I saw an interesting comic-strip type post on Facebook this week that caught my attention. It showed a mother and father together with the mother calling to some young children in the next room of their home to get to bed. She called a second time. Then the father called to them to listen to their mother and suddenly you see the children dashing across the room with an urgent look on their faces toward their bedrooms to retire for the evening. The lesson on the comic was that the deep strong voice of the father is there in the home to enforce authority and to keep order.
I thought this was a very good lesson, and that it is not often taught or understood in many families today. The rightful place of the father in the home is at the head for this specific purpose. Fathers are there at the head of the family to serve in a position of authority and to keep peace and order. He is also yoked with the responsibility of providing a safe home and provisions for his family’s sustenance. The family members in turn owe him their respect and obedience. When the father is not respected by all the family members, especially his wife, his ability to exercise his authority is severely diminished. Unfortunately, many men are never taught to be or have never experienced a truly fatherly man leading his family. The obvious place for this teaching is in the home itself.
Young men today must be taught of the serious sacrificial responsibilities that will be required of them if they choose to enter into marriage and family life. This is where we differ from the contemporary pagan manifestation of “family” all around us. There are 2 false extremes: one where the father is either absent and aloof, often behaving as another child and one where the father is a tyrant and abusive. The first is probably the more common because it is more widely accepted, even promoted, albeit still a very counterfeit manifestation and the reason for so much waywardness in today’s children who eventually do grow up. These young men must understand what they are entering into when they marry. The saying “the party’s over” comes to mind. It is a commitment for life to the service of the family. A father in the family who is absent or irresponsible fails in his duty to them.
The rightful place of the father is at the head of his family. In scripture St. Paul tells wives to “be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.” (Eph 5:22) He goes on to tell husbands “love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.” (Eph 5:25) It is here we see Christianity breaks from the pagan and sometimes abusive extremist “religions” where wives are mistreated, abused, and considered property. We are to remain at the head of the family, but not in a sense of a Lord or King but in a sense of a strong, courageous, and dignified leader, one who can command respect because he is respectable. He sets an example and sets the bar for effort. All members of the family will have various strengths, but each must exercise maximum effort in using them. He must display an example of such a standard. But still he must do so with a firm sensitivity and respect. St. John Paul II instructs us in Familiaris Consortio “As experience teaches, the absence of a father causes psychological and moral imbalance and notable difficulties in family relationships, as does, in contrary circumstances, the oppressive presence of a father, especially where there still prevails the phenomenon of ‘machismo,’ or a wrong superiority of male prerogatives which humiliates women and inhibits the development of healthy family relationships.” (¶25)
The rightful place of the father is at the head of his family. In order to properly exercise the duty of this place he must be present, and he must be attentive. Just like the example of the comic strip above, if he is present, he will see the needs and shortcomings of the family members and provide the correction necessary. This is his basic and fundamental duty. He cannot be lazy. When he sees an issue that needs correction, but fails to bring attention to it, he is shirking his duty. This passivity may be due to sloth or it may be because he doesn’t want to make waves. He may be concerned that his wife or children may become disgruntled toward him if he gives correction or punishment. The family is not a place we go to satisfy our personal selfish emotional desires. It is a place where a husband and wife lovingly come together with commitment for the formation of well-ordered civilized God-fearing children.
The father of the family should boldly and courageously honor his duties to his family without shirking them or slacking on them only to have his wife have to come and make up for his lacking. She has her own duties and responsibilities to the family without having to take on his. Obviously the most common of those duties that he will often slough off to his wife is providing for the family financially. It could be for a number of reasons. He may allow the family to overspend, wanting to keep up with the Joneses. He may not stick with a job because he doesn’t have the gumption to endure the hardships. Quite often it will be because the wife simply wants to work so that she will feel she has “made something of herself” or “made a meaningful contribution to society.” The family is not a place we go to satisfy our personal selfish emotional desires. There are very few roles that make more of a contribution to society or are more meaningful than the role of giving life to a child. Husbands should not allow their wives to be taken in to this feminist indoctrination that has led so many women astray, and for their own selfishness, for the toys their wives can acquire for them. He should exercise his duty to explain to her the importance of her attentiveness to their children while he takes care of providing for the financial needs. It is her duty to be submissive to his direction in this and other regards.
