8 Guiding Principles for Mary-like Catholic Modesty
The Marylike Standards in Dress
1. “Marylike” means modesty without compromise — “like Mary,” Christ’s pure and spotless Mother.
2. Marylike dresses have sleeves extending at least to the elbows; and skirts reaching well below the knees.
3. Marylike dresses require full coverage for the bodice, chest, shoulders, and back; except for a cut-out about the neck not exceeding “two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat” and a similar breadth under the back of the neck.
4. Marylike dresses do not admit as modest coverage transparent fabrics — laces, nets, organdy, nylons, etc. — unless sufficient backing is added. However, their moderate use as trimmings is acceptable.
5. Marylike dresses avoid the improper use of flesh-colored fabrics.
6. Marylike dresses conceal rather than reveal the figure of the wearer; they do not emphasize, unduly, parts of the body.
7. Marylike dresses provide full coverage, even after jacket, cape or stole are removed.
8. Marylike fashions are designed to conceal as much of the body as possible, rather than reveal. This would automatically eliminate such fashions as slacks, jeans, shorts, culottes, tight sweaters, sheer blouses, and sleeveless dresses; etc. The Marylike standards are a guide to instill a “sense of modesty.” A girl or woman who follows these, and looks up to Mary as her ideal and model, will have no problem with modesty in dress. She will not be an occasion of sin[….].
Keep this guide with you when buying clothes. Make sure that you purchase or make only garments which meet the Marylike Standards.
”Be Marylike by being modest — be modest by being Marylike.”
Modesty In Dress & The Love Of God
The modesty of Catholic women of the first 13 centuries pretty much imitated Our Lady’s dress completely, from head to toe. The code during this time was “fashion cater to modesty,” not “modesty cater to fashion.” We see a change in this trend in the 14th century with the introduction of the Renaissance. Now although the women then did not dress wantonly (see glossary below), their modesty was not the Perfect Model’s. Some of them flaunted their hair, while others wore a bit of pompous clothing. Still, none of it outlined or uncovered the sensual areas of the body. Later during the heretical Reformation of the 16th Century, the women of Protestant nations began to expose more than decency allowed of the the upper regions of the body. During the 19th century, contrary to the wide-spread notion that women were modest, women were practically intimidated by the fashion industry, going through extravagant measures into twisting and outlining their figure, to keep up with the latest trend. As a reaction to this being “bottled-up” and confined by clothing, women in the 20th century catered to the flapper craze. This new rebellious fashion freed them from the restrictive hour-glass shape of the “gay 90’s” to the opposite extreme by the clothing being straight, and narrow, making them look boyish. This idea of “breaking free” from the slavery of 19th century pseudo-modesty made women reveal rather than conceal a little more each decade, to the point in which we end up with the scandalous fashions of the modern catholic woman today. Although Catholic women since the Reformation were not as modest as those from the first 1300 years of the Church, they still none the less kept the same standard of decency according to the natural law.
During the Renaissance, men became immodest and indecent as well. In the 14th century some men wore skin-tight pants, and in opposition the clergy of that time branded this clothing not only indecent but effeminate. For a man to fall into the “vice of women” (to entice sensually), by outlining his body with clothing is very effeminate. During the revolutionary 18th century the royal men displayed so much pomp and effeminacy in attire, that they could not properly act the fatherly role as head of state. This effeminacy was probably a factor in their weakness against their usurpation. After the revolutions men regained their modesty for the most part, but by then it was too late. The devil knew from history that behind every man is a woman. If he could get the woman to fall first, he could then use her to break the man next. For every Adam there was an Eve, for every David there is a Bathsheba, and for every Henry VIII there is an Anne Boleyn.
Who did start the “Fad” of Catholic Women wearing Pants instead of Modest Skirts? Was it a Traditional Catholic Woman who was striving to be a Saint? Let’s see what history tells us…
“A pair of baggy trousers gathered at the ankles and worn with a short belted tunic was sported by Amelia Jenks Bloomer of Homer, New York, in 1851. She had copied the pants costume from a friend, Elizabeth Smith Miller. But it was Mrs. Bloomer, an early FEMINIST and staunch supporter of reformer Susan B. Anthony, who became so strongly associated with the MASCULINE-TYPE outfit that it acquired her name. Pants, then MEN’S wear, appealed to Amelia Bloomer…Amelia Bloomer REFUSED to wear the popular fashion. Starting in 1851, she began to appear in public in baggy pants and a short tunic. And as more women joined the campaign for the right to vote, Mrs. Bloomer turned the trousers into a UNIFORM OF REBELLION…CHALLENGING the long TRADITION of who in the family wore the PANTS.” –article on the origin of bloomers/women wearing pants, taken from “Panati’s Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things” by Charles Panati
So what can we gather from all this? That a feminist miscreant desired to wear the other sex’s clothes to express a demand for “women’s rights” and to spark a rebellion against the traditional mores in decency. Feminists challenged the tradition of the man being the head of the family by wearing his clothes. Later on in the 1930’s, the Communists would finalize this revolution in women’s clothing. Using gnostic “theology”, the communists deemed women nothing more than imperfect men, who in order to be as perfect as men, had to express masculinity and repress their feminine attributes. They made it the ideal fashion, in their propaganda, that women, in order to express true equality with men in all things, would also have to wear the masculine clothing for men only, called Pants. So we can see that this custom of women wearing pants is nothing more than a feminist tradition. It certainly does not come from the long held decency code passed down from Catholic woman to Catholic woman throughout the 19 centuries of the Church’s influence on society.
There is a reason that the the custom of women wearing pants DIDN’T start with Catholic women in a Catholic Society. It was deemed unnatural and indecent since the time of Christ until this decadent century. The custom would be deemed unnatural because Catholic women in history thought (and were right) that pants are for men, and dresses are for women. There was no question about it. It is indecent because women’s bodies are more sensual, so women wore dresses to cover up more. According to physiology, women are centrifugal (fleeing away from the center) in their perspective, seeing things from within themselves, outwardly. Men on the other hand are centripetal (seeking from the center) in their perspective, seeing things from without themselves, inwardly. In other words women tend to be the show’er and men tend to be the looker. This is the reason that women’s bodies are more sensual than a man’s. Their bodies are made to be appealing, so that they can attract a mate (who is designed to look from afar). That is why there is more of an area on women that is semi-private than there is on men. Women are by nature designed to be more sensual due to the centripetal-
centrifugal relationship. Knowing this, it is understandable that exhibitionists tend to be women and voyeurs are usually men.
That’s just the way things are. We can’t change what is sensual on a person and what isn’t. If it was deemed indecent for women to expose or outline above the knee in the first 19 centuries of the Church, it is still indecent for women to expose or outline above the knee in the 20th. A man’s sensual area is in the hip region, so the legs would not have to be completely covered up and pants would be suitable. The sensual area of a women’s body, being from above the knee, to the elbow, and up to the neck, requires clothing that could effectively cover this large region. Its always been this way and you cant change what is sensual unless you dare change human nature, which as Catholics we know we can’t change the natural law. That is the reason why dresses were for women and pants were for men in the first place.
Another reason that women never wore pants and only modest skirts is in respect to their femininity. According to physiology, the female form exhibits rounder and less extreme contours and more obtuse angles. A male body form is more sharp edged, angular, rugged and broken. This can be seen not only in the skeleton, and musculature, but also in each sex’s face and movements. A man’s face has sharp features, a woman’s more soft and round in appearance. A man’s motion is more thought out and jagged with “countless endings”, while a woman’s movements are “endlessly continuous”. Clothing is supposed to reflect these masculine and feminine traits. A man is to wear masculine clothing, and a woman is to only wear feminine clothing. So that a man’s garb should express his masculinity by tending to be straight and narrow, while a woman’s attire should be round, soft, graceful and flowing. So it comes as no surprise that Catholic women throughout history only wore full length dresses, not only to be modest, but also because that clothing (being soft, wide, and flowing) is in accordance to their feminine nature. Men dressed accordingly to their nature as well. Pants being sharp and narrow, are harmonious with masculinity. Pants are anything but graceful. Unisex clothing is for unisex people. It would be abhorrent if a man were to wear the clothing of a woman, so why is it not abhorrent if women wear masculine clothing such as pants? The Church has defined what is indecent or not on women, when it said this, about covering up, at the very least, the sensual areas…
“A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth below the base of the throat, which does not cover the arms at least to the elbow, and which scarcely reaches a bit below the knees. Dresses of transparent materials are also indecent.”
