Marian Modesty

We are not called to be mimics of the Blessed Mother, dressing as would be appropriate for a first-century Palestinian peasant woman (e.g., long veils, skirts to the floor, sandals). We are called to imitate the Blessed Mother in her virtues. In terms of modesty, that might mean dressing in a way that is appropriate to one’s culture and circumstances, not drawing undue attention to oneself either in one’s dress or undress, remaining circumspect about one’s own choices, and not denouncing the reasonable choices of others.

Overall, I agree with this article of Michelle Arnold.  However, what tends to happen in discussions about modesty is that those on one side of the debate tend to present a caricature of the other side or generalize too much about the habits of the other side.  In particular, I disagree with her remark about Fatima.  I believe it is pretty clear what fashions Our Lady was referring to: the ones that lead many souls to hell.  Enough said.

But I believe she is spot on with the last sentence in the quote.  Modesty is both objective and subjective: it has to do both with the manner of dress and behavior of the one who is looked at, and the internal dispositions of the one who looks (or doesn’t look).

It seems to me that Christopher West, Fr. Thomas Loya, et al. place all the emphasis on the internal subjective dispositions of beholder.  Many of those on the other side focus almost exclusively on objective norms of modest dress.

Objective norms are useful up to a point.  But they can become counterproductive when they no longer help to form the conscience and begin to supplant the free use of good judgment, or when they facilitate zealotry, hypocrisy and rash judgment in regard to those who “don’t measure up.”

I believe the use of dress codes, in schools for example, are a slightly different question, because of the need for good order, for the students to have clarity of what is expected of them, and because of certain “political” and disciplinary issues.

Modesty is best taught in the context of general catechesis and spiritual formation.  It is part of the life of virtue.  I find where this is done, the standard of modesty goes up without too much scrupulosity or lack of charity.

And I think, ultimately, this is Michelle Arnold’s point.  It is true devotion to Mary that will bring about Mary-like behavior.  In the first place this is an interior change, and depends on a personal encounter with Our Lady for which no set of rules will substitute.  In the end one must dress themselves.  It is no one else’s responsibility and the choices involved here have to proceed from a heart which is modest.

Frankly, I believe one may find at times a modest bearing that may or not measure up to all the rules because there is real virtue present, and on the other hand, you can have rule perfection without deep virtue.  It is interior union with Our Lady that helps us to make better judgments freely out of love for God.  When that happens the outside will match the inside.


69 thoughts on “Marian Modesty

    • Noah,

      I believe the point is that in regard to choices which are in a large measure a matter of prudence good men and women may disagree. St. Augustine wrote: In certain matters unity, in doubtful matters liberty, in all things charity.

      There is no logical necessity for me to declare someone unreasonable simply because they disagree with me, unless I believe I am infallible.

  1. As you could probably guess, I COMPLETELY agree with Michelle Arnold. We waste way too much time on such pettiness, imho. If Mary were to have walked upon our earth today, in the good ol’ U.S. of A, instead of 2000 years ago, I highly doubt She would be wearing the clothing She wore back then. She completely ‘blended in’ to Her culture. There were surely some women who found a way to be immodest in those times. Would Mary have worn pants if She came today? Who knows? Who cares? Anyone who claims to know what She would wear if She lived among us today (in the Western Culture) is joking themselves. Would She be modest? That we can all be sure of. My feeling is that our clothing is not to be ‘distracting’. That means that we’re not overly flashy, seductive, revealing, or inappropriate for the event we’re attending. Even when one is in her younger years with a youthful figure, a woman cannot worry about what other men might be thinking! There are some men who will struggle even if you’re in an oversized canvas bag. It’s THEIR problem, not yours! But, if you’re wearing something totally seductive (and you know it), then it is your problem as well.

    I have friends who feel called to wear skirts everyday. Go for it! There may be some legitimate reasons, internally or physically, that make skirts a very good idea for them. For me? When I tried it for a very short time a number of years ago, I felt like I was MORE distracted towards myself — worrying about my little ones lifting my skirt (which they did), feeling like I couldn’t bend down, fearing a fierce wind, looking like I was overdressed for certain things, etc etc. Unlike Our Lady who blended in with her lovely Palestinian peasant outfit, I felt like I was STICKING OUT like a sore thumb. I wear pants and capris about 90percent of them time. Okay, 99percent of the time. If you want to judge me (and others like me) for being immodest and/or unholy well, I’m not going to stop you because I really don’t care! I used to care — I wasted way too much time CARING what other women thought about how I dressed. THAT WAS THE SIN. (It’s usually the women who have some snide comment to make, not the men.) I now just try to be appropriate and not ‘stick out’ which draws too much attention.

