Wherein women can comment about clothing and modesty.

Another entry is being derailed into a discussion of women’s clothing and modesty.  It’s a great topic, but was a rabbit hole.

Therefore, I am opening this entry here.  I will now back out slowly of the room, while whispering the ever provocative …

“… chapel veil…”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Sissy says:

    Well, now I’m scared. Besides, I have to leave to go to confession for the first time in 4 months. Wearing a chapel veil for the first time EVER.

  2. JayneK says:

    Why is this such a controversial topic? Is someone trying to force women to wear chapel veils?

  3. jessicahoff says:

    It is simple for me Father. I am in God’s house and I dress the way I would in such a sacred place. If I went to a Garden party at Buckingham Palace I would not wear jeans and sneakers, I’d wear a nice dress with heels and gloves and a hat – so if I’d do that for an earthly Monarch, I’d certainly do at least that for my Heavenly King.

    Still, I have seen the casual approach come a cropper. I once went with a friend to an Orthodox Liturgy which has many prostrations. I took a manitlla to wear, and dressed as I would for a service in my own church. A friend brought along his then girl friend, who ignored my advice about what to wear and went in a short skirt and top. The priest advised her to stand at the back of the Church, at which she got a bit huffy and insisted on standing with me in the middle. At the first prostration she realised that the priest hadn’t been being ‘nasty’, he’d been trying to protect what was left of her modesty. She went to the back of the Church :)

  4. mamajen says:

    Well, I have no idea what was going on in the other post, but I think the chapel veil, as we now know it, has little to do with modesty. The women who wear them, though, tend to dress modestly because they are also pious. I have occasionally seen veils worn as fashion accessories, but for the most part it is pious women who wear them. I do believe there are valid arguments for the veil, but I’m not convinced that a beautiful piece of lace, especially the smaller “doily” style, really serves the purpose (demonstrating modesty and humility). I think there is a reason that nuns (the ones who actually wear habits, that is) dress so plainly. Just my two cents as a female. I grew up in a parish where most women wore them, and the priest had extras available in the back of church. I miss that.

  5. sunbreak says:

    No point in wearing a chapel veil if the rest of the clothing is questionable. Chapel veils don’t seem to go with short, dirty cut-off jean shorts. One maybe 30s something young woman who was wearing a chapel veil also was wearing a very see-through blouse – you could plainly see her bra even if you were seated several rows away. Somehow I think it defeats the purpose of wearing a chapel veil. By the way, I am not in favor of wearing chapel veils anyway – mostly it calls attention to the wearer as much as it would if I wore one of my grandmother’s 1920s or 1930s hats. Plus I have too many memories of having to pin kleenex on my head in the days when a covering was required and I forgot it.

  6. New Sister says:

    I love what my pastor just said to me hours ago — I asked him about if it’s OK that something we wear as a devotional (e.g., Miraculous Medal) looks like a gorgeous piece of jewlery, or that his traddy girls are upping the beautiful quotient on chapel veils (I mean my gosh they can be pretty!) His reply, “there’s nothing that says you have to be ugly, or that devotionals can’t be beautiful.”
    Maybe this isn’t related to women’s clothing … I missed the rabbit hole of which you speak… but I offer it because 1) I want to brag about having a most wonderful pastor :-) and 2) there is a strange notion out there that chaste clothing isn’t beautiful. Nothing can be further from the truth – I think we should look as beautiful and as feminine as we can.

    Now I will start World War III: trousers on women are not beautiful. (INCOMING!!!….)

  7. Supertradmum says:

    The most hate mail I have ever gotten on my blog has been from women on this subject. I cannot believe that there is so many strong views on this.

    First of all, it does not take money to be modest. Believe me. I am poor.

    Second, I am only one of two who wear a chapel veil in a mass of maybe 200-300 people. I even read in my chapel veil, as someone found out I was a good reader at the NO. No one cares.

    Three, androgyny is a sign of sin and a product of the devil. Sorry, but look at the “ladies” under Mao, who were not allowed to wear feminine clothing. Androgyny is part of the entire breakdown of gender identity, which God created (male and female He created them) and which the LGTB groups, as well as the Marxists want to change-kulturkampf

    Four, to be a feminine female is to accept who and what God created you to be. I am proud to be a woman, and desire to wear feminine clothing to show I am comfortable being a lady. If you are daughter of a King and we are, look and act like one.

    Five, if we look like ladies, men will act differently. This is true. A modest skirt and a dress are no way inherently sexy. Jeans and pants are androgynously sexy.

    Six, the argument that a chapel veil draws attention to one’s self is bogus, as we should draw attention to the fact that we are women who feel the respect for God as Transcendent. Grace comes from making decisions on clothing. I know this for a fact. And, who cares what other people think if we wear a hat or a veil? As far as I can tell by today’s fashions, anything goes anyway. But, I do not live in a conformist culture, like the Midwest, for example.

    Seven, as Catholic women we need to change the world. If we give in to the secular culture, we are adding to the problem. If we want Catholic identity, it starts with the individual.

    More, much more in on my blog, but please, no hate mail. I have had enough. And, I though liturgist were the worst terrorists. Not so, it is the jean and pant brigade….

  8. Supertradmum says:

    sorry about typos and bad grammar…I really need a new computer and new glasses…bad combo.

  9. mamajen says:

    I think churches, vestments, etc. should certainly be elaborate and beautiful, as this draws attention where it ought to be and it glorifies God. Yes, modest clothing can also be beautiful, but it can also be overdone. Again, nuns are very plain, and yet they do not feel underdressed for mass. I’m not saying that lay people should dress like nuns, but being as beautiful as possible for mass is not really where our priorities should be, IMO. In some parishes perhaps people are able to focus better than most, but in others I could see it turning into a silly competition.

    And the term “traddy”….no offense, but, ugh. I hate labels in general, and that particular one brings to mind a rather derogatory term. Ick.

  10. Bea says:

    Oh, Father, are you asking for it? A rant and rave input from some of us. LOL

    Women’s clothing nowadays is a scandal, not only in the eyes of men (who’s thoughts can be led to sinfulness), but in the eyes of women, too. It is an affront to Femininity (as compared to feminism).
    Care of dress should be emphasized in the clothing of virtue on the soul, not the outer garment that attracts the wrong kind of attention.

    Some come to Church, completely oblivious that they look like they work in a brothel. It’s bad enough to see them dressed that way in public streets, but must they bring this “fashion” to Church?

    Once and only once have I heard that a priest asked someone to leave the Church. I wasn’t there, but my husband was. She was dressed with one off one shoulder blouse and had tattoos. Her boyfriend had his arm around her and they changed seats a couple of times as she took pictures of the Church and the Mass. I teased my husband about describing her. “you couldn’t help it,” he said “she was flaunting herself all over the church” I don’t know if it was that she was distracting by her dress or her picture taking, but the priest asked from the pulpit that she was not there for Mass, she should , therefore , leave.

    I was discussing this with another parishioner and I mentioned how at the Vatican they have these “throw-away” items of paper garments for tourists to cover themselves with upon entry into St. Peters (at least they used to have these, I don’t know if they still do) She thought it was a good idea and might approach our pastor about doing this.

    Would we appear at the White House? before the queen of England? at a State Dinner? before the Pope? in flip-flops, shorts, mini-skirts, levi’s, etc.? Why would we appear before the King of Kings, at the banquet of Our Lord, His very Body and Blood, itself, dressed in such an offensive manner? Because people who do so do not realize/believe in The True Presence in the first place. If a love of God, awareness of His Awesome Presence were in the hearts and minds of women (and men, too) they would not appear before His Awesome Presence except in attire befitting the King of Kings.

    Men, too, they seem like they’re going home to wash their car or do gardening or ready to go to the beach, not proper attire before HIM.

    As to Chapel veils?
    Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa
    I praise the veil, sometimes wear one, but not always.
    There they sit (different colors to match my outfits) in my/or my husband’s glove compartment as I dash off to Mass. Sometimes because I forget, sometimes because I just washed my hair and it will flatten it out. Vanity of vanities. I first stopped wearing it when that misinformation “leaked” into the media. My children were small and I spent half the Mass trying to keep it on and it was welcome news. Before the deception came to light, I had developed a bad habit and it has dogged me down the years. When I attend a TLM/EF Mass THEN I always wear a veil. Why? Maybe it’s because the sense of His Presence is so prevalent and with the OF the sense of “people” presence is more prevalent so I don’t care before people if I wear a veil or not.

