Mode of dressing in the Catholic Church

Mode of dressing in the Catholic Church

Every human has four endowments- self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change ~ Stephen Covey

Wearing clothes is a need but the selection or rather choice of clothes(fashion) is a want, learning to differentiate between wants and needs is a life time skill that would help save people a lot of unnecessary stress and depression that may result in chasing after wants and forgetting the essence of needs ~@cknaija 2013

some definitions

Moral: concerned with, based on, or adhering to the code of behaviour that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society rather than legal rights or duties

Modesty: behaviour, manner, or appearance intended to avoid impropriety or indecency(not conforming with generally accepted standards of behavior, especially in relation to sexual matters)

Uncharitable: (of a person’s behaviour or attitude towards others) unkind; unsympathetic

Warning: this is a very lengthy note but an interesting read especially for Catholics

There are many different ways in which we can sin or cause others to sin such as: our words, actions, neglects and immorality; however, in this day and age the most frequent way we cause ourselves to sin is by our immorality by being immodestly dressed.

Note: a person may be morally upright on other issues and may be immodestly dressed not caring about those who complain, such a person can be said to be uncharitable and that in itself is a moral question

Many debates are still ongoing regarding dress code in church and the frequent questions that come up include

What is the acceptable dress code?
Is it universal?
Is it only women? Why are they always talking about women?
If certain attires are ok in some places why not the church?
What about little children?
What’s the best way to correct?
Why should we correct?

This write up would attempt to answer these questions

What is the acceptable dress code?

It is necessary for us to promote standards of attire for Catholic women and girls, standards such as Pope Pius XI had in mind when he said: “A dress cannot be decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breath under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarecely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper.” Ladies, men, girls and boys should always wear underwear and no beige material (it leaves the impression at a distance of having no clothes). If a skirt is snug, it should reach well below the knees; no shorts, no bathing suits, and no pants (for females).

More than just making a request, the Vatican has insisted that tourists visiting St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome adhere to a strict dress code. Pictorial signs explaining the dress code are on display at entrances; men and women in shorts or with bare shoulders (e.g., wearing tank tops) are routinely turned away by the Swiss Guard.

The primary motivation for such policies, say those in leadership roles in the Church, is to promote the virtue of modesty. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers several paragraphs on the topic of modesty (No. 2521-2524), saying in part: “Modesty is decency. It inspires one’s choice of clothing. … Modesty inspires a way of life that makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies.”

Is it universal?

Is it relative? It’s hotter in some parts and colder in others, should it not be expected that based on climatic conditions we should not be too shocked that those in hotter regions would wear less clothing? Also based on culture and tradition of various tribes, should a particular tribe force others to adhere to its definition of dressing?
The Catholic Church as the name implies is universal, and it’s true some places are hotter than others and it is also true that cultures and dressing differ from place to place, but when mass is celebrated it is the same mass celebrated all over the world, it is the same King of kings worshiped, and it is the same respect expected of us, even visitors at prisons have a dress code, how much more should the Church.

Is it only women? Why are they always talking about women?

It’s not only women as the earlier definition addressed, men also need to be mindful of what they wear too church, as a rule of thumb, men need to ask themselves if they would dress up any how if they were going to meet their president or attend any important occasion, or even a wedding etc.
Definitely shorts would be out of it, same with transparent see through shirts, etc. aside from the men dressing, there is a 2nd part that most men may not be aware off, and that is in looking lustfully at a woman, most men push the blame on the women, but then the way we see women also go a long way in affecting our lust towards them, even if a woman were to strip naked, man must learn to control his senses, it is not easy, but with training, to stop bad habits one must introduce good habits, prayer is a good habit, pornography is a bad habit, the prayerful man can withstand lustful temptation more easily than a man that indulges in pornography, also once he remembers the lady he is lusting after is also a soul that needs to saved by correction than encouragement, that should help in the training of the eyes, to see and not to look.

To defend his purity, Saint Francis of Assisi rolled in the snow, Saint Benedict threw himself into a thorn bush, Saint Bernard plunged into an icy pond … You… What have you done? ~ Blessed Josemaria Escriva

Women seem to be at the receiving end of most talks simply because women carry within them certain points of attraction to any male which she herself needs to be aware off and needs to help her male counterparts to concentrate at mass than being a source of distraction from mass and attraction to herself.

If certain attires are ok in some places why not the church?

We may not be able to control totally outer space but we can if we begin with controlling inner space. ~ @cknaija2013

God is everywhere but not everywhere is consecrated ground, and not everywhere is marked for God in the world, Christians carry God within themselves as light in a world so dark, the light shines and the darkness can never overcome it, we are in the world and not off it, for a purpose and we need to be examples not just in the church alone but also outside, we start from the home, the family, the church, before we can reflect outside in society, someone has to start and the church has taken the mantle and has passed it on to society, for Christians are also part of society and they also have the right to dictate acceptable dress codes at their work places and functions and even home.

Can you guess whose dress code rules these are?

Wear clothing that is appropriate for a large gathering of men, women, and young children. Wearing inappropriate clothing (such as provocative or revealing clothes) may result in your being denied visitation. For example, you will not be admitted if you wear:
revealing shorts
halter tops
bathing suits
see-through garments of any type
crop tops
low-cut blouses or dresses
backless tops
hats or caps
sleeveless garments
skirts two inches or more above the knee
dresses or skirts with a high-cut split in the back, front, or side

The Federal Bureau of Prisons. Yes, that’s right, if you want to visit someone in prison

What about little children?

Children are not exempted, although it lies mostly on the adult figure in the child’s life to guide accordingly , bring up a child in the way he should and when he is old he shall not depart from it

It was a desire to teach her teenage daughter the virtue of modesty that led Martha Fernandez to request a dress code be adopted at her parish, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sacramento, Calif. She has been deeply involved in the predominantly Latino parish for 25 years and serves on the parish council.

Fernandez said, “My daughter wanted to wear little shorts to Mass, and I told her it was not appropriate.”

When the girl complained that other parents let their daughters wear similar shorts, Fernandez replied, “Maybe they don’t know any better.” Continues in the next question

What’s the best way to correct?

Many people miss this part, going through most write up and articles I see a lot of sound arguments for and against a standard dress code, most times the issue sounds more like a battle between the holier than thou and the relaxed congregation , but hardly a balance, and that is what we need as Christians :balance; to bring back those who have strayed or about to stray, no one likes to be talked down too, we should therefore not be too authoritative in our preaching, we should position ourselves as if it were us being corrected and how we would like to be talked too.
We are to correct one another out of love, the love that we do not want the other to perish but in so doing we should learn the art of communication and we should also learn to listen, before correcting a total stranger, learn to be friendly, learn to complement something good about them, lots of people are lonely and a smile might be the best encouragement you could ever give them to know they are loved and not alone, most people, especially young ones are in rebellion with society and themselves, they need to see people care about them, and if they do not see you as a friend, it would be difficult to reach out to them.
Don’t in the process of trying to correct end up reaffirming the rebellious immodest dresser, if you lack the skill in correcting, find someone who does or learn, for everyone once in a while needs some correcting, for we are not perfect although we strive for it.

Continuation of the story above ……..

So, Fernandez thought she’d help educate them. She went to the pastor, Father Lino Otero, a member of the Legionaries of Christ, which staffs the parish, and asked to place dress code signs, similar to those at the Vatican, at the church entrances. He agreed.

The sign indicates that shorts, bare shoulders and tight clothing are not appropriate for church. They primarily target the dress of women because, Fernandez said, “We are the biggest offenders.”

The feedback in the two years since the policy was implemented has been universally positive.

In fact, a neighboring parish, Divine Mercy, copied Fernandez’s signs and implemented the dress policy as well.

Why should we correct?

Most times it seems to avoid being labelled as judgmental the easier thing to do is to mind our business especially since no one asked about our opinion, and also since it is a church issue the priest needs to be the one doing the correction, but we that know what is right and we fail to do it, in this case correct out of love, we are also guilty of the same sin of those who encourage indecent dressing by our inactions, especially people close to us, it may seem a heavy burden I just pulled over a lot of us( myself inclusive) but I won’t be fair to you if I do not share the weightier part of the need for modesty and charity in society especially the church.

Weightier reasons for reflection and for correction:

Our Lady said to Sister Lucy at Fatima: “There will be fashions which will greatly offend My Divine Son”. Today’s fashions prove Our Lady’s words
true, for these fashions are occasions of sin, occasions, alas, of serious sin, by reason of the sinful thoughts and desires which they provoke. In
the Gospel, Our Lord warned us about such evil desires: “But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Mt.5:28).
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:
for guilty desires, even though these had not been put into act. for indecent styles of dress, which were the fashion of the day, and which had been a cause of seduction and of sin, for dances, considered inoffensive by the world.

Christianity is stable and solid only insofar as it permeates the whole being of the baptized person. It must, first of all, penetrate the inner
man, and transform him into the image of Jesus Christ, in order to then regulate, according to this image, his exterior actions, words, and attitudes. It is not sufficient, Saint Paul tells us, for the heart to believe; we must also confess with our mouth, if we wish to be saved. And this external confession must extend to all our gestures, movements, habits, and relationships.

Modesty in a woman is the sign that Jesus Christ dwells in her heart. It is a sweet perfume of edification which she is called upon to diffuse.

Today’s fashions, on the contrary, dishonor and corrupt the Christian woman. Their aim is to seduce and to arouse concupiscence, to the detriment of the soul’s spiritual beauty, which is the true goal of our lives. All of this is a strategic Masonic maneuver. The destruction of Christian society, for which the Lodges have been working for two centuries, is to be realized through the destruction of the virtue of modesty in those who are baptized.
This corruption, which has been deliberately and carefully programmed, is being systematically brought about.


The topic is a broad one and can’t be finished in one write up, most of what was shared here were lifted from various sites and edited for clarity, below are a list of the sites for further reading

About cknaija
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