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15 Quotes on Modesty-
Excerpt from Immodesty: Satan's Virtue, © Rita Davidson
Appendix Two

The following 15 quotations listed in chronological order will be of great use to those persons eager to understand the position of the Catholic Church regarding the virtue of modesty .

 

(1) Old Testament - Deut. 22:5
"A woman shall not be clothed with man's apparel; neither shall a man use woman's apparel. For he that doeth these things is abominable before God."

(2) St. Matthew (5:27-28)
Words of Our Lord "You have heard that it was said to the ancients, 'Thou shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that anyone who so much as looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

(3) St. John Chrysostom ( 4th Century)
"You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. ... When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity , nor provoked by injury , but out of foolish vanity and pride."

(4) Prophecy of St. Nilus (5th Century)
"After the year 1900, toward the middle of the 20th century, the people of that time will become unrecognizable.....People's appearances will change, and it will be impossible to distinguish men from women due to their shamelessness in dress and style of hair."

(5) Our Lady of Fatima-1917
"Wars are a punishment from God for sin. ... Certain fashions will be introduced that will offend Our Lord very much. ... More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason."

(6) Pope Benedict XV - 1921
"One can not sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and station. Made foolish by a desire to please, they do not see to what degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for such apparel as for a grave fault against Christian modesty . Now it does not suffice to exhibit themselves on public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of churches, to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Eucharistic Table, where one receives the Heavenly Author of Purity."

(7) Pope Pius XI - 12/31/29 in encyclical "On The Christian Education of Youth"
" These principles [i.e. of the basic difference between the sexes], with due regard to time and place, must in accordance with Christian prudence, be applied to all schools, particularly in the most delicate and decisive period of formation, that namely, of adolescence; and in gymnastic exercises and deportment, special care must be had of Christian modesty in young women and girls, which is so gravely impaired by any kind of exhibition in public."

(8) Donato Cardinal Sbaretti, Prefect of the Congregation of the Council- 1/12/30
"A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat, which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent material are improper."

(9) Pope Pius XII - May 23, 1948
"Mainly through sins of impurity, do the forces of darkness subjugate souls."

(10) Pope Pius XII - July 17, 1954
"0 Christian mothers, if only you knew the future of distress and peril, of shame ill-restrained, that you prepare for your sons and daughters in imprudently accustoming them to live hardly clothed and in making them lose the sense of modesty, you should be ashamed of yourselves and of the harm done the little ones whom heaven entrusted to your care, to be reared in Christian dignity and culture."

(11) Pope Pius XII - August 15, 1954 delegated Cardinal Ciriaci to issue a letter on modesty.
"Everyone knows that during the summer months particularly, things are seen here and there which are certain to prove offensive to anyone who has retained some respect and regard for Christian virtue and human modesty . On the beaches, in country resorts, almost everywhere, on the streets of cities and towns, in private and public places, and, indeed, often in buildings dedicated to God, an unworthy and indecent mode of dress has prevailed. Because of this, the young particularly, whose minds are easily bent towards vice, are exposed to the extreme danger of losing their innocence, which is, by far, the most beautiful adornment of mind and body. Feminine adornment, if it can be called adornment, feminine clothing, 'if that can be called clothing which contains nothing to protect either the body or modesty.' (Seneca) are at times of such a nature that they seem to serve lewdness rather than modesty . What we are discussing here is obviously most serious, since it vitally concerns not only Christian virtue but also the health and vigor of human society . Well did not the ancient poet say of this matter: 'Vice necessarily follows upon public nudity' (Ennius)."

