Tag Archives: Modesty

Modesty Part II: Theology

Nota Bene: My last blog post showed that modesty is actually a means of cultural empowerment for women, not a means of making them overly-subservient. Ladies, if you’re going to have thin-skin reading the still-binding modesty-norms of the Catholic Church, please re-read part I to understand that this blog is not about oppression but freedom (cf Gal 5:1)

One summer evening, a couple years before I knew I would ever live in Florida, I was passing through the city of St. Augustine, south of Jacksonville. That evening, I went in to pray at North America’s first Cathedral. It is stunningly beautiful.

Later, I came outside the Cathedral to find the small city humming with life and history. Like most downtown Cathedrals, there were quite a few homeless men. I’ve learned that most of these conversations are short, due to mental illness and drug abuse. However, that evening in front of the Cathedral, I met a homeless man I will never forget. I do not remember his name, but he was very much like a living prophet Jeremiah. He was quietly preaching against the abuses of the Church the past 100 years. In fact, he was a white rapper about 50 years old! He rapped in rhyme about bishops, about changes, about God, about dogma—all with a surgical ecclesiastical precision the world over.

I began listening for real proper nouns and real dogmas and I realized he was very accurate. This odd rapping-prophet was on a very different level from most homeless schizophrenics. He was rhyming the truth of the current Catholic Church crisis. I listened to him for about an hour and then I asked him a question. I said: “100 years ago, why did the Mother of God and other saints prophesy about coming fashions of immodesty instead of the coming scourage of abortion? Isn’t abortion much worse than immodesty?” I can not put his answer into rhyme as well as he did, but he answered something like this: “Immodesty leads to pornography. Pornography leads to contraception. Contraception leads to abortion.”

This is the brilliant answer that I have been thinking about for years.

My question to this homeless man is of course founded on what Mary said in a private revelation in 1917:

“Fashions will arise which will greatly offend God.”—Our Lady of Fatima to Jacinta Marto

About 15 years after Mary appeared in Fatima,  the Vatican under Pope Pius XI gave very specific advice about this:

“We recall that 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 knee. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper. Let parents keep their daughters away from public gymnastic games and contests; but, if their daughters are compelled to attend such exhibitions, let them see to it that they are fully and modestly dressed. Let them never permit their daughters to don immodest garb.”—Cardinal-Vicar of Pope Pius XI, Cardinal Pompilj, 24 September 1928 1

Notice that Cardinal is not writing about Church attire, but daily attire.  The Vatican is stating what the Church always held as necessary for the salvation for Christian women everywhere (not just in Europe! not just in Church!) but everywhere outside the home from the earliest days of Catholic Christianity (yes, think Mary and Mary Magdalene.)

Padre Pio heard about 2 million confessions in his lifetime, but around 1967 he started rejecting many women from going to his confessional. Padre Pio’s brother Franciscans were forced by him to put up a sign that read:

By Padre Pio’s explicit wish, women must enter the confessional wearing skirts AT LEAST 8 INCHES BELOW THE KNEE. It is forbidden to borrow longer dresses in church and to wear them to confession.

Again, many people would say that this was specific to an old Italian man’s culture. My response is simple: Would God crown a saint like Pio with a crazy view of human nature? With an outdated view of human nature? Let’s remember God gave him the gifts of reading hearts, raising the dead, the stigmata, healings before and after his death and more or less all the miracles found Acts of the Apostles. Was he just wildly scruplulous? No, Pio knew God and Pio knew fallen human nature.

Padre Pio would neither let women nor men enter his confessional in short-sleeves.

I know these norms sound extreme even to decent Catholic women today, and I know that there will be two main objections to this blog post holding 1930s specific-standards for daily female attire.

I suspect the two major objections will be:

1) Modesty changes according to time and place, even within the Catholic Church.
A grave sin is not a mortal sin if I don’t know it to be. Anyway, it’s not my fault if men lust after me.

We’ll jump right in…

Objection 1: Modesty changes according to time and place, even within the Catholic Church.

Answer: “There always exists an absolute norm to be preserved.”—Pope Pius XII

Most Catholic women who read my blog actually believe that contraception is a mortal sin. However, the average young female reader here believes that the only immodesty worse than hers—is only the one who wears less clothing!  But the average neo-conservative is pretty good on the Church’s teaching on contraception, so let’s consider what she would say.  If she were in a friendly debate with a non-Catholic, she would rightly state the medical facts about birth control and only then move on to the theological reality. Perhaps she might say add something like this: “And the Church’s teaching can’t change on contraception because human nature doesn’t change on reproduction.”

