Monday, July 6, 2009

MOD - Modern or Modest? - by Flavia Fernandes - Mumbai, July 2009

In the "New Covenant" made by our Creator God with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31-34) every person can know God from within - because the Holy Spirit is revealing our Creator to all who are willing to know the Lord and trust in Him. We can still help each other along the way; so may you be pleased to find here a variety of helps to the life of faith in God through Jesus Christ. G.S.


👉 19.  MOD - Modern or Modest? - by Flavia Fernandes - Mumbai, July 2009

Scandals can come through various sources, e.g. profane paintings and sculptures, immodest dresses, loose lifestyles and even toys. All these may cause the loss of many souls. Immodesty in dress, apparent in everyday life, is the most common source of scandal. It is not only a major problem in our own times, but it is also one of the greatest stumbling blocks to our own salvation and to the salvation of others. Though modesty or immodesty is usually attributed to women, this is not entirely true, for even men may dress immodestly.

The heart of a person can be seen by how he/she attires his/her body. We have only to go back in time and reflect on how Satan duped our First Parents Adam & Eve, to see where we stand today.

Clothing has been in existence since time immemorial; in fact, since Adam and Eve. Before their fall it was Sanctifying Grace that covered their nakedness. Genesis 2:22-25 tells us “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame,” because God had created them in His own image and likeness: holy and pure; without sin, blemish, or guilt. Indeed, they were one with God and with each other.

After their fall, through the sin of Disobedience, they lost Sanctifying Grace, Integrity and Immortality: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons… (Genesis 3:7)

By violating God’s command, their whole being, body, soul and spirit, was profoundly affected by sin. Even after covering themselves with fig leaves, Adam was still hiding from God, because he was afraid on account of his nakedness. It is from this point on that the tale began of immodest dress, which, on account of fallen human nature, arouse the base passions of men and leads them into sin. Instinctively, therefore, Adam felt that his own and his wife’s nakedness needed to be covered.

We know that leaves are fragile and would disintegrate in no time, so they could not provide the required protection. Could it be that, since these aprons did not provide enough coverage in God’s eye, “the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins, and clothed them”? (Genesis 3:21)

If God had permitted nakedness, he would not have clothed our first parents. But God did want them to be clothed and so clothed them Himself! How misguided therefore are the nudists, who have created nudist colonies, thinking they are going back to nature.

It is obvious that in order to make garments of skins for our first parents, an animal had to be sacrificed to obtain the skin to cover them. This can be interpreted as being symbolic of the sacrifice of Jesus the true lamb on the cross in expiation for sin.

From the pierced side of Christ flowed the sacramental life of the Church: From the Water which cleanses, there issued forth The Sacrament of Baptism, from the Blood, which gives life, there flowed the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Sacrament of Baptism is the first of all the Sacraments, because it makes us children of God, and because, without it, no other sacrament can be received. The white garment placed on the newly baptized signifies Sanctifying Grace that was lost as a result of Adam and Eve’s Original Sin. When the Priest lays the white garment on a baptized person he says: “… you have become a new creation and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.”

Thus it has become our duty to help others by word and example, particularly by our modesty, to keep their souls unstained. How much will we be held accountable on judgment day, if by our immodest dress, we have been the cause of the downfall of others! On the other hand, how much shall we be blessed for having been, by our modest dress, a source of good example to others!

Those who have had the misfortune of giving bad example, thus wounding souls and exposing them to eternal perdition, should take care to make reparation in this world, in order to avoid being subjected to a most terrible expiation in the next. It was not in vain that Jesus Christ cried out, “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!” (Mathew 18:7)

There was a time in history, not all that long ago, when ladies adorned themselves in apparel, which was feminine, yet graceful and altogether modest. But as years went by, the decline of our society greatly influenced the fashion industry. And so immodest fashions came into being, created by the spiritually depraved, who were eager to lead others along the same road!

