Our Lady of Fatima Stressed
Modesty in Dress
|Mother Teresa, a model of modesty and womanhood, shows by her life that 'a virtuous life is the best adornment for women' (1 Tim. 2:10). In Rome, on December 4, 1985, she graciously accepted different issues of The Fatima Crusader and was interested to learn from Father Gruner the findings of the International Fatima Rosary Crusade Symposium regarding the urgent need to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her order is dedicated to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart.|
GIVE US GUIDELINES ON MODESTY
In December, 1985, we received a letter from Joseph B. of New York asking us to get the Vatican to supply guidelines on Modesty in Dress. His letter follows:
"Dear Father Gruner,
"Three times this year I have written to the Vatican to obtain information on the subject MODESTY. Twice I wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger and once (recently) to Pope John Paul II. In these letters I asked for booklets, history, documents, etc. in which MODESTY would be fully explained. I have not received an answer at all.
"I ask you Father Gruner, could you somehow get the Vatican to supply this material to me? Please. You know that at Fatima, MODESTY was very much stressed by the Blessed Virgin Mary. She said that She wanted people to dress modestly.
"All this year I've been asking everyone possible about the subject MODESTY - but no one seems to know or care. There has to be detailed information on MODESTY, since THE MOTHER OF GOD WOULD NOT TELL US TO DRESS MODESTLY IF THERE WERE NO GUIDELINES TO FOLLOW.
It is with apprehension that we reply to this request. Today we know that there is much opposition from some laypeople and even from some bishops to teaching the Catholic Doctrine regarding Modesty in Dress. The Vatican has in the past given clear guidelines regarding Modesty in Dress.
It is perhaps because there has been widespread opposition and disobedience to these guidelines that the Vatican refuses to come out with a new statement.
God allows us to be punished by the silence of the Magisterium today for the sins of not obeying the Magisterium when it spoke up. Just as God, as punishment, did not send more prophets to the people of the Old Testament after the people had killed and rejected many of the prophets He had already sent to them.
If anyone wants the last clear statement of guidelines from the Vatican and Church authorities, they can obtain it from the International Fatima Rosary Crusade offices — ask for the Modesty in Dress leaflet. The essential guidelines that the Vatican gave in this matter is summed up in the one paragraph which we here quote:
"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 knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper."
Following this guideline as well as special guidance from Heaven Padre Pio, the stigmatic priest who bore the bleeding wounds of Christ on his own body from 1918 until his death in 1968, refused time and again to absolve any woman, no matter how important she was, who did not wear her skirts well below the knee. He also insisted that they do not wear slacks. Yet this guideline, due to ignorance, prejudice, enslavement to vanity or passion, has been combated so much.
Over six years ago, even two bishops temporarily entered the fight. They felt compelled to persecute The Fatima Crusader in 1979 for publishing this material. One of these bishops, several years later before his death, seemed more disposed to hear the truth.
Thus we hope you will understand why today many priests do not want to talk about this subject. But for Our Lady of Fatima and for the salvation of souls we shall here attempt to explain the matter more fully.
We agree that Joseph B. poses an important question. One that is very important because if it is not properly answered it can lead to the loss of immortal souls. These souls are of infinite worth because Jesus Christ paid for them with the shedding of His Most Precious Blood. Immodesty in Dress, if gravely offensive would be a mortal sin for the wearer and it is an occasion of sin for the beholder of immodest fashions. So that immodest fashions alone send to Hell, or at least make worthy of Hell's fire, the souls of many of those who see these fashions.
Our Lady at Fatima lamented that in our times the Militant Atheists, that is the Communists and their associates in our own country, would spread their errors against our Christian Catholic faith and morals. Our Lady said, "Russia will spread her errors throughout the world." She also said, "Certain fashions will be introduced which will offend My Son very much."
The Blessed Virgin Mary also tells us at Fatima that "more souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than any other reason".
There are a number of sins against purity that Our Lady was referring to and there is need for clear teaching that only persons who are married may have procreative relations. All others may not use or even give their consent to any pleasure attached to the procreative faculties. Nor may these faculties be voluntarily aroused except in marriage. This is because the power of begetting children is a sacred trust that God has given to men and women to be used only according to His laws.
As Creator of each one of us, as well as Creator of each child's immortal soul, He has a right to demand we obey Him. These matters were explained in a general way in The Fatima Crusader: Issue No. 15, "The Meaning of Christian Chastity", by Father Pelagia, S.T.D. It is because these sins against holy purity are particularly prevalent today causing many souls to go to hell that we here publish Father Pelagia's article on Modesty in Dress and in answer to Joseph B. and many other people's requests.
To help you more fully understand Father Pelagia's explanation given below, some background Theology would be useful. It is because of original sin that every man, woman and child experiences difficulty in controlling some of his appetites, even when he knows by his reason it is in his own best interests to do so.
