Monday, May 23, 2011

Catechism on Modesty

What is Modesty?

Modesty, from the virtue of temperance, is moderation in outward behaviour and dress, proceeding from a humble and chaste heart.  It is the perfection of manners, the honour of our bodies, the dignity of the sexes, the integrity of life, the safeguard of matrimony, the guarantee of our race, the foundation of sanctity, the precursor of every good disposition.

How do we practice Modesty?

We practice modesty by humbly acknowledging our own weakness and concupiscence and that of our neighbours.  We act and dress in such a manner as to offer no occasions at all for others to think lustfully about us, nor to have any involuntary movements of passion or desire in our regard.  In this way, modesty is opposed to pride, which tempts us to be the object of another's sinful thoughts and desires.

How does Modesty benefit the world?

When modesty is widely practiced and respected, men and women alike are tempted less often and less powerfully.  For this reason, marriages and families are able to be stronger, since adultery which is inflamed by immodesty has not the power to destroy them.  Children are more apt to grow up loved and well educated and go on to live productive and moral lives, since they had a strong and loving family to support them.  In this way, nations are stronger, since they have strong families as their foundation.

How should the nation promote Modesty?

Since laws are meant to make men good, modesty falls within the rightful jurisdiction of governments. The nation ought to make laws requiring the people to dress and act modestly in all walks of public life.

How should a man dress and act Modestly?

A man has great responsibility, as the head of the family and society, to set a good and modest example.  He must take care to adequately cover his flesh of his torso and above the knees and elbows at all times in public and social settings.  He must not permit unchaste comments to be directed at himself by either men or women, and must carry himself with the dignity due to the image and likeness of God.

If he is married, he ought to avoid the company of all women insofar as he is reasonably able, and when he must associate with them, he must limit his familiarity with them.

How should a woman dress and act Modestly?

A woman's responsibility is no lighter, as she is beautiful to behold and men are easily tempted by such beauty.  In public and social settings, she must always take care to cover, not only her skin in like manner as the man, even more, but she ought also to hide her feminine figure, since both of these are powerful temptations to men.  It is also greatly to be encouraged that a woman cover her head, since the beauty of her hair is also a powerful temptation.

Making use of colouring for the eyes or lips and other artificial items in order to create a counterfeit, unnatural beauty that God did not give her is not only contrary to modesty, which is, as we have said the exercise of moderating one's appearance, but it serves no purpose other than to provoke sinful thoughts in others.

She also must not permit unchaste comments to be directed at herself by either men or women, and must carry herself with the dignity due to the image and likeness of God.  If she is married, she must limit, insofar as possible, all contact with men who are not her husband and relations.

How else is Modesty beneficial to me?

Our Lord, in St. Matthew 5:28, said that even to look upon a woman to lust after her was to be guilty of the sin of adultery, and in St. Matthew 18:7, said scandals would be severely chastised for leading others into sin.  Therefore modesty is most beneficial as one of many necessary virtues which safeguard against eternal punishment in hell.

Most Holy and Modest Virgin Mary, pray for us!

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