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel or Coco Chanel, as she was popularly called, was a dancer, actress and cabaret singer, before she went into designing hats and then women’s clothing. She had affairs with certain wealthy men, who financed her fashions. She created women’s clothing made out of wool jersey (stretchy knit fabric, not woven), which had been used only for men’s underwear, and she used it to make clingy dresses.

Luis Reard, a French automotive engineer who was running his mother’s lingerie business, created a two-piece “atom-sized” swimsuit for women. He named it ‘Bikini’ after the testing site, Bikini Atoll, of the atomic bomb in the Pacific Ocean. His choice of the name is so apt as the bikini too has an appalling destructive nature – destruction of Souls. Since the bikini was so tiny, none of the models in Paris would wear it on the fashion runways. So Reard hired Micheline Bernardini, whose regular job was a nude dancer at the Casino de Paris. She had “no qualms” about strolling down the runway in this bathing suit.

We now live in an age where, in the name of modernity and progress, so many people have lost all sense of modesty. Satan has duped the world via the media and carnal standards around us that nakedness is not only uncovered, but actually exalted! Another ploy of Satan is seen in clothes that fully cover the body but are so form-fitting and/or transparent that it is as if the body is fully exposed. Many Clothing Houses all over the world follow the dictates of Satan creating apparel to kill the soul. The aprons that Adam & Eve made of fig-leaves would put these apparels to shame. Fashion shows propagate such sinful apparel, which are blindly followed. We see the effects in almost all walks of life – dancers, singers, actors, sportsmen & sportswomen, cheerleaders, royalty, etc and the common people.

Different dress codes like casual, formal, informal etc. have been created by the world for different occasions like sports, meetings, funerals, receptions and even for audiences with Kings and Queens. What about the dress code “Modesty” that should be followed when we go to Church or Chapel? There is a sacred tradition dating back to biblical days that the Lord should be worshipped in holy attire – “Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy array” (Ps.29:2). The Church is a holy place where God himself, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, dwells in our midst: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Wearing immodest clothing in Church makes a mockery of this holy place. With what audacity do we find the King of Kings insulted in his own House by His own people who come immodestly clothed? How often our Churches on Sundays, on Solemn Feast Days of Christmas and Easter look like a fashion parade! How often do we also see the garments worn by the godparents/relatives of the child being baptised, 1st communicants, Confirmation candidates, brides and their attendants sadly lacking in modesty.

Pope Benedict XV wrote in his encyclical Sacra Propediem on January 6, 1921 (which is relevant even today):

“One cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and station. Made foolish by a desire to please, they do not see to what degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for such apparel as for a grave fault against Christian modesty. Now it does not suffice to exhibit themselves on public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of churches, to assist at the Hoy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passion to the Holy Altar, where one receives the Author of Purity.”

This story is told of Archbishop Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) when he was Papal Nuncio in Paris (France) : He was invited to a dinner at which also a very immodestly dressed woman was present. Conscious of this open insult to his dignity as representative of the Vicar of Christ, he decided to give her a mild rebuke. After dinner, he approached the woman with an apple from a bowl of fruit and offered it to her. She replied that she had eaten sufficiently. The Cardinal, however, persisted saying gently, “But I do think you should eat this apple. The woman asked, “Why should I eat it?” The Papal Nuncio replied, “Madam, it may help you to eat the apple. It was only after Eve at the apple that she realized she was naked!”

In our days too, do many people realize they are half naked? Today, how many Catholics dress immodestly and no one seems to bother or warn them. Indeed, the road to hell is far smoother and more attractive today than ever before. Many ignore God’s Word in the Bible about modesty. Maybe that is why He has sent Our Lady time and again to warn against immodest fashions.

Our Lady revealed to Blessed Jacinta, one of the three seers of Fatima: “Fashions will be introduced, which will offend Jesus very much”.

On 25.5.1970 at San Damiano, Italy, Our Lady told Mamma Rosa Quattrini:- “Pray, pray for young people, because so many of them, by their way of life, are on the road of sin, on the road to impurity, which cause the loss of many souls. With their immodest fashions, they make heaven and earth tremble… Listen, young people, listen to Me, your Heavenly Mother. Listen to Me, while there is still time, for when you will present yourselves at God’s Tribunal, what will become of you?”