  11. LisaP. says:

    Think I got all I needed in the rabbit hole (love them, by the way, real ones — we’ve got a baby rabbit living close by — now the pocket gopher holes, fascinating construction, but can turn an ankle. . . .).

  12. JayneK says:

    I have no problem with women who don’t want to wear chapel veils not wearing them. I don’t get why they feel the need to object to me wearing mine or to make up character flaws for me to explain why I wear one. I can come with quite enough real character flaws on my own without people making up more.

  13. frjim4321 says:

    I would think they would want to wear more than just chapel veils. After all, this is about modesty.

  14. lucindatcm says:

    Can we talk about men though? Its hot, and does this mean that it each man’s prerogative to take off their shirts? These of the kind of men that make you afraid to wander around, because if they have so little breeding that they will take off their shirt, they’ll at least think about what you would be like with yours off. That’s why I’m taking self-defense classes. And my daughters are too.

    If we could just manage to get men to understand that shirts off is not helpful to OUR purity…of course here I’m preaching to the choir. Most decent Catholic men don’t do that, and the ill-bred ones that do would think it is their right to think whatever they want. Off to practice roundhouse kicks.

    Father, you are quite right to put this discussion in a separate category, but if you could possibly remind men that running around with shirts off is rather nasty, I’d be grateful. Women have eyes too.

  15. Mariana says:

    Supertradmum says:
    “Five, if we look like ladies, men will act differently. This is true. A modest skirt and a dress are no way inherently sexy. Jeans and pants are androgynously sexy.”

    Can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see the word sexy not used as a synonym for attractive!


    Supertradmum says:
    “Six, the argument that a chapel veil draws attention to one’s self is bogus, as we should draw attention to the fact that we are women who feel the respect for God as Transcendent. Grace comes from making decisions on clothing. I know this for a fact. And, who cares what other people think if we wear a hat or a veil? As far as I can tell by today’s fashions, anything goes anyway.”

    Thank you!
    I use a very pretty cream coloured veil, bought in the lace museum in Alencon, and I love it (the veil and wearing it!)! And my parish priest thanked me for wearing it when first I started.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    frjim4321, you crack me up. Your comment is funny.

    As to dress, I have had three priests in as many weeks talk to me about the prostitute clothes women are wearing everywhere. But, when I suggest that priests discuss dress from the pulpit, they back down. I just do not get that. Mothers look just as tacky as the kids, so obviously there is a need for adults to be educated in this. I am embarrassed.

    One priest told me that if he spoke of this it would be starting WWIII. He even said I did not have a right to talk about this to other women! This is the age of nice and we are not allowed to be critical even of immodesty.

    What I do not understand are all the young women in horrible sport clothing. Why wear a Manchester United shirt to Mass? Modesty is connected to good taste and sadly, we are in the age, still of grunge and ugly.

    Why young women at the peak of their beauty want to look like football practice dummies is beyond me.

    And, if young women came to my talks on this in the past, I always had remedies, not merely criticisms. The plain fact is that rebellion is strong among Catholic regarding dress. I highly recommend praying about all of this and then, getting rid of the jeans and pants, except for necessary chores. Even in sports, women can wear skirts, or skorts, as in golf, tennis, archery, shooting, etc. even swimsuits can be more modest than one would think at first.

    Anyone should be able to look at a Catholic woman and say, “There is a Catholic woman and doesn’t she look great being so feminine?”

  17. frjim4321 says:

    Another blog (Pray Tell) has a wonderful reflection on “What will I wear to Church.” (August 3)

    More of a spiritual/theological reflection.

    Also an interesting link to “The Robe of Glory,” which was informative.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    lucindatcm, omgoodness, no shirts for men is so tacky, so low and so immodest.

    And I cannot understand grown men (shall I say conservatively over the age of five) wearing shorts to Church? I cannot believe that even in England, which never really gets above 85 Fahrenheit, that I have seen men in shorts at Mass this past week and not tourists. This is horrible. I remember having a conversation with a Lutheran friend of mine who is about 78 who said that she could remember men wearing long sleeved shirts and trousers to cut the lawn in Des Moines, Iowa in the 1940s and 1950s. Now, I am not saying we should go back to that, but please, no shorts in Church.

    I must say that my Dad always dresses professionally for Mass, even daily Mass and he is 89. That is so proper.

    And, as long as this comment is on men, I wish I had a dollar or a pound for every male wearing, at Mass or Adoration, a tee-shirt with Che Guevara, Mao, Guns and Roses, or a skull. Eeiiuu, but I would be much richer…very bad taste.

  19. LisaP. says:

    Phooey, should have quit reading while I was ahead.

    Modesty is a virtue and a constant ( mostly). Style is a social construct. I would not go to the Queen’s garden party in jeans because she is the Queen. I would not go clubbing in an evening dress because it is clubbing. Yes, clothing can signal your respect for the venue and the host, but I can’t see how jeans, or even short pants, automatically and universally signals a disrespect for God in the Mass. I don’t wear jeans to Mass because I don’t realize who is in front of me — I wear them to Mass because I *do* realize who is in front of me, and to me wearing jeans or flip flops (hate the things, personally, but still) is kind of in the category of wearing white after Labor Day — not something I really consider something that matters to Him, in me.

    Now, if I had an inherent feeling that jeans were only what you wore in front of those you disrespected, and wore jeans to Mass, I’d of course be messing up. But jeans *are* my formal wear. So while I don’t mean to scandalize anyone, I sincerely feel wearing Levis is not, for me, spitting in God’s face. Seriously, I’m lucky to get to Mass with two of the same shoes on (almost never have matching socks on, anywhere), if I’m held to having to find pants that don’t cling to my middle-agedness or a shoes I can squeeze my swollen feet in that go with a skirt, you’ll throw me into despair!

    Not to dis

  20. LisaP. says:

    And chapel veils are beautiful.

  21. Elizabeth D says:

    Why, in our time when chastity is under so much assault, is it hardly taught that modesty is protective of chastity and that modesty is not just completely relative and culturally conditioned? I pray for people to value this virtue of modesty and for the priests to have some courage to present authentic Catholic teaching about it. Where I am I even hear false teaching presented by priests about this that leads well intentioned Catholics to believe that they can go on dressing just as the surrounding culture dresses, and then they find it outrageous when someone expresses a view that short-shorts and spaghetti straps are not modest. Or, horror, that skirts should not be above the knee, and to be considered “modest” should be well below the knee. And that modesty is not just for in church. It’s a value to internalize, especially while young, because, again, it’s protective of chastity and basic important part of a chaste lifestyle.

    Also let me comment I appreciate priests that follow handball rather than gushing over the victories of “adorable” nubile young girl gymnasts and swimmers.

  22. Elizabeth M says:

    The lost art of sewing has helped in the decline of modesty. I’m grateful my mother had the patience to teach me to sew.
    My pet peeve at our local Extraordinary Form Mass are the young ladies with 4 inch red heels. If it is distracting to me, I can’t imagine those the poor men who see them! I do my best to dress modestly & classy first, because I am a child of God & Mary and second, so my husband is proud of his wife.
    It is hard to take that step and throw out all pants and shorts because it is a habit to wear them. Those who should set the example of femininity are rare but believe me, get a group of women together and if one is seen only wearing skirts and dresses, in a short time all the other ladies will follow, no conversation needed. This is precisely what happened in my “Mommy group”. 6 months after our first get together and we only have one woman who still goes with us to places in pants.
    Many women just don’t know what clothes actually flatter their figure so they just give up.

  23. Andrew_81 says:

    Supertradmum wrote:
    [blockquote]”One priest told me that if he spoke of this it would be starting WWIII.[/blockquote]

    Perhaps you should have told him that WW III (or at least the universal cultural war) is already raging and while it’s not a good tactic to go out guns blazing, one has to fire back at least from time to time if he hopes to take the enemy or his minions.

  24. inara says:

    Veils are not only beautiful, they’re liturgical! St. Paul begins his address of liturgical matters in 1 Corinthians 11 with the issue of headcoverings & he makes it quite clear that he is not open to dissent on this matter. Women are to cover their heads primarily as an acknowledgement of their place in God’s natural order. This is why he says it “offends the angels”, because appearing before the altar of the Lord as a man is instructed to (with head uncovered) smacks of pride & rebellion.