-The Sacred Congregation of Religious, under Pius XI, January 12, 1930
“One cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and station. Made foolish by a desire to please, they do not see to what degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for such apparel as for a grave fault against Christian modesty. Now it does not suffice to exhibit themselves on public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of churches, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Holy Altar, where one receives the Heavenly Author of Purity.”
– Pope Benedict XV
“As long as certain audacious modes of dress remain the sad privilege of women of dubious reputation and almost a sign by which they may be known, no-one else would dare to wear that same dress upon herself: but the moment that it appears upon persons beyond all reproach, she will hesitate no longer to follow the current, a current which will drag her perhaps to the worst fall.” -Pope Pius XII, May 22, 1941
“O Christian mothers, if you knew what a future of anxieties and perils, of ill-guarded shame you prepare for your sons and daughters, imprudently getting them accustomed to live scantily dressed and making them lose the sense of modesty, you would be ashamed of yourselves and you would dread the harm you are making for yourselves, the harm which you are causing these children, whom Heaven has entrusted to you to be brought up as Christians.” – Pope Pius XII
“Certain fashions will be introduced which will offend Our Divine Lord very much. Those who serve God ought not to follow these fashions. Our Lord is always the same.” -Our Lady of Fatima, warning the people of the 1920s of the fashions that were to come for Catholic women. It wasn’t a warning of the fashions that were to come for protestants and pagans since they were already indulging in indecent fashions. It was a warning to the Children of God, who are going to imitate them.
So Catholic women have to ask themselves who are they using as their Perfect Model for modesty, the Blessed Virgin Mary or the feminist infidel Amelia Bloomer?
The reason for covering the body in the first place is to “unshape” it. If people think wearing skin-tight clothing serves the purpose of covering, they are dead wrong. Skin-tight does nothing but uncover the shape of the body. It is as if one were to wear nothing at all.
The first step of the feminist influence in the Church was Catholic women wearing pants. It would follow next that there would soon be female lectors, nun’s wearing pants, altar girls, female “Doctors” of the Church, and maybe Priestesses with a Popess!
Rebellion has to start somewhere, and if you don’t nip it in the bud, it will continue to grow.
Before Adam fell, Eve sinned first, and it was through her that the father of mankind gave us original sin. Vatican II’s evil, done by men, would never have happened so soon or at all, if the backbone (women) of the Church had not first fallen. Imitating Eve in falling first, Catholic women of the years preceding this Council already were becoming lax in their modesty. Without the strength of modest women, men would fall into lechery and begin to become blind to what the Faith is, and isn’t.
Here is a quote that I came across while reading G. K. Chesterton’s famous book, “What’s Wrong with the World”…
“…And since we are talking here chiefly in types and symbols, perhaps as good an embodiment as any of the idea may be found in the mere fact of a woman wearing a skirt. It is highly typical of the rabid plagiarism which now passes everywhere for emancipation, that a little while ago it was common for an “advanced” woman to claim the right to wear trousers; a right about as GROTESQUE as the right to wear a false nose…It is quite certain that the skirt means female dignity…” -pgs. 110-111
I would like to conclude with a quote of a Catholic prophecy sent in by one of our concerned readers…
PROPHECY OF ST. NILUS
“After the year 1900, toward the middle of the 20th century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable. When the time for the Advent of the Antichrist approaches, people’s minds will grow cloudy from carnal passions, and dishonor and lawlessness will grow stronger. Then the world will become unrecognizable. People’s appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair. These people will be cruel and will be like wild animals because of the temptations of the Antichrist. There will be no respect for parents and elders, love will disappear, and Christian pastors, bishops, and priests will become vain men, completely failing to distinguish the right-hand way from the left. At that time the morals and traditions of Christians and of the Church will change. People will abandon modesty, and dissipation will reign. Falsehood and greed will attain great proportions, and woe to those who pile up treasures. Lust, adultery, homosexuality, secret deeds and murder will rule in society. At that future time, due to the power of such great crimes and licentiousness, people will be deprived of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which they received in Holy Baptism and equally of remorse. The Churches of God will be deprived of God-fearing and pious pastors, and woe to the Christians remaining in the world at that time; they will completely lose their faith because they will lack the opportunity of seeing the light of knowledge from anyone at all. Then they will separate themselves out of the world in holy refuges in search of lightening their spiritual sufferings, but everywhere they will meet obstacles and constraints. And all this will result from the fact that the Antichrist wants to be Lord over everything and become the ruler of the whole universe, and he will produce miracles and fantastic signs. He will also give depraved wisdom to an unhappy man so that he will discover a way by which one man can carry on a conversation with another from one end of the earth to the other. At that time men will also fly through the air like birds and descend to the bottom of the sea like fish. And when they have achieved all this, these unhappy people will spend their lives in comfort without knowing, poor souls, that it is deceit of the Antichrist. And, the impious one! — he will so complete science with vanity that it will go off the right path and lead people to lose faith in the existence of God in three hypostases. Then the All-good God will see the downfall of the human race and will shorten the days for the sake of those few who are being saved, because the enemy wants to lead even the chosen into temptation, if that is possible… then the sword of chastisement will suddenly appear and kill the perverter and his servants.”
In essence the prophecy has basically said that Catholics (those who are orthodox in the faith) would change the traditions and morals of the Church and specifically points out that one of these is *modesty*. It even remarkably states that with these new fashions you could not see the difference between the masculine and feminine clothing as to blur what sex the person was. Also that if you tried to correct these people that they would feel no shame in what they were doing, and classify it as the norm or at least trivial. If you tried to ask advice from the Catholic Pastor, although good with knowing dogma, they would fail to distinguish the “right-hand way from the left” in morality. These are wicked times and we need to, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle,” (2 Thess. ii, 14), if we are ever going to be saved, despite the reluctance our Pastors have to condemn these modern fashions right up from the beginning of this century. In their giving us the “greenlight” in these matters, “easing” our conscience, they are doing more harm than the apparent good. People forget that although the Saints might have differed on different points of dogmatic doctrine (prior to the Church explicitly ending the differences with a magisterial decree), they all agreed as to what was modest in attire. There was not a single Canonized Saint or Church Father who deviated from the decency code in over 1800 years. We as Catholics are not allowed to differ from their perspectives. We are to condemn and to condone what they condemned and condoned. It is when we deviate from THEIR NORM, that we can say we are no longer of their One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Faith. For in order to be Catholic we must be of the same religious body, and in order to be of the same body, we must profess the same religion of Christ in Faith *and* morals. We must use the traditions and habits of the Saints, that they all had in common, throughout the centuries of the Church. If we fail in achieving this common denominator, we can expect to fail in achieving our Supernatural End as well.
10 Ways Women Dress Immodestly
Most of us Christian women hopefully don’t get up on a Sunday morning and say to ourselves, ‘How can I look sexy, hot and seductive for church?’ We want to honour God through the way we dress (Romans 12, 1 Cor 6:19-20, 1 Tim 2:9). We don’t want to cause our brothers to stumble (Romans 14:21,15:1-7).
