Modesty at Mass

Recently I received a thoughtful question from up the TNTT vine…

“If the Theology of the Body teaches that our bodies are beautiful and reflect God, why must we be modest in Church?”

audrey_hepburn_type_1

[Audrey Hepburn’s quote illustrated by Alicia Vasquez.]

Modesty is not about covering up something because it is ugly. Instead, it’s about cherishing and protecting the beautiful, especially about safeguarding love and respect. Since Woman (and all things women) is the more beautiful sex, there is an emphasis to safeguard her. Women do this by dressing and behaving appropriately to help others see that there is more beauty to them than just their skin and hair (because it’s so easy to stop just there).

Since women are so attractive, it is easy for men to get caught up in the physical and external looks. By dressing and behaving modestly, they are helping others find where their true beauty is. I like to remind myself with this quote: “The most beautiful part of a woman is her.” Meaning ALL OF HER. The moment we focus on just one aspect of her person, is the moment we objectify her and abuse her. Her whole person (body, soul, mind and heart) is beautiful, and modesty helps us find that total beauty by guiding our attention to her as a person instead of getting caught up in and stopping at the external beauty. Modesty helps us treat others and ourselves with the dignity and respect we all deserve. Modesty done right, it makes us free and happy!

At Mass, we also dress modestly* to help others find where the true beauty is… where Beauty Himself is: Jesus (God). After all, God invented beauty itself! He is Beauty itself! And everything that is beautiful is only beautiful because He knows how to make it that way. So if we behaved and dressed immodestly, we are not just disrespecting ourselves, but God (because we’re distracting others from realizing where Beauty is).

Here are two posts I wrote before addressing this question:

Even the Blind See Her Beauty

How Women in Veils Inspire Males Like Me.

I hope that helps!

*Note: dressing modestly does not mean making yourself look ugly! It means having good taste, class and dignity. For tips about this, I recommend these:

1) Verily Magazine (yes, I do read this once in a while and not ashamed about it!)

2) Leah Darrow (once competed on America’s Next Top Model)

3) And a whole bunch of short articles about Modesty from ChastityProject.com (by Crystallina and Jason Evert)

Even the Blind See Her Beauty

Once upon a hot summer day, a young man was on a beautiful beach. He saw a young woman even more beautiful – and his heart skipped, fell, and broke. He felt sorrow at the sight. Even today he feels great sorrow… only now does he know why:

Her skinny two-piece was telling me to see her body, but I wanted to see her. I couldn’t even walk up to her. I wanted to say hello and I wanted to know her name, but I couldn’t look without lusting. I broke my own heart. To save her from me, I broke it.BeautifulPartWoman

She was worth so much more than what she wore, and what she wore didn’t do her any justice. Her beauty is so great that nothing deserves to see it. Nothing. Not the rocks, the lake, the birds, trees, grass, not the sun, moon and stars – and not any person – not even her future husband! No one “deserves” the gift to behold her so.

And so I couldn’t bear to look and see her that way. How sad it must’ve made her… that she tried to share her beauty and nobody would notice it the way she deserved to be noticed. All was misunderstood and mistreated, especially herself. Her real worth and person was not realized, but was deprived.

Yet no matter how much love I had for her, I know I was even less worthy to see such beauty. I know myself – and I needed her to help me see HER and not just her body. It is not that her body is bad, but that her body is more cherished than we know. I hope and pray that one day she will be sufficiently loved, and that she knows how great and glorious she really is – even if we all went blind.

 

[First written and posted by Evan Pham on May 30, 2011]