And this would be a perfect answer!

However, why can’t we apply this to modesty? Logically, the only conclusion to opposing contraception would be to maintain the Church’s teaching on modesty, too: “The Church’s teaching can’t change on modesty because fallen human nature does not change in regards to lust.”

Look ladies, none of this really comes down to what a Pope said. It all comes down to what Jesus Christ said:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.—Mt 5:27-29

Ladies, this means if you cause a man to lust after you by how you dress, then you have committed a mortal sin by helping him to commit a mortal sin in his mind.  If men or women die in unconfessed mortal sin, they go to hell.   (Vice versa for the two previous sentences, of course.)

Objection 2: A grave sin is not a mortal sin if I don’t know it to be. Anyway, it’s not my fault if men lust after me.

Before Gloria Polo’s soul came back to her body in 1995, but after she was condemned to hell in 1995, she realized that although she thought she was a good Catholic, she never understood what her mode of dress did to the minds of men.  She recounts one reason she was sentenced to hell in her near death experience before Jesus in His mercy gave her another chance at life:

As a matter of fact, after matrimony, I never even gave a kiss to another, only to my husband. But the Lord showed me that I exhibited too much of my body, when I went around with my breasts exposed, with skintight leggings, with the clothes that I used… I thought that men looked at me simply to admire me… But the Lord showed me how they sinned with me, because we are not dealing with admiration, as I believed, but with provocation, and they were provoked, due to me. I committed adultery for having exhibited my body. I did not understand the male sensibility. I believed that they thought like me, that looking at me they would say: ‘What a nice body!’ Instead they sinned, due to my fault. Never was I unfaithful for having thrown myself into the arms of a man, but it was as if I was a prostitute in spirit.”

Now me (Padre) writing again:  Notice that Gloria Polo is not writing about Church attire, but daily attire.  Most good Catholic men do want to end their sins of pornography.  Most good Catholic women do not want to end their sins of immodesty.   Why not?  I believe it is because most Catholic women of America project their own mindset of admiration of clothing into the male mind that sees it only as provocation of clothing.  Ladies, you must understand that almost all men in the world (except the extremely pure and the extremely perverse) see your legs as flashing arrows to pleasure, not “smooth and cute” like you do.

Should men see it this way?  Of course not.  But the Holy Spirit writes through the Apostle Paul:  “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”—Gal 6:2.  What this means is that for men to get women to heaven, men must compensate for women’s weaknesses of concupiscence (usually emotional instability…not sorry for the stereotypes!) and women must compensate for men’s weaknesses of concupiscence (usually lust…but something tells me I don’t need to apologize for this stereotype, do I ladies?)  So we all need get over it and fight to get one another to heaven without explaining how the other gender “should be” in a perfect world that does not exist until we get our bodies back in heaven.

It should be noted that the Canadian bishops issued this statement for men in terms of modesty in 1946 in this footnote here: 2

Now, for the more insidious, amateur theologians who like to play every loophole that comes from the phrase “full knowledge and full consent of the will,” I ask you to notice that Gloria Polo’s modern story (containing the approbation of the current bishops of South America) repeatedly shows that we are indeed responsible for what we could have known…but choose to ignore under pretext of “conscience.”

The mistaken theological notion today that something is not a mortal sin only because of ignornace is only tenable if you have invincible ignorance (meaning there was no way you could have known the truth.) Vincible ignorance, on the other hand, means that you could have known the Catholic truth, but you were too lazy to do your research.

Furthermore, the pop-theology line “it’s a mortal sin only if you know it to be” is a new theological invention of the past 50 years that I would challenge any reader to find me in any Pope or doctor of the Church before 1950 and send me an email with it. You simply won’t find it. The Church has indeed taught there are mitigating factors to culpability, but mitigated culpability does not transmit sanctifying grace! Let me write that again: Mitigated culpability does not transmit sanctyfing grace necessary for salvation. (Salvation comes only from faith in Jesus Christ leading to baptism and the other sacraments, as well as the good works found in Matthew 25 which are necessary for heaven, too.)

That God does not respect our consciences on modesty is seen in this closing story of St. Frances of Rome:

“In the life of Saint Frances of Rome, we read of a vision of hell which was granted her, and which lasted for four hours.  God willed to show her, in the fires of hell, certain ladies whom she had known in Roman society.  For what sins had these souls been damned? 

