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Kelsey Burgans |Youth Minister
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Modest Was Never Meant to Be Hottest
It is currently summer in Alabama, or as natives sometimes call it, ARE YOU KIDDING ME- HOW HOT IS IT GOING TO GET TODAY?! The heat is here to stay, and it seems as if shorts are here until October. Modesty is something that is often blamed as a woman’s problem in our society, but often, that’s because we may not hold a man to the same standards of dress and behavior as we hold women. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, so let us use them to glorify the Lord. The virtue of modesty is needed for all and to be exercised by all. In this month’s article, we will address modesty in terms of dress, speech, and behavior.
Often, we grapple with terms of rules and legalities- how much can I break the rule without getting in trouble? It’s OK for me to go just a few miles per hour over the speed limit, right? Going five MPH over the speed limit isn’t as bad as going 50 MPH over the speed limit, right? These arguments can be applied to modesty in dress, speech, and behavior. “Getting away” with a little can quickly become not taking rules as seriously as we should, and we can very easily find ourselves dealing with the consequences of our carelessness. We could hurt ourselves or others if we are driving too quickly. To keep ourselves on the road to Heaven, we must consider if we would be comfortable cussing in front of the Virgin Mary, approaching the Eucharist during Mass while wearing clothes that will show off our under garments if we were to bow before the altar, or would we play basketball with the same intensity as we would with a kindergartener or a five year-old? If we’re asking ourselves “How far is too far?”, we need to change our attitudes. Instead, we should ask ourselves, “Is my behavior, speech, and dress showing love to God, myself, and others?”
Open any of the social media apps on your phone, and you will be bombarded with inappropriate images and videos. (If you’d like to try to limit this from happening, check out Covenant Eyes, Net Nanny, Victory, or another type of accountability software.) People share pictures of themselves in bikinis/speedos, videos of musicians performing songs with some foul lyrics, and of course, people show off their latest purchases- maybe it is an expensive piece of shoes or vehicle. (Granted, it is not a sin to spend money, especially on things that you need. However, if you can find money to spend on a $10,000 Rolex but not to help the homeless, then my friend, it is time for you to examine your conscience.) Now, this is not supposed to condemn anyone who might be doing any of these things, but it is my hope that you may consider your motivations for sharing these things. Are you genuinely wanting to show the good time you had with your friends at the lake? That’s great, but it might be wise to crop the picture. You never know who is looking at it, even when you have your privacy controls set to a certain audience. If spam accounts can find you even when your settings are “private,” then there is no telling if they’re able to see what you think they cannot. Enjoy hot dogs? Have one or two, but don’t commit the sin of gluttony by attempting your own hot dog eating competition. We constantly want to be satisfied, but we can never replace our desire for God with things.
In terms of modesty, consider your environment- where you are and who you are with? Modesty is more than how tight or short one’s shirt/shorts/dress/skirt is… it is about caring for others, so that we don’t lead them into sin. It is sickening how some in our society will physically objectify people (sadly, even teens and children) to fit into their sick, twisted minds. Let us try to prevent that as much as we can! We must also acknowledge that modesty changes upon culture- a bare-breasted tribal woman could be just as modest in her society as the Victorian Age woman wearing buttons on her dress all the way to her neck. It is also about not giving an opportunity to treat others as an object. A ballerina would of course wear a tutu on stage with her fellow dancers, but she shouldn’t wear it to the grocery store. She would certainly be out of place! When we attend Mass, we want to avoid clothes that have the words midriff, mini, micro, bro, open, etc. attached to them. However, we can’t expect everyone to wear a burqua. Not only would it probably be very hot, it also hides the body that was beautifully designed by God. But, who is this beauty for? We are indeed the keepers of our bodies (which, God-willing, will be united with our souls in Heaven one day), but we must be vigilant with whom we share with it. We can agree that the nudes painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel are different than the ones that teens might be solicited for from their boyfriend, girlfriend, classmate, or even stranger. How can we keep the human body holy, while appreciating its beauty? The easiest thing to do is to take care of it. Make sure that you eat a nutritionally balanced diet, exercise, and avoid partaking in too many things that are not good for it. A word of caution though- make sure that you don’t spend too much time on it, so that you can serve God and your fellow man.
In order to live modestly, we must take care of our hearts. We must guard it, so that temptations and evil may not enter into it. Modesty is a sacrifice; however, we must be willing to make sacrifices of our own desires and comforts to find the way to Heaven. If we have given in to immodest dress, speech, and behavior, we can learn from our past and more importantly, find God’s forgiveness in the sacrament of Reconciliation. The graces that we receive from this forgiveness can help our hearts to better love others. As Christians, we want to have as many people in Heaven with us, worshipping God. If we can do these small acts of charity for our brothers and sisters, then we will be able to help carry their crosses, too. Finally, have compassion on those who do not practice modesty- they may be unaware of their dignity, which comes from God. Don’t think of yourself as better than someone who may display immodest practices; you could still have an immodest heart. A clean heart allows us to purely love others as God does.
GREAT APPS FOR THE YOUNG CATHOLIC (AND THE NOT-SO-YOUNG CATHOLIC)
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church abides by the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama Youth Protection Program. Through annual training, our students are reminded that they are made in God's image and carry dignity. To review the materials associated with our Safe Envioronment/Sexual Abuse Prevention, please click here. For more information about becoming a chaperone and earning Youth Protection certification, click here.