    Some feel that the fact that veils are not addressed in the 1983 Code of Canon Law means that the practice is no longer normative; however, Canon 2 states: “This Code for the most part does not define the rites that are to be observed in celebrating liturgical actions. Therefore current liturgical norms retain their force unless any of them are contrary to the Canons of this Code.” Therefore, (from Dr. Peters’ blog) “faithful with liturgical questions probably ought not look to the 1983 Code for answers because, with a few important exceptions, Canon law generally does not treat liturgical matters.”

  25. frjim4321 says:

    I think this is one of those areas where there is an erroneous tendency to take something which is purely subjective and make it objective. Tastes and preferences in the clothing of self and others is very much a personal matter. Frankly I often wonder that if someone is bothered by the attire of another person the real problem isn’t with the observer casting the aspersion. If someone finds themselves being distracted by the judgments they place on others’ dress perhaps they need to close their eyes and get back to prayer. The comments above about various states of dress for women and men may say more about the body shame of the observer than they do about the reverence of those being derided.

  26. daughter of poor gemma says:

    I’d love to wear a veil, but given that I’m a recent convert in a parish where NOBODY veils, I haven’t felt comfortable with it yet (plus I don’t have one–though I’m hoping to remedy that soon).

    However, on the issue of pants: I’ll stop wearing them when I stop getting heat rash on my thighs every time I wear a skirt or dress. My thighs touch almost all the way down to the knee (and I’m not overweight, either) and they end up horribly chafed any time I don’t wear pants. Besides, nobody cares what’s under my choir robe, anyway.

  27. New Sister says:

    Elizabeth M – I wish I knew how to sew. Depriving women of this skill was a snare set by the enemy, followed by an ambush: first no sewing, then when they (our generation) become women w/o sewing boxes, decent clothes disappear and we have no where to turn. Not only are women’s clothes in stores trashy and cheap, but so are little girl clothes. I find it near impossible to dress my 12 year-old niece. Wish I could sew…

  28. New Sister says:

    Andrew 81: thank you for that reply; I will use it!

  29. frjim4321 says:

    . . . and I did not mean to be callow about that. Body shame can result from many things, and some of them very bad and not the fault of the person who exhibits it. If my observation went too far by being not-sensitive-enough to the difficulties of others I would go back and soften it if I could. It is nice on some blogs to be able to go back and self-edit, at least for a little while.

    Off to wedding reception . . .

  30. inara says:

    I have witnessed several good priests, my bishop & even a Cardinal preach homilies bemoaning the current lack of modesty, yet none were willing to take the next step & actually give details on what is expected of Christian women & men in this regard. I’m not sure if they feared the certain backlash, or if they just were not aware of the wealth of quotes & resources from saints & popes that is available to them. As Pope Pius XII said, “There always exists an absolute norm to be preserved, no matter how broad and changeable the relative morals of styles may be.”

    handmaidsofthelord.org has some great info & reading suggestions for anyone seeking to be obedient in this area. It is challenging at first, but there is so much freedom in obedience! Women need to realize how much power they have to change a culture by embracing their femininity. As Supertradmum said, androgyny is a tool of the Evil One, & it has so warped our consciousness that we scarcely can comprehend what could be wrong with it. Leave the sports competitions, protector/defender occupations, pants-wearing, & service in the sanctuary to the masculine sex & let us rediscover our feminine gifts!

  31. sullibe says:

    Fr. Z., that made me laugh out loud.

    I do not have a chapel veil, per se. But I do cover my head at Mass, I have 4 scarves and a lace snood (made by a blogging friend who perked my interested in the concept of veiling) that I will wear (not all at once) .

    I do it because it’s a way that allows me to focus on my praying to Christ. Every time i have to reach and readjust because a child has tugged on it or a bobby pin has slid out, it reminds me to pray, it refocuses my attention to where it ought to be – on Christ. I started about a year ago, but I have been regular with it since about October of last year, and have been intentionally regular since I forgot on Christmas Day and felt… well… naked without it.

    I am one of the few women in my parish who covers. I have never been approached by anyone about it. If anyone thinks anything of it, negatively or positively, they’ve never said anything to me, and have never said anything to anyone who has said anything to me. It is a practice/devotion that brings me peace, and for that I’m grateful.

  32. NescioQuid says:

    I just can’t believe that some people on here are actually suggesting or even stating that women wearing trousers or jeans in daily life maketh a bad Catholic. I saw this on one Catholic forum, and I just could not believe my eyes. When I pointed out that in a large area of the globe, trousers twinned with a long tunic style top were traditionally worn and were deemed more modest than skirts, this was completely ignored. I decided to unsubscribe from that blog.

    I do believe in dressing well for Sunday mass, but I also disagree with the interpretation of what that entails. I would not wear jeans, not because it is immoral, but rather because they are too casual for mass. However, I would certainly wear a smart pair of trousers. And I would wear jeans in my day-to-day life. Jeans are just denim, and hard wearing. They are practical, and if you consider them immoral, you would have to chastise practically every young person who goes to World Youth Day to see the Pope.

    As far as modesty is concerned, within limits, modesty is also culturally and temporally prescribed. A century ago, a woman would never reveal her ankles in Britain, but a low-necked dress was acceptable. In some cultures today, revealing legs is more provocative than revealing bits of stomach or back (take the Indian sari, for example). In parts of Asia, I would definitely feel more modestly dressed covering my legs by wearing loose fitting trousers, or a long skirt. I would avoid a knee length skirt. And yes, as one writer also pointed out, if woman must be held responsible for what she wears, then so must a man. I for one dislike seeing a man’s underwear or worse when he is walking down the street.

    And what exactly would you have athletes, swimmers, gymnasts etc wear for the purpose of competing? Really, I think a large part of modesty is in the eyes and thoughts. A person can find even a small amount of flesh on display provocative if they are so minded. When I look at all these athletes, I regardwhat they are wearing as uniforms which fit the activities they are doing. The same outfits wouldn’t be appropriate in other situations. Having said that, I am not too keen on the knicker style shorts.

    Veils… There is a reason why you are not obligated to do so under canon law. It just does not carry the same connotations of modesty today unless you are muslim. And if you disagree, well, then surely a little piece of lace hardly cuts it, the entire head of hair should be covered.

  33. NescioQuid says: Veils… There is a reason why you are not obligated to do so under canon law. It just does not carry the same connotations of modesty today unless you are muslim. And if you disagree, well, then surely a little piece of lace hardly cuts it, the entire head of hair should be covered.

    If that’s the reason canon law no longer requires veils, then that thought was awfully late in coming to the lawmakers, since it was the custom clear up until living memory. And in any case, no sale on the argument that the veil doesn’t carry the same connotations of modesty. Certainly, at least on planet earth, the chapel veil carries no connotations of immodesty.

  34. Girgadis says:

    I think with a few simple guidelines, it’s easy for me as a woman to dress modestly for Mass. Sleeves that come at least to the elbow, hemlines below the knee, necklines no lower than the collarbone and nothing sheer or tight-fitting. On the rare occasion when I wear slacks, I pair them with a long tunic or sweater that falls below the hips. I have to say I’m very put off by women who otherwise dress modestly and then wear high-heeled open-toed shoes or worse, flip flops with crimson painted nails. To quote our beloved Padre, BLECH.

    I choose to veil at the TLM and wear a doily to the Novus Ordo. With the little reverence He is shown in His own house, I feel that this small gesture serves to provide some consolation. I am not sure of the reason, but I’m pleased to say I have seen a steady increase in the number of women wearing veils to the Novus Ordo, even in parishes not known to be traditional.

    God gave us beauty and I see nothing wrong with tastefully enhancing that beauty with attractive but modest clothing, conservative make -up and jewelry and shoes with a low to moderate heel. However, in His house, He should be the center of attention and focus, not any of us. Carefully choosing what we wear to Mass is a good start.

    Lucindatem, I’m with you. Few sights are more crass or offensive than that of a shirtless man.

  35. NoTambourines says:

    When I go to work, I dress to show I take it seriously and to be taken seriously by co-workers, superiors, and the public. I’m thrilled to be where I’m working, and also want to convey through how I conduct myself that I’m grateful to be there.

    When I go to Mass, I also dress to show I take it seriously, and also as a matter of gratitude. I’ve heard it said of the workplace, “Don’t dress for where you are, but for where you’re going” (i.e., where you want to be in the future). I think the same applies in church.