“They had been damned:
1) For guilty desires, even though these had not been put into act.
2) For indecent styles of dress, which were the fashion of the day, and which had been a cause of seduction and of sin.
3) For dances considered inoffensive by the world.

Notice that the women of Rome were not condemned for their Church dresses, but their daily dresses that they wore “as the fashion of the day” in the 15th century!

  1. “Young women and women dressed immodestly are to be debarred from Holy Communion and from acting as sponsors at the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation; further, if the offense be extreme, they may even be forbidden to enter the Church.”—Donato Cardinal Sbaretti,Prefect of Cong. of Council, Rome, 12 January 1930.

  2. “Man himself does not escape from the inclination of exhibiting his flesh: some go in public, stripped to the waist, or in very tight pants or in very scanty bathing suits. They thus commit offenses against the virtue of modesty. They may also be an occasion of sin (in thought or desire) for our neighbor.”—Canadian Bishops’ statement in May of 1946. Tight pants in 1946? Good thing those went out of style.

Modesty Part I: Sociology

Before jumping into the tough topic of modesty, I want to set the stage in a sociological manner. Let’s consider romance in any culture, be it Catholic or pagan. It is universally accepted in every culture’s romance that the person least-invested in the relationship is the one with the most control. Imagine two 20 year olds approaching engagement in any civilized country today or two hundred years ago. It is always the one who is least “in-love” who controls the advance of this relationshiop. The one most in-love (be it the man or the woman) wants to get married. The lover less “in-love” maintains the veto power in moving forward, meaning this person actually has more power in the relationship, despite (because!) of the lessened emotions encountering the other. This is as true for those who maintain their virginity in engagement as much as for those who had sex on their first date.

The only exception to the above conclusions would probably be those marriages created in distress or those marriages where one of the spouses finally despaired of finding a “better” spouse and simply had “to settle” for someone. In fact, this minor power-struggle is true even in non-sexual, platonic friendships of the same-gender: The person who is more “cool” is usually the one who comes up with excuses not to spend so time with the more “geeky” or needy person…at least until the latter gets tired of being a puppy-dog in the relationship, and takes off. But it is generally accepted that the least-invested person has more control.

Now, lets bring this to the sexual level, but not the level of modesty, yet. Barring rape, women have had most of the sexual control in any heterosexual relationship in any civilized country a hundred years ago on any continent. This is because of their lower libidos. This is not true all the time, but in my experience as a priest giving spiritual direction to individuals and couples, this is true 95% of the time. The 5% of the exceptions of women with extremely high libidos often struggle with compulsive sexual behaviors, secondary to sexual abuse in their childhood. But barring rape, it is the woman who is the gatekeeper of sexuality in most relationships in all civilized cultures, and even true in most pagan cultures that reject rape at (at-least!) the legal level. Her lessened libido means heightened self-control and subsquently a reduced investment in the physical side of intimacy. (I realize that many people want their priests to avoid all generalizations because of the rare cases in life, but  hard cases neither make good law nor good spiritual direction from priests, so I’m going to give advice on 95% of how the world works here.)

Because woman is less sexually-invested, she has more control of men in the sexual realms. But this is a two-edged sword: Because man is less emotionally-invested, he is subsequently more in control of women in the emotional realm, especially when he wants something (read: sex.) Yes, there’s occasionally some exceptions to the above two sentences, but of the hundreds or thousands of relationships I’ve watched grow or fail as a priest, I would say this is true in 97% of all relationships. Let me write it again: Because man is less emotionally-invested, he is more in control of women in emotions. Because woman is less sexually-invested, she has more control of men in sexuality. This is true in sinful fornicating relationships as well as  (to a lesser degree) healthy Catholic marriages.

Now, if you don’t grant me the above premises, you can stop reading now. But if you grant me all the above premises, then this conclusion is true: Every civilized Catholic culture in history automatically gave women more power than men in the sexual realm.   I realize how different that is from what we heard in our University history courses.  But much of my life is a rewiring of my brain that imbibed false history.  I’m not saying that Catholic men in the 19th century never raped Catholic women. But barring rape, women have had most of the power in the sexual realm, precisely because of man’s more severe difficulty in controlling himself. (Many feminist departments have happily flaunted this fact!)