(12) Pope Pius XII - 1957 to Congress of Latin Union of High Fashion
"The strange opinion which attributes the sense of modesty to one type of education or another, and even considers modesty a conceptual deformation of the innocent reality , a false product of civilization, a stimulus to dishonesty, and source of hypocrisy, is not supported by any valid reason. On the contrary, it finds explicit condemnation in the resulting repugnance with which they are viewed who dare to adopt this point of view as a way of life. Thus the soundness of common sense, manifest in universal usage, is confirmed. Natural decency in its strictly moral sense, whatever its origin may be, is founded on the innate and more or less conscious tendency of every person to defend his personal physical good from the indiscriminate desires of others, so that he may reserve it, with prudent choice of circumstances, to those wise purposes of the Creator, which He Himself has placed under the protective cover of chastity and modesty. This second virtue, modesty-the very word modesty comes from modus, a measure or limit-probably better expresses the function of governing and dominating the passions, especially sensual passions. It is the natural bulwark of chastity. It is its effective rampart, because it moderates acts closely connected with the very object of chastity. Modesty makes man hear its warning, like a forward sentinel, from the moment he acquires the use of reason, even before he learns the full meaning and purpose of chastity . It accompanies him throughout his entire life and demands that certain acts, which are good in themselves because they are divinely established, should be protected by a discreet veil of shadow and the reserve of silence, in order to confer on them the respect owed the dignity of their great purpose. It is therefore just that modesty , as the depository of such precious possessions, should claim for itself authority prevailing over every other tendency and every caprice, and should preside over the determination of fashions in clothing.... Speaking in concrete terms, it cannot be denied that along with seemly styles there are also immodest fashions that create confusion in well-ordered minds and can even be an incentive to evil. It is always difficult to indicate with universal norms the borderline between seemliness and shamelessness because the moral evaluation of attire depends on many factors. However, the so-called relativity of fashions with respect to times, places, persons, and education is not a valid reason to renounce a priori a moral judgment on this or that fashion which, for the time being, violates the limits of normal decency. Here, as elsewhere, greater sensitivity to this warning against the snares of evil, far from being grounds for criticizing those who possess it, as though it were a sign of interior depravity , is actually a mark of an upright soul and of watchfulness over the passions. Yet, no matter how broad and changeable the relative moral of styles may be, there is always an absolute norm to be kept, after having heard the admonition of conscience against approaching danger: style must never be a proximate occasion of sin... More basically, the immorality of some styles depends in great part on excesses either of immodesty or luxury . An excess of immodesty in fashion involves, in practice, the cut of the garment. The garment must not be evaluated according to the estimation of a decadent or already corrupt society , but according to the aspirations of a society which prizes the dignity and seriousness of its public attire..."

(13) A Pastoral letter of His Emminence Enrique Cardinal Pla y Daniel, Archbishop of Toledo Spain issued in 1959 this directive,
" A special danger to morals is represented by public bathing at beaches, in pools and riverbanks...Mixed bathing between men and women which nearly always is a proximate occasion of sin and a scandal must be avoided."

(14) Cardinal Siri-1960 Notification Concerning Men's Dress Worn by Women*

*See complete HERE.

124(15) Vatican Document - Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics - 12/29/75
"In this way facts are discovered [i.e. by sociological surveys], but facts do not constitute a criterion for judging the moral value of human acts. The frequency of the phenomenon in question is certainly to be linked with man's innate weakness following original sin; but is also to be linked with the loss of a sense of God, with the corruption of morals engendered by the commercialization of vice, with the unrestrained licentiousness of so many public entertainments and publications, as well as with the neglect of modesty, which is the guardian of chastity."

16) Padre Pio from the book "Prophet of the People" by Dorothy Gaudiose
"Padre Pio wouldn't tolerate low-necked dresses or short, tight skirts, and he forbade his spiritual daughters to wear transparent stockings. (nylons) Each year his severity increased. He stubbornly dismissed them from his confessional, even before they set foot inside, if he judged them to be improperly dressed...His brothers observed these drastic purges with uneasiness and...fasten(ed) a sign on the church door: 'By Padre Pio's explicit wish, women must enter his confessional wearing skirts at least eight inches below the knees. It is forbidden to borrow longer dresses in church and to wear them for the confessional.' "

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