  36. @NewSister–sewing isn’t really that difficult, and between YouTube and the local library, you should be able to figure it out (if you can get your hands on a decent sewing machine, that helps, but even sewing by hand isn’t that hard). E-mail me and I can give you some pointers on how/where to start. There are patterns meant for the very beginner, as well as no-pattern items to be found on blogs and YouTube.

  37. Sissy says:

    Looks like I missed the party. Well, just random comments about my confession/vigil Mass/first time wearing a head-covering to church.

    I arrived as a wedding party was having photos taken at the altar. A big line for confession, and some folks were talking about how immodest the bride and bridesmaids dresses were! I thought this was a fairly progressive church, but most people were disturbed that the wedding party had gone a bit too far with the low-cut, strapless gowns. Confession was fabulous. The vigil Mass was everything I had been hoping Mass would be when I joined the Church. My scarf made me feel quiet and peaceful; I was distracted the way I usually am. I thought I would feel odd and awkward. I actually felt …..calm and focused. It was really lovely. No one gave me a funny look. Since I was there last, the number of women veiling has quintupled! There was one last time, today there were 5, including me.

  38. Sissy says:

    Sorry! Meant to say “I was NOT distracted the way I usually am”

  39. kat says:

    For women and girls, I hear that a really good book is called “Dressing with Dignity” by Colleen Hammond. Mrs. Hammond was a former model, and explains how to be beautiful and feminine, and not frumpy; but always modest.

    Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/Dressing-Dignity-Colleen-Hammond/dp/0895558009

    I have not read it myself, so can only say what I’ve heard; but I have a teenage daughter I plan to buy it for soon, and will read it myself first so I can be a good example to her. We have some really beautiful young ladies at our church, who attend public universities, etc., and who always dress in a modest, dignified, feminine way. I hope my daughter will turn out like them. (They are beautiful inside and out, and their mother has raised them well…I hope I can do the same.)

  40. AnnM says:

    While I appreciate that many women who attend the TLM in the United States wear veils for Mass, I have some concerns about equating this practice – along with not wearing trousers – with the image of the Good Catholic Woman, or trying to make it into some sign of Catholic identity. Millions of women worldwide, also striving to be good Catholics and who don’t wear veils and see no problem with wearing trousers – would take strong issue with that. I know this is a traditionally-minded blog but do remember there’s another world out there. And not all of us want women priests and wear shorts and spaghetti straps to church you know :)!

  41. mamajen says:

    Trousers on women (thanks to my British husband I can’t say pants without snickering) do not bother me much, as long as they are not ill-fitting…preferably with a long top or jacket. I almost always wear a skirt or dress, but we walk to church year round, and sometimes in the winter it is just too cold to wear a skirt. Jeans I think are too casual, but I always say at least the person is there! Shorts I think are inexcusable…but again, the person is there.

    I’ve known two priests in my lifetime who had absolutely no qualms about making announcements regarding dress code in summer. One of them would only do so if somebody turned up at church wearing something too revealing (usually a visitor) and it was a little embarrassing because everyone knew who the comments were directed at.

    The topless guy argument is a little puzzling to me. I assume those who have mentioned it are not taking about them showing up to church that way (I hope). Outside of church, what is the problem? It was the norm for me to see that growing up, like when my dad and other relatives were building our house during the summer. And of course there is plenty of religious imagery in which men are scantily clad, if at all. I agree with NescioQuid’s sentiments above.

    Fr. Jim’s comment about worrying more about prayer than other people is very important. I do think we should aid our fellow parishioners in their concentration by not looking extremely out of place. Sometimes it is difficult not to notice other people, but that is certainly not why we are there, and we do need to try our best to focus regardless of what other people may be doing.

  42. Sissy says:

    I think what I feel when I see people grossly underdressed for church is sadness more than anything else. I just wish they felt what a great honor it is to be able to meet the Lord is this incredible way. As for veils, I don’t really care who does or who doesn’t. I was feeling drawn towards it, and it really made a huge difference in my own ability to pray and enter fully into the Mass.

  43. JKnott says:

    Supertradmum ; I agree with everything you said.

    NescioQuid; says “As far as modesty is concerned, within limits, modesty is also culturally and temporally prescribed.”
    To a certain extent yes, but I think what you are describing is ‘style’. Modesty in attire is really a universal norm in civilized cultures. Holy Mother Church tells us what that is. Tight, short, low cut and revealing clothes offer an occasion of sin to most men- universally.
    And it has nothing to do with “body shame” as mentioned by a reader. God made the human figure beautiful. Having participated in many life drawing classes in school, I remember thinking how wonderful God made us, and when gracefully robed, the dignity and mystery of the human form is enhanced. But , FrJim , we are talking about women who present themselves in an erotic manner in public. It is objectively a selfish and balant disrespect for others. That is truly and unconditionally shameful because sinfulness makes order, harmony and beauty very ugly. The shame resides in the person of the immodest person and not the viewer.

    I have seen mothers bring their daughters to the EF wearing a chapel veil and tight jeans. Incongruous
    Where does Mary stand as a model in all of this?

  44. yatzer says:

    I’ve wished for a long time that I was of the proper ethic background to wear trousers with a long tunic, as some Indian women do who don’t wear saris. Those things look good on everyone, I think. I also don’t think I look very good in skirts, being a bit more rotund than I should be. It makes me feel frumpy and slacks draw a more vertical line than skirts. I do wish the sweet young lady in our parish who very kindly accompanies and assists a much older lady, who I suppose is her beloved grandmother, would stop wearing a skimpy tank top and 8 inch long skirt to Mass. Such kind behavior and such dense sense of appropriate attire. I am distracted with earnestly hoping she doesn’t move much.

  45. Springkeeper says:

    #1. Men not wearing shirts in public is immodest and indecent. If they are fat and out of shape, I think of getting ill and if they look really good, I think of something else entirely.

    #2. I always wear a mantilla or some other veil at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It keeps me from being distracted and constantly reminds me to behave myself.

    #3. I always wear skirts/dresses and so do my daughters. I believe it is possible to look both feminine and modest in pants but it is not easy.

    #4. No low cut shirts, sleeveless tops, or anything above the knee seems to be fair enough for both men and women.

  46. acardnal says:

    Below is from a parish bulletin:

    Would you be allowed in St. Peter’s
    As the temperatures climb, there is the
    temptation to “dress down” for Mass.
    Clothing that is best suited for the beach or
    the ball field should not be worn at Mass.
    Clothing may not make a person, but
    everyone knows how we look does show
    respect for ourselves and God.

    And also this wonderful video on modesty from someone who received honorable mention in this blog previously:

  47. frjim4321 says:

    And also this wonderful video on modesty from someone who received honorable mention in this blog previously:

    Honestly, acardnal, there is something wrong there. The dear girl has a brother that is somehow gone and she does not know (or seem to ever care).

    I found the clip fascinating and viewed it through my body shame take.

  48. Lara says:

    I started veiling this Lent – and I love it. Every Mass there are usually a handful of us who veil and it seems that gradually the numbers are increasing. I loved watching For Greater Glory – all the pretty veils.

    A few years ago I wore jeans and a “nice” t-shirt to Mass. My husband and I are very casual – when our Pastor started preaching on appropriate attire, he asked married couples to look at what we were wearing and decide if we’d go out on an anniversary date dressed like that. In our “dress jeans” we both smiled and said yes. (So we thought we were good)! The next week he came out and said jeans were NOT appropriate. I groaned but out of obedience switched to dress pants. Since he pointed out appropriate attire, I started noticing how inappropriate some of the clothing was (even to my casual self) so I began wearing skirts and dresses to Mass to help “raise the bar.” We’ve had our Pastor for 4 years now and my friends and I have commented on how the dress has improved – although he still keeps it fah-reeezing in the church – to force the ladies to at least wear a sweater to cover up the strapless dresses so many of them are fond of wearing. Now that my son is an altar server, I appreciate that more and more!

  49. frjim4321 says:

    = (or seem to care) where he is.

    Sorry, to much fun at the wedding reception!

  50. acardnal says:

    frjim4321 , you need to watch more of her videos. Her one and only OLDER brother has moved out of the house and on to new adventures as a young adult. And this young lady is entering the Dominicans of the Eucharist (if I remember accurately). Her views on modesty and dress are in keeping with the mind of the Church. Yours on the other hand, I wonder about.

