‘When she was thrown into the air by a savage bull in the amphitheatre at Carthage, her first thought and action when she fell to the ground was to rearrange her dress to cover her thigh, because she was more concerned for modesty than pain.’
Pope Pius XII, Allocution to the Girls of Catholic Action, speaking of St. Perpetua
The story of St Agnes‘ martyrdom is like any other Martyr in the time of the Early Christians… cringe-worthy, but beautiful.
There is one part in particular that I would like to talk about today.
When the men were leading St. Agnes to her death, they wanted to shame her, so they tore off all her clothes. But, a miracle occurred! Her hair grew to such lengths that it covered her body up, saving her modesty!
This story is a special one today; in a very watered-down-Catholic society. Many Catholics believe a twisted view of St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body” taking it to mean that the body, being so beautiful and wonderful in God’s eyes, and being His creation is not sinful… is fine to show off. It is not a sin to be naked, but rather the sin of lust is the sin… wait what?
Concerning Concupiscence, Lust and the Adultery mentioned in Matthew’s gospel;
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.
The happy-go-lucky “Garden of Eden” view of the body doesn’t hold water.
Why is modesty of the body (as well as the thought, words, actions, etc) so-called for by many Doctors of the Church? Popes? Our Lady herself? If it wasnt something of importance, heaven would not have taken its time to have it mentioned so very often.
The whole idea of modesty and its connection to the sin of lust can be for another time. I just want you to focus a bit on this;
If God so thought St. Agnes’ body wouldn’t have been a source of sin for the people around her, why then, would He have allowed her hair to grow, to cover her body?
We KNOW that the body isn’t sinful! What IS sinful is what we are all born with, Original Sin. This is what we have inherited from Adam &Eve; when they first sinned, what happened? They saw that they were naked.
Genesis Chapter 3 verse 6-7 And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons.
(Commentary from Douay Rheims Bible:) Not that they were blind before, (for the woman saw that the tree was fair to the eyes, ver. 6.) nor yet that their eyes were opened to any more perfect knowledge of good; but only to the unhappy experience of having lost the good of original grace and innocence, and incurred the dreadful evil of sin. From whence followed a shame of their being naked; which they minded not before; because being now stript of original grace, they quickly began to be subject to the shameful rebellions of the flesh.
Saint Augustine, the great Saint known for his past sinful life had much to say about sins of the Flesh;
“Let no one say in his heart,
God cares not for sins of the flesh.
Do you not know, says the Apostle ,
that you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him will God destroy.
Let no man deceive himself. But perhaps a man will say,
My soul is the temple of God, not my body, and will add this testimony also,
All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. Unhappy interpretation! conceit meet for punishment! The flesh is called grass, because it dies; but take heed that which dies for a time , rise not again with guilt. Would you ascertain a plain judgment on this point also?
Do you not know, says the same Apostle ,
that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God ? Do not then any longer disregard sins of the body; seeing that your
bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God. If you disregarded a sin of the body, will you disregard a sin which you commit against a temple ? Your very body is a temple of the Spirit of God within you. Now take heed what you do with the temple of God. If you were to choose to commit adultery in the Church within these walls, what wickedness could be greater? But now you are yourself the temple of God. In your going out, in your coming in, as you abide in your house, as you rise up, in all you are a temple . Take heed then what you do, take heed that you offend not the Indweller of the temple , lest He forsake you, and you fall into ruins.
Do you not know, he says,
that your bodies (and this the Apostle spoke touching fornication, that they might not think lightly of sins of the body)
are the temples of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which you have of God, and you are not your own? For
you have been bought with a great price. If you think so lightly of your own body, have some consideration for your price.”
“Nakedness” also having other meanings in the Bible such as; sinful (for example, In Genesis when Noah got drunk off of wine by accident, and lay there in the “nakedness” of his sin; his sons walked backwards into the tent to cover him with a blanket.) This may not just have been literal nakedness of the body, but also of his sin of drunkenness.
We can be sure though, that Adam & Eve’s nakedness is of the body, for it speaks of them already being “naked” before the sin; (Genesis Ch 2 verse 25; And they were both naked: to wit, Adam and his wife: and were not ashamed.) They were just unashamed because they had not Original Sin – they were innocent. Imagine having that sort of innocence!
God giving them clothing (Gen Ch 3 verse 21: And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife, garments of skins, and clothed them.), see also the Commentary in the Douay Rheims Bible concerning their nakedness.
Now, an “unbeliever” may poke jest at all this talk of nakedness, but that is mere Immaturity. As a silly child on the playground poking fun at such things.