    My question has been about Mass. I grew up wearing jeans and shorts and looking like I was heading to the playground or beach instead of to Mass. I finally stopped wearing jeans or clothing that wasn’t ‘nice’ for Mass. Then I went through a time where I felt like I should be wearing skirts/dresses to Mass. I’m now back to half the time in dress pants and half the time in skirts. I’m still discerning this piece of things.

    Thanks for posting this article, Father. We Catholics/Christians can get off on so many tangents. (I’m not judging others because I fall for tangents too.) We want to LOOK holy as well as BE holy but holiness doesn’t necessarily have a ‘look’!!! Oh, we silly people. “Who will save us from ourselves? “

  2. Jennifer you should be concerned what Men think of when you dress.

    “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” Cain Genesis 4:9

    I guess St Pio was not right when he chased those women out of church for not wearing skirts below the knee. or St Bosco told women their arms and legs would burn at least in purgatory for revealing flesh. People can have contempt for one of the easiest aspects of our Religion which is covering ones body in loose clothing.

    The Church has outlined minimums, the Saints going back to the Fathers encourage something more rigorous

  3. As a female I disagree with your rationale.
    “Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend our Lord very much.” ~ Our Lady to Jacinta.

    Our Lady would NOT be wearing pants!

  4. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that modesty is more than exterior comportment as every virtue is first of all interior, but the proper comportment does proceed from a modest heart. Norms can be useful. There is a real objective difference between modesty and immodesty, but in the end the virtue cannot be measured in inches and millimeters.

    Both men and woman must practice modesty in their own way and there is not a time or place in which men will not need to guard themselves by living the virtue of modesty.

    In my opinion the arguments about modesty generally neither touch the essential point of modesty, nor do they promote the virtue effectively.

    The standard of dress needs to increase, but there should also be a concomitant degree of charity.

    There is no one here that is not concerned about the virtue and about raising the standard. One can make too much out of the disagreement.

  5. I think we ought to ask ourselves: How would I feel if the Mother of God were wearing that? We obviously don’t need to look identical to her, but to say that we can wear skin tight clothing, dance on ice with legs wide open here and there simply because we like it and it’s available to us is ridiculous.

  6. As always, it’s hard to put your WHOLE point out there in a few short, written words. Noah – I was not saying that I don’t “care” what men think of my clothing. I said that women are usually the ones with more negative comments or judgments. I said that I believed we needed to dress so as not to be “flashy, seductive, revealing, or inappropriate for the event we’re attending”. As my brother’s keeper, I think the not dressing “seductively or revealing” should pretty much cover that! Yet, each man is different. Some men have more struggles than others! How much effort do we take in appeasing all these different men???? Honestly, we could go nuts. So God sees our hearts and our intentions. We use our own prayerful discernment on this and we can ask our husbands for his male viewpoint and then that’s that!!! We don’t need to split hairs over this. This is where I feel we lose our way. My personal opinion, I suppose.

    When I wore skirts, I found myself “noticing” what other women were wearing. I know of other ‘skirt wearing women’ admit this same thing. It was a distraction that I really don’t need. When I wear ‘conservative/modest pants’, I honestly don’t notice what other women are wearing unless they’re barely wearing a thing or if I appear to be WAY over-dressed or way over-casual! I can’t be bothered with the distractions. We are all unique and thus if you’re more distracted, as a woman, in pants … then wear your skirts! If your husband really wants you in a skirt and it’s not a big deal to you, then wear your skirts! When I asked my husband about the skirt-wearing vs pants-wearing, he looked at me like I had 4 heads. He said, “We don’t live in the 1800’s for crying out loud. You’ll look like a STepford wife. Most men aren’t going to be more or less sexually distracted by a modest skirt over a modest pair of pants.” I find my husband to be a very reasonable man. I love that about him. That’s one reason I married him … and maybe a reason why another woman wouldn’t have. God made us all differently (thankfully) so “to each his own” in areas of no morality. Pants are NOT moral or immoral any more than a skirt is moral or immoral. They are amoral.

