Modesty and the Churchgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
I realize that this might be a sensitive issue for some, but it's often been a topic of discussion around the dinner table, and I'd like to hear your insights.
It is my understanding that modesty is a virtue, as is, for example, charity. If so, one can strive to be modest, but just as one can never be perfectly charitable, one can never be perfectly modest. Also, as one can objectively judge certain actions as being sins against charity (slander, theft, murder etc.), there should be objective moral standards for modesty- at least defining immodest dress.
My brother, on the other hand, argues that modesty is subjective, changing with the customs of a society. Therefore, any laws regarding modesty would only be disciplinary laws of the Church, and subject to change. How else could natives in equatorial regions attend Mass, taking into account their "abbreviated dress" made famous by the National Geographic? On the other hand, the rise in immorality seems to show that North Americans haven't been immune to the corresponding rise in "revealing" fashions.
Can modesty be objectively judged? Are there any standards of modest dress, or any disciplinary teachings of the Church on modesty in dress? I'm familiar with Padre Pio's guidelines and I think I've read an apostolic letter on the subject, but I can't locate it at the moment. How would these bind Catholics today?
By the way, I'm sorry if there is an existing thread on this topic- I did a search and couldn't come up with anything.
-- Catherine Ann (email@example.com), June 02, 2003
-- top (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 02, 2003.
I think you're brother's right, modesty can only be subjectively judged. What may be modest to one person/culture may well be immodest to another. However, I believe there's a duty on us to adhere to a certain standard of modesty within our individual cultures. For example, one wouldn't attend Mass wearing swimwear, but one may not have a problem with uncovered shoulders.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this to say on modesty:
2521. "Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. modesty protects the intimate centre 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. "
2522. "modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet. "
2523. "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. "
2524. "The forms taken by modesty vary from one culture to another. Everywhere, however, modesty exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man. It is born with the awakening consciousness of being a subject. Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person. "
2533. "Purity of heart requires the modesty which is patience, decency, and discretion. modesty protects the intimate centre of the person. "
-- Sara (email@example.com), June 03, 2003.
-- + (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 03, 2003.
Although there are some decent quotations in the top half of the above-linked site (www.tldm), I recommend that the site be avoided (or read with great care) because it is part of the promotion of the phony "apparitions" of Bayside, New York (rejected by the local bishops). The very top and the second half of the page are littered with Bayside statements that came from the bogus "seer" or from an even more dangerous source (the devil).
I seem to recall that Pope John Paul II has spoken on the subject of modesty in dress. I believe that the pope, to avoid prudishness and to show a proper balance in thinking, said that attire ought to be necessary and appropriate to the task being accomplished. Therefore, one would not wear a tuxedo to bed ... one would never appear nude in public [there being no task requiring this] ... and one could not expect female runners or swimmers to wear ankle-length skirts, etc.. It goes without saying that garments should be opaque, sufficiently veiling, and sufficiently loose-fitting as not to excite lust in oneself or others. Thus, (semi-)transparent clothing can never be worn. I believe that all bare-midriff garments and very skimpy, tight, form-fitting clothes must be avoided except where their wearing is truly necessary. One sees that most Olympic swimmers and divers wear modest one-piece suits -- not immodest two-piece apparel, which is obviously unnecessary for the task at hand.
God bless you.
-- J. F. Gecik (email@example.com), June 07, 2003.
Oh, so it really comes down to common sense. I thought the Church usually provided guidelines for those who are lacking in this regard.
-- Catherine Ann (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 08, 2003.