However, pornography and the oral contraceptive have completely changed this. Pornography has allowed man to have virtual sex on demand with any woman or girl he wants at any time. (And yes, there are interpersonal effects of this. Just study how many porn stars were once sex-slaves, often taken as young as 13 years old at the beginning of their enslavement, in even first world countries.) Furthermore, the Pill has been made for man’s sexual advance, not woman’s. Think about it: The man can now have unchecked sex with any woman he wants with no responsibility of pregnancy. One hundred years ago, he had to answer for his towering libido with the weight of whether fornication was worth it or not. But now the Pill allows man to sleep with any woman he wants with no consideration of consequences. (Ever googled how many STDs women can get than man can not get? It’s not pretty, and the Pill doesn’t stop any of them.) Man has all the sexual power now, because “the Pill” has made a nation of blow-up dolls who need only be manipulated emotionally to get them to bed. (Cows require more flirting from bulls than the average woman on the Pill in a bar, and it’s not because of her libido, for that is tanked by the Pill itself at the pharmacological level.  It’s because of the emotions of desperation that come from a pro-man sexual world that is new since the sexual-revolution.)

Yes, Western nations have tipped the culture to accomodate to man’s sex addictions as much any Muslim country, but in a different way. Sadly, Western men have tricked Western women into thinking that they have more control than their Eastern counterparts found walking in a burqa through Saudi Arabia. But porn is illegal in Saudi Arabia.  In the West, porn and the Pill have made it just as much a man’s world of sexuality as those Muslim countries, but in a way that has equally tricked women into thinking they are in control. (I consider Islam to be literallly a Satanic religion because of how it treats women and allows for rape of girls, so I’m not promoting Islam.  I say “equally” because I am always amazed at the brainwashing of the Muslim women in burqas who on get on YouTube defending Islam as a religion that does not trash women…  But let’s admit it: This is as insane as Western educators who say “the Pill” does not trash women, too.)

Now we get to modesty. If you will grant me the above premises of sexual and emotional control for women and men respectively in the West, then my conclusion on modesty is obvious: The last sexual frontier for a woman in the West to re-gain control over a sex-obsessed culture is her own modesty.  Immodesty is not her control over man, like women are taught in every commercial and every mall. Even those legs are for man’s delight.  Rather, modesty-alone will return to the gender having more self-control (women) the necessary power of sexuality usurped by men via porn and birth control.

For now, all you need to see is that this conclusion will serve as our future premise:  Total modesty is the only way left for an individual woman in the West to regain control of her own sexuality and add control to an out-of-control-culture’s sexism favoring men. 

Women’s Swimsuits

Just in time for the Olympics, I have some good things to say about the clothing of female athletes below, but you’ll have to wait for that.

Many of you know the historical roots of the bikini:  French engineer Louis Réard worked in his mother’s lingerie shop in the 1940s.  There, he designed and got the word “bikini” from the name of the first post-bellum atomic-bomb site, Bikini Atoll, for obvious reasons.  He tried to find a French model to first debut his invention in 1946, but he could not find one.  He ultimately had to hire a stripper.  It took a while for the bikini to catch on in the United States.  As late as 1957, Modern Girl magazine said “No girl with tact or decency would ever wear such a thing.”

Many young Catholics today are discovering this, and so they hesitatingly tell their secular friends that they will don a one-piece, but never the bikini.  Their secular friends think they are insane.

And so do I, but from the other side of the spectrum.

Here’s why:  The only difference you’re really talking about anymore  between a one-piece and bikini is the bellybutton.  But the belly button doesn’t make men lust.  Breasts probably don’t make men lust either, at least when seen from a global-outlook.  What I mean is this:  Most pre-Christianized cultures protected the area below women’s waistlines much more than the top side of the female anatomy.  For most tribal men, there is nothing too tempting about topless women. I can tell you this is true, for I have been to Africa. Women are well-covered below the waist even when minimally covered on top.

In a natural environment, men’s minds finish the lines and complete the picture, especially below the waist. For men, women’s legs don’t point out thighs.  Legs point not to admiration but provocation, especially when the whole person is not encountered (as is only possible in marriage, but that proof shall wait for another post.) 1  In non-perverted societies, women see the need to protect their upper-legs from the stares of men.