We cannot leave this issue without discussing the topic of the completely absent father. Of course this is a very sensitive area that has affected many people. I am truly heartbroken to hear of all of the family strife and broken families that are struggling in all parts of society. It is actually the reason this Apostolate exists. Missy and I have been so blessed to have had mentors all along the way to guide us, and fortunately the Holy Spirit has made us docile and hungry to learn what would be best for our marriage. The ultimate in selfishness and irresponsibility in this discussion is when a man abandons his family and violates his vows to God of matrimony. If he does so to “marry” again outside of the Church, Christ Himself declares this adultery (Luke 16:18), and adultery is a mortal sin punishable by eternal damnation. Of course the same happens when a wife abandons her husband which is also not infrequent today. We should also consider those situations where the spouses may be an occasion of sin or a temptation to each other toward breaking their marriage vows. When a man is abusive or lazy or when a woman is controlling (especially regarding withholding the marital act) and harassing, it can be cause for discontent in the marriage. There is no exclusive blame on either gender, and obviously each marriage is as unique as the members of it. We must realize that when we marry we give ourselves completely to the other permanently without reservation. When doing so, this is the ultimate sacrifice of our lives for the other, and is paradoxically a foretaste of the joys of heaven.
God bless you+
We all need recreation or we'll get burned out. But it should be moderated. Here's how.
As I said have a plan. And first of all, I just want to mention the idea of spontaneous activity. If somebody, and this is rampant on a college campus, you know, you’re going through your course work and you’re studying for exams or whatever, and Biff comes by and says, “Hey! Let’s go to the quad. Let’s go throw the Frisbee! Let’s go! We’re going to play some cards.” When somebody comes up to you and says, “Let’s go,” what better thing did you already have planned at that particular time that you’re sacrificing to go do? It might be God’s work, might be something you were supposed to do at that time, just because somebody shows up. “People with nothing to do, want to do it with you.”
I’m not saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” or whatever. You know the story of Saint John Berchmans? Saint John Berchmans was playing billiards with his colleagues. And one of his colleagues, while he was lining up a shot, he said, “Saint John Berchmans!” Well he might not have said “saint” to him. He might have said “John.” He (St. John) said, “Yeah?” He said, “What if the world were to end right now? What if the Lord were to come? And this would be it, and you’re playing billiards.” And he (St. John) said, “I’d still be lining up this shot right here.” Because that was his planned time for recreation, you see?
I’m not saying not to have any [recreation]. We do need recharge the batteries, but if we don’t dedicate certain time, that could be all that we do with our time; if we don’t pick something more important. And again, some of it’s a personality I’ll give you that. Some personalities like to do things off the cuff, and then those of us that like to plan things out are here to help you out.
This is part of a lecture on Living on Purpose and can be found here
As little girls grow up, they dream about their future. What’s most on a little girl’s mind growing up? Does she watch and listen to stories like Snow White and Cinderella dreaming of her prince charming and a beautiful wedding? I think most do. But we all know those are fairy tales right? They’re just made up stories. Because the reality is that most little girls grow up today, yes and get married but they also are driven to “dream” of a wonderful “career” that will fulfill their desires to make a contribution to society. I have come to learn that this is really quite unnatural to the little girl, and the process described above is actually called indoctrination orchestrated by a worldly machine that has a vested interest in little girls who grow up to become women who become part of the workforce. Not only does this do an injustice to her true natural femininity, but it also severely suppresses a much greater contribution more women used to make to the world in greater abundance: motherhood.