  51. BLB Oregon says:

    Unlike the hijab, which is opaque and worn everywhere so as to obscure the hair from male view, I don’t think chapel veils are about modesty so much as about piety and propiety. There are places where it is only proper to wear one; sure, it depends on local custom, but it is still observing a propriety, which I think that makes it an aspect of charity. I also think that those who find wearing a veil or seeing a veil worn as an edifying display of piety are unfairly portrayed as being shallow or pretentious. History is full of symbolic clothing, because symbolic clothing can have a very positive impact on both the wearer and those around him or her. This is particularly true in the setting of public ritual, including the Mass. Yet certain kinds of symbolic clothing are not tolerated, even among those who feel quite free to pierce and tatoo every part available for the procedures. It is as if there is a paradoxical impropriety committed against the non-conformists when one fails to conform to the expectation that one has to spurn the proprieties of others in order to prove that one has a mind of one’s own!

    On that account, I find it distressing how threatened some people–especially people who swear they are ardent supporters of free expression–seem to be when they see symbolic clothing, particularly when worn by women. The great irony is that the “personal freedom” crowd seems to be most likely to have a cardiac event when they see women using their personal freedom to do something the “personal freedom” crowd doesn’t like. You’d think a woman in a chapel veil or even an hijab was the equivalent of wearing gang colors or was letting oneself be tattooed like a piece of chattel. The standard is so internally inconsistent as to be ludicrous!

  52. frjim4321 says:

    I truly hope it works out for her and that she will find it joyful and growthful.

    Meanwhile, I can’t say that I remember anything in canon law about skirt lengths.

  53. LisaP. says:


    You make good points, but here’s where it falls down for me. I never wore “dress clothes” at work because I thought they were appropriate to the work or in appreciation of my job. I wore them because it was expected by my bosses. I was a teacher. I wore dresses and pumps. Do you know what it does to the feet to wear pumps, standing all day, in a town where the temp can reach 114!? No, I did not dress that way because I wanted to out of love for how well my dress matched my job. I dressed that way because convention required it. I believe if God were my boss, he would be a bit above convention. Not that convention doesn’t have its place, but it is a fairly low place in the grand scheme of things.

    And I agree with you that I want to dress for where I’m going. In my mind, I certainly think jeans fit better in heaven than pantyhose and pumps!

    I guess I need someone to explain to me what makes a dress or skirt *inherently* feminine, and what makes jeans *inherently* disrespectful or androgynous (except in the way a shirt would be androgynous, or plain shoelaces, or a baseball hat, or a book).

  54. Amy Giglio says:

    Chapel veils? Wear ’em if you got ’em.

  55. inara says:

    FrJim ~ True, there is nothing in Canon Law (so you won’t be hauled off to the tribunal for showing off your knees…it is not a matter of law, but of proper respect for God and our neighbor). Several popes have felt very strongly about this subject & spoken about it. There is even a Papal Decree Concerning Modesty: http://www.handmaidsofthelord.org/Church_Teaching.html The standards that were distributed to the faithful along with this decree clearly state that skirt length is to be below the bottom of the knee. Many churches used to post these guidelines in the narthex. FrZ had an example of one such notice on FB recently.

  56. frjim4321 says:

    inara . . . well if we are going to reference popes pretty sure JPII had a very chaste appreciation of the beauty of the human form and himself didn’t bother with attire for swimming (from what I’ve heard from numerous sources), so again I think a lot of the overboard so-called modesty talk seems more about body shame than anything else.

  57. acardnal says:

    frjim4321 , perhaps you will mediate upon the “Examination of Conscience for Priests” attached as an appendix to the end the March 2012, “Letter to Priests.” Fr. Z posted this just a few months ago.


  58. frjim4321 says:

    acardnal, I am missing your point.

  59. TZ says:

    [Gentlemen, due to content of a highly personal nature, you can stop reading this post right here.]

    Daughter of Poor Gemma, hightail it down to your nearest Walmart or Target and get a waist-to-knee style body shaper. These are like a soft girdle, and very comfortable when you buy them in a large enough size. No more chafed thighs.

    Mamajen, sew your own skirts and add a drum (slip lining) of bridal crinoline or party taffeta. Use of the taffeta with the body shaper blocks cold winter winds. (Because of this I am warmer in winter wearing skirts than jeans!)

    I wear a shoulder-length veil to Masses. People used to stare–or maybe it was just my nerves–but I don’t notice it anymore. One afternoon several years ago I was kneeling in the pews after confession and noticed two men praying before the altar. Out of the blue, it occurred to me that neither was wearing a hat, and that they were abstaining out of respect for the Lord. I felt pretty ashamed, I can tell you. Then there was a hand on my arm, an elderly lady I knew well from the parish. She gave me a small packet and said, “Here, dear. This is for you.” In it was a veil.

    By the way, I once wore a very plain hat to Mass at a “progressive parish” near D.C. and had six people approach me afterward to comment positively. (An usher, a sweet old soul, had asked my husband and me to carry the gifts to the altar–he wanted the rest of the women to see it, I guess. ;-)

  60. JKnott says:

    It is customary for many brides and the wedding party to wear more formal attire on the wedding day. And most guests dress up.
    Now if the guests all arrived at the church and the reception wearing what they do at most Sunday Masses; for men, bare feet in flip flops or sneakers with shorts, tees with mickey mouse etc.; for women, jeans, and other beach wear, the bride might feel rather offended. She might even be moved to tears.
    But if the guests dress better in church for a gal, how is it that they don’t dress better for the Real Presence of the bride’s Maker?

  61. sullibe says:

    I still think, when it comes to the topic of modesty, Jennifer Fulwiler’s last post on modesty at the Register, mentioned such an insightful way of looking at it. To paraphrase:
    Immodesty is dressing in such a way to wield power over others.

    In other words, if the purpose of the clothing that someone is wearing to “get noticed/be looked at/show off (name your body part/parts)” etc… etc… then the purpose has become an attempt to wield power over other people by trying to force their attention on to the wearer. This is immodesty.

    In my opinion this definition accounts for the cultural differences that exist world wide, it also accounts for the variety when people try to define specifics of modest clothing (i.e. long skirts vs. pants, long sleeves vs. sleeveless, shirts on vs. shirts off, . As someone, on another blog about modesty not too long ago, mentioned, a few years ago there was a woman in NY (I believe) who escaped kidnapping and sexual assault and fled into the streets, completely naked and disoriented. The cab driver (male) who stopped to help her when she ran out in front of his cab wasn’t even in a position to classify her as dressed modestly or immodestly because the situation didn’t call for that – no one can claim that she was dressed immodestly. What she was wearing (nothing) was not being done to wield power over others, it was simply her current state of being – escaping a horrific trauma.

    Anyway, those are my two cents.

  62. Dies Irae says:

    I wear skirts all the time. (Except to bed. :) I don’t own any pairs of pants or trousers. (Besides pajama pants. :) It’s not because I believe wearing pants is a sin. There are certainly times when pants are necessary. . I used wear pants when I was doing hard physical labor and it was too difficult and immodest to wear a skirt. One instance in particular I can think of where wearing pants was more modest than wearing a skirt was when I was digging up a (muddy) water pipe with my dad, and there were a bunch of teen-aged boys building a barn not thirty feet away. But those times where they are “necessary” are not to Mass on Sunday. Under normal circumstances, I wear skirts, long ones too. Oftentimes, I have made them myself. I wear stylish clothing, no one (who knew what true Amish people looked like) would think I was Amish. I don’t wear a skirt because I want everybody to know that I am pious or I am traditional or because I want to shame them, or because I hate them, or because my mom or my priest makes me. I wear skirts because I feel that that is how God wants me to dress.
    A priest once told me that while wearing pants isn’t a bad thing in itself, what is better?

  63. Dies Irae says:

    Just my two cents.
    *cringes in corner waiting for barrage of bullets*

  64. APX says:

    I find it rich how so many people limit modesty to clothing. The topic of modesty is far more diverse than simply what someone wears. Another area of modesty which seems to get overlooked quite often is speech. I can’t tell you how many “modest” women at church go around talking, gossiping, slandering, detracting, calumniating about other people, usually women. Such women are actually less modest than the woman in pants and a t-shirt who knows how to hold her tongue.

  65. heway says:

    Sorry gals, but out here in cowgirl land, a starched white Western shirt with pressed and creased Levis and clean boots may be the outfit of the day – depending on whether you are weaning or castrating your cattle. The Lord blessed me with a lovely head of hair, kept short it requires no attention and would not hold a bobby pin! If everyone is judging everyone else’s clothes – what are any of us doing in church? Fr. Jim, I believe you are spot on!