I am not saying that Christian women in America or Africa should go topless, but I am saying that even pagan cultures have been forced to maintain a sustainable society by eradicating adultery as much as possible.  This is greatly accomplished by long dresses on their women.  I’m serious.  Here’s where swimsuits dovetail into this:  The bottom part of both bikinis and 98% of Western one-pieces both provide men the same visual as her panties.  But perhaps America misses this because of her obsession with breasts.  We who live in an artificially-constructed sexual environment of implantations can learn a lot from the fact that in a natural environment, there is more temptation to a man below the female waist than above the waist.  2

More than half of the male population is addicted to pornography.  Moms, this is not your fault, but it is your responsibility to protect your daughters at the pool.  At least start with the knee-lengths that some female Olympians wear:

Kelsi Worrell, left, and Katie McLaughlin swim in the women's 200-meter butterfly preliminaries at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, Wednesday, June 29, 2016, in Omaha, Neb. Worrell won the heat and McLaughlin took fourth. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The brains of men and women are different—both in glory and in concupiscence.  Ladies, imagine a guy you just met made you feel yourself the most special, beautiful and protected creature on the planet, and then he tells you that you are the only one. That’s commensurate (but not exact) to what happens chemically in the male brain when he sees as much skin as provided by most modern female swimsuits—one piece or bikini.  Yes, we’re more crude than you who are moved by emotions more than flesh.  I’ll even venture that you’re generally closer to God than us.  But aiding the redemption of the opposite sex must compensate and anticipate the complementary wounds of original sin.

The Mother of God said to the children of Fatima in 1917 in Portugal: “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason… Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much…Woe to women lacking in modesty. ”


Do you really think that the Mother of God would approve of little Jacinta wearing a “one piece” in public? God forbid even the visual.  I guarantee Our Lady would declare this to be mortal sin.

I guarantee.

You say: “But times were different 100 years ago! It was a different culture!”  Yes. I agree. It was a different culture back then when not nearly a fraction of the men were addicted to pornography as today.   I once had a conversation with the Chicago division of the FBI’s chief of child-cyber-crimes department.  If you had heard a fraction of this conversation, each of you mothers and fathers would promise that you would never let your daughters dress in a one-piece or bikini outside the bathtub again.

With all this preaching, I should provide some solutions (for next summer, since I’m three months late on this post!)  One option is the line of relatively-modest swimsuits from Jessica Rey.  Another option is to simply question the system.  Ever wonder why we think it’s normal for there to be public bathing between stranger men and young girls in visually-nothing-more than their underwear?

Why do we take this hook-line-and-sinker?  You can find some websites that doubt the idea that bikinis started in 1946.  But these histories point back to ancient Rome and Greece.  Remember that the Bible gives the Jews the instructions on what to do with immodest gymnasiums from pagan cultures:  Reject them.  In 1 and 2 Maccabees, the last period of martyrs before the arrival of Jesus, many Jews lost their life for refusing (among other things like Greek worship) public gymnasiums.  That is God’s word, not mine.

When I went to India for the first time two years ago, I went to Goa where St. Francis Xavier had first evangelized and baptized thousands.  My friend and I were swimming in the Arabian Sea at dusk.


I was shocked to see that Indian women did not swim with men.  There were separate locations and times.  So, that evening, I saw that the women kept their long, flowing, cool-fitting saris as they walked the beach.  The only immodestly-dressed women were white women.  This was great evidence that American sociology departments never meant that progressive Americans should respect the cultural norms of other countries.  They meant Christians should respect the cultural norms of other countries by never speaking of Christ.  This is a sad self-restraint of the West upon herself, since Christianity alone will help bring India out of the child-rape culture.  3

Let me also point out that when I was in Rwanda, I never saw co-ed swimming.  Why do we in the West think this has to be imposed on the rest of the world?  Why do we accept stranger men walking around with girls in their underwear outlines? It’s insane if you stop to compare our culture to the rest of Western history or even current accepted norms in the East.  When we all see the weight of sins of immodesty at the Final Judgment, we will see through the lens not only of Divine Judgment, but even through humanity of every time and culture…not just contemporary soccer-parents of a fervently-lukewarm era—perhaps a relatively unimportant time in Western-Catholic history.

  1. This post will not make sense to any man already-desensitized to sexuality by pornography.  Even Time Magazine has taken notice in their own secular and erroneous way of the threat that porn poses to virility.

  2.  Keep in mind that I have delivered babies as a paramedic, so I’m not afraid of the human body.  Childbirth provides a lot less opportunity for lust than Louis Réard’s diabolical and global plan for girls.

  3. American-Indian and Harvard grad Siddhartha Kara partly blames the sex-trafficking of young girls in Asia on the theology of reincarnation.  In his book, Sex Trafficking:  Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, Kara points out that if you are born a girl, this itself is proof that you lived some form of negative karmic energy in previous lives by an immoral life, and therefore you deserve to be punished as a girl into sex-slavery.