We can see the effect of this from an economic standpoint. For instance in the United States, we have seen a dramatically diminished labor workforce (men) which has created the need to import laborers. There are many employers who simply don’t have enough men to do manual labor, and that’s after we have also exported most of those jobs. We proudly say that this is because those are low-paying jobs that individuals in less-progressive countries are capable of doing, while we are a “service economy” that has higher quality jobs that pay better. We are all aware of the extremely vulnerable position the U.S. economy currently faces. We have a sky-rocketing debt, and we import an enormous amount of the goods we consume. So those creditor nations we owe seek to keep us thriving as a good customer and continuing to borrow and buy from them. This is touted by our leaders as “progress.” Yes, more and more of these occupations are those that are geared toward women as they do not require manual labor. Women (mothers) are expected to work outside the home, and as they get more consumed by their jobs, there is less time and attention that they have for being a mother.
Of course no one expects to see this freight train of an agenda slow down anytime soon. But there are some of us who have become aware of the agenda in one way or another, see that it is counter to an authentic Catholic lifestyle, and have chosen something better for ourselves and for our children. I still recall one of the greatest blessings Missy and I received as a couple before we were married. I was aware from a great Priest in my home parish growing up that contraception was condemned by the Catholic Church, but that there were acceptable means of “postponing pregnancy,” or as the Catechism says “regulation of procreation.” (¶2368 et al) So, once we got engaged and had serious conversations about our future, we voluntarily sought out classes in natural family planning. Fortunately the couple who taught us also advised us to not use it right away but to wait until it was really needed. So we did, and soon after we were married we were expecting a child. Another fortunate thing we learned was the significance of a stay-at-home mother for children. The interesting thing was how we learned this. No, it wasn’t from the pulpit at the Churches we attended but this was actually still being taught when we were in college in the late 1980’s in a parenting class we took together. Yes in a parenting class at a public university, she and I were taught that it was the ideal for a child to grow up in a 2-parent family where the mother stayed home to raise and take care of the children.
Fortunately, meeting the couple who taught us NFP sent us on a journey through life where God continued to connect us with the right people who evidenced what we were taught in that college class. Missy never took a paying job, as we had a semester left before graduation when we got married and soon conceived. Of course we have gone on to have 7 children, and she has been their school teacher all along homeschooling them from elementary through high school. So far, 3 of them have graduated. We have been so fulfilled with this completely natural lifestyle, and our children have been as well. They are so fulfilled that they wish for the same for themselves. Some say that this is taking away opportunities for the girls who may want to “do something with their lives.” They say they feel sorry for our daughters and others who may live this way or who may propose this for their daughters. I actually feel extremely sorry for them and their daughters, although so much more. Why do so many people rob their daughters of being full-time mothers forcing them to attend college and take on jobs? Why are they forcing their values on their children? Why not expose their children to other philosophies and let them decide for themselves? It is very apparent that many who are in college are not there by their own decision.
Unfortunately, this agenda has a domino effect because there are many young men who would want their wives to be stay-at-home mothers but aren’t able to find young ladies who have been raised with this type of ambition. Most really don’t know how to mother, haven’t seen it done, and wouldn’t know what to do as a homemaker. They are very well versed in doing the job of a provider, and have seen their mothers do it all of their lives. The problem is that this is the man’s role as provided by God since the beginning (ref Gen 3:19). So little girls have basically been raised to act like men in the family sense. Surely, almost all feel the natural urge to have children and will have the obligatory pair, 1 boy and 1 girl to feel complete. But once they see the demands of children and how contrary it is to their well-ordered career, they will usually abandon the prospect of any more. My dear brothers and sisters, this is the way of a pagan culture and totally juxtaposed to the Catholic philosophy and moral law. Raising our daughters to pursue careers puts them in a near occasion of sin to contracept and mutilate their bodies through sterilization procedures. I had a theologian admit as much, and we all know this is rampant among Catholic couples. This type of discussion will often anger some of those who read it, and undoubtedly it is because of guilt, which is likely well-placed. It goes without saying that in some cases, the mother in the family MUST work to help provide for the family. This should be viewed as an unfortunate circumstance, not a planned style of life. There's a big difference. If a father's income is not sufficient to makes ends meet, it is much better for him to have a sideline source of income rather than for his wife to work. This is for two reasons. One is for the extra needed income. The second is that in a free enterprise capitalist economy it is not uncommon for that sideline income to eventually eclipse the full-time income and turn into a small business that will give the father more income for his time and greater control of his schedule to spend with his family.