This is, rather, an explanation – for so many Catholics are improperly Catechized,so much so that they believe that nakedness is not in itself, a cause for lust. Especially if we “love” one another as God’s creatures. This is talked about much in “Theology of the Body“, but it is actually for married couples. This love of another’s body as Temples of the Holy Spirit is certainly something we are all called to do, but, because of Original Sin, which we are all born with, and must battle with until our death, we must fight against impurity, lust, etc.
James 2;17, “So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.” Even if we are loving and charitable by our inward self, but still exposing the body, you are still committing a sin, unaware of this, it is not mortal, but if aware of this, it can be a mortal sin.
‘The attire of the body and the laughter of the teeth and the gait of the man show what he is.’ Ecclesiasticus 19:27
St Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church wrote; “Purity has its source in the heart, but it is in the body that its material results take shape, and therefore it may be forfeited both by the exterior senses and by the thoughts and desires of the heart.”
The Cure of Ars as well talked about this matter, ‘By only looking at a person, we know if he is pure. His eyes have an air of candour and modesty which leads you to the good God. Some people, on the contrary, look quite inflamed with passion. . . Satan places himself in their eyes to make others fall and to lead them to evil.’
Romans 12;1 “I BESEECH you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service.”
This battle is talked about SO MUCH by Saints, Doctors of the Church, Popes, and even Our Blessed Lady herself!
I will leave you, dear reader with these quotes:
“Do ye all things without murmurings and hesitations: that you may be blameless and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: among whom you shine as lights in the world. Holding forth the word of life to my glory in the day of Christ: because I have not run in vain, nor labored in vain.” (Phil. 2, 14-16)
Pray for Our Lady to guide you in what good and true. If you truly want to do God’s will, He will never abandon you. And shame on any person who puts you down because of your faith and trust in God, and your willingness to save your soul.(Phil 2:12; Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.)
Matthew 8; 13-15 Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Quotes on Modesty of the Flesh to ponder on:
‘But immorality and every uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints.’ Ephesians 5:3
‘Do you not consider how great a sin it is to introduce a harmful fashion? And once being known, what should be done to those who follow it? Some tailor perchance hath been the cause of a very grave sin. And of a very grievous injury to a city because of the harmful fashion he doth bring in there; and we should punish him as an example to all, so that this might be remembered forever.’ St. Bernardine of Siena
‘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
‘Those who glory in their looks – not in their hearts – dress to please others.’
St. Clement of Alexandria, Father of the Church
‘We must be very careful in the practice of modesty.’
St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church
‘It is a common teaching of the Saints that one of the principal means of leading a good and exemplary life is certainly modesty and the mortification of the eyes. Just as there is nothing better than modesty to preserve devotion in a soul and to edify one’s neighbor, so too, there is nothing worse than immodesty and licentious glances to expose a person to the danger of becoming lax and loose in morals.’ St. Alphonsus Rodriguez
‘Not only in body but in heart as well, no ornament becomes like humility, modesty and devotion.’
St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church
‘The good of our soul is more important than the good of our body; and we have to prefer the spiritual welfare of our neighbor to our bodily comforts. . . If a certain kind of dress constitutes a grave and proximate occasion of sin, and endangers the salvation of your soul and others, it is your duty to give it up. . . 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
‘The outside doth show that which there is within. By the exterior may the interior be known. To this same purpose: I would say, that the woman who doth wear meretricious garments, I know not how she may be within, but from the outside I seem to detect evil signs. – St Bernardine of Siena
‘Now answer me candidly, when you are going to the church to hear Mass, do you bear in mind that you are going to Calvary to be present at the Redeemer’s death?
If this thought was deep in your soul, would you venture into the holy place with unbecoming gait, or in apparel that is immodest? St. Leonard of Port Maurice
All lack of modesty in seeing, hearing, speaking, smelling, or touching, is impurity, especially when the heart takes pleasure therein. – St Francis de Sales
‘Modesty should pervade all that is exterior – our walk, our gestures, and our movements. All outside appearances reveal the condition of our mind; although our passions are hidden, they manifest themselves exteriorly; one easily knows if a man is fickle, haughty, mischievous, or if he is wise, patient, and reserved; the motion of the body is a species of voice which bespeaks all that is passing in the soul. . . Modesty is suitable for all ages and for all classes of persons; for all times and places.’
St. Ambrose of Milan, Father and Doctor of the Church
‘I knew that I could not practice modesty without the virtue of mortification, so with God’s grace, I bent all my forces on acquiring that, cost what it might.– St. Anthony Mary Claret
These are just a couple quotes on Modesty ! Watch for others posts on this same issue for more information!
Also, you can check out this amazing book on Modesty by Rita Davidson, and all it entangles, according to the Church; click on it to send you to the page for more information!
until next time; God bless and keep it Trad!