    As for what Our Lady would wear if She lived here in the USA today … we honestly have NO idea. We can only guess. I’m going to choose not to even bother guessing because it really doesn’t matter to me. She lived when She lived and wore the ‘typical outfit’ of the day. That’s all I need to know. Does this make us pant-wearing-Christian-women less seeking for pure holiness? If people want that judgment on their conscience, we can’t stop them. We are called to modesty and if we’re truly prayerfully discerning it, we won’t show up with crazy amounts of ‘skin’ and ‘parts’ being revealed.

    As always, I remain open to the Holy Spirit changing my mind. As of now, this is what I’m going with! lol

  7. One more thought (if I may) — I have asked Our Lady questions before. I usually feel like Her response is something like, “My child, you worry yourself about so many things. Just LOVE. Love God and your neighbor and all of these other details will iron out.” I guess Father Angelo can say whether or not this has any merit to it. Pants and skirts are details to me. Details that we shouldn’t worry about.

  8. Jen,

    My comment may have come off in an uncharitable way. I am sorry if it did. My point was never to imply that women who wear pants are less holy then women who wear skirts. I know some unkind women who wear skirts, and a woman who wears pants who would give you the clothes off her back. It’s all about the heart, just as Father said earlier.
    Again, my apologies.


  9. Just a point of interest; the wonderful Cardinal Polycarp Pengo of Tanzania, who is 68 and could be the next pope, sent a letter to the bishops and priests in his diocese that instructed them not to perform Catholic weddings if the bride and her attendants were not dressed modestly. I assume this included strapless gowns or those with spaghetti straps plus mini-skirts or skin-tight outfits and tops with cleavage or bare midriffs. I would think that any thoughtful Catholic woman would avoid such clothing.

  10. There’s a priest at a certain nearby parish who’s recently announced that he will be refusing Holy Communion to women (and men) who choose to ignore the posted dress code. It’s nothing extreme, no thigh, no tummy, no cleavage (excessive, at least), no spaghetti straps, and your clothes shouldn’t be so tight that they look like they’re painted on you. Rock on Father!

  11. Why don’t you give us the name of the priest/parish? I’d be happy to alert his bishop. Really, I’d be more than happy to alert a bishop.

  12. Marie,

    “Let those who are going to receive Holy Communion be decently dressed. Women whose heads are not covered and who are improperly dressed are to be excluded from the Sacrament” That’s old canon law to give you a point of reference for the new canon law.

    Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion. Canon 915

    A women dressed immodestly is a manifest grave sinner. Not only is she a seductress, but she also commits sacrilege by showing up in the house of God in that manner and becoming a proximate occasion of sin to the Men fulfilling their duty of worshiping God. Still want Catholic Christian to name names so you can go pick on a priest? Please remember that charity works both ways and people who are cautious with their souls or the souls of their flock she not be looked down on.

  13. Marie, which part did you have a problem with? A woman pouring out of her blouse in front of a celibate man? Maybe the inability to bend over without showing her panties? The spaghetti strap? Or perhaps it’s not being able to let other men know that one is wearing a thong underneath the jeans due to the tightness? The bare tummy?

    I didn’t mention his name because I know there are tattle tales out there who like to cause problems when their own bad behavior is brought to light.

  14. Anyone who has been denied Holy Communion based on their clothing should go to the chancery of their diocese and make a complaint to the Vicar General.

  15. Canon 915. Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.

    Marie, where do you personally draw the line? Bikini too far on a hot day, or is that too judgmental?

  16. Romans 1:32 “having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.”

    I’m not saying they should be put to death, but I would like to emphasize the last part “not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them.”

    The priest at this parish is refusing to consent to it, his right not only as a Christian but as a priest and spiritual Father. You are consenting, and not only consenting, but defending. Food for thought.

  17. C.C.~ Maybe you should praise God that the woman is in Church at all, and with time she will be open to the graces of prudence and modesty. Christ gave the sacraments to the world for the sinners living in it,……

  18. 1983 CIC 843. § 1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them. § 2. Pastors of souls and other members of the Christian faithful, according to their respective ecclesiastical function, have the duty to take care that those who seek the sacraments are prepared to receive them by proper evangelization and catechetical instruction, attentive to the norms issued by competent authority.