I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves not with elaborate hairstyles, or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds appropriate to women who profess to worship God (1 Tim 2:9-10)
(*Note: Females should not be wearing jeans)
A pastor called Albert Martin became concerned and burdened with how some of the women in his church were dressing. As a result he prayerfully asked a number of men in his church to name the top 10 ways women dress that men generally find overtly sexual and distracting to help the ladies better understand the affect clothing can have on a man. He was not suggesting that the women were dressing immodestly intentionally. Neither was he blaming the women for men’s struggle with lust and taught that men need to take full responsibility for their own sin. Rather, he had a strong desire that men would love and honour their sisters and knew that the way the women were dressing was unhelpful.
Some of you might be thinking: ‘What right do men have to share with me what they find immodest. Modesty is between me and God’. If that’s you, I would ask you to consider what it means to dress with decency as required by the above text. The Greek word for decency means: ‘a sense of shame or honour, modesty, bashfullness, reverence, regard for others, respect’. Thus to dress with decency is to dress in a respectful, reverent way with regard for what others think. Modesty is not all about us and our own standards. If most men find our clothing indecent, we should care.
Here is the list they came up with along with their reasoning. They were real and raw in explaining how the male mind is wired. Obviously the list was subjective. You won’t find a place in the Bible that says ‘Thou shalt not reveal thy cleavage’. However, I have spoken to a number of men about this list and they have been in agreement. See what you think. If you disagree, why not ask your brothers in Christ for their opinion…
1. Dresses or skirts with lengthy slits
Apparently when a man’s eye sees a long slit that comes up to the knee or above on a tight skirt or dress, he can think, “Oh, a few more inches and what would I see?” That is the way a man’s mind works. The slit is a magnet to men’s eyes.
2. Dresses, skirts or jeans which tightly cling to the butt
A skirt that tightly clings to our butt is a skirt that not only comes down over our butt, but deep into the back of the thighs. We’re not talking about fitted clothing here, but rather skin tight clothing. It draws men’s attention.
3. A skin tight upper garment
It is one thing for our garment to come down and hang loosely upon the breast, but if it tightly clings to our breasts as well as closely shapes and isolates them we can create a big distraction! People should not receive an anatomy lesson in mammary glands when they look at us!
4. Unbuttoned blouses, low neck lines or cleavage
Some of us women unbutton down to one button away from bearing our bras. Apparently when a man sees only one button to go his mind can go, ‘I wonder what is under that one more button’. John Piper shared in a sermon: “Women, remember that in a church setting you need to at times bend over and pick up a child. Bend over and look at yourself in the mirror before you leave the home. What may seem to cover you well standing up, does not cover you sufficiently when you bend over.”
5. Sleeveless tops with large, gaping arm holes
We look down on our sleeveless dress and see nothing but our shoulders. But if it has a large gaping arm hole, a man sitting behind us looks up at the pulpit, sees through to our bra and his mind can go where he doesn’t want it to go. If the arm holes are tight enough that no one can see in, Pastor Albert suggested it is our liberty before God to choose to wear them or not.
6. Low rise skirts or jeans
This is the style made popular by Brittany Spears, Jennifer Lopez and other celebrities. We’re talking skirts that barely hang on the hip bones and jeans that barely come up and cover the crack of the buttocks.
7. Skirts and dresses that are just plain too short
If we find it difficult when we are seated to adequately cover ourselves, then our skirt/dress is probably too short. We can get engrossed in something in a public setting and forget to keep our knees locked together. Before long our legs end up spreading a bit and anyone just happening to glance can see clean up to our underwear. Mrs. Albert Mohler advises, “If you arrive at church dressed in such a way that by the end of the service the people around you, by no fault of their own, know the colour of your underwear and they have watched you do a shimmy dance as you try to get your too short, too tight skirt to go under you, there is a big problem.”
8. See-through clothing
Clothing that fails to fully cover our underwear that could benefit from a camisole or a slip underneath.
9. Skin tight trousers or jeans that tightly hug the buttocks, the thighs and the crotch. (*Females should not be wearing jeans in the first place)
Some of us rock up to church in jeans that either have spandex/lycra in them or a kind of very stretchy material that hugs the buttocks, comes around and hugs the thigh and presses up on our crotch and the crack of our buttocks (think jeggings). Pastor Albert says we have no idea what that does to many a man when he sees it. It draws his eye to the most erotic part of our body. That whole area becomes a magnet for men’s eyes.
10. A bare midriff and back
We’re talking about where tops come down and just barely, if at all, meet the low rise jeans. We may look in the mirror and say, “Well, I am fully covered,” but all we need to do is to reach over a couple of inches and our belly is showing. If we just bend over, people can see our back and usually the top of our underwear.
Well I don’t know about you, but I was certainly challenged by this list! I’m aware some of you may be thinking, ‘It’s not my fault if men lust after me… that is their problem’. Yes men are fully, 100% responsible for not lusting after us (Matt 5:28). Yes some men will lust whatever we wear. However, that does not take away our God given responsibility to try and dress modestly and decently (1 Tim 2:9-10). I think to love our brothers is to say, ‘If my tight, figure hugging, see-through, short, cleavage baring dress with a slit up to my butt could stumble you, how ever much I love it, I will not wear it’. Is it really loving or Christ-like to say, ‘I don’t care if my dress is overtly sexy and distracts your mind. That’s your problem…deal with it. It’s my right to wear it’? Is it really loving to say to our married sisters in Christ, ‘I don’t care if my dress distracts your husband. I am free to parade my body in front of him if I want’?
SKIRTING THE DIFFERENCE; What’s wrong with women wearing trousers
The ancient Egyptians were afflicted with plagues of various kinds – blood, frogs, lice, beasts, cattle, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness – each one more deadly than the one before, but the last and worst has been reserved for our times: a plague of legs. They get everywhere now that women have adopted the trouser culture. Once not considered in keeping with sartorial propriety, everywhere in the Western world trousers on women now predominate. If you walk down the street of any city or town, the proportion of women wearing trousers to skirts is something like 10:1. The fashion has become so institutionalised that some women can be said to ‘live in trousers’. For nearly 6,000 years, women always wore long dresses, but only since the last 40 years, a dress is suddenly “impractical” to wear. Formerly, women performed a wide variety of jobs, including farming, in skirts. Nowadays, they can’t so much as rake a few leaves in the garden without feeling the need to put on a pair of pants.
The moral consensus
Feminine modesty has been understood as being distinctive from its male counterpart in every society since the dawn of history, even in places where God’s word has never reached. (St Thomas Aquinas holds that the behaviour of all is subject to moral judgement, whether or not they know of the Revelation of Christianity.) Women have never, in the entire history of civilization, in any era from earliest antiquity or in any part of the world until our times, stalked about in trousers that delineated the lower half of their body and gave visual prominence to their hips and legs. Why not? Because they had the good sense to realise their physical vulnerability as the ‘weaker vessel’ vis-à-vis male readiness to exploit it, and besides, they wanted to be cherished and respected for their personal qualities other than their physical endowments. The fundamental issue is that a bifurcated garment worn as outer attire was considered by people of all civilisations, even the most barbarian and pagan, to infringe basic levels of feminine decency and identity.
The custom of women wearing trousers did not start with Catholic women. Like the New Mass, the fashion was inaugurated and promoted by liberal-minded people, particularly feminist agitators, intent on discarding Christian traditions and altering people’s understanding of Christian values. (It is true that the Dress Reform Movement was also a protest against the cruelly restrictive clothing of the 19th century that was injurious to women’s health, but there are modest and immodest solutions to every problem.) Just like the New Mass which broke with the whole of liturgical tradition, the custom has in no way developed from the innate sense of decency passed down from one Catholic woman to another throughout 2000 years of the Church’s influence on society. The skirt-trouser dichotomy had become established within all civilisations, including Christian culture, as one of the main differences between men’s and women’s clothing. Only very recently has this difference been obscured.