For example, everyone might recall eating just a little too much after his reason and senses tell him that he has already had enough. Others have felt the desire for more alcohol to drink, or cigarettes to smoke even though they know that any more is not good for them. The appetites then like the appetites for food and drink, clearly want to "do their own thing" even when it is bad for the person who is the owner of that appetite.
We do not always have direct control over how our sense appetites feel. We can control them by Christian mortification as well as by other indirect methods. For example, by not keeping our mind's attention focused on food, drink or tobacco, we can the more easily not give in to the sin of gluttony. If we continue to dwell on food or drink or the pleasure they give us, then inevitably we shall give in to our appetites even against our better judgment.
Since Original Sin, this appetite for sex, the procreative faculty's appetite in all men and women is also not always subject to direct control of the will and intellect.
This appetite is also controlled indirectly by the mortification of fasting and abstinence, as well as by not dwelling upon certain creatures that would tend to awaken a desire in this appetite. Because this appetite is so powerful (God made it that way in order to ensure the continuation of the human race) it does not take much to arouse the desire of the procreative faculty. Because of the different nature of men and women, it is generally true that men's sexual desire is more easily aroused.
It is by seeing persons of the opposite sex immodestly dressed that persons, especially men, find that their appetite for use of the procreative faculty is drawing them to exercise this faculty. This can happen even when it is against the Law of God, and, therefore bad for the person. That is when this appetite is not directed towards one's marriage partner, and if it is, after sufficient reflection fully consented to, then that person has thereby committed a mortal sin.
If this sin is not repented, it would eventually drag that soul to hell for eternity.
Therefore, as a result of this weakness that our brothers and sisters experience as a result of original sin, we must safeguard their virtue by dressing modestly. Both men and women are obliged to dress modestly in strict justice and charity. To offend in this matter is often a mortal sin.
Because of the differences in psychology between men and women it is usually the case that the devil and the militant atheists try to get women to dress immodestly. By this strategy the devil and his followers often succeed in causing men and women to fall into hell. This they achieve by having men mortally sin by their eyes and impure desires and actions. This also causes men to be enslaved on earth by the militant atheists as is explained in the booklet Our Lady's Urgent Appeal. The women are sent to hell for having caused the men to sin by their immodest manner of clothing. They, too, thereby give the Communists and other militant atheists the greater possibility of enslaving the free world.
It is a mistake to read into this concern for modesty as somehow being anti-women. Both men and women are bound by the law of modesty. However, it is much more common for the sin of immodesty to be committed by women, that is why Father Pelegia outlines the obligation of women in this regard. Men, too, must be concerned about this virtue. And if they should feel that their clothes are too tight or immodest in any other way, they too must be more modest so as to not be the occasion whereby anyone of their sisters in Christ should lose their souls by unlawful desires being aroused.
With this background we should appreciate the clarifying article of Father Pelagia, a Doctor of Sacred Theology. He is a Catholic priest who has for more than 20 years studied the moral theology of St. Alphonsus Liguori. St. Alphonsus has been proclaimed Doctor of the Church in Moral Theology by the Magisterium of the Church. Father's article starts immediately below.
A sound guide for girls and women who want to know what good authorities in the Catholic Church have to say about modesty in dress, is the program of the Mary-like Crusade.
For many years until his death in 1969, Father Bernard Kunkel of the diocese of Belleville, Illinois, U.S.A., was Director of the Crusade, his bishop being the President. Followers of the Crusade pledge themselves to observe the norms contained in A Girl's Modesty Guide, which we here print:
IN RESPONSE TO THE PLEA OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA FOR ABSOLUTE MODESTY IN DRESS AND TO HELP PREVENT THE COUNTLESS SINS CAUSED BY IMMODEST DRESS, ESPECIALLY IN THE SUMMER TIME, I SHALL EARNESTLY STRIVE TO CARRY OUT THIS PROGRAM:
1. To refrain entirely from wearing "shorts" of any type, whether at home or in public.
2. To refuse to wear other types of scanty wear, including such things as sun-suits, and such outfits that expose the shoulders, breast, back, or midriff; likewise to avoid sheer or transparent outfits, tight dresses, tight sweaters, and tight slacks; and to wear only such skirts that go sufficiently below the knees to safeguard modesty in all normal postures and movements.
3. To limit my necessary recreational or work garb only to such pants-type garments that reach below the knees and are not tight — preferably full-length ample slacks.
4. To be particularly careful to dress modestly and respectfully for church, and for all sacred services and sacred places, including parish grounds; to encourage others always to dress with Mary-like modesty, without fear of being "unpopular"; to follow the wishes of Our Immaculate Lady rather than the decrees of pagan fashion dictators.