  19. Praise God that the woman is committing a sacrilege? Are you serious? We’re not talking about a woman who walked into the church and didn’t know any better beforehand, we’re talking about a woman who ignores what the priest says regarding the reception of Holy Communion, a woman who is ignoring the post at the entrance of the church that shows the dress code. A woman who chooses to flip off the priest, the Church, the husband of every woman in that parish, is not open to grace. Better for her to not attend Mass than to show up and commit the sin of sacrilege and of seduction, to be guilty of the grave sin of seduction for each and every man she tempts in that church. St. Pio would have chased her out the door. Who’s side do you choose? The Saint, or the woman who deliberately *chooses* to do these thing?

    I don’t know if this will affect your opinion or not, but this priest is an older man who does explain why he does certain things, and why he does not, and why you should want to/not want to do whatever it is he’s referring to. He’s very kind about it when delivering the “warning” (almost too kind, in my opinion). My point being, he didn’t simply make the announcement that this was going to be done, get over it.

  20. They are prohibited because they are manifest grave sinners. You never answered where your line is, how about full nudity, bikinis, cheerlearder uniform? Are these people properly disposed?

    “A mortal sin of scandal is committed by women who go about with their bosom immodestly exposed, or who expose their limbs improperly.” St Alphonsus Ligouri, Doctor of Moral Theology, The Complete Ascetical Works of St. Alphonsus Volume 15, On Preaching pg 399

  21. Noah Moerbeek on February 23, 2013 at 12:25

    You are not quoting from the 1917 Code of Canon law but from a quote in an article in the Fatima Crusader which is allegedly taken from a plenary assembly of Brazilian Bishops for which no date is supplied.

    Also, if immodest dress is so gravely offensive that it justifies the withholding of communion, it does so not because it is evidence of grave sin, since the minister does not know the dispositions of the communicant, but because of the external indisposition of the one approaching the altar.

    Please read Ed Peter’s opinion on the matter:

    Serious misapplications of the values underlying Canon 915, however, undertaken by ill-informed ministers and touted by grossly ill-formed partisans, only set back the cause of seeing Canon 915 applied correctly today.

    I thank all of you for this discussion. It is a fine illustration of the point I have tried to make. The really important question is “How to do we raise the bar for the standard of modesty?” The short answer is “Through a balance between catechetical-spiritual formation and the application of law.” However, with all the hang-ringing about the application of penalties something gets lost in the discussion: modesty is a virtue and fundamentally requires a change of heart. Many approach Our Lady because She is a Mother. No one approaches Her because She broods over the shoulders of sinners waiting to blast them with canonical penalties.

  22. I think back on my high school years when I wore cut-off jean shorts and halter tops to Mass. I also wore jeans so tight that I could barely zip them. I don’t know WHY my parents never really spoke up about it. I know they couldn’t have liked it but i think they figured it was a ‘phase’ and just tried to ignore it. Of course, back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I was far from the only one dressed like that. Was it gravely sinful on my part? I don’t know because I don’t honestly think I had a clue … I was just wearing what everyone wore. I am grateful for a patient Church. I wonder the long-term outcome if I had been denied Communion or reprimanded. I wonder if my pride would have convinced me to leave altogether. But, I do think SOMEONE should have very lovingly had a conversation with all of us teens to tell us WHY dressing more modestly was a virtue.

    I think the greatest witness is the silent witness. For instance, up until about 10 years ago, I NEVER EVER genuflected before the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. My husband and I finally ‘understood’ that teaching and decided that our family needed to do this even though 90percent of the Church did not. Well, as we genuflected, those standing or walking along side us also felt like they needed to do it. There are other families who genuflect as well, of course … long before we did. Ten years later, I think about 30 to 40percent are now genuflecting. It’s an improvement and I think it happened due to the silent witness of a few. Dress code and modesty is similar. You will NEVER reach everyone. Jesus Himself didn’t reach everyone.

    People in high places always have the best silent witness. I think of the latest wedding in England with Kate Middleton’s lovely MODEST bridal gown. It may be the thing to finally overturn the strapless wedding gowns we’ve had for years now. 🙂

  23. “The Vatican has imposed a dress-code for the Holy City aimed at scantily-clad tourists, according to the Daily Mail.

    Visitors to St. Peter’s Basilica have long been told to cover-up, but the dress-code is now extended to St. Peter’s Square (the border between Rome and Vatican City), and prohibits bare shoulders, skirts above the knee and shorts.”

    This is not the complicated matter that people make it out to be, it can be fixed with some will power on the part of priests and bishops.