But really that’s not the point of this article. As said, many people have taken this route because they were never exposed to any other way. We often hear that it takes two incomes to have a family today. Does it really? And do we call that “progress?” Is it possible that families want two incomes because they are materialistic? There is a capital sin called avarice to be considered here. Nevertheless, the point is to inform those who will hear that it is possible for a mother to stay home full-time and raise her own children. Not only is it possible, but it is highly recommended and advisable.
As I said, many wonderful people were put into our path that mentored and supported us along the way in the development of our family philosophy. Many of the elements of that philosophy can be found in a book about a mother who lived a similar lifestyle and raised her daughters to do the same called See You in Heaven. I like the way she puts her thoughts on this topic:
What’s wrong with the mother in the home? Not a thing. Rather, we should say again, “She’s what is right with the home.” …It is precisely because the mother is NOT home that we have all the many ills in our society today. If she does not return home to her place of freedom, honor, and integrity her husband and children and grandchildren will reap even greater ills and so will our society. We do not need more women CEOs and lawyers and whatever. The needs is for true mothers in the home. …
Not only do we NOT hear parents promoting a vocation of “mother in the home,” they are actually afraid of what the world will think if their daughter does not get an advanced balanced education. What is more balanced and true to life than mothering? What’s “right” with a daughter staying home and helping mother with schooling and learning virtues from her own mother and learning the gentle needle arts? Just about everything. What great Works of Mercy she practices when she does this…
It is said that if you corrupt a man, you corrupt a man. But if you corrupt a woman, you corrupt society…
G.K. Chesterton brilliantly states in “What’s Wrong with the World” how very important the home is. He says, “Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad. The world outside the home was one mass of narrowness, a maze of cramped paths, a madhouse of monomaniacs.
It is important to know that the book is written about the life of a woman who was known to be very devout, possibly even holy, so holy that her cause is up for canonization as prompted by her Priest who knew her well spiritually. Thus, her thoughts are to be taken very seriously.
It is understandable that
this type of lifestyle is difficult to accept and embrace since we live in such
a feminist-dominated culture. But we
must look around and come to grips with the causes of the fundamental problems
that families face and the prudent choices it will take to overcome them. We just need to look to the Church and see
where Her constant teaching is directing us and follow that path. It is not the path of the world, quite
opposite. That’s why living as an
authentic Catholic has always required courage.
God bless you+
 Maria Thompson, See You in Heaven (Hanceville, AL; St. Francis Publishers, 2014) pp. 44-45
These are 2 character traits of serious Catholic men.
Those of y’all that know me, know that I’m the perpetual student. You know, I love to study. This week was my birthday, my 47th birthday, and one of my gifts was Augustin’s City of God, 867 pages worth. I just love it, and earlier in this year I got the five volumes of Summa Theologica, and just can’t wait to get to heaven and have a brew with Augustin and Aquinas and break it all down and just get schooled personally with it all. I mean there’s so much there to study; it’s great. And I’m in one of the most respected professions that exists, and those of us in the state of Louisiana, the board that we have, the amount of continuing education that’s required of us makes us some of the best in the country. They have a lot of respect for us.