As we shall see later, Catholic clergy, nuns and educators before the Council denounced the fashion of women wearing trousers as unbecoming in the sense of being unfeminine (appropriate only for men) and indecent (inviting immodest regard). Thus, in the period before Vatican II, a Catholic dress code for girls and women was closely linked with the concept of feminine decorum and the avoidance of the occasion of sin. From their knowledge of the Gospels in which Our Lord demanded purity in glances, thoughts, desires and actions and warned against giving scandal, Christians generally understood that immodesty is related to lust and causes temptation to others. And so a moral conscience was formed which told them that immodesty, particularly in a woman because of her nature as the temptress of man, involves an offence against God and a lack of respect for ourselves and our neighbour. Not to disapprove of trousers for women is to shrug aside the seriousness of the situation.
We can deduce two things from this enduring and universal phenomenon:
– a moral consensus, based on instinctual feelings of shamefacedness, existed up to modern times among all women, and that their desire to conceal rather than reveal was not a social construct but a natural reaction.
– trousers as an outer garment are not and never have been feminine apparel, and by putting them on women (with a different designer label) does not make them any less men’s clothing.
This evidence quite escapes those who deny the significance for our time of God’s edict given to Moses: “A woman shall not be clothed with a man’s apparel; neither shall a man use woman’s apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God ” (Deuteronomy 22:5). The mere mention of such an edict is enough to make some people hiss “Old Testament fundamentalist” in my direction, but it was the basis on which the Church formed her teaching that women must dress in a distinctively feminine manner and be modest in heart as well as apparel (I Peter 3:3-4).
The Church’s teaching before Vatican II
The Church’s teaching on dress is an authority prevailing over every social tendency and every fashionable choice, because it was to her and not to society that Christ entrusted the supernatural wisdom to discern what constitutes a spiritual danger and to fight soul-destroying customs such as immodest and egalitarian clothing. Many of us are too quick to write off the Church when it comes to subjects like trousers on women. It is claimed that the Magisterium has not issued any prohibition on them and that in dubiis libertas (where a doubt exists freedom should be granted). But this argument overlooks the fact that it was only in the second half of the 20th century that women in general began to exchange their skirts for trousers, and that by the time this fashionable option had become widespread, the post-Conciliar Church had fallen silent, having already adopted a more indulgent attitude to the question of modesty in general and the sins of the flesh in particular. It is hardly to be expected that in their condemnation of immodest fashions the pre-Conciliar Popes would have given particular emphasis to a fashion that was rarely seen in public. (Certainly before 1960 it was unheard of for women to wear trousers to church). However, it was customary before the Council for individual bishops, especially in Catholic countries such as Ireland, Italy and Latin America, to make statements regarding the unacceptability of trousers on women.
The Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland, John Charles McQuaid C.S.Sp., was well known for his tirades against women wearing trousers. He continually denounced women’s participation in athletics for reason of dress in mixed company. For example, in a sermon to a congregation in his native Cavan, he voiced his opposition to young women rowers being dressed in men’s scanty athletic attire. There is no doubt that throughout his lengthy career (he reigned for more than three decades from 1940 to 1972 before resigning in 1972 in disgust at the reforms of Vatican II and dying, they say, broken-hearted the following year), the legendary Archbishop McQuaid exerted an enormous influence on every aspect of Catholic Ireland. It was common knowledge that Dr McQuaid had a direct influence on University College Dublin, and this has been confirmed with the recent opening of the Archbishop’s archives. I have a vivid recollection of an incident that occurred during my university days in Dublin when a foreign female student wearing trousers was approached by a woman official and asked to leave the premises because she had infringed the dress code. What would McQuaid have said about today’s trousered women? He would have used up all his vocabulary, and have had nothing left but tears.
The last official document on the subject was, significantly, issued shortly before Vatican II. It took the form of a letter by Cardinal Siri of Genoa warning all the clergy, teaching sisters, those involved in Catholic Action, and educators in his diocese, of the grave dangers in women wearing trousers. Written on the 12th June 1960 at a time when Italy was more or less still a Catholic country, the letter addressed people who still had some instinctual sensibilities concerning modesty, formed by centuries of Catholic culture. Its very title, “Notification concerning men’s dress worn by women”, indicates that slacks and shorts were considered as men’s clothing, and that the fact that the offending garments were tailored for the female figure and therefore not bought in the menswear department of clothes shops, does not justify their adoption by women.
Cardinal Siri condemned trousers on women from a two-fold perspective: firstly that they involved a degree of immodesty (albeit not as grave as abbreviated skirts), and secondly that they were a symbol of feminist ideology, “the visible aid to bring about a mental attitude of being ‘like a man’”. (Incidentally this is exactly what Bishop de Castro Mayer meant when he said that trousers were even worse than mini-skirts because the latter attacked the senses while the former attacked the mind, thus constituting an ideological weapon in the feminist battle for the de-feminising of women). Since the clothing a person wears “modifies that person’s gestures, attitudes and behaviour”, the Cardinal predicted that the change from skirts to trousers would modify the Christian perception of womanhood as essentially ordered towards motherhood, and that it would subvert the divinely ordained order in which the husband is the protector of his wife and head of the family.
Alas, it has all come to pass as he had forecast: women have adopted men’s dress, and there has been a wholesale paradigm-shift in society’s perception of femininity. Misled by the tenets of feminist dogma, women are being won over to the idea that the Catholic teaching of the man being the head of the woman and family is all irrelevant nonsense, and totally absurd in the modern world. The effect of this is to blur God’s purposes in giving men and women distinctive, though complementary, roles in society, and to abolish the “headship of man” doctrine in every area of life – Church, family, education, government etc. As Cardinal Siri put it:
“First, the wearing of men’s dress by women affects the woman herself, by changing the feminine psychology proper to women; second, it affects the woman as wife of her husband, by tending to vitiate relationships between the sexes; and third, it affects the woman as mother of her children by harming her dignity in her children’s eyes. … This changing of the feminine psychology does fundamental, and, in the long run, irreparable damage to the family, to conjugal fidelity, to human affections and to human society…Nobody stands to gain by helping to bring about a future age of vagueness, ambiguity, imperfection and, in a word, monstrosities.”
Because shorts and slacks break both the modesty and gender barriers, we have a superb medley of immodesty AND ‘masculinity’ all gift-wrapped nicely for today´s modern career woman!
How teaching sisters shaped Catholic culture
When I went to a convent school in England in the late 1950s, the Headmistress would give each year group fortnightly tutorials designed to prepare Catholic girls for the temptations and dangers to the life of the soul that they would face in the modern world. Among the warnings and admonitions, the following three items were candidates for the greatest condemnation by the teaching sisters: television, pop music and women’s trousers. All three were treated from the perspective of Original Sin and its effect of Concupiscence (a word, I recall, that almost stretched from one side of the blackboard to the other, and was the devil’s own job to spell) which leaves human nature vulnerable to the assaults of the devil. We were admonished to discipline our senses, sanctify our souls with the graces that make us pleasing to Our Lord and Our Lady and avoid the ‘broad path’ of modern fashions influenced by pop psychology and television culture which threaten our souls with spiritual dangers.
As so little has been written in appreciation of teaching orders of nuns, it is easy to underestimate the tremendous impact that women religious had on the development of Catholicism before the Council and the strength of the Catholic Church in the British Isles as in other countries of the world. The very cohesiveness of a large congregation of women religious in every area allowed them far more influence over the minds of their pupils than any group of lay women could have exerted in the same period. Their presence was a major force for moral rectitude and stability in every neighbourhood where they taught the faith and helped young girls to conduct their lives according to Catholic principles. In the 1950s, convent schools were so prevalent that it was impossible for them not to influence the outlook of Catholic girls with regard to modesty in dress.
The Church’s interpretation of what constitutes modesty in dress was hugely influential in Catholic countries principally because it was preached and defended by popes, bishops, clergy and religious and echoed by lay teachers in charge of young people in their formative years. It is not exaggerating to say that if the adoption of a Catholic dress code for girls is attributable to any sector of the Church more than others, that sector was the congregations of teaching sisters from which it received its most powerful impetus and orientation. In the days before the Council, good Catholic girls and women dressed decently because they had learned repeatedly from their earliest years to subordinate their own opinions and desires to the standards that were required of them. I know for a fact that even in Irish Primary Schools the teaching sisters operated a strict dress code: mothers who had sent their girls to school in too short dresses would find their daughters returned to them at the end of the day with a strip of paper pinned to the end of the dress to show the required length!