  66. LisaP. says:


    I find that very clarifying. Really something to think about.


    I’d thought about that, and while for myself I wouldn’t have blinked if a guest had shown up in flip flops I admit I wore a fancy dress to get married in. But I go back to my idea that Christ is very different from a bridezilla! I just can’t see him finding casual footwear offensive in a person who loved him, and whom he loved.

  67. frjim4321 says:

    Apx, I like that.

  68. TravelerWithChrist says:

    Pants – are considered immodest because they draw the eye to the private area of a woman. Photographers use triangular shapes because it draws the eye. A triangle is created when women wear pants; the same with V-neck shirts – it’s like an arrow.

    Modesty seems to depend on the interpretation of the individual in today’s time. Popes have commented on the dress of women – Pope Pius XII said dresses should not be “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 materials are improper.”

    FrJim4321 – I’m sorry, but I can’t believe you imply it’s ‘shame of body’ to dress modestly. I am not ashamed of my body, but preserve it for my husband. You fail to mention the effects immodest dress has on men – it leads men to sins of lust. Sexual sins are destroying our souls now more than ever. And if I dress immodestly and lead men to sin, then their sins are on my soul as well, and I don’t need that – it’s difficult enough trying to stay pure and holy.

  69. mamajen says:

    @sullibe Really amazing quote! Wow.

    @APX Sad, but true. My parents moved us to a different parish for that very reason. I avoid churches where that kind of culture exists.

  70. mamajen says:


    So why are men allowed to wear pants?

  71. LisaP. says:

    Thanks, Traveler, I do concede that pants show more of the form and I can see your point about drawing the eye. At the same time, I can see some issues with dresses and skirts along similar lines that seem to make it at least a wash for me. I wear my jeans with a long shirt (sometimes a t-shirt, plain unsloganed) so it seems to me the issue with jeans (or flip flops, sneakers, shorts for men, plain t-shirts, etc.) is not one of modesty but of being too casual, and I still don’t see how that is disrespectful or shows I don’t reverence or believe in the True Presence.

    I sometimes pray the rosary in my pajamas, that’s not an issue!

    I can even see someone advising me that my fellow parishioners feel this is a formal time and “need” me to dress up a bit so as not to mess up the “tone”. That I can understand, and maybe sympathize with. But I just can’t wrap my head around Christ himself taking issue with jeans at Mass.

  72. APX says:


    Pants – are considered immodest because they draw the eye to the private area of a woman.
    Pants are immodest when they’re too tight, don’t fit properly, or are not the right cut for the woman’s body shape. If people knew how to dress their body shape and size, and purchase clothing that actually fits, we would see a huge increase in modesty.

    A triangle is created when women wear pants; </b.
    I guess I should stop wearing my skirt then given it's A-line cut, thus creates a triangle. I guess priests should also stop wearing their fascias with their cassocks. Doing so extenuates that God-created inverted triangle body shape that is considered the equivalent to the women's hourglass shape.

    Seriously, this whole "pants are immodest" and women shouldn't wear pants, and if a woman wears pants and doesn't cover her head she isn't a good pious Catholic woman, blah blah blah argument is ridiculous. If women put this much energy into feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the imprisoned, and fighting for social justice, perhaps things wouldn't look so bleak. *sarcasm* (sorta)

    the same with V-neck shirts – it’s like an arrow.

  73. Elizabeth D says:

    Sullibe says that Jennifer Fulweiler believes: “Immodesty is dressing in such a way to wield power over others.” Listen to just a part of what the Catechism says. “Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at persons and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.”

    A person who has been involuntarily stripped naked by an attacker is objectively not dressed modestly, but since an attacker cannot take the virtue away from them they may have the virtue itself. When they are able to, they will decently cover their nakedness. It is a matter of their dignity and guarding against being an object of the concupiscence of others’ eyes.

    I contend that a woman is not practicing modesty who knows on some level that scanty clothing easily tempts others’ eyes and wandering minds, but reasons that because she has no motive of wielding power that it’s fine to dress that way if she personally finds it comfortable or finds the outfit cute or doesn’t want to stand out from the crowd who all dress like that or doesn’t want to go to the extra trouble to find modest clothes or her husband bought her something immodest and she wants to please/obey him by wearing it (in public) and convinces herself that that is humility. Modesty can be uncomfortable on different levels, including physically when it’s hot out, and socially in some/many cases. It will tend to go against our inclinations sometimes. Virtues are like that!

  74. The Sicilian Woman says:

    My dress for Mass has improved over the past couple years, though I’m happy to say I don’t think I’ve ever worn shorts, or mini-skirts, or have had my shoulders, back or stomach bared, ever. I’ve been fairly well covered, which I think is the first step in modesty, for both genders. I do love pants though, and if I wear them to Mass, they’re usually black (black makes everything a little formal to me), but I’ve been trying to wear skirts a bit more, as I’ve been doing the past few weeks.

    Taking the splinter out of my eye for a bit, I have been horrified at dress in Mass by both genders, including the male altar servers wearing sneakers and the young female altar servers wearing sandals that are only a notch above flip-flops and not always age-appropriate. I’ve seen kids come to Mass in soccer uniforms, men wearing tank tops and/or shorts, women wearing Not Much (one woman recently wore a strapless top and a mini-skirt up to guess where, and, if I remember correctly, hooker heels). And they receive the Eucharist looking like that, and sometimes they are receiving the Eucharist from an E.M. who could be a little better dressed for having such a responsibility.

    I certainly don’t have a problem with women wearing chapel veils (there are a few who wear them at our N.O. parish), though I won’t wear one myself.

  75. BLB Oregon says:

    I think placing value on chapel veils at church, discussions about skirt lengths and the modesty of pants are two separate topics. I also think discussions about what is decent clothing in general is a somewhat different topic than what is proper for church.

    What makes me (a woman) want to back away slowly until I can get safely away are discussions of what is and is not “feminine” attire and hairstyles. Oh, my, do those get heated!

  76. Chapel veils are a venerable tradition that naturally encourage proper attire and reverence in the sanctuary. I am amused, however, by the surge in popularity of wearing fascinator hats in lieu of veils in church, after the royal wedding. These are designed to . . . well . . . fascinate. They imply, “Hey forget the Sacred Mysteries . . . look at ME. I’m fascinating!” (Ducking for cover now) Oh, and men who claim to be distracted by women’s hair at Mass . . . how is a see-through lacey thing going to help matters? Just sayin’ Wear it . . . or not . . . but do it for the right reasons. It has become a political object more than a humble act.

  77. acroat says:

    Women covering their heads I have read was a tradition to cover their hair. I heard this at a modesty lecture. Both hats & veils can be distracting. God only knows if the lady wearing them is doing it to be noticed. A simple veil or hate it seems both cover the hair. Recently my husband explained that when we were young he thought I had the most beautiful hair he’d ever seen so I know that lady’s covering their heads at mass is not only a modest thing to do but also is an act if charity towards our brothers (in the biblical sense).

  78. acroat says:

    Sorry hat not hate!

  79. acardnal says:

    LisaP said, “But I just can’t wrap my head around Christ himself taking issue with jeans at Mass.”

    One would not wear jeans to a wedding or a State Dinner at the White House or to meet the Queen? Isn’t the Lord’s Supper and the His Holy Sacrifice more worthy?

  80. acardnal says:

    Love is an act of the will. Our actions matter not just our sentiments.

  81. Gallia Albanensis says:

    Comment by Bea: “She was dressed with one off one shoulder blouse and had tattoos. … I teased my husband about describing her. ‘you couldn’t help it,’ he said ‘she was flaunting herself all over the church.’ ”

    The silver lining of tattoo fad is that, for me anyhow, where a woman’s dress may have been an occasion of sin for me, her tattoos will very quickly put the fire out.