I can’t emphasize study enough, so I wanted to see, who are my fellow students here? Who has pen in hand? Raise up your pen if you have pen in hand right now. I think I have a few students, fellow students here. Now would anybody by chance possess on your person a cell phone? Does Anybody? Show me your cell phones. I want to see some cell phones. And would any of those might be smart phones? Okay, and a lot of the smart phones are pretty smart. And they have maybe some type of notepad capability, or messaging, or email. I’m going to give away some of my secrets: I’ll use the calendar on mine because I’m a Type A kind of guy, and I’m always doing things. I always get in over my head with more than I can do. And so, I can’t remember everything, so I use all of these tools to remind me of whenever I’ve got to be prompted to do something. Good productivity tools here, so I’ll email myself from my phone when I think of something. That way it will be waiting for me at my computer at my desk when I get back there if that’s how I’m going to handle that item. Or I might set something on my calendar.
I’ve got two quotes I want you to put down, either write down or put into your phone and sent to yourself, that are going to be important for the content of this presentation. One you’ve heard me say many times before by Jim Rohn:
“Have a plan. Because if you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan. And you know what they have planned for you? Not much!”
Not much, as Jim Rohn would say. If you don’t have a plan, you become part of somebody else’s plan. And you know what they have planned for you? Not much. The second one, you may not have heard before. By Zig Ziggler, one of the last programs he did in his life, I have. It was kind of new on me, or he may have said it a long time ago, and I just never heard it. But he said:
“Did you ever notice that people who have nothing to do want to do it with you?”
This is part of a lecture on Living on Purpose and can be found here
In response to one of most popular recent articles 4 Stages of Denial of the Sin of Immodest Dress regarding the appropriate dress of females and the associated sin when it is violated, it was requested that a similar article be addressed to the proper attire for men in this regard. Relatively speaking, very little has been said on this, especially in official guidance from the Church. Almost all of the modest dress standards have been addressed to females due to the nature of man and his attraction to women and the warning Christ gives toward men lusting after them (Matt 5:28). It is worth noting that no similar or correlating warning is made toward women lusting after men by our Lord. Again, this is due to the natural make-up of each. With this reality facing us, we must take precautions and exercise due care in whatever way possible.
Nevertheless, it is definitely worth consideration, and Fix the Family does itself recommend certain mode of attire for men that is over and above what is required or recommended by the Church but of course in no way violates anything recommended by the Church. Points also made in the request for this discussion are that while men are typically more prone to lust, females do also have hormones and experience temptations. Further, as Satan is quite progressively more devious all the time, he could be working with the twisting of these traits and exercising more temptation on females with the sins of the flesh. So, let’s give it some thought.
Borrowing from a little booklet we came across “Those Who Serve God Should Not Follow the Fashions” Robert T. Hart explains “…men too must dress with proper Christian dignity. How overly casual they have become.” (p 25) He also quotes one of my favorite all-time books Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. Let us go directly to this volume to consider some points by this great Doctor of the Church. “St. Paul desires that devout women—and the same may be said of men—should be attired ‘in decent apparel, adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety.’ (Tim 2:9,10)…don’t allow anything negligent and careless about you. It is a sort of contempt of those you associate with to frequent their company in unbecoming attire. At the same time, avoid all affectation and vanity, all extremes and frivolity.” (pp.191,192-193)
There’s a lot to consider here but initially, in dealing with the questionable mode of attire (or lack thereof) that was raised by in the commentary of the previously mentioned article, let’s consider men going around with arms and chest exposed. St. Francis also mentions that “decency should be considered in reference to the various circumstances of time, age, rank, company, and occasion.” (ibid p. 192) So we should consider on what occasion a young lady might encounter a young man dressed this way (or not dressed). (And let’s hope they’re young, as the great Doctor also mentions “Old people are always ridiculous when they try to make themselves pretty <ibid>). If the young man is working on a job site doing manual labor in the heat of the summer, especially as it is in the tropical climate of the deep south, then it may call for lesser clothing on the torso to avoid possible heat exhaustion. At that point it would make one wonder why a young lady would be on the site. (And for this discussion let’s not entertain the possibility that she is also working on the site.) In that case, a young lady should exercise the responsibility of avoiding that near occasion of sin, much like a young man would avoid a situation where young women are dressed for a particular occasion that might tempt them. But again, under the guidance of St. Francis, if we are talking about a social situation, a young man should also exercise discretion to “avoid all affectation and vanity, all extremes and frivolity.” He should be properly clothed when associating with others in a home or social setting. I do also recall even in the case of manual labor in the heat, a contractor who was going to have a crew doing work at a family’s home made the point that his workers were instructed to always keep their shirts on while working at a home that was occupied.