REMEMBER: Modesty in dress helps safeguard the virtue of purity and is demanded by the moral law of God. The above norms are based on this unchangeable moral law and on Christian tradition. Immodest dress is immoral and sinful, and is a matter of confession. We have reason to believe that many souls are now in hell because of the thoughtlessness of girls who dress immodestly. Out of love for Christ and His Immaculate Mother, and for the sake of others who are struggling to be pure, PLEASE DRESS MODESTLY!
Father Bruno Pelagia;
Catholic Priest, Theologian & Doctor of Sacred Theology
We are glad to see here and there ladies and girls who do not need to be told in order to follow these norms. But as for those who stray away from such wise norms, I, as God's minister, ask them to heed my plea:
YOU CANNOT MAINTAIN AN UPRIGHT, UNSEARED CONSCIENCE, AND BE SO THOUGHTLESS!
Do not say, What evil is there in the way I dress?
For would that not be a naive question? You must suspect that exposing a woman's body as you do can be terribly provocative.
Do not say, Those who see me this way are not forced to sin!
For we admit that. But should we not wish to reduce the offenses our Divine Lord receives when we can? Woe to us if we are indifferent about this! Woe to us if, from this indifference, our conduct coaxes others into sin! We know that some good men will so successfully resist any woman's provocativeness that they will not sin in the least, but will gain merit. However, some others, being weak, will consent to what is forbidden; and according to the Scriptures, you will share in their sin for unnecessarily giving them a lure to it. (Matt. 18:7)
Do not say, All the other girls dress this way!
For we admit the sad fact that many are that thoughtless. But even if all were so thoughtless, you should not follow such an example. You consider yourself capable of making wise decisions of your own in personal matters. Seeing that you have the freedom, the privilege, and the duty to pursue virtue and heaven, would you unthinkingly follow the herd like sheep do? "Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction: and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!" (Matt. 7:13-14). Let a sense of responsibility and uprightness distinguish you from the herd.
Do not say, I do not mean to do evil.
For I can believe that. But the mischief you are doing by dressing without due care of the consequences is an evil you will be responsible for.
Do not say, I feel I should be in style and up-to-date.
For there are good women and girls who, using a bit of resourcefulness, manage to dress with a modest attractiveness and charm. But beware of a style which, luring men toward corrupt morals, serves only vanity and the devil; for it is a tragic deception. No matter how styles change and popular tastes change, the moral law does not change.
Do not say, Often it is hard to judge if a dress is modest or not.
Reflect: If you suspect that a dish of food is poisoned, you do not serve it to anyone, for fear of doing harm. Even more so should you not wisely play safe when you have any prudent suspicion that your manner of dress will be a source of harm? Does not an upright conscience look upon sin as the greatest of harms?
Do not say, I refuse to be a bigot and a hypocrite!
For how can it be wrong to act upon an upright conscience, which tells you that an offense against the all-holy God is truly the greatest of evils? A bigot and a hypocrite is one who pretends to hate sin and love God when he does not really care about these things. But I ask you to care, and how is that wrong? Uprightness, which at times requires sweat and tears and courage, is never the same as bigotry and hypocrisy. And the Saints who fought valiantly against immodesty, were they bigots or hypocrites?
Do not say, Men want me this way.
That may be true of men who prefer a bit of pleasure to God's friendship; but it is not true of men who live by a right conscience. Furthermore, it is to God that you must one day render an account, not to men.
Do not say, Beauty is supposed to be seen.
I could reply that "When bodily beauty is shown off a great deal, it loses its loveliness." But there is a physical beauty that cannot be displayed without becoming a lure to tempt men to forbidden satisfactions. On the other hand, if you thought that there was beauty in displaying your legs, why is there not beauty in showing Christian modesty and a concern for the good of souls?
Do not say, But I feel hot!
You know how to put up with the heat when you want to. Surely a good conscience is worth suffering a bit of heat for. Many good souls bear the heat willingly in order to offer it as a penance to God. But — sad to say — some women in hot weather go scantily clad to Mass and other church gatherings who dress modestly when they must work in an office where they receive all kinds of clients, or when they must teach school, or when they must work as salesclerks where they have to satisfy all kinds of customers.
Do not say, There are bigger problems and bigger sins than this.
Yes. Some sins are worse than others (John 19:11). But even the less grave ones are real sins. One need not be a hunted outlaw in order to go to hell. And I have the strongest objections to seeing you go there. I will go there myself if I do not try to keep others from going there.
YOUNG LADY, LET NOTHING CHEAT YOU OUT OF A GOOD CONSCIENCE AND YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY!
If you want to be Christian in fact and not just in name, if you want to help and not hinder the work of grace to reform consciences, if you do not want to feel remorse tomorrow and bear a weight of guilt, then put forth the effort to dress with Mary-like modesty,
… so that you may prove yourself a Christian woman and not a mere man-trap;
… so that you uplift and inspire chaste love, and not enkindle forbidden pleasure.