What The Popes Say About Catholic Modesty

  • Posted January 11, 2019

Modesty inclines one to refrain from any action or word that might lead oneself or others to an unlawful incitement of the sexual appetite. Modesty is necessary for safeguarding purity. This pure and modest behaviour is required under the sixth commandment under pain of mortal sin.

“Or do you not know that your members are the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought at a great price. Glorify God and bear Him in your body” – I Corinthians 6:19-20

We have received the Marylike Standard for guidance on how a Catholic woman is to modestly dress… and there is also a recording from the Baltimore Catechism about the Sixth Commandment, but what other aides did the Church give us in this matter of utmost importance?

Knowing the importance of modesty, and the dangers of immodesty, how do we implement this Catholic truth? Here is What the Popes Say About Catholic Modesty

 

Pope Pius XII and Catholic Modesty

 

‘When she was thrown into the air by a savage bull in the amphitheatre at Carthage, her first thought and action when she fell to the ground was to rearrange her dress to cover her thigh, because she was more concerned for modesty than pain.’ -Allocution to the Girls of Catholic Action, speaking of St. Perpetua

 

 

‘Beyond fashion and its demands, there are higher and more pressing laws, principles superior to fashion, and unchangeable, which under no circumstances can be sacrificed to the whim of pleasure or fancy, and before which must bow the fleeting omnipotence of fashion.
These principles have been proclaimed by God, by the Church, by the Saints, by reason, by Christian morality.’

 

 

‘It might be said that society speaks through the clothing it wears. Through its clothing it reveals its secret aspirations and uses it, at least in part, to build or destroy its future.”

 

‘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 feelings they evoke in those who see them.’

 

 

‘For modesty foresees threatening danger, forbids us to expose ourselves to risks, demands the avoidance of those occasions which the imprudent do not shun. It does not like impure or loose talk, it shrinks from the slightest immodesty, it carefully avoids suspect familiarity with persons of the other sex, since it brings the soul to show due reverence to the body, as being a member of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. He who possesses the treasure of Christian modesty abominates every sin of impurity and instantly flees whenever he is tempted by its seductions.’
‘But how can you know anything of the impression made on others? Who can assure you that others do not draw therefrom incentives to evil? You do not know the depths of human frailty. . . Oh, how truly was it said that if some Christian women could only suspect the temptations and falls they cause in others with modes of dress and familiarity in behavior, which they unthinkingly consider as of no importance, they would be shocked by the responsibility which is theirs.

 

 

‘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.’
‘As long as certain audacious modes of dress remain the sad privilege of women of dubious reputation and almost a sign by which they may be known, no-one else would dare to wear that same dress upon herself: but the moment that it appears upon persons beyond all reproach, she will hesitate no longer to follow the current, a current which will drag her perhaps to the worst fall.’

 

‘Below the knee, halfway down the arm, and two finger widths below the collarbone.’

 

‘The most insidious of sophisms are usually repeated to justify immodesty and seem to be the same everywhere.’

 

Pope Pius XI and Catholic Modesty

 

‘We now endeavor to expiate all these lamentable crimes together, and it is also our purpose to make amends for each one of them severally: for the want of modesty in life and dress, for impurities, for so many snares set for the minds of the innocent, for the violation of feast days, for the horrid blasphemies against Thee and Thy saints, for the insults offered to Thy Vicar and to the priestly order, for the neglect of the Sacrament of Divine love or its profanation by horrible sacrileges, and lastly for the public sins of nations which resist the rights and the teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast instituted.
Would that we could wash away these crimes with our own blood!’ -Encyclical ‘Miserentissimus Redemptor’, ‘On Reparation to the Sacred Heart’, May 8th, 1928 A.D.

 

 

‘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.’ -The Sacred Congregation of the Council, January 12, 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.‘ -‘Divini Illus Magistri’, 1929 A.D.

 

 

‘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.’

 

‘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.

 

 

‘It is abundantly clear that readers of Augustine will not be caught in the toils of that pernicious error, which was widespread during the eighteenth century, namely, that the inborn impulses of the will should neither be feared nor curbed, since all of them are right and sound. From its false principle sprang those educational methods, which We condemned not long ago in Our Encyclical on “The Christian Education of Youth.” Their effect is to allow a free mingling of the sexes and to employ no precaution in controlling the growing passions of boyhood and youth. From this false principle too comes that license in writing and reading, in presenting or frequenting plays, that do not merely threaten innocence and purity with dangerous occasions, but actually plot their ruin and destruction. From this source again are derived those immodest fashions of dress, which Christian women can never be at too great pains to abolish.’ -Encyclical “Ad Salutem”, April 30, 1930 A.D.

 

 

But it is yet more to be lamented, Venerable Brethren, that among the faithful themselves, washed in Baptism with the blood of the immaculate Lamb, and enriched with grace, there are found so many men of every class, who laboring under an incredible ignorance of Divine things and infected with false doctrines, far from their Father’s home, lead a life involved in vices, a life which is not brightened by the light of true faith, nor gladdened by the hope of future beatitude, nor refreshed and cherished by the fire of charity; so that they truly seem to sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Moreover, among the faithful there is a greatly increasing carelessness of ecclesiastical discipline, and of those ancient institutions on which all Christian life rests, by which domestic society is governed, and the sanctity of marriage is safeguarded; the education of children is altogether neglected, or else it is depraved by too indulgent blandishments, and the Church is even robbed of the power of giving the young a Christian education; there is a sad forgetfulness of Christian modesty especially in the life and the dress of women; there is an unbridled cupidity of transitory things, a want of moderation in civic affairs, an unbounded ambition of popular favor, a depreciation of legitimate authority, and lastly a contempt for the word of God, whereby faith itself is injured, or is brought into proximate peril.

But all these evils as it were culminate in the cowardice and the sloth of those who, after the manner of the sleeping and fleeing disciples, wavering in their faith, miserably forsake Christ when He is oppressed by anguish or surrounded by the satellites of Satan, and in the perfidy of those others who following the example of the traitor Judas, either partake of the holy table rashly and sacrilegiously, or go over to the camp of the enemy. And thus, even against our will, the thought rises in the mind that now those days draw near of which Our Lord prophesied: “And because iniquity hath abounded, the charity of many shall grow cold” (Matthew xxiv, 12).’ -Encyclical ‘Miserentissimus Redemptor’, ‘On Reparation to the Sacred Heart’, May 8th, 1928 A.D.

 

Pope Benedict XV and Catholic Modesty

 

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 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.’

 

 

‘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.

 

May we all head what the Popes say about Catholic Modesty.

 

Travis

JMJ – UIOGD

(if you find any misquote, please send the correct proof either by e-mail or the comments below, Thank You)

 

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