The broader issue we address here is the dignity of manly dress for males, especially with regard to wearing shorts. We have a video here in which we discuss the effects of different types of attire for men. Essentially, mode of dress will vary for men depending on their occupations. They may have a required uniform to wear and would have to abide by those restrictions of their employer. Normally, this would call for an elevated level of dress rather than a diminished one. This is basically what is recommended for the Catholic—to dress in such a way as to carry an heir of dignity. This is why we recommend making the extra effort to avoid the comfort of the casual garb of short pants. I know personally, I never saw my father or my grandfather in short pants. It is an elevated level of dress to wear long pants as opposed to shorts. In no way should one think he is superior to another by his attire. That is not the intent here. The intent is to carry an heir of dignity which is proper to followers of Christ. This is particularly important for fathers in the home in the leading of their families. And it’s not a bad idea for those anticipating being husbands and fathers to get into that habit. It’s also good to instill this in our sons once they reach adolescence. So, what are some other guidelines for men? Shirts and ties are a good mode of attire and are recommended. Are they comfortable? They are not as comfortable, but when worn regularly become familiar. We’re not necessarily called to be comfortable, and to be uncomfortable is a good way to exercise mortification in a good Catholic spirit. I would say at a minimum for a father in the home long pants with a collared shirt, either button-down or polo. There can be a variation to this depending on occasion for more casual atmosphere such as recreation or sport that would allow for no collar on the shirt.
Other contemporary issues of today that should be considered are earrings, body piercings, and tattoos. Of course, there is not room for these mutilations of the body for Catholic men. These are customs of the unrefined natives which Christianity is called to civilize. We do not lower our standards to start imitating a pagan culture. We are to set an example that will cause others to elevate their standards.
Finally, let’s consider a very important occasion for discernment of attire: Holy Mass and other opportunities to be in the Real Presence. Simply stated, here we should dress our best. Men should at least be in a shirt and tie with slacks and dress shoes, a sport coat or full suit being preferred. No our mode of dress does not affect God, but it does affect us. He sees the effort we are putting into our worship and reverence for Him.
Our attire does affect how others see us, react to us, and form an impression of us. Not only that, it affects how we feel, and thereby how we interact with others. Again to quote St. Francis, “For my part, I would have devout people, whether men or women, always the best dressed in a group but the least pompous and affected.” (ibid p. 193)
God bless you+
St. Francis de Sales translated by John K. Ryan, Introduction to the Devout Life (Garden City, NY; Image Books, a Division of Doubleday & Company, Inc.,1972)
A popular alternative to contemporary Halloween practices is a family celebration of the actual origin of the day which is All Hallow's Eve on the eve of All Saints' Day. This group gathers annually on that day for fellowship and fun where the children dress up as canonized Saints.
Hello everyone, welcome back to Fix the Family. My name is Raylan Alleman, and we are bringing you truth without compromise for the family.
A little special treat for you this evening. We’re coming live on location from a homeschool All Saints’ party in South Louisiana, the Corpus Christi Homeschool Association. Every year we get together, a group of homeschooling homeschooling families, and in an alternative to maybe the customary Halloween activities we have what’s really the true root or origin of Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, an All Saints’ party, the eve of All Saints’ Day. The children actually come out, dress up as saints, and will present a report on the life of that saint. So it’s real true Catholic education for these children and a good time of fellowship in getting together with these families.