In Ireland, women teachers were trained in Catholic colleges such as the Mary Immaculate Teacher Training College in Limerick, run by the Sisters of Mercy. The nuns taught their students the moral principles governing feminine modesty which they, in turn, were to pass on to their future pupils. We can gather some insights into what this entailed from a journal produced in 1927 by the trainee teachers. Echoing the Irish Bishops’ concern about the spread of what they termed “indecent fashions”, they launched “the Mary Immaculate Modest Dress and Deportment Crusade” with the intention of rescuing “Irish maidenhood from the grip of the pagan world”. Among the articles of attire to be reprobated were trousers, referred to as “mannish and immodest” dress.
In promoting modesty in dress for those under their charge, teaching sisters were complying with Rome’s decrees. In 1930 Pope Pius XI had directed the Sacred Congregation of the Council to issue a strongly-worded Letter on Christian Modesty to the whole world (as had Pope Benedict XV before him):
“Nuns, in compliance with the Letter dated August 23, 1928, by the Sacred Congregation of Religious, must not receive in their colleges, schools, oratories or recreation grounds, or, if once admitted, tolerate girls who are not dressed with Christian modesty; said Nuns, in addition, should do their utmost so that love for holy chastity and Christian modesty may become deeply rooted in the hearts of their pupils.”
The same message was reinforced in all Catholic schools, colleges and universities before the Council. The only concession made for gymnastics and sports in convent schools was shorts of the culotte type with boxed pleats reaching almost to the knee, and then only in an all-girl setting.
Once a Convent Girl…
There’s something about a convent girl who received her education before Vatican II that marks her out from other girls of her generation: she has had her conscience formed by the teaching sisters in the basic moral principles of obedience and chastity, with the word MODESTY branded in letters of fire on her subconscious mind. True modesty, they taught, begins in the soul which must be protected from being laid open to dangers. Girls were admonished never to lose their innocence, always to avoid anything that might rob them of it, such as immodest fashions, and to fight like heroines to preserve it at all costs. Their role model was St Maria Goretti, the Italian girl canonised in 1950 who died in 1902 heroically defending her purity. Modesty was therefore taught as an inner virtue – one of the twelve fruits of the Holy Ghost – and the true cause and ground for outer modesty as expressed in one’s attire. Whether or not the convent educated girl always adhered to a Catholic dress code outside school life, an inescapable sense of ‘shamefacedness’ remained long after she has left school, and she carried this principle in her innermost mind even if she could not always articulate it with reasoned arguments.
Whereas other girls have no reliable standards by which to judge modest dress (some fundamentalist Protestant sects use biblical references to preach feminine modesty, but do so using their own interpretation), the convent girl has been gradually educated in responsibility towards the moral well being of herself and others. As Pope Pius XII put it:
“without the faith, without Christian education, deprived of the help of the Church, where can bewildered woman find the courage to face unfalteringly moral demands surpassing purely human strength? ”
The Seduction of Vatican II
Adapting Catholic morals to the modern world, as Vatican II did, had disastrous effects. When the Council called for an adaptation of the Church to the Modern World, what it was saying is that the Church needed to end the separation between the religious life and worldly life and conform herself to the values of the world. Belief in the supernatural was assimilated into faith in naturalism, and the distinction between the two was lost. This change is of paramount importance to what happened next: religious orders of nuns were among the first to embrace the Vatican II reforms both in their own communities and in the wider world. Caught up in the current of the New Thinking, the sisters were like sitting ducks: the best they could do was to take a defensive stand in a situation that was indefensible, and they were an easy target with no chance of escaping the hunter. Most took to the reforms like ducks to water. Whether they were progressives or conservatives in their outlook, all were obliged to adopt a more indulgent, admiring view of the modern world and its fashions and stop regarding it as a spiritual enemy. No longer shocked at the sight of women in trousers, they got into them themselves and mounted the sanctuary steps where they continue to challenge the supremacy of the all-male priesthood.
With the disappearance of an authoritative guide from our religious leaders on a Catholic dress code, the New Thinking affected the Church in its membership and social and cultural environment. It is well known that when the practice of modesty, like any other moral principle, has simply become a matter left to the individual’s sense of responsibility, it is gradually forgotten. Unfortunately, modern Popes have not given specific advice on women and trousers, priests have failed in their duty to give the traditional moral guidance, and women have been left unprotected by their pastors. If they are not guided in this matter by Popes, women will be guided by the bad example of their peers, by fashion designers and retailers who have a financial interest in promoting trends, and by feminists with an ideological agenda to tear down the conventions that Christian civilisation has established as safeguards of the virtue of purity.
The implications for women’s fashions are clear: we now have a relativisation of standards of decency and loss of a sense of decorum. Nobody blushes any more – or hardly. This relativism has slowly weakened in consciences the notions of good and evil, sin and grace, vice and virtue, and, by analogy, the standards of modesty in dress. It has led to a curious irony – the modernist clergy, brazen in defending the freedom of women to wear trousers even in church, are bashful when it comes to preaching about modesty! What a shocking indictment on the blindness produced by too much exposure to the world: they do not see a violation of modesty in women wearing trousers or a profanation of holy places by such attire. Instead of exhorting their flocks to transcend the pressures of fashion, modernist clergy have laughingly adopted the “New Morality” including a “New Modesty” (they regard the ‘old modesty’ as a joke!) which allows immodest styles of clothing to be worn in church. The silence of the clergy, indeed their laxist complicity with immodest clothing, provides the means for women to pursue their own pleasure, comfort and convenience with the Church assisting them. It is one thing to tolerate wrongdoing by being silent when God’s laws are mocked. It is something else to contribute to it by not working to eradicate it as best as one can.
Certainly the Society of St Pius X cannot be accused of turning a blind eye to the problem. By speaking out against immodest fashions, traditional priests are fulfilling Pope Pius XI’s exhortation:
“Let parish priests and preachers, according to the recommendation of Saint Paul, and as the occasion presents itself, “insist, explain, reprove and exhort”, to the end that women should dress in such a way as to radiate modesty, and their clothing enhance and protect virtue. Let them, also, admonish parents not to allow their daughters to wear immodest outfits.”
Bishop Williamson was right in line with traditional Catholic morality when he said: “Let not wild horses drag you into shorts or trousers.” and “Let the wife then sacrifice her own will, her emancipation, her trousers, her money and pseudo-career in order to attain the glorious freedom of motherhood to bring into the world and raise whatever children God sends.” He was only fulfilling his duty as envisioned by Pope Pius XI:
“Nothing is more reasonable or more necessary than that the Bishops – as is fitting for ministers of Christ – should, with one voice, raise a barrier against these bold and licentious fashions, bearing with serenity and courage the insults and mockery which they will receive, because of their unyielding position…”
“You’ve forgotten your skirt!”
Some Catholic girls and women can be incredibly naive about the effects of immodesty; they sincerely want to lead a Christian life, but seem to be unaware of the link between a chaste heart and a chaste appearance, and of their potential for leading others astray. Pope Pius XII warned:
Numbers of believing and pious women…in accepting to follow certain bold fashions, break down, by their example, the resistance of many other women to such fashions, which may become for them the cause of spiritual ruin. As long as these provocative styles remain identified with women of doubtful virtue, good women do not dare to follow them; but once these styles have been accepted by women of good reputation, decent women soon follow their example, and are carried along by the tide into possible disaster.
Pope Pius XII did not mention any particular article of clothing by name – modesty and discretion would prevent him from doing so – but it is obvious that shorts and slacks come under his censure as being “bold” and “provocative”. In contrast to modern Popes who praise women’s participation in sports that require such clothing, Pope Pius XII warned against them. It is reasonable to assume that if he condemned athletic outfits for women on the sports field and in the gym, he would have been even more critical of their adoption for everyday life.
No such thing as modest trousers on women
If women are “dressing to kill” these days, there is no doubt that they have succeeded in killing the morals of men and endangering their souls by wearing provocative styles, particularly midriff-baring tops and how-low-can-you-go jeans. Some women appear to have been melted down and poured into their garments. A good question to ask oneself by way of analogy is: “Which outlines the form of the hand more – a mitten or a glove?” and then apply the question to a skirt and a pair of trousers, both of which provide adequate coverage. It is obvious that there can be varying degrees of immodesty depending on the cut of the trousers, but that there is no such thing as ‘modest’ trousers – they may look modest on the clothes rack, but they behave like any other trousers when you put them on. The ‘crux’ of the matter, (if you get my meaning), is that even if trouser legs are of generous width and not particularly clinging, the fitted area is bound to offset the female form to a greater or lesser extent, and its very visibility is what causes an immodest impression to be fixed in the mind. Any woman who does not agree should take a long, hard look in the mirror and try to see herself as others (especially men) see her! Perhaps then she will agree that trousers reveal much more than gender.
Let’s talk modesty – and honesty
Women often say they wear slacks because they are more comfortable or convenient for getting in and out of cars, warmer in winter etc., and shorts because the weather is hot (but it is even hotter in Purgatory!). But with a little of the ingenuity and resourcefulness for which women are famed, a judicious combination of articles of apparel can be chosen from among the contents of a woman’s wardrobe to enable her to wear skirts for many occasions – windy days and sub-zero temperatures, cycling, hiking and riding side-saddle, for instance – all without the need to wear trousers. There are some sporting activities which cannot be done in a skirt and so must be out of bounds for women. Sacrificing convenience and freedom is not easily done, but if a more restricted life-style for the sake of modesty and propriety is the path of greater holiness, it is also potentially one of greater sacrifice and will bring its rewards in increased graces.
Let us be perfectly honest: even if an individual does not comply with the surrounding a-moral culture, it is giving the wrong message for a Catholic woman to don trousers which align her with the outward appearance of those who wish to detach themselves from a Christian way of life. After all, what would people think if you walked into a room wearing a tee-shirt with a large swastika emblazoned on it? If you are not a Nazi sympathiser, why give the impression of being one? Yet there are Catholic women even in traditionalist circles who, while not fitting the strict definition of “feminist”, nevertheless reflect that ethos to some degree, not least in their vehement protest against anyone declaring trousers as unsuitable attire for women. Feminism is so pervasive in our society that traces of the feminist mindset can be found even among those Catholics who would disavow the feminist label.
The key to the whole issue is for women to dress in a feminine manner so as to communicate the language of submission and acceptance of womanhood rather than the language of rebellion and rejection of God’s design. As Christian women, we have a biblical obligation to dress modestly and reflect holiness, and so we should dress in a feminine manner, to show that we accept the place God has given us in the Church, in the family and in society,. God’s message about modesty may seem embarrassingly old-fashioned in our culture, but God’s word does not change. There are no general circumstances either in the past or present which mitigate or set aside this teaching. While it is acceptable to have feminised forms of coats, hats, shoes etc., trousers are in a category of their own because of the area of the body on which they are worn and their inherent “suggestiveness”. It will never be right for women to overshadow or displace traditional Catholic teaching by claiming the right to wear trousers.
If we judge the question in the light of the virtual collapse of the Catholic Church in society after more than forty years of religiously neutral teaching, it would suggest that the trouser culture, insofar as its basic premises have now become enshrined in society, has indeed served to injure Catholicism and the overall social good. It has the effect of undermining the priority, both in public and then in private life, of supernatural or spiritual reality.
Part of the problem is that what was taught before the Council as Catholic morality is now viewed as a threat to the liberal values of tolerance, individual freedom and egalitarianism – all of which have become the orthodoxy of the age. This means that, in practice, the pre-Conciliar condemnation of trousers comes into conflict with the self-serving tendency in (wo)man. It is seen as being contrary to the freedom of the individual and likely to frustrate her self-fulfilment and/or happiness. But St Thomas shows that the punishment for Original Sin was not only the subordination of woman to man but its unpleasantness, and that woman would not always be readily obedient.
Has the trouser culture really elevated our uniqueness as women? Has it contributed to an increase in chivalry from men? On the contrary, the fashion has become counter-productive for women:
• their dignity has been lowered both in the eyes of society and of their own children
• as fashions have become bolder, their innate sensitivity to immodesty has been blunted by sensual overload
• their minds have been ideologically corrupted by feminist thinking so that they have generally rejected God’s design for the family
• there is widespread confusion in society about what constitutes femininity and masculinity
• the de-feminising effect of trousers on the younger generation is unedifying. Young girls of today have, for the most part, worn trousers most of their life, and as a result they tend to behave like boys. It is little wonder that they feel uncomfortable in dresses and that, as Pope Pius XII noted, they have lost the instinct for modesty. Our age has witnessed a general coarsening of conversation and manners among young girls at a time of their life when they should be learning Mary-like standards of modesty and deportment.
The women’s trouser culture is one of the most insidious by-products of modern liberalism, and it is therefore not surprising that all it has promoted is moral frivolity and exhibitionism, confusion, the debasement of women, a coarsening of attitudes among women themselves and a lowering of moral tone in society.
We need to rescue the Christian concept of womanhood from modern society’s confusion over marital duties and family life. In order to maintain standards of decency in dress, women need the graces that come from frequent prayer. They also need the moral support of their menfolk: in the first place of the Holy Father, then of the hierarchy, clergy and religious and also of their husbands. But women have been spiritually short-changed and woefully let down by the silence of the Magisterium after the Council. However, there is the other side of the coin: the problem of the unruly wife and the passion with which some women pursue the ‘right’ to wear trousers. Instead of having a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Pet. 3:4), they frustrate their husband’s attempts to counsel them by continually usurping his authority in the home. The Magisterium may be silent, but women are vocal!
The plague of legs is a just punishment.
“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.”
For those who are new to Catholic morality, or who are unaware of what the Church has taught before the Council, it would be good to cultivate the habit of thinking that if the Church has preached against women wearing trousers, then somewhere there is a good case for believing it drawn from Revelation, Tradition or natural reason. They would do well to heed the teachings of the past as they strive to inculcate a spirit of purity and awaken a sense of the angelic virtue among the young. The result would be perfectly Catholic: modern ‘Bloomerites’ who still cling doggedly on to the trouser-leg of feminist culture should stay at home to look after their children and cut their trousers into strips to make mops.
Women’s trousers are an assault upon woman’s womanhood
Bishop Williamson, The Resistance (September 1991)
Dear Friends and Benefactors:
Summer’s end may not seem to be the cleverest moment to choose to write about women’s dress. Surely the arrival rather than the departure of the warm weather would be the time to inveigh against immodest clothing. However, several ladies happen to have raised with me this summer the question of women wearing trousers or shorts (pants), and the problem is broader and deeper than just immodesty, grave though immodesty is.
For instance Bishop de Castro Mayer used to say that trousers on a woman are worse than a mini-skirt, because while the mini-skirt is sensual and attacks the senses, the trousers are ideological and attack the mind. For indeed women’s trousers, as worn today, short or long, modest or immodest, tight or loose, open or disguised (like the “culottes”), are an assault upon woman’s womanhood and so they represent a deep-lying revolt against the order willed by God. This may be least true of the long “culottes”, trousers most closely resembling a skirt, and at best mistakable for a skirt, but insofar as “culottes” establish the principle of dividing woman’s outward apparel from the waist down, they merely disguise the grave disorder. What disorder? (“Excellency, this time really you have flipped your lid!”).
In the beginning, God created man and woman, both human but quite different, firstly man, secondly woman (Genesis I, 27; II, 22); woman to be man’s help-mate like unto himself (Gem. II, 18), woman for man, not man for woman (I Cor. XI, 9), for “the man is not of the woman but the woman is of the man” (I Cor. XI, 8). Thus even before original sin happened, God ordered between man and woman distinction, inequality, and the headship of man over woman for purposes of living in society and in the family upon this earth.
Original sin, whereby Eve made Adam sin and not the other way round (I Tim II 14), entailed Eve’s being punished, amongst other things, by the turning of her natural and painless subordination to Adam into a punishing domination of his over her, for she had shown by seducing him that she needed to be controlled… “thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee” (Genesis III, 16). Thenceforth with the transmission of original sin to all children of Adam passes to all daughters of Adam (except, of course, the Blessed Virgin Mary) this punitive subordination.
As with all problems of sin, the only true solution is the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For instance in a Catholic marriage the painful control of man over woman, evident in all non-Christian cultures and re-emerging in our own anti-Christian culture, becomes by supernatural grace more and more that subordination of woman to man which is in accordance with their nature and which is profitable to both, which Eve had before she and Adam fell.
But away with Eden by grace! The modern world will have none of Jesus Christ’s solutions to Adam’s and Eve’s problems. Making idols of liberty and equality, to refuse any inequality or subordination of woman to man, it will deny any distinction between them, it denies of course any order of God in His creation, any need for Redemption, and it will deny if necessary God’s very existence. Today’s feminism is intimately connected to witchcraft and satanism.
These considerations have taken us a long way from the question of women’s trousers, and of course not every woman putting on a pair of shorts is consciously thinking of defying God or of defying her menfolk. She is, however, conscious of something. She is clearly aware that divided shorts are not like an undivided skirt, and the difference is that abandoning the skirt gives her a vague feeling — surely of unease, or emancipation, or both …. What is that feeling based on?
Clothing divided for the legs obviously liberates the mobile lower half of the body for a number of activities for which clothing undivided like a skirt is relatively cumbersome. Adam then having to earn his family’s bread by the sweat of all kinds of activities outside the home, it is entirely normal for the man to wear trousers, and if a girl gets it into her head to join him in these activities, obviously trousers likewise emancipate her to do so. Shorts are the outward and visible sign of her, liberation from the restricted range of homemaking activities.
However, she is uneasy because trousers are not the natural wear of a woman. Howsoever it be with other species, in the human species the female is designed to attract the eye of the male much more than the reverse — compare the number of male and of female beauty magazines on the market. Now original sin wounds human nature with concupiscence (unlawful desire) particularly in the senses of sight, touch and imagination. It follows for questions of clothing that what might rouse concupiscence needs more to be disguised in woman from man’s eye than in man from woman’s eye. Hence as trousers benefit the activity of the man, so skirts disguisingly loose befit the dignity and honour of the woman. Hence while donning his emancipatory trousers, she feels uneasy – at least until her conscience is dulled – as she is moving away from her identity and role and dignity as a woman. In her conscience is resounding the voice of the Lord her God pronouncing in the Mosaic Law: “A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel, neither shall a man use woman’s apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God” (Deut. XXII, 5). And trousers are normally man’s apparel, for reasons given above.
Of course if one denies the original sin which inflamed man’s concupiscence (Gen. III, 7) and sharpened woman’s subordination (Gen. III, 16), women’s trousers are not so unreasonable, but see all around you the absurd consequences of denying original sin ! — sweet Polyanna goes to the office dressed fit to inflame a stone, but woe unto the poor male colleague in the office who fails to react like a stone, because with recent laws (in the U.S.A.) she will attack him in court! Insanity! Places of work will soon have to extract in advance from women sworn declarations whether they do, or do not, want to have advances made to them! But what was to be expected when women were pulled out of their home? It all serves the liberal men right for so misleading their women.
Contrast the reflective good sense of an American grandmother who said to me this summer when she was on retreat here in Winona that, looking back on her Californian youth, she could see she had often been induced to wear trousers, and now she regretted it — she could see now that each time her womanliness had been diminished. As G.K. Chesterton said, there is nothing so unfeminine as feminism. Women’s trousers are a vital part, maybe the crucial break-through, of feminism.
As for the true womanliness of woman, its importance cannot be exaggerated. It all turns on women being essentially designed by God for motherhood; for the bringing of children into this world, and for their rearing; for the giving of life, warmth, love, nursing, and nourishment, everything represented by mother’s milk. For this, men are not designed, of it they are intrinsically incapable yet upon it they are wholly dependent if they are to become human, as opposed to inhuman, beings. In a valuable book, “The Flight from Woman”, a cultivated Jewish psychiatrist, Karl Stern, tells how he could discern in countless ills of the big city patients coming through his Toronto practice after World War II a pattern of womanlessness with which he was familiar from the works of famous modern writers such as Goethe, Descartes, Tolstoy, Ibsen — not a lack of women, but a lack of truly womanly women, because modern men and women alike are trampling upon the womanly qualities and virtues. Shakespeare distilled this spirit in Lady Macbeth, proto-feminist and satanist:
“Come you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty…. Come to my woman’s breast
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers…” (Act I, Sc. V).
Heaven help us! The womanliness of our women is being rooted out and the result is a way of life doomed to self-destruction, doomed to abort.
Girls, be mothers, and in order to be mothers, let not wild horses drag you into shorts or trousers. When activities are proposed to you requiring trousers, if it is something your great-grandmother did, then find a way of doing it, like her, in a skirt. And if your great-grandmother did not do it, then forget it! Her generation created your country, your generation is destroying it. Of course not all women who wear trousers abort the fruit of their womb, but all help to create the abortive society. Old-fashioned is good, modern is suicidal. You wish to stop abortion? Do it by example. Never wear trousers or shorts.
The Path to Hell: Vanity, Indecency, Immodesty & Impurity
In a world where everyday more souls bow down to “self” we are reminded of those select quotes from the Word of God and various Saints who warned of this path leading so many souls to hell. Our Lady of Fatima warned most souls go to hell due to “sins of the flesh” but is She being listened to? Inevitably, we will be chastised to severe degree. Let us quit trying to “stand out” in a world which is at war with God. Let us dress ourselves properly. Let us speak properly. Let us act decently as if Our Lady and Lord were in our presence at all times! How many forget this and carry on without thought that their immodest dress and speech offend a God Who is ALL Good. Ave Maria!
13 Scriptures against Vanity and Immodesty(both of the world and looks/body):
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
But when thou art spoiled what wilt thou do? though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, and paintest thy eyes with stibic stone, thou shalt dress thyself out in vain: thy lovers have despised thee, they will seek thy life.
1 Timothy 4:8
For bodily exercise is profitable to little: but godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
2 Esdras (Nehemiah) 1:7
We have been seduced by vanity, and have not kept thy commandments, and ceremonies and judgments, which thou hast commanded thy servant Moses.
O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity
But vain are the sons of men, the sons of men are liars in the balances: that by vanity they may together deceive.
Turn away my eyes that they may not behold vanity: quicken me in thy way.
For the bewitching of vanity obscureth good things, and the wandering of concupiscence overturneth the innocent mind.
And the suspicion of them hath deceived many, and hath detained their minds in vanity.
A sinner is caught in his own vanity, and the proud and the evil speakers shall fall thereby.
Isaias (Isaiah) 5:18
Woe to you that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as the rope of a cart.
This then I say and testify in the Lord: That henceforward you walk not as also the Gentiles walk in the vanity of their mind
2 Peter 2:18
For, speaking proud words of vanity, they allure by the desires of fleshly riotousness, those who for a little while escape, such as converse in error:
‘You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. . . When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion?
You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul.
And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.’
St. John Chrysostom, Father and Doctor of the Church
‘Louis of Granada speaks of a young woman whose damnation had no other source than vanity and the desire to please. She led a regular life, but her passion to attract attention by the charm of her beauty was the moving cause of her whole conduct. Having fallen sick, she died, having received all the Sacraments. While her confessor was praying for her soul, she appeared to him, saying that she was damned, and that the cause of her damnation was vanity. “I sought,” she added, “only to please the eyes of men. This passion caused me to commit a multitude of sins; it prevented me from receiving the Sacraments well, and it has led me to everlasting torments.”‘
Rev. F.X. Schouppe, S.J.
‘. . . Now, observe, my daughter, the contrast between the luxurious dress of many women, and the raiment and adornments of Jesus. . . Tell me: what relation do their fine shoes bear to the spikes in Jesus’ Feet? The rings on their hands to the nails which perforated His? The fashionable coiffure to the Crown of Thorns? The painted face to That covered with bruises? Shoulders exposed by the low-cut gown to His, all striped with Blood? Ah, but there is a marked likeness between these worldly women and the Jews who, incited by the Devil, scourged Our Lord! At the hour of such a woman’s death, I think Jesus will be heard saying: “Cujus est imago haec et circumscripto. . . of whom is she the image?” And the reply will be: “Demonii. . . of the Devil!” Then He will say: “Let her who has followed the Devil’s fashions be handed over to him; and to God, those who have imitated the modesty of Jesus and Mary.”‘
St. Anthony Mary Claret
”If you desire to be chaste, be retired, be modest, be mortified.”
Saint Leonard of Port Maurice
‘We must practise modesty, not only in our looks, but also in our whole deportment, and particularly in our dress, our walk, our conversation, and all similar actions.’
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
“Be neat, Philothea; let nothing be negligent about you. It is a kind of contempt of those with whom we converse, to frequent their company in uncomely apparel; but, at the same time, avoid all affectation, vanity, curiosity, or levity in your dress. Keep yourself always, as much as possible, on the side of plainness and modesty, which, without doubt, is the greatest ornament of beauty, and the best excuse for the want of it.” ~ St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to a Devout Life, Part Three, Ch. 25
“Lust indulged became habit, and habit unresisted became necessity.”
“Either we must speak as we dress, or dress as we speak. Why do we profess one thing and display another? The tongue talks of chastity, but the whole body reveals impurity.”
“Another weapon the devil employs is immodesty, or more frankly, impurity. My dear children, be on your guard. The devil will tempt you with bad books, bad thoughts, or the foul conversation of a companion. When any such fellow approaches you, say to yourself, This is a minister of Satan. And let these wretches who indulge in foul conversation say to himself, I am a minister of Satan because I help him ruin souls!
St. John Bosco
‘In your dress permit nothing unclean or slovenly, but at the same time avoid a studied elegance, which is not free from daintiness or affectation.’
St. Ignatius of Loyola
‘It was sin that created the need for us to dress and to cover our body with clothing. This is why, because we carry with us at all times the condition of sinners, we must never appear not only without clothing but also without being fully dressed. This is required both by decency and by the law of God.’
St. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle
Pope Pius XII – May 23, 1948
“Mainly through sins of impurity, do the forces of darkness subjugate souls.”
Pope Pius XII – July 17, 1954
“0 Christian mothers, if only you knew the future of distress and peril, of shame ill-restrained, that you prepare for your sons and daughters in imprudently accustoming them to live hardly clothed and in making them lose the sense of modesty, you should be ashamed of yourselves and of the harm done the little ones whom heaven entrusted to your care, to be reared in Christian dignity and culture.”
Pope Pius XII – August 15, 1954 delegated Cardinal Ciriaci to issue a letter on modesty.
“Everyone knows that during the summer months particularly, things are seen here and there which are certain to prove offensive to anyone who has retained some respect and regard for Christian virtue and human modesty . On the beaches, in country resorts, almost everywhere, on the streets of cities and towns, in private and public places, and, indeed, often in buildings dedicated to God, an unworthy and indecent mode of dress has prevailed. Because of this, the young particularly, whose minds are easily bent towards vice, are exposed to the extreme danger of losing their innocence, which is, by far, the most beautiful adornment of mind and body. Feminine adornment, if it can be called adornment, feminine clothing, ‘if that can be called clothing which contains nothing to protect either the body or modesty.’ (Seneca) are at times of such a nature that they seem to serve lewdness rather than modesty . What we are discussing here is obviously most serious, since it vitally concerns not only Christian virtue but also the health and vigor of human society . Well did not the ancient poet say of this matter: ‘Vice necessarily follows upon public nudity’…
” A mortal sin of scandal is committed by women who go about with their bosom immodestly exposed, or who expose their limbs improperly. Also by actors in immodest comedies, and still more by the persons who compose such comedies; also by painters who paint obscene pictures, and by the heads of families who keep such pictures in their houses. The father who speaks obscenely, or blasphemes the saints, in presence of his children, and the mother who brings into her house to live among her daughters young men who are in love with them, or betrothed to them, or other suspected persons, are guilty of a still more grievous sin of scandal. Some mothers say: do not suspect any evil. I answer, that it is their duty to suspect; otherwise they will have to render to God an account of all the sins which may follow.
There was a woman who, even after marriage, did not cease giving scandal. This woman one day fell into a fit, and while she was in a state of unconsciousness, she saw the Lord condemning her to eternal fire. When she recovered the use of her senses, she did nothing but cry out, “Alas! I am damned, I am damned!” A confessor came to comfort her, but she answered, “What have I to do with confession? I am damned.” Then her daughter approached the bed, in order to encourage her, but she cried out: “Ah, accursed child! on your account, too, I am damned: for through you I have given scandal to others.” After these words the devils, in presence of all who were in the apartment, raised her up to the ceiling, and then dashed her so violently against the floor that she instantly expired.’
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church
The educators of the young clergy would render a more valuable and useful service, if they would inculcate in youthful minds the precepts of Christian modesty, which is so important for the preservation of perfect chastity and which is truly called the prudence of chastity.
For modesty foresees threatening danger, it forbids us to expose ourselves to risks, it demands the avoidance of those occasions which the imprudent does not shun. Modesty does not like impure or loose talk, it shrinks from the slightest immodesty, it carefully avoids suspicious familiarity with persons of the other sex, since it brings the soul to show due reverence to the body, as being a temple of the Holy Spirit. He who possesses the treasure of Christian modesty abominates every sin of impurity and instantly flees whenever he is tempted by its seductions.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Sacra Virginitas of March 25, 1954 (no. 58-59), in
The Woman in the Modern World, Daughters of St. Paul, 1958, Appendix II)
A Pastoral letter of His Emminence Enrique Cardinal Pla y Daniel, Archbishop of Toledo Spain issued in 1959 this directive:
” A special danger to morals is represented by public bathing at beaches, in pools and riverbanks…Mixed bathing between men and women which nearly always is a proximate occasion of sin and a scandal must be avoided.”
Vatican Document – Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics – 12/29/75
“In this way facts are discovered [i.e. by sociological surveys], but facts do not constitute a criterion for judging the moral value of human acts. The frequency of the phenomenon in question is certainly to be linked with man’s innate weakness following original sin; but is also to be linked with the loss of a sense of God, with the corruption of morals engendered by the commercialization of vice, with the unrestrained licentiousness of so many public entertainments and publications, as well as with the neglect of modesty, which is the guardian of chastity.”
Padre Pio from the book “Prophet of the People” by Dorothy Gaudiose
“Padre Pio wouldn’t tolerate low-necked dresses or short, tight skirts, and he forbade his spiritual daughters to wear transparent stockings. (nylons) Each year his severity increased. He stubbornly dismissed them from his confessional, even before they set foot inside, if he judged them to be improperly dressed…His brothers observed these drastic purges with uneasiness and…fasten(ed) a sign on the church door: ‘By Padre Pio’s explicit wish, women must enter his confessional wearing skirts at least eight inches below the knees. It is forbidden to borrow longer dresses in church and to wear them for the confessional.