects that are unsightly, or, above all, as a defense of moral honesty and a shield against disordered sensuality.” Pope Pius XII ( MORAL PROBLEMS IN FASHION DESIGN An Address of Pope Pius XII to a Congress of the ‘Latin Union of High Fashion Di gran cuore November 8, 1957)
Mark 5:1-20; The possessed man who was naked/once he was freed he came back, clothed.
One Characteristic of the diabolical possessed, out of the three as told by Venerable Fulton Sheen was, Nudity.
Because the importance of what we wear has been talked about in many circumstances.
Our Lady of Fatima: “certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our
Lord very much.” “more souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than any other reason.”
A damned soul, from the book “The Dogma of Hell” , “..Ah! If Christian women knew how much immodesty in dress displeases God!”
” one cannot argue, however, that Christianity exacts almost a renunciation of respect and care for the physical person and its external decorum. Whoever would draw this conclusion would be forgetting what the Apostle of the Gentiles wrote: ‘In like manner I wish women to be decently dressed, adorning themselves with modesty and dignity (I Tim., 2, 9).” Pope Pius XII ( MORAL PROBLEMS IN FASHION DESIGN An Address of Pope Pius XII to a Congress of the ‘Latin Union of High Fashion Di gran cuore November 8, 1957)
Because modesty is also “temperance”. (This is, modesty in all things, dress, word, thought, and so on)
(CCC) 1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.”72 Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: “Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.”73 In the New Testament it is called “moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.”74
*But how do we know what we are wearing is considered modest?
#1: Scandals of Modesty
The Duggar Family were what you call “modest” but are known for many terrible scandals, therefore their modesty is invalid:
First of all, the Duggar Family were not Catholic; the Catholic modesty we promote and help educate about is from the Catholic Church’s Modesty standards. As non-Catholic “Christians” they decided to dress as they thought was modest, which they talk about here:
“We do not dress modestly because we are ashamed of the body God has given us; quite the contrary. We realize that our body is a special gift from God and that He intends for it to be shared only with our future husband… We avoid low-cut, cleavage-showing, gaping, or bare-shouldered tops; and when needed, we wear an undershirt. We try to make it a habit to always cover the top of our shirt with our hand when we bend over. We don’t want to play the peekaboo game with our neckline.” (source) Which is pretty commendable…
….but they also had many other rules concerning purity that were very odd such as “the children are not allowed to hold hands with partners – hand-picked by their father – until they’re engaged, and share their very first kiss at the altar.” …even to the point of avoiding hugs!
Another rule they have, which is un-charitable by Catholic standards is to have a code word (One is supposedly, “Nike”) for immodest women, so the men folk known when to look at their shoes!! Uhm? What!?
““That’s a signal to the boys, and even to Dad, that they should nonchalantly drop their eyes and look down at their shoes as we walk past her… It’s meant to help keep the guys’ eyes from seeing things they shouldn’t be seeing. By using the single-word signal, the warning can be given quietly and discreetly.” (source)
As Catholic’s we are very aware of the temptations out there, but we battle these temptations by prayer, the holy Eucharist, Confession, the Rosary, devotions, and so on. This in turn gives us the grace to be able to fight it, not hide away from it. This sort of “hiding” can turn very ugly, very fast, as we have seen with Mr. Duggar, and his son Josh who was found to have molested his sisters at a young age, cheated on his wife and so on! Thank God for our Catholic Faith, as we are given the tools to battle Temptation and overcome them!
You do not have to dig deep to find this poor confused family’s strange ideas, most of which are not in accord with Catholic Teaching, but they are not Catholic. This by no means sugarcoats what they do, but merely means that they are unaware of the Faith.
Secondly, yes, they had disgusting scandals in their family (11 just in 2015!), and we must pray for them. This does not refute modesty in dress. It is as if we are judging a sinner by his sins while calling out his virtues are also sinful and/or wrong. Modesty is a virtue, and it must always be regarded as such.
Virtue should be commended, but it never means that the person who is virtuous in that respect is 100% sinless. 🙂
Anyone dressing what you call “modest” dresses old fashioned and imposes their will on others, making their modesty invalid:
For one thing, dressing modestly actually has NOTHING to do with dressing “old fashioned”, whoever came up with that idea is nuts. (sorry). Pope Pius XII said that it is actually an act of charity to dress within the fashions, but also within the Catholic Church’s Modesty Guidelines!