These are the memories that these children are forming. These are their school days, and we just wanted to give a live sampling of those things that we actually talk about. A highly recommended part of the program of Fix the Family of homeschooling for these young families. So it’s been just a wonderful thing for our own family. This is the organization that we participate in. So we just wanted to give you an idea of what it is we do.
Catholic men should have a plan of life grounded in the Sacraments and committed prayer. Here we discuss ordering that plan, what the important components should be, and how it is properly directed toward our ultimate purpose.
Following is a link to a very good homily by a heroic faithful Catholic Priest who is offering solid guidance for fathers of families.
I found this to be the key statement made:
The Christian life is warfare. Traditional Catholic homeschoolers are on the front lines whether they realize it or not. Thus if they don't realize it, they will not be sufficiently are and they will are being taken out. Most importantly the dad must be the spiritual head, and he must pull his head up out of the world and see that his battle is against principalities and powers and not against flesh and blood or in the political arena of secular and Church politics.
Still there are many Catholics who are in denial that the way a person (principally a woman) dresses could be an actual sin. In reading different replies and commentaries on the subject I have observed the following progression through some stages of denial of the sin of immodest dress:
1. I’m just dressing comfortably and fashionably. This would seem to be the stage of a pagan female with no moral formation whatsoever. Unfortunately, Catholic teaching on the topic has been so sparse and vague that most Catholics have fallen into this way of thinking. There is really little, if any, thought given to any morality connected with dress. The utmost concern is if they are fashionably “in” so as to be attractive. Of course, that is quite natural. No one, except maybe some heroically virtuous saints throughout history, would want to appear unattractive. Yes, there were some female saints who deliberately made themselves unattractive so as not to cause others to lust. But for the most part, everyone wants to be attractive, and females in particular have a sensitivity about their appearance. Then the next major issue for most regarding dress is comfort. So, if the weather is warm, most females will dress in attire that covers less for comfort without considering they are revealing more of their bodies and the impact that has on men. Finally, the common thought at this stage is that regardless of how I dress “no one is looking at me,” meaning to say there are so many younger more desirable females around that I would not draw any man’s attention.
2. If men are lusting after me, it’s not my fault. So then some of these girls and ladies will come to the realization that what they are wearing is actually influencing men’s attention. Of course, deep down they do know that they are getting attention which is why they do it. They want to appear appealing in order to attract a mate. Then they often do. But the realization often comes when they notice that their boyfriends’ and/or husbands’ eyes start wandering toward other women, and more often than not, it is toward those who are dressed in an immodest mode. The automatic question to that realization is “What’s wrong with that?” If it was OK for you to attract the man’s attention, any man’s attention, why is it wrong for another woman to do so? Now, it starts to hit home, and we start to come to a consciousness of the moral impact of the issue. Some will come to this through religious moral instruction of various types from sources such as ours and others like it. But the denial of responsibility remains because the fault is blamed on the man for lusting. The operative Scripture quote here would be “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:28) This is often the main perspective taught on this issue today in the Church toward “fixing” the hearts of men, and them being honorable toward women. That’s great as an ideal, but not nearly realistic. The fact is we are all fallen humanity, and normal men will be tempted by what they see. They can turn away when tempted, but they should not be forced into that situation because of careless inconsiderate females. This is why the Church has historically laid down concrete guidelines for appropriate modest female dress.
3. I’m going to protect my dignity. This stage is also a very valid and true pursuit of an ideal. Women are to refuse “to unveil what should remain hidden.” (¶2521 Catechism of the Catholic Church) In this they are preserving their dignity so as not to attract merely the attention of lust. This is all true and a very good reason for dressing properly. It is the virtuous side of turning away from the potential sin. But if we stop at this as the only reason it sets up for an easy slide into sin. Because again we are all fallen and weak. So what happens when sloth sets in and she has a day when she doesn’t feel like she needs to protect her dignity thinking “Well what do I care of what someone else thinks of me?” If there is no sin involved toward the effect on others and it is all about her, she could easily fall into an error of behavior based on a false manifestation of humility.
4. I’m going to help my brothers out. This is a bit of a new one I’m starting to see out there in comments and replies to posts in social media. We get the realization that men are not quite the pure and virtuous gentlemen they’re supposed to be. So, since they have such a grave weakness in this, we’re going to “help them out” by covering ourselves properly and dressing right. Still here it’s all about the man’s sin, and there is no sense of sin on the part of the girl and lady who is dressing immodestly.
It’s great to give the background and reasoning behind doing the proper things, but it’s most urgent to specifically identify behavior that should be avoided and the sin attached to it. This is principally important for parents in our formation of our daughters and teaching them to dress properly. It is also obviously important for Priests in their teaching from the pulpit as well as catechists who are giving moral foundation to students.
In all of these denials, there is no mention of sin on the part of the females. It is all about doing what they want, and then when prompted to exercise discretion it is because men are fallen and weak. One angle of sin I almost never see on this issue is pride. There is a clear element of pride in dressing immodestly where a female wants to “show off” her body and attract the attention of others to tell her how attractive she is.
But the larger issue the Church has always focused on is becoming an occasion of sin to another. And to be an occasion of sin deliberately is a sin in and of itself. It isn’t merely that she doesn’t get an opportunity to “help a brother out.” It is that by deliberately dressing immodestly she is committing her own sin. Colleen Hammond deals with this issue well in her book Dressing with Dignity:
Pope Pius XII addressed a Congress of the “Latin Union of High Fashion” in 1957 and spoke to this very topic. “Yet no matter how broad and changeable the relative morals of style may be, there is always an absolute norm to be kept after having heard the admonition of conscience warning against approaching danger: Style must never be a proximate [near] occasion of sin…”
The absolute norm that the Pope refers to is this: If a fashion is an inducement to sin for others, it is a sin for us to wear it. (emphasis added)
The term proximate occasion of sin—more commonly called the near occasion of sin—is basic Catholic jargon that Catholics used to learn in catechism class. So here is a review! Any person, place or thing that presents an allurement to sin is a near occasion of sin. A person is obligated to avoid near occasions of sin. (One is not obligated to avoid remote occasions of sin, which could include just about everything on earth.)
To wear the kind of clothing that can arouse unchaste thoughts or desires in others is to present them with a near occasion of sin. To wear that kind of clothing, knowing it has this potential, is a sin (either a mortal sin or a venial sin, depending on the degree of immodesty and the other circumstances).†
Mrs. Hammond’s book covers the issues of immodest dress comprehensively and is well documented with references to official Church teachings, numerous papal documents, and admonitions of the saints. I highly recommend this book for all Catholic families and encourage young people, especially girls to read it.
The issue and importance of modesty in dress among females isn’t simply a favor done to keep men out of trouble. It is a responsibility on their own part for their own sanctity. There are various good reasons why this virtue should be practiced, but the ultimate concern is that if it is neglected it could rise to a level of sin as grave as mortal sin for which souls could be lost. This is something we seriously need to emphasize to our wives and daughters.
God bless you+
†Fr. Heribert Jone, OFM Cap., JCD Moral Theology, 1961; Rockford, IL: TAN, 1993), nos. 145, 153 (pp.85, 90). Note: To wear immodest clothing (or to do anything else) with the intention of arousing unchaste thoughts or desires in anyone is a mortal sin. Cf. Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, SVD, Clean Love in Courtship, TAN rpt. 1974. pp. 10, 12, 28, etc.
Colleen Hammond, Dressing with Dignity, 2nd Edition (Rockford, IL; TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., 2005) pp. 8-9,15