  24. Father, I agree with you when you say “modesty is a virtue and fundamentally requires a change of heart.” A woman who is modest on the outside but not on the inside is not in a good state spiritually, but her brothers may be…

    As to “the minister does not know the dispositions of the communicant” I have to disagree. When the priest makes an announcement because the sign he has posted outside the church is being ignored, it would be safe to assume the flagrant ignoring of both is contempt. Contempt for the God who demands modesty (God Himself clothing Adam and Eve), contempt for the Church who demands, currently in word only, modesty, and contempt for her neighbor, especially her married neighbor.

    I can encourage my children to behave themselves, but if they won’t do it out of love or respect for me as their mother, there has to be a consequence. A lack of discipline will turn my children into spoiled brats, and that seems to be what we have a lot of in the Church today (eg, the desire for women priests).

  25. How dare you!!! You write on this blog portraying yourself as an authority figure. You attacked me, and women in general, and now you are apologizing to Father Angelo, who caught you? I have choice names for men, like you, who attack women….and it isn’t the word ‘gentleman’.

    And Father made it clear you were not using quotes from the old Canon.

    Readers, this just goes to show us all that it is important not to believe everyone just because they quote this or that, and sound knowledgable….look it up!
    (Satan quoted scripture to Jesus Who was/is the author of scripture! Be careful. Don’t be gulliable.)

  26. I am not sure I understand the issue with pants. If we are strictly speaking of modesty, how are dress pants not modest?

    I love the timeless classic look of the clothing worn by Jackie Kennedy Onasis. Some of her suits/dresses were knee length or slightly above but they still looked modest to me.

    In Christ,

  27. Father and Marie,

    I dont have a copy of the old code of canon law, so I rely on the internet. I suppose it is possible that EWTN is wrong, but I had thought they were reliable.

    “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.”

    I am less of a Fan of the Fatima crusader than I am of ewtn.

    I can apologize for the way I say things but I don’t see where I attacked women. I think you should reconsider my comments. My quotes from St Alphonsus, my example from St Padre Pio and St Bosco have never been addressed. Not only that I then provide the example of the renewed enforcement at Vatican City with a relevant article. The Hermenutic of Continuity is called into doubt if our praxis is going to be one of rupture.

  28. St. Francis de Sales “Purity has its source in the heart, but it is in the body that its material results take shape” (Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III, Ch. XIII). Can you provide ONE Saint that backs up your view? You never answered the question put more than once to you: Where do you draw the line? You quoted Genesis to praise the nudity that existed in a sinless world, deceitfully leaving out that when they realized this they covered themselves. All under the guise of some false sense of charity. Did Christ give a parable before throwing the money changers out on there hind ends? No, they knew better. When a sign is posted outside a church, and a priest (“Novus Ordo” priest, might I add) reiterates it, she knows better. SS Pio, Alphonsus, Bosco, and Francis de Sales are men who heard confessions, of women AND MEN, so they would know what issues needed to be addressed. But maybe they’re all a bunch of misogynists? Would you at least be honest enough to stop beating around the bush and say what you mean: They’re anti-women who’s counsel – agreed upon counsel – I can throw out because…why exactly? They didn’t deal with the warm weather we suffer from today?

  29. Noah – I think everyone here agrees that a new emphasis on modesty in general, but especially while at Mass, needs to be re-awakened! Nothing has thus far come from the Vatican stating strict guidelines to this as of yet … except for nearly 100 years ago. Therefore, we can all talk till our heads come off but we are NOT the Pope or the USCCB. Our former saints, as holy and courageous as they all were (St. Padre Pio and St. John Bosco) also were NOT the Pope and were still fallible creatures. They had their opinions as does EWTN. There are some Churches that are offering Latin Masses in which a covered head for women is being suggested. But there has been no formal ruling on this and I cant find it in the Catechism. The same with skirts versus pants … the only clothing guideline in the Catechism that I have found discusses ‘modesty’ but not which article of clothing is allowed as far as pants/skirts go. Therefore, for an individual to dictate otherwise is to place that individual in Peter’s seat, imho. We can respect the opinions of the great saints and of EWTN, but we are not morally obligated to come to the same conclusion or to obey their opinions. If we start down that trajectory, we can be quoting saints on different subjects for the next hundred years and find that some of them contradict each other and that some of the situations about which they spoke no longer exist today, etc etc. We take away the entire POINT of Jesus placing a Vicar to be in charge of the Church! I don’t know … I get what you’re trying to say but I feel that some of your conclusions are quite dangerous. As for me, I will follow what the Holy Father and the Catholic Catechism are saying on the subject. Not what Noah is saying. No offense.