  82. AnnM says:

    If I may be allowed another comment. Speaking as a Catholic without labels, as it were, who attends both the OF and the EF, I find this discussion and others like it both interesting and slightly disturbing. I have always considered the Catholic Church – being of course the true Church – to be both sensible and practical in terms of its rules. It does not currently prescribe specifics of dress, as do certain other faiths but does demand high standards of us in terms of showing respect for God and wearing what is appropriate for the occasion. This can mean different things to different people, ages and cultures and I do think the only guideline we should sensibly follow is to dress respectably according to our culture. Thus not wearing beach clothes to Mass is a pretty obvious no-no. (Though it may be worth considering that the gal wearing the miniskirt has made an effort to put on a skirt for Mass, something she doesn’t normally do. For her, it would be a gesture of respect, if a little muddled!) But to carry “modesty” to extremes – Amish-style clothing, ankle-length dresses, an obsession with long sleeves, little girls forced to wear long bloomers under their skirts and so on, (all of which I’ve encountered, mainly, alas, at the EF Masses) I would say, sorry but that’s not Catholic, nor is it “Marylike”. We also need to project a certain image and set an example to the non-Catholic and secular world – we are not a freakshow. A blanket ban on pants/trousers, as being “men’s” clothing, or “immodest” is also, to my mind, nonsensical. After all, in the time of Christ, everyone wore a similar type of robe – the difference, surely, being in the detail. There are masculine trousers and feminine trousers. There are modest trousers and immodest trousers. Let’s use some common sense!
    And while I hear a collective wail of anguish among you traditionalist gals, I think the Church was perfectly sensible in letting go the insistence on headcoverings in church, since, while it can be a laudable matter of personal piety and for some, wrapped up in all kinds of mystical significance, it also no longer means much to many people as being associated with either modesty or respect. Let’s concentrate on other body parts that need covering!
    Finally, girls, as a middle-aged lady, I would give you a small piece of advice. If in doubt about whether something’s modest or elegant, ask the men in your life what they think. Yes really!

  83. Ellen says:

    I’m 61. I grew up in pre Vatican II, was a young adult in post Vatican II and now am happy with the reform of the reform. I happily go to Mass in Latin, and just as happily go to a reverently celebrated Mass in the vernacular. The key here is reverent.

    I think I am modest. I wear pants (and yes, to church). They are business type pants with a sweater or jacket. I don’t wear anything tight or low cut (and at my age that would be silly) and I try to behave with decorum. I think the whole “cover yourself up from head to toe or you are a temptress” attitude is ridiculous and I also think the “it’s my body and I can show it off” is just as ridiculous. My motto has always been to behave and dress with dignity. So far it has served me well.

  84. Supertradmum says:

    I have read all the comments and few have addressed my cultural point on trousers. Androgyny is from the devil to undermine the sacred, natural differences of the sexes. Male and female He created us. Androgyny has been pushed by the communists and Marxists for over a century. Blurring the genders breaks down marriage and confuses further generations as to roles in the society.

    Androgyny leads to lesbianism and homosexuality. In the Scriptures, more than once, men wearing women’s clothing is forbidden. St. Paul refers to this. The reason is not First Century Jewish custom, but the sense of appropriate IDENTITY as male and female. We must accept the fact that men and women are different, should act differently and dress differently.

    The “evil one” in the world is having a hay-day with dress. Many priests have told me in the past 18 months how hard it is for them to see immodesty. They are tempted just as the laity are. I would not want to be the cause of temptation for any man or woman for that matter. In fact, that would be sinful. I have had men me tell me that jeans are always sexy. Catholic women, be attractive but do not be sexy.

    I do not understand why women cannot pray about trousers and just being to wear skirts more and see what happens. I gradually came to this position, and I lived in very cold climates, such as upper Alberta and Alaska. As I began to dress more like a feminine woman, although my generation grew up in dresses and I was in a Catholic school uniform for 12 years of my life, all skirts or American jumpers, as a child, I had moved into trousers. However, I began to see the connection between political ideology of the destruction of the gender differences and began wearing women’s clothes as a political statement. Then, I realized the graces I was receiving just because I was being more obedient to God in the fact that He created me a woman.

    That so many woman are so closed to even thinking that skirts and dresses are better is a concern. Try it, and pray and watch the difference in your lives. I challenge you to this, dear sisters.

    One can be very attractive as well just wearing skirts and modest tops. I am not a beautiful woman physically, but I can assure you I feel much more “beautiful” in myself dressed as a lady. Mary is my model, not in that I have to wear the exact clothes of her day, but she is both Queen and Mother and teaches me how to dress.

    A friend of mine who is 65 gave up trousers last year. She told me recently she has never had so many compliments in her life and she was surprised. But, it was not simply the trousers, but how she acted. She acts like a princess, and she is into horses and dresses appropriately for shows, etc. But, everywhere else, she wears dress and skirts.

  85. Supertradmum says:

    PS Because of where I am, I go to NO everyday day for daily Mass. I wear a mantilla and I read as a lector with the mantilla on. No one cares. Many women in my church are from Africa. They wear turbans, even to daily Mass. They read with turbans on their heads. One other woman from France wears a mantilla. It is so cool just to be one’s self and be respectful to God. Some of the African women, not all, wear skirts and dresses. The women wearing jeans look, sadly, like men. They wear black leather jackets and one could not tell from the back whether they are male or female.

    As a teacher and a writer, I am observant. God wants us women to seriously considering changing the culture. We could do this. And, the women of the West need to pray about all these points and not merely cast these ideas off as extreme.

    And, of course, I wear the mantilla to Sunday TLM when I can get there.

  86. robtbrown says:

    APX says:

    I find it rich how so many people limit modesty to clothing. The topic of modesty is far more diverse than simply what someone wears. Another area of modesty which seems to get overlooked quite often is speech. I can’t tell you how many “modest” women at church go around talking, gossiping, slandering, detracting, calumniating about other people, usually women. Such women are actually less modest than the woman in pants and a t-shirt who knows how to hold her tongue.

    Such talk would be an act of injustice against others. Whatever immodest dress there might be is an act against temperance (the virtue concerning pleasure). It must be pointed out, however, that there is a contrary act against temperance, that of Insensitivity. On the one hand, there is the possibility of attire that is sexy rather than attractive. On the other, there is also attire that seems as if someone is trying to dress like the Amish.

    There is a woman at a Sunday mass I sometimes attend. I do not think her dress is inappropriate, but she is so attractive that she would have to wear a burqa not to be a distraction.

    Although it is appropriate that women wear a veil, recommending it for the garden variety parochial mass seems to me like trying to have the tail wag the dog. Reform the liturgy, and the veils will start to appear, just as they seem to occur naturally at a TLM.

  87. jessicahoff says:

    As an English woman, it takes a minute to adjust to the fact that in American English ‘pants’ are what you wear on the outside, not under what we’d call trousers: women going to Church without pants in the UK would not be very modest :)

    That many of us live in a culture where informality is the order of the day is surely all the more reason why when we go to meet the Lord we want to be in our ‘Sunday best’? Language and dress go together in a way – if we go to Church in our casuals, it probably seems OK to say ‘Hi Jesus, how ya doin” – whereas if we dress with reverence, we are more like to pray with it too.

  88. Springkeeper says:

    Supertradmum: I am a retired Marine and even served as a drill instructor. I wore only jeans and t-shirts to some (Baptist) services because I wanted to and because the men did. A dear sweet lady gave a class about femininity and modesty and her words greatly irritated me. I asked for her notes and did many hours of biblical and historical research on the matter. It took time (and a very slow transition) but within a few years a went to dresses/skirts only and covered my head in church (and boy let me tell you most Baptist women HATE headcovering and will let you know it). I am now a Catholic and I am also an RN and I wear the “white dress” at work because that’s what I feel called to do and the patients either don’t care or absolutely love it.

    frjim: You seem to have spent WAY too much time with 70’s era psychology and it’s a little disturbing and borders on downright creepy.

  89. bookworm says:

    While I understand the rationale behind the “dress for Mass as if you were going to the White House/Buckingham Palace/St. Peter’s/etc.” rule, and think it is a praiseworthy ideal, I would NOT make it a hard and fast rule for everyone for the following reason: for most people outside of heads of state, celebrities, and people of extreme wealth and influence, a visit to the White House, etc. is a once-in-a-lifetime event, while Mass certainly is not.

    Most people reading this blog aren’t going to be seeing the Pope or the Queen or the President on a weekly or daily basis. (Well, maybe some readers of this blog see the Pope that often, but I doubt they see the POTUS that often. But I digress) Nor are most people expected to bring infants (who inevitably spit up or do other things on a nice outfit), restless toddlers, or parents/grandparents with mobility issues (e.g. needing to be lifted in and out of vehicles) along with them to a papal/royal/presidential audience.