In the Marian Movement of Priests, which was established by Our Lady, She urges the faithful who support Her Movement to follow “An austere manner of life by repudiating styles which are ever increasingly provocative and indecent.” (Msg.26 Nov.1, 1973)

The Blessed Virgin Mary, herself the epitome of Modesty, would be the very BEST model of Modesty for a woman to imitate and St. Joseph her most chaste Spouse would be the BEST model for a man to imitate. In all her apparitions all over the world, Our Lady appears modestly clothed.

She is also the BEST model for mothers to imitate, when it comes to training their children in modesty. Catholic Tradition tells us that Jesus’ tunic, “woven without seam from top to bottom” (Jn.19:23) was woven by her. Now, as a loving and concerned Mother, She offers us Her treasured garb, the Brown Scapular. It is a holy garment that joins us to Mary in a mystical union. All Catholics should take advantage of this spiritual armour, which so perfectly shields us from the wiles of the wicked one. When we place ourselves under Her Blessed Mantle, we should consciously observe chastity, according to our state of life. By all means we should avoid wearing immodest clothing, for that would amount to a sacrilegious use of Her Scapular.

Jesus was stripped of the modest clothing Our Lady had made for Him, when, by the brutal scourging, the fury of Hell vented itself upon His Sacred Body. Truly He was bruised for our iniquities, for our immodesty, sensuality and immorality.

When meditating on the 10th Station of the Cross – “Jesus was stripped of his garments” :

We should remind ourselves that Jesus submitted to this ignominious suffering in order to atone for our immodest way of dressing.

We were bought with a price and hence should glorify God in our bodies (ref.1Cor.6: 19-20)

We should resolve to take corrective action to bring back Christian modesty in dress.

Mod – Modern or Modest? (Part II)       By Flavia Fernandes, Mumbai, July 2009

Guidelines for Modest Clothing

In order to take corrective action in regard to immodest dress, it is necessary to know and understand why people indulge in wearing such clothes:

Lack of knowledge of Scripture, weak faith and refusal to follow God’s commands.

The desire to look modern, attractive and acceptable to Society and/or to one’s peer-group.

Imprudent parents who accustom their children to live scantily clothed and so lose their sense of modesty.

Bad example of parents, who themselves wear immodest clothes.

Parents who encourage their own daughters to follow the latest fashions, even if they are immodest, in order to get good jobs, husbands, etc.

Desire to impress people and so exert influence upon society

Lack of time and/or expertise to make one’s own garments.

Cheaper clothing produced on a large scale versus expensive tailored ones.

The fashion industry making it hard for families to find wholesome clothing.

God has not compromised about modesty and wants His people to reflect His own Holiness. This applies both to the Old and New Testaments. If we sincerely wish to please God, we should respond to His call to seek his desires on how we should be clothed. “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7). The Holy Bible gives instructions right from Priests to the laypeople.

When God gave the 10 commandments to Moses, He also gave him various other instructions. One of the instructions about clothing for the Priests was, “And you shall make them linen breeches to cover their naked flesh; from the loins to the thighs they shall reach;” (Ex.28:42).

“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”(Deut.22:5). However, in our days we find more and more women wearing masculine clothing reducing the boundary line between man and woman, leading to distressing consequences in family and in society.

In Leviticus 19:28, God forbids tattooing of the body. Yet, we see some people wearing immodest clothing, showing off tattooed exposed parts of their bodies.

God says to come out and be set apart, holy and consecrated to Him. Therefore, whatever we do, everything should be done for the glory of God (ref.1 Cor.10:31)

Since faith formation is primarily given in the family, it is the bounden duty of parents and godparents to form their children firmly in the faith, so that they will not stray from it. Our Lady has warned that lack of discipline “is manifested by the flouting of those obligations which are proper to one’s state of life…” (MMP msg.169).

Lack of discipline in childhood will easily continue and reflect itself as the years go by. It manifests itself in the sharp drop of vocations to the Priesthood and to Religious Life. But even if some vocations come out of these families, they find it difficult to conform to the strict rules of their vocation and to the spirit of the founder of their Religious Society, so they try to bring in the spirit of the world into it. “Today each one tends to direct himself according to his own tastes or free choice, and with what scandalous facility are violated the norms of the Church, which have been reaffirmed again and again by the Holy Father, such as the obligation for Priests to wear the ecclesiastical dress!” (MMP Msg.169).

Here is a story from purported revelations by Our Lord to a holy old sister in Rome. It was the time soon after the 2nd Vatican Council when Religious seemed to have lost their bearings and nuns began to give up their habits in order to adopt the dress or ordinary worldly women, in the vain hope that in this way they would be able to attract young girls to the religious life. What actually happened was that thousands of nuns lost their vocation, and, God forbid that a good number of them may have lost their souls as well! Jesus was telling the aforesaid holy nun that many sisters had abandoned their habits and had turned to a worldly life. Then all of a sudden He told her to look up into the sky. At that moment a soul was crossing the sky like an arrow and plunging into hell. Jesus commented sadly that she was a nun who had adopted the minigonna, which obviously no girl should ever adopt because it invites people to lustful looks and desires and thus becomes guilty of the sins others may commit on her account!

Hence, if Priests and Nuns follow fashions, the laity would not think it amiss to do the same. Keeping God’s commands foremost in our minds, let us strive to take measures to come out of this darkness into His wonderful light. It is possible to dress modestly and yet look good.

Here are a few important points to keep in mind and remedial measures that could be taken, remembering that modesty is one of the Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

A few types of clothing to be avoided:

We should remember that generally a dress becomes immodest when it tends to tightness and form-fitting, or exposes flesh and draws attention to the “body”. Hence:

where women are concerned, the immodest attires would be: sleeveless, bare midriffs, shorts, mini or micro-mini skirts, low necklines showing cleavage or more, halters, backless, off-shoulder, shoulder-less, spaghetti straps, slacks, transparent garment material; sensual styles eg. Dresses that reveal halter-straps of bras, those that have petticoat or bra patterns on the outside of the dress, those that have a slit at the skirt either at its side/s, back or front showing a lot of leg that are often more provocative than other dresses a man’s carnal nature is often stirred more by a dress that leave more to the imagination than is actually seen. Women should also be careful that their garment should not be revealing even when bending over or raising their arms.

Where men are concerned, immodest attires would be: form-fitting, transparent, sleeveless, unbuttoned shirts, exposed chests, shorts, tight trousers, trousers having pattern of briefs on the outside as popularised by the late Michael Jackson.

Some exceptions:

Where sick, old or patients having intolerable medical ailments may be allowed to wear certain clothing that could border on immodest e.g. a wider neck, thinner material, sleeveless, in order to give them relief from their physical suffering.

Remedial measures:

Follow Marylike standards for modesty in dress while purchasing or making garments, which meet this standard. According to this standard, dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer, they do not emphasize unduly, parts of the body and have sleeves extending at least to the elbows and skirts reaching below the knees. They also require full coverage (even after jacket, cape or stole are removed) for the bodice, chest, shoulders and back; except for a cut-out about the neck not exceeding two inches below the neckline in front and in back and a corresponding two inches on the shoulders. They also avoid improper use of flesh-coloured fabrics and do not admit transparent fabrics (e.g. laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc.) unless sufficient backing is added. However, moderate use as trimmings is acceptable. (It is said that because of impossible market conditions quarter-length sleeves are temporarily tolerated with Ecclesiastical approval until Christian womanhood again turns to Mary as the model of modesty in dress).

Make use of full cotton petticoats for all dresses.

Insert a pleat or godet into the offending slit of the skirts to cover one’s modesty.

Where sarees are concerned, they should not be draped below the navel nor tightly to accentuate the shape of the body. If the blouse is of thin material, it should have a lining. The ‘pallu’ should be draped in such a way to cover the body instead of falling loose.

In the case of ‘Salwar-kameez’, a pleat or godet should replace the slits at the sides of the Salwar and use should be made of full petticoat. The kameez too should not be of thin material as otherwise the legs could be viewed against the light.

Care should be taken when buying branded clothing as they promote certain evil tendencies e.g. ‘Killer’ jeans. Avoid buying such brands. It is safer to get clothes tailored.

Never buy/wear clothes/T-shirts that have anti-Christ symbols or messages on it e.g. “OM”, swastika, dagger. It’s an open invitation to the evil one.

Never buy/wear T-shirts with a foreign language printed on it, which you do not understand. It may have a bad or evil message on it.

Where it is impossible to redeem a garment, open it up and make a patchwork sheet/curtain/bedcovers/suitcase covers, bags, rugs or use as kitchen rags. Never give immodest clothing to charity.

If women have to wear trousers where it is the dress code laid down by the Company, hospitals, airlines etc. the women should see to it that the blouses reach well below the fork-length (at least mid-thigh) and the trousers are not form-fitting but loose enough. There could be a collective request from the staff to the management to change the dress code.

Inculcating a holy attitude by doctors, nurses and other attendants in hospitals/homes towards patients who have to expose their bodies for medical treatment or care.

Keeping the Virgin Mary as their model, those who teach tailoring should instill in their students the values of modesty and teach them to follow the tenets of modesty.

Male tailors who tailor ladies clothing should inculcate a holy attitude when measuring ladies bodies.

Certain clothing houses in some Western/Catholic countries sell only modest clothing, which can be bought online through the Internet anywhere in the world. A search of ‘Mary-like standards of dressing’ on the Internet helps not only find such clothing houses but also gives a detailed spiritual guidance on modesty.

There is an urgent need for experts to take up the challenge to teach tailoring of modest clothing, at a low cost, in our Schools/Parishes/Institutes.

Parishes could join together to place orders for modest clothes directly from the manufacturer in order to get good clothes at a cheaper rate.

Some pious practices:

Wearing clothes too can become a prayer for us as it does for a Priest. When he dresses for Mass,

The Amice reminds him of the blindfold put upon Jesus by the soldiers, when they struck Him in the face (worn in Latin-rite Masses)

The Alb reminds him of the white robe the soldiers put on Jesus when they mocked him and treated him like a fool;

The Cincture reminds him of the ropes with which Jesus was dragged from place to place;

The Maniple reminds him of the cords with which the hands of Jesus were tied (worn in Latin-rite Masses)

The Stole reminds him of the Cross Jesus carried to Calvary and on which He died;

The Chasuble reminds him of the robe which the soldiers took from Jesus when they nailed Him to the Cross

Make the Sign of the Cross before changing our clothes: to ward off any temptation, To prevent our nakedness from being exposed in case of sudden death or untoward incident. The following scripture verse, which refers primarily to the soul, may also be applied here: “Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments that he may not go naked and be seen exposed!” (Rev. 16:15)

Resort to the Sacrament of Confession where Jesus awaits us with love.

We as Catholics are called to be the salt of the earth and light to the world. As we sow, so shall we reap. If we do not follow our calling, we will only invite chastisement through the likes of the Shivsainiks, Ram Senas and Talibans of this world to shame us.

May our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary – the Woman clothed with the Sun and crowned with Stars be our model, guide and support on our journey via the narrow path through this world to our eternal home.                        👈


In the "New Covenant" made by our Creator God with humanity (Jeremiah 31:31-34) every person can know God from within - because the Holy Spirit is revealing our Creator to all who are willing to know the Lord and trust in Him. We can still help each other along the way; so may you be pleased to find here a variety of helps to the life of faith in God through Jesus Christ. G.S.


© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal  QC
© 2006-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC

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In the "New Covenant" made by our Creator God with humanity, as reported in Jeremiah 31:31-34, every human being can know God from...