  30. Noah, I pray to God no one reading Father’s blog ever takes you seriously.

    1) Your original post advocates priests denying women holy communion if they aren’t dressed according to ‘code’. Not only does Canon Law not state this, (look up several posts) but to deny a communicant in the communion line creates a scandal, and that would be a sin.

    2) You come onto this board and post all types of information, of which, in your own words, you google.

    3) You made many comments about women in general that were less than edifyiing, and that goes against the virtue of charity; the only yardstick Christ will use against us on our judgement day.

    4) Since you have shown yourself as not trustworthy in the way of information I highly doubt anything you write at this point should be considered.

    5) If you had been alert to all the postings you woud have read that I am quite the advocate for modest clothing. I quoted the message our Lady gave to Jacinta, one of the Fatima visionaries.

    6) I wear skirts, and am modest in dress 99% of the time in Church, and throughout the day. I do wear jeans on occassion.

    Noah, you are hanging onto a ‘toothpick’ in a vast ocean!

  31. I was looking for a definition of liar to give you, and came across it.

    1. Where do you draw the line?
    2. Are the priests and bishops (the canonized ones quoted already) misogynists?
    3. Why should we take your word over theirs? The only reason you’ve provided is “I wear skirts, and am modest in dress 99% of the time in Church”. Is there any other reason?

  32. Marie,

    1) Yes I do, I am in good company with the Saints such as St Padre Pio.
    2) No I googled the 1917 code of canon law, I have copy of the Complete Ascetical Works of St Alphonsus, 3 or 4 books on Padre Pio though it is well known he did not tolerate immodesty.
    3) Show me where
    4) I guess EWTN was wrong too, clearly not a mistake made in malice, if even a mistake at all.
    5) Yet you want to report a priest who wants to enforce a parish dress code?

    The Authorities on the spiritual life which I have cited do,here is an ebook copy of that section from St Alphonsus.

    I hope everyone reads that, especially the Author of the original article posted here, and the ice figure skater.

  33. Can. 6 §1. When this Code takes force, the following are abrogated:

    1/ the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;

    2/ other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescripts of this Code unless other provision is expressly made for particular laws;

    3/ any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See unless they are contained in this Code;

    4/ other universal disciplinary laws regarding matter which this Code completely reorders.

    §2. Insofar as they repeat former law, the canons of this Code must be assessed also in accord with canonical tradition.

    In Christ,

  34. If I may interject once again:

    I was reading on a number of sites (and we all know that sites aren’t always accurate) about LITERALLY all hell breaking loose in the Vatican with gay priest scandals, black-mailing, and a big red Dossier handed to Our Holy Father on it all that could have been his final straw in abdicating, knowing that a much younger and healthier man was required to deal with the absolute FILTHY NIGHTMARE. I cried.

    And here we are, all orthodox Catholic individuals who are trying to live holy lives, getting into a tizzy over whether we should be required as women to wear skirts or pants, veil or not. I understand why Father Angelo brought this up because we need to HEAL from this type of nonsense. Yes, we need to be modest. But, we need to SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER IN A LOVING WAY. We need to not be so judgmental. We need to stop having those ‘one size fits all solutions’ out there because it’s a big lie. We have such a broken Church right now; why are we fighting amongst those who are all on the same page? We need to unite forces, guys. Period. There’s a battle out there to be fought and I, for one, could care less if you’re in a skirt or a pair of pants! We’re on the same team. We need to act like it.

    There – my motherly advice for the day! lol

  35. 3 replies on this, 7 replies on that. 1 on another topic. Then you get 50 replies on Modesty. Nothing tosses a grenade into a bunker full of devout Catholics faster than the mention of modesty, whether from one side of the spectrum or the other, Why the hec is that?

  36. Also, for the record, if you asked 50 men whether they take note of a woman in pants a little quicker than a woman in a skirt, around 49 of them would probably say yes.(not sure who that other guy is) It doesn’t make pants evil, or skirts holy (or unattractive, for that matter). It simply illustrates the fact that more form is exposed by the wearing of pants. Again, this is simply stating a fact, not a lobbying point for the bannishing of your britches. Know thy wardrobe, Know thy audience. Know thy destination? Consider all, choose wisely and you’ll likely be A-OK.