As with the answer above; just because a person is somewhat “virtuous” in one aspect, does not mean in any way that they are perfect in every way. And unfortunately, jansenism, scruples and terrible judgment of other people is rampant. It is a disgusting scandal that tears at anyone in its path, rather than aiding, it destroys, and all the grace they hope to earn by “dressing modest” can be destroyed by their terrible actions.
And example; a prostitute could wear modest clothing and go to mass regularly, but if she still works as a prostitute, it becomes a scandal. But the act of dressing modestly or going to mass by no means are invalid because this person abused them.
A priest could be the greatest sinner, yet still does his priestly duties, does this make the priesthood invalid?
We are living in a world that is full of confusion, half-truths and misinformation. Which is precisely why we are called to be warriors for Christ, say the rosary and make sacrifices.
So, how then do we know what the nasty people are right about if they are uncharitable? Educate ourselves. Take what they say with a grain of salt, and trust God.
I am so sorry if you have ever encountered one of these sorts of people… I have personally had to deal with many, and I can tell you that I stand with you against this evil plague of scrupulosity & un-Christian action.
People who dress what you call “modest” are immodest in other ways, which makes their modesty invalid:
As said above, the actions of the sinner does not make the actual good they do, invalid, it may make it obsolete in a way on them, but the action itself of dressing Modestly according to the Catholic Church’s standards are not invalid.
As Christians we are called to admonish the sinner and instruct the ignorant, this means that if someone is immodest in their speech, actions, words, and so on, we can charitably mention to them what was wrong, and perhaps how they could fix it. Depending on the circumstances.
There is much truth in the statement, “People who dress what you call “modest” are immodest in other ways“, but to say that it makes the good they do invalid, would be like saying, “That Catholic is a sinner therefore the Catholic Church is invalid.”
The entire “modesty in dress movement” forces women to cover their bodies, judges them harshly if they do not, and gossips and badmouths them if they do not adhere to their fake “rules”, therefore the “modesty in dress” idea is invalid:
Actually the unofficial “Modesty Movement” (there is no official movement anymore, but official standards that still apply) never forces. It is not CATHOLIC to “force” anything, but rather it is Catholic to educate properly, for the benefit of the other persons soul! Anyone who forces anyone else to do something, by force, by verbal abuse or any other abuse, by bullying and so on is VERY VERY WRONG. And shame on them.
Catholic Modesty in dress is as the Tradition of the Catholic Church.. very widely unknown and rarely talked about or understood in its entirety. So many people take what they think is true and apply it to their understanding, and try to bully others to following it as well. THIS IS NOT WHAT THE CHURCH IS ABOUT. Thank you. 🙂
Currently there is a Catholic Modesty website that is in the works, that is just all the information concerning Modesty in every aspect, not just dress. It just has the information, the quotes, and standards and guidelines given by the Church and no other. Instead of a blog, website or administration based loosely on Church Teaching, focused on bullying others to agreeing with their position, it is rather an educational site for all who are open to learn!
The idea of modesty is becoming all about how to dress and how NOT to dress rather than being kind, charitable, decent, virtuous, pure, and so on! Therefore the modesty in dress movement’s arguments are invalid:
“The idea of modesty is becoming all about how to dress and how NOT to dress rather than being kind, charitable, decent, virtuous, pure, and so on! ” Yes! This is oh so true! We must also promote modesty in all aspects, as the Church also says! Purity does not just encompass abstaining from sex, but avoiding near occasions of sin as well. The whole story must be told, and not just bits and pieces to fit anyone’s agenda. This is not about us, or our personal agenda’s, but Christ. The Catholic Church is His, and not ours, and as Catholic’s we owe Him our allegiance to its Teachings.
