OUR DOMESTIC CHURCH

It’s the modesty thing again

I’m on the hunt for a confirmation dress and it’s been a bit of a nightmare. My lovely 13-year-old daughter is being confirmed in the Latin Rite in late May and I am old school enough to think that girls should wear a white dress on their confirmation day and it should cover more than it reveals. Crazy, I am, just crazy to think that 13-year-olds in church should not be strapless. Even under a gown. I’ll go one better and openly declare that no one, even brides, should be strapless in church.

So go ahead and say I’m out of touch with reality and that God created all these arms and breasts and we should not be ashamed of showing them.  Ashamed of our parts, no, because we are all made beautifully in the image and likeness of God, but we should not consider ourselves a compilation of goods to be displayed at every opportunity in a mistaken belief that it makes us more desirable or more fashionable.

C.S. Lewis said that “we are not bodies with souls, we are souls and we have bodies.” I venture to add that we should all dress like it, and we should certainly dress our children in a way that honors the grace of God within them. This should be the habit at all times but particularly at Mass. The attire should never distract from the reason for attending Mass — to worship and glorify God.

I am not new to the appropriate dress search and it’s getting harder. White dresses tend to be sundresses more suited to a backyard barbeque than a sacrament conferred by a apostolic descendant, and  the more colorful dresses in the juniors department are really only appropriate if your daughter is hosting the MTV Video Awards or hanging out with a Kardashian. I could make this a little easier on myself by not being so hung up on a white dress but the symbolism of uniting confirmation to baptism, as they are two halves of the same whole, in this visual way is to me, a beautiful tradition. Add a red sash to symbolize the Holy Spirit and you have something very special to mark the beauty of the occasion.

I remember a phrase my grandmother said every so often, “hemlines up, morals down.”  While it seems a hopelessly old fashioned idea and I have no desire to go back to the ankle length skirts of days past, I do think that time spent teaching our young girls the value of their modesty and the overall worthiness of protecting that which should only be revealed to their husbands will increase their chances of gaining heaven. And good husbands. Modesty is actually more of a state of mind that is reflected in our dress and demeanor rather than a dress code itself. It begins in the heart and mind as a question of who you are and what purpose you serve here. If the answer is that you are a child of God here to do His will and fulfill his plan, wearing a tube top and painted on jeans won’t come up.

Modesty also protects women, a great deal better than the false feminism in our society today. It shields the beauty and mystery of a woman’s body from use and abuse and it protects young men from the near occasion of sin. A woman is more than the sum of her exposed parts and, if before leaving the house, girls look in the mirror and ask what type of attention their outfit is likely to attract, an honest answer might well end up in a change of outfit. If your daughter isn’t dressing in a way that draws people to the beauty of her heart, mind and soul rather than her physical attributes, then she is selling herself short and you are allowing it.

Our Lady, in her appearance at Fatima, warned the Fatima children of the dangers of immodesty in dress, “Certain fashions are being introduced that offend Our Lord very much.”  Since Our Lady took the time to mention fashion we have to assume that the matter is of great concern to both her and Our Lord. Should it not then be of great concern to us as parents? Should we not then take the steps necessary to ensure that our boys are not tempted and our girls are treated as the beautiful fonts of grace that they were created to be?