    Just sayin…

  37. Wow…. Prudence and Charity….. choose your clothing prudently and treat those who dress differently with Charity… sheesh
    (I’d add.. Jus sayin’… but MrV beat me to it 🙂 )

  38. Father, You must be in a combative mood to bring up this subject. I wonder what the comment count will get to 🙂 …
    Steph is right. Prudence and charity. And what is worse, immodesty due to ignorance, or a lack of charity? Honestly, the “prudence police” (and I’m not calling anyone here that) need to, to put it plainly, mind their own business. I personally have witnessed and spoken to people that will not attend mass because they were made very uncomfortable by someone, or by some group of people, in church that told them that they were dressed inappropriately and were causing a scandal for them or their children. Almost all of these people were attending or coming back to mass and the Church for the first time in years. I’ve also personally witnessed where new converts were very uncomfortable within some Catholic circles because all of the women were wearing “jean jumpers” (or the equivalent) and they thought that they were in the midst of a cult. It’s true that there is a standard for modesty in dress that the Church outlines that is the ideal for a Catholic culture – ** but. we. do. not. live. in. a. Catholic. culture!** In my humble opinion it would show more charity and be more pleasing to God if women would make a sacrifice by wearing jeans when it is prudent to, and even go so far as ignore the shorts and tank top that someone might be wearing so that people immersed in our culture might not think that christians are nuts when they talk to us or see us in public. It would also go a long way if guys would not gawk at women who are dressed scantily and perhaps even say hello to them and treat them with respect. Saint Paul said “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Maybe we don’t have the charity to become all things, but it wouldn’t kill us to sometimes meet people where they are at instead of chasing them away by demanding that they meet our expectations.

  39. ~~”It would also go a long way if guys would not gawk at women who are dressed scantily and perhaps even say hello to them and treat them with respect.” ~~

    That would be the day I allow my husband to ‘talk’ to a woman that is scantily dressed!

  40. Spent a little time before Holy Mass began thinking about my above comment (and all the others that I wrote on this post).

    The above comment was meant to be humorous; I forgot to include the smiley face at the end of my comment.

    As for every other posts an explanation is in order.
    I was denied holy communion by a priest because I made an idle comment about Mr Obama. The priest told me not to present myself at the altar because of what I said. And I was in the state of grace and he knew it. I cried not being able to receive. Years later I was informed that a priest cannot deny communion to anyone. So you see, I have a very good reason to help anyone who has been denied the sacrament of communion because of the whims of a priest. I will be the first to show any women where her chancery is located. And I will be the first to take her out for a cup of coffee and clothes shopping if she wanted to be modestly dressed before the King of Kings and didn’t have the financial means to do it.

    Women should be mindful of Who they are visiting by dressing appropriately, but if they are not attired thus, then far be it from me to promote denial of Jesus to anyone. Christ, and His Holy Mother, will certainly inspire any woman to the beautiful grace of modesty if her heart is open, as well as her eyes.

    Those who found it necessary to harass me these last couple of days…Thank you.

  41. I support having a dress code for Mass attendance. There are dress codes for the work place, etc. I still think, though, that dress pants for women are a modest alternative to a skirt/dress. I wear skirts (don’t worrty, they are below the knee!) on Sundays, Holy Days, Ordinations, etc., but sometimes alternate tebween pants and skirts at weekday Mass or when I am traveling. There are many women who wear pants at my parish that look modest and tasteful. Pants can also be a more practical choice for elderly women.
    In Christ,

  42. Mother Teresa of Calcutta picked lepers up off the dirty streets of Calcutta wearing a sari (dress).
    A role model to aspire to! 🙂

  43. I would like to mention my wife, who died May 7, 2009. She was the most Christ-like person whom I have ever known in my 72 years. She was a daily communicant since her first Holy Communion, but, more importantly, she lived it. She radiated the love of Jesus; in fact, a young Jewish friend of ours told her mother that she loved her but that she was no Kathy Foley. Her mother was not hurt in the least because she also knew my wife. I could bring many witnesses to the table to testify to my wife’s remarkable Christian goodness. Because of her Christ-likeness, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were evidently working in her, and she practiced the moral virtues in a most obvious way.
    The above paragraph is simply an opening to describe how my wife dressed; I hold her up as a shining example of Christian modesty. I also might mention that my wife was also a remakably beautiful women. She never wore shorts; she had pants suits; she wore skirts and blouses plus dresses–all below the knee and never any cleavage or bare stomach, nor strapless tops or spaghetti straps, and never anything even remotely skin-tight. She could sew and thus made several loose skirt pants that came to the middle of her calves. I am sure that you good women have the right name for these.

  44. Steve – I like your logic.
    Marie – Mother Teresa is certainly a beautiful role model — but I wouldn’t dress like her! Would you? That would imply that some of the gentlemen on this site should dress like Padre Pio, in a habit. 🙂

    I think most of us came to the final conclusion that slacks (not painted on) are perfectly fine and modest. Each century and each culture has their clothing styles. Each style has probably had women (and men) find a way to be immodest if that’s what they wanted to do. Even some of the sari’s have the women’s abdomen and backs revealed! It’s easy to see the greener grass elsewhere.

  45. Jen, my point was that pants don’t become more pratical just because a woman becomes older. Dresses and skirts are just as pratical as pants. It’s a personal choice.

    Look, everyone,… I used Father Angelo’s post as an opportunity to say that priests are forbidden to deny the sacrament of holy communion to women if they are not dressed in a certain way. Canon Law forbids any priest to do this. (I pasted the Canon # above.)
    I don’t really care if women wear pants, skirts, or dresses in Church. A poster, Catholic Christian, was delighted to announce that a priest was going to deny Jesus to inappropriately dressed women. I corrected this individual, which started a ‘forest fire’.
    Having a priest deny me a sacrament based solely on an idle comment has made me an advocate to teach others to educate themselves. Know what the Church teaches! If your conscience says to you something isn’t quite right about what you’re being told look it up! The best sign post is this….IF CHARITY IS TAKING A BACKSEAT TO ANYTHING ELSE THEN A LIGHTBULB SHOULD BE BLINKING!
    And if you have been denied communion based on your attire (or any other reason) call the chancery in your diocese!

    Let’s look forward to Father Angelo’s next post…..

  46. I think the long ankle-length religious habits are beautiful and if I were in a religious order it certainly would be one with a long habit and veil.

    Marie – I am sorry if my comment about pants offended you. I was thinking of my mom who is 90, has had shoulder replacement surgery and has back problems. Certain clothing items are difficult for her to manage. I guess you could say, though, that it is her choice to wear pants. I certainly would not discourage anyone from wearing a skirt or dress and that was not my intiention.

    There is some disagreement in the Church about whether to deny Holy Communion to pro-choice politicians, for example, but I guess that is off topic for this discussion.


    In Christ,

  47. Marie – I had not taken offense by anything you said and I totally get your point. I have never been refused Communion before, so I cannot imagine the pain that you endured. Of course, there are legitimate reasons to refuse Communion to someone (like the Catholic politicians who are scandalizing the church, men/women in adulterous affairs about which the priest is aware, etc) However, I always thought the priest was supposed to charitably talk with the parishioner privately outside of Mass. It is then that the parishioner is warned to not come forward to receive Communion. Perhaps I’m wrong.

    I also totally agree that habits are BEAUTIFUL and I love orders who wear them. i was merely stating that since we are all lay people (except for Fr Angelo), we surely shouldn’t be expected to wear one. In fact, as STeve stated, we would likely turn off a lot of people if we did. As for older women who choose pants, well I can see it for some. I had an elderly (in her 90’s) great aunt who wore a skirt every day of her life. But, as she got into her 80’s, she couldn’t get the pantihose on anymore and elastic waisted pants with socks became what she could manage. She was a devout 3rd Order Franciscan. But I think most of us here agree that pants can be perfectly fine for women. Whew.

    God’s blessings to you all during this holy Lenten season.

  48. Pingback: A Modest Proposal | Mary Victrix

  49. Thank you for your article, Fr.!

    It has been very interesting reading all the comments. Wow! I just think in the end it comes down to how much respect a woman has for herself. Most women I know, indeed every woman I know (if you are not one of these women, I am sorry) knows who it is that she dresses to attract and how to go about it. We know what we are doing. Then we have a choice. A woman can choose to dress with dignity as a daughter of God and a temple of the Holy Spirit. She may also choose to treat herself as an advertisement. Perhaps it is a good thing when considering your clothing purchases to think about whether the clothing is suited to a child of the Immaculate Mother and of God. It is true that we cannot be always responsible for the actions or reactions of those around us, but we are responsible for our own.

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