#2 The Church’s Position
The Catechism says nothing about “modesty in dress” therefore your argument is invalid:
In John Paul II’s Catechism it says that Purity requires Modesty, and that modesty guides how one looks at others, it inspires one’s choice of clothing, it keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet. “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 2521 + )
It certainly is less clear and concise as the earlier Catechisms on almost everything, never mind modesty in dress (which is why it is not my FAVORITE Catechism). But perhaps I am just accustomed to simple reading. I always preferred the books that were to the point, like St. John Vianney’s sermons. Oh boy, were those to the point.
Moving on. It is quite clear though, that modesty in dress is called for in this Catechism. Clear enough. But if you want more clarity you can also read other Catechisms that are approved as well. As no “newer” Catechism changes Church Teaching.
The Baltimore Catechism:
371. Q. What is forbidden by the sixth Commandment? A. The sixth commandment forbids all unchaste freedom with anothers wife or husband; also all immodesty with ourselves or others in looks, dress, words, or actions.
372. Q. Does the sixth Commandment forbid the reading of bad and immodest books and newspapers? A. The sixth Commandment does forbid the reading of bad and immodest books and newspapers.
Q. 1051. What must never be forgotten by those who attend a marriage ceremony in the Church? A. They who attend a marriage ceremony in the Church must never forget the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and that all laughing, talking, or irreverence is forbidden then as at other times. Women must never enter into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament with uncovered heads, and their dress must be in keeping with the strict modesty that Our Lord’s presence demands, no matter what worldly vanity or social manners may require.
Catechism of St. Pius X:
6 Q: What do the Sixth and Ninth Commandments command?
A: The Sixth Commandment commands us to be chaste and modest in act, in look, in behavior, and in speech. The Ninth Commandment commands us in addition to this to be chaste and pure interiorly, that is, in mind and in heart.
As Modesty in Dress is well talked about as important by Church Fathers, Doctors, Popes & even Our Lady of Fatima, we can discern easily that it is still of most importance. As the Church’s Teachings never change.
Our Lady of the Milk is shown nursing Baby Jesus, showing her breast, therefore your argument on modesty is invalid:
Ah Yes, Our Lady of Le Leche (or Our Lady of the Nursing Child) is a striking image. At least, some of them. The replica of the original statue (now, nowhere to be found) however, looks almost nothing like the adaptations that artist over the years have made. And as we all know how fond art is of the human body and exposing it, it is not much of a surprise that this image of Our Lady breastfeeding Baby Jesus is portrayed the way it is.
Though can we really say that this is proof of our “newfound” ability to bare our breasts “like Our Lady” ?
- Aside from the Church teaching of modesty in dress,
- aside from the fact that it is a depiction of ART,
- aside from the fact that the devotion is based on a legend, not an apparition of Our Lady,
- aside from the fact that we cannot derive our “freedoms” concerning dress on religious artistic depictions rather than Popes, Saints, Doctors and Fathers of the Church, and so on.
- aside from the fact that the replica of the original statue bares no breast at all,
.. can we truly say that we are now going to use artistic adaptations to our advantage concerning how we should dress?
You can read the beautiful story here. It also includes a prayer for women especially for conception and a healthy pregnancy.
All your arguments are from before Vatican II, therefore your arguments are invalid:
To say that anything before Vatican II is invalid can actually be called a heretical statement. Just so you know.
The Catholic Church is not just, “The Church of post Vatican II” or “The Church of Pre Vatican II”, it is THE Church of Christ. The Catholic Church.
If we disregarded everything from before Vatican II, we are disregarding all of Canon Law that was made before then, which is heretical. We are disregarding the Popes from before then, which is also heretical. The Saints, Events, Papal Decrees and Encyclicals which are still valid, are also disregarded, which is heretical.
He is a genuine Catholic who continues steadfast and well-founded in the faith, who resolves that he will believe those things—–and only those things—–which he is sure the Catholic Church has held universally and from ancient times . . . It is therefore an indispensable obligation for all Catholics who are eager to prove that they are true sons of Holy Mother the Church to adhere to the holy faith of the Fathers, to preserve it, to die for it, and, on the other hand, to detest the profane novelties of profane men, to dread them, to harass them, and to attack them.”
St. Vincent of Lerins
“The present or “current” teaching of the Church does not admit of a development that is either a reversal or a contradiction.”
Pope John Paul II
You quote earlier Popes on modesty in dress, not recent one’s, therefore your argument is invalid:
Just because the Pope that is quoted is not Pope anymore doesn’t mean what he said is not still legit. Especially if they were canonized, such as St. Pius. We quote Saint’s today do we not? We quote the Father’s and Doctors of the Church concerning Theology do we not? Then why not the Pope?
Take this quote from St. Pope. Pius X;
“… We were terrified beyond all else by the disastrous state of human society today. For who can fail to see that society is at the present time, more than in any past age, suffering from a terrible and deep-rooted malady which, developing every day and eating into its inmost being, is dragging it to destruction? You understand, Venerable Brethren, what this disease is—apostasy from God, than which in truth nothing is more allied with ruin …”
Pope St. Pius X, E SUPREMI
“I accept with sincere belief the doctrine of faith as handed down to us from the Apostles by the orthodox Fathers, always in the same sense and with the same interpretation.”
Pope St. Pius X
“The preaching of the faith has lost nothing of its relevance in our times. The Church has a sacred duty to proclaim it without any whittling-down, just as Christ revealed it, and no consideration of time or circumstance can lessen the strictness of this obligation.”
Pope Pius XII
“Those wretches tainted with the error of Indifferentism and Modernism hold that dogmatic truth is not absolute, but relative: that is, that it must adapt itself to the varying necessities of the times and the varying dispositions of souls, since it is not contained in an unchangeable revelation, but is, by its very nature, meant to accommodate itself to the life of man.”
Pope Pius XI
“It is an error to believe that Christ did not teach a determined body of doctrine applicable to all times and to all men, but rather that He inaugurated a religious movement adapted, or to be adapted, to different times and different places.”
Pope St. Pius X
“Christ’s commandment to hear the Church . . . is binding on all men, in every period, and every country.”
Pope Pius XI
Chastity speakers are promoting modesty are more of a mindset and heart issue, because the Catechism says it begins in the heart, therefore your argument is invalid:
Chastity speakers are right about some things but they are not ordained as the Pope, or yet canonized Saints, nor are they Fathers or Doctors of the Church. Modesty in dress is just as important as in the other aspects, this is certain and concluded by these holy people mentioned. Most Chastity speakers preach a nice form of Modesty but it is incomplete.
I also write about this issue here.
STJPII’s “Theology of the Body” takes all your “modesty in dress” arguments and debunks them all:
Considering all the other information from Church Fathers, Doctors, Saints & Other Popes concerning the importance of Modesty in dress, T.O.B. actually goes very well with it. Plus, as noted below, the Theology of the Body, while a beautiful document is not magisterial, AKA not an encyclical AKA, its not binding.
“The first thing we all need to know about the Theology of the Body is that, while interesting, it is not magisterial teaching. In short, the whole argument is about a fascinating and potentially useful constellation of ideas that do not form part of the essential teaching of the Faith. John Paul articulated the TOB in the early 1980s in a series of audiences. What is notable about this is that, having done so, he never returned to the subject in his magisterial teaching. There is no encyclical on the TOB. That should command our attention, because it means that the quarrel is about something that, while interesting, is not particularly binding on anybody as a Catholic” (source)
The whole “modesty in dress” movement bases its entire argument on having to dress like Mary, which makes the modesty argument invalid:
Actually one certain Modesty movement; The Marylike Crusade, was created for people who wanted to solely dress more modestly under certain rules. It wasn’t for everyone. (Shocker, I know.) Some people mistake the Marylike Crusade as the “church’s official Modesty movement..and so on” but that is false. The Crusade was made by Fr. Bernard Kunkle, following Pope Pius’ call for a modesty movement. This became an official apostolate with the blessing of the Pope.
The official rules are here.
NOT here, !!!! That website has altered the guidelines to include WRISTS and ANKLES being covered while saying it is the Official Modesty Rules as Set By The Vatican. Ughh… seriously people?
But for those who were / are not interested in joining the Marylike Crusade are not obliged to join! Its totally fine!
I honestly can’t stand it when people take it upon themselves to force the Marylike Modesty Standards as if they are the Church’s Modesty Standards.It is not true and is seriously a scandal.
That is all for now!
Until next time, God bless and keep it trad!