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)

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The Masterpiece

Hey! So I made a little meme and poem in honor of God’s masterpiece:

God finished on the Sixth.
He finished everything but one.

After creating all
And doing all to be done,
Almighty He edited some…

The light was good,
But not that great.
The day was bright,
And night was easy on the eyes.

The sea was plentiful,
But not that beautiful.
The land was pleasant,
And yet it wasn’t.

The plants and flowers,
Green and all colors…
Still they lacked
Something or another.

The animals and creeping things
Of sky, land and sea…
Clever, cute, and coy,
Yet still incomplete.

So Almighty He created him,
In Their image They created
Little hungry Adam…
Curious, cared for, but lonesome.

All was good.
All was in place.
Still, all was made of mere dust,
Sand, mud, and paste.

After creating all
And doing all to be done,
Almighty He realized He wasn’t done…

He put little Adam to sleep,
Took some rib meat,
Polished and tweaked…

Eve into the masterpiece.

Masterpiece

[the golden gilded artwork is by Lorenzo Ghiberti]

© Evan Pham . September 23rd 2008

*Inspired by the Book of Genesis and Christopher West’s Theology of the Body talks on the Feminine Genius

**Click here for the continuation of this poem.

Introducing: The THIRD Way

“There are not 100 people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church.”

-Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

It is sadly true that we Catholic Christians do not know much about homosexual attraction and how it affects people, and it is even sadder that many others know even less. But, let’s stop the ignorance, stop the hatred and misunderstanding and finally know what the Church actually proposes to us.

This short film is a great first step. I personally have waited for something like this for a while: a compassionate and honest look, a loving and fair response to an issue that is so stained with pain, malice and evil on both sides.

Well, this here is the THIRD side, this here is the THIRD Way:

 

The Girl and God

A young man falls in love with a young woman. How he is still an atheist makes no sense. She is beautiful… even the mere complexion of her skin wracks my thoughts — never mind her entire person! How it doesn’t make a believer out of him confuses me just the more…

I would tell him:

Look into her eyes and tell me they just got their color and shape because of 7,000,000+ years of human evolution. Tell me her voice is just noise vibrating from vocal cords in her throat, and that her words communicate thoughts that are merely electrical charges passing from one neuron to the next.

Tell me her hair is just like the next woman’s — the next great ape’s — and that her laughter is just some strange development not much different from hyena calls. Sit down, share honeyed tea with her and overlook how her lips kiss the porcelain — it’s nothing but the animal need to satisfy thirst. In fact, it’s all just an animal need and an animal reaction. If she was struck dead by one of many cancers, or fatally stabbed through the blood-brain barrier, just go and find another female human to perpetuate the species. She was weak, sick, and too stupid to protect herself anyways… it would’ve been bad to have her pass her genes onto the next generation.

BlackSesameKem

[Black Sesame Ice Cream: an Asian Delight]

Why bother memorizing her phone number, email address, birth date, last name, middle name, first name, saint name, favorite color, song or ice cream flavor? All of those things are random and meaningless. Her phone number is only a jumble of digits mixed by the telephone service company database server. Her email may be just the same thing as her phone number – only it was her brain instead that jumbled the mix of digits and letters. Her ancestors jumbled the letters for her names. And what’s a saint got to do with anything? Colors are merely wavelengths of invisible photons. One color is as special as the next: yellow, canary, saffron, gold, and urine color. Songs are just assortments of organized noise. If you listened to all the explosions, crashes, hushes and thunder in the universe, you would have by now heard all the frequencies audible to your ears. Anything else was already heard before in the mix… somewhere. Ice cream flavor — if nothing discussed above matters, then ice cream matters even less. What does that have anything to do with some female human that’s going to die one day and be replaced by an evolved and improved female human?

Unless… unless you love her like I do. Unless you see signs of God through her person – and by person I mean everything that is hers. Can you not realize that no chance process set her fingers so that they fit so warmly into yours? No toss up tuned her voice so that you can hear music call your name from even across busy streets. There’s no way she wasn’t thought up and nurtured by Love. Something – someone so beautiful and precious to you could never be merely a thing rolled out by an expanding universe of matter… she could only be a holy miracle.

 

 

– “To love someone means to be the only one to see a miracle that is invisible to others.”

-François Mauriac

First written and posted by Evan Pham on: April 28, 2011

Just Too Beautiful

I once heard a friend say this, and what she said shocked me:

“No matter how much a man tries, he can never be a woman. Women are just too beautiful.”

I agree with my friend.

No matter how good technology gets, no matter how advanced surgery gets, and definitely no matter how much effort, money, and care it takes – no man can be a woman. He will never smell as good, look as good, feel as good – and absolutely never be as beautiful.

Because a woman’s beauty and a man’s beauty are not the same, not equal, not interchangeable.

A woman is as different as she can be from a man – and still be 100% human. A man is as different as he can be from a woman – and still be 100% human.

Anyone who believes a man can become a woman must also believe that the night sky can become the stars, that the frame can become the painting, the page can become the story, the dress can become the body.

Starlit

But no matter how similar the two – it is impossible for one to become the other, because the one is meant for the other, and the other for the one.

But it is understandable why any man would want to become a woman. Who does not want to be beauty? Who does not want to be the person he most adores, admires, cherishes and loves?

So did men get cheated then? Did men lose out somewhere in the scheme? Did we get suckered out of the bargain?

No.

No, because when man holds woman – he supports the stars, he protects and presents the painting, he carries the tale, he embraces the beautiful body. He gets to hold beauty, gets to be with beauty. He gets to care for beauty. He gets to love her.

TOB Inspired,

-Evan/Even/Ivan/Evian/Ev/Evon/Kevin/Evin/etc.

[Written originally in Autumn 2012]