    If I were invited to an event of the magnitude of those listed above, I would probably go out and splurge on a brand new outfit from a relatively higher class of department store than those I usually shop (Goodwill and K-Mart). I would then save that outfit for future special occasions, including Easter and Christmas. However I would NOT wear it to Mass every single Sunday as that would wear it out more quickly, and I probably couldn’t afford to buy a second or third outfit of the same caliber. So I personally think the “dress as you would for the Queen, etc.” rule is a bit unrealistic for most people because we don’t go to see the Queen every week, or every day.

    Also, I don’t buy the argument that women wearing pants or slacks erases their gender identity or violates the divine commandment against women dressing like men. Pants designed and made specifically for women are WOMEN’S clothing. No one is going to mistake a woman for a man simply because she is wearing pants. Most likely the commandment against women dressing like men, etc. was meant simply to prevent intentional deception and/or decadent sexual practices prevalent among the Israelites’ pagan neighbors.

    All that said, I do think there needs to be more attention paid to modesty and dignity in dress at Mass. I avoid shorts, all my skirts are the crinkly peasant kind that fall well below the knee, and I try to make sure my shoulders are always covered. I will wear slacks occasionally; if anything I think they can be more modest than skirts (depending on how they fit) because you don’t have to worry about them blowing around in the wind, or getting caught on something. My daughter dresses pretty much the same way and in fact saves her nice skirts for Mass because she doesn’t get to wear them to school. Funny thing is, just yesterday she dug out her First Communion veil and talked about wearing it to church sometime… while that would be much too elaborate and stand out like a sore thumb at Sunday Mass, maybe she would take to wearing a chapel veil.

  90. APX says:

    It actually is quite immodest for me to go around day to day in a dress or a skirt namely because I drive a standard. It doesn’t matter how modest the skirt is. The way I have sit caused the skirt to ride up, or sit on my legs in an immodest way. I can’t take passengers, nor can I go through drive thrus because you can see things (I’ve worked many drive0thru windows, and ladies, we can see things).

    I assure you, wearing pants doesn’t make me forget I’m a woman, nor do they make me look like a man. It would take reconstructive surgery to make my body look masculine. Wearing pants isn’t going to change the fact that I like guys. Truth be told, the most femininely and modestly dress woman I know is a lesbian who is currently seeking “marriage” in the UK. Really, the whole pants argument is quite ridiculous.

  91. Springkeeper says:

    sullibe: I hadn’t read Jennifer Fulwiler’s post that you paraphrased as follows:
    “Immodesty is dressing in such a way to wield power over others.” I concur that that is not modesty in action. To me a modest woman dresses in such a way as to not be an (or a near) occasion of sin for a normal man, she avoids talking about her accomplishments, she does not badmouth others, she is not hateful, arrogant, combative or proud, she is willing to listen without being easily offended, she does not seek attention but does follow the path of Christ wherever it leads her. She treats others with kindness and dignity even if they do not return the favor. In other words, she imitates Our Lady.

  92. Supertradmum says:

    APX, I am just curious. I drove a standard shift for years (about seven years), a Beetle Bug, and then a standard Fiat. I wore either dresses or skirts the entire time. I cannot see the connection. As to the lesbian, of course, as there are the male ones and the female ones, just as in homosexual couples. One takes the male role and one takes the female role in the relationship, or they switch back and forth depending. Usually, only one lesbian is in the “butch” role. I was involved somewhat in homosexual rescue in Minneapolis a long time ago. It is probably illegal now. Androgyny, however, is a reality for sexual confusion and aberrations. As to androgyny being part of the Marxist means to destroy the middle class and the family, you do not have to take my word for it. There are plenty of cultural Marxists out there to read on this point. You can start with Gramsci, George Lukacs, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Jurgen Habermas, etc.

  93. LisaP. says:

    acrdnl, you miss my point.
    I would wear jeans to Mass and not to see the Queen specifically because the Mass is more important than some garden party. God is bigger than that.

    Modesty is different, modesty is a virtue. Stylishness is nice, I admire it in others, but I don’t seek to attain it and I’m o.k. with myself for that, and I don’t consider myself less female.

    And for the record, I’d likely politely decline the invite to the garden party. I’m not in that set, I do not have the social forms or graces for it, I do not have the clothes and I’d rather buy our family a new chainsaw blade to get the wood cut for the winter than an evening dress. No big loss for the Queen. But the deal is, without the graces, forms, set, and clothes I am really not very welcome at the party, am I? But I am, I believe, fully welcome at Mass in rags. Now, if I wear rags as an intentional show of disrespect, that’s different.

    I do “get” the fun, the beauty, the tradition, the family togetherness of Sunday best clothing. I have three girls, they sure do like dressing up, and they like dressing up for Mass when time, patience, etc. permits. I think it’s great when a family chooses clothing as their way of showing their love for God. I show my love for God in other ways — and, yes, in actions and choices. Just not the choice of whether my shoes clash with my shirt.

  94. bookworm says:

    Also, I don’t get what’s so awful or immodest about sleeveless dresses or blouses. Yes, I understand the need to keep the collarbone area between one’s shoulders covered, and I personally would NEVER wear a tank/halter top or anything strapless or with spaghetti straps to church. (Don’t even get me started on the topic of wedding/bridesmaid gowns.) However, I have some button-down shirts and some shell-type blouses that have no sleeves but cover everything between the shoulders, and I wear them to Mass frequently (though I usually bring a sweater to protect from overactive air conditioning). What’s wrong with that?

  95. Supertradmum says:

    bookworm, ask a man. And, it was Pope Pius XII who at one time said sleeves at least half-way down the arm. He had other criteria for clothing as well. Not infallible, but if the Pope says something, I listen. Even now, in St. Peter’s, a woman has to cover her arms, or at least in 2009. I will not mention a first lady by name, but someone has been pushing the sleeveless because of her muscular arms via workouts. This is so inappropriate. It is not classy and immodest. But, as my spiritual director said, the closer one gets to God, the more one understands the long shadows of imperfections and sins we did not see before.

  96. acardnal says:

    I think it is important to remember that the Sabbath is sooooooo important to God that he commanded us to observe it! We worship Him, thank Him, adore Him and avoid unnecessary servile work so that we can rest in Him in thanksgiving. It is NOT just another day in the week. It is a special day, an extraordinary day and we should recognize that not just internally but externally, too. Actions speak louder than words. One way to do that is by dressing in a special way, an extraordinary way to acknowledge to ourselves and others (evangelizing through our special clothes) that this is not just another routine and mundane day of the week. No, it is instead the Lord’s Day! The black community in the USA sets a good example for us lazy and complacent Catholics because they often are seen in their “‘Sunday Best” even in the the poorest of communities. They make a personal sacrifice of time and effort to dress their best for the Lord. Just as a mother never tires of and appreciates her children and spouse manifesting their love by giving her a hug, a kiss and saying “I love you, mom”, so does our Lord appreciate our actions and behaviors not just what is in our hearts.

  97. MissJean says:

    I wear a “church hat” whenever I can, but I’ve never worn a veil. Never been a fan of lace. At any rate, I don’t mind if other women wear them. It’s up to them. I just try to tend my own garden on this issue.

  98. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I was raised by a mother who’s very big on laying down the law, so I’m doomed both to lay down the law to others and to resent them doing it to me. :)

    1. You can dress attractively and modestly, and not look like a mouse, a nerd, a nun, an Amish, or a Muslim. This is historically and currently true. And speaking as a mouse and a nerd, I don’t mind if you join my nerdy lifestyle as long as you don’t tell other people that it’s the only modest lifestyle. If you do, I will be forced to say nasty things on the Internet.

    2. If you’re going to church with your cleavage, thighs, shoulders, and midsection all nicely clothed, and your outfit doesn’t show anything unintended against strong light or when you kneel and bow, you’re doing okay on the modesty front. If your outfit also looks nice and has an adequate level of formality, you are golden. If you wear some headgear on top of that, extra points to you. Feel free to defy the opinions of the world, including me.

    3. Dressing like a nun, if you’re not a nun, is presumptuous. Dressing like Amish or Muslims or Orthodox Jews (unless you’re doing it as an anthropologist) is undesirable and weird for a Catholic. Stealing cool stuff from other cultures for your own look is perfectly acceptable, of course, but you have to do it with taste (and that usually means only one Cool Thing per outfit.)

    4. If slacks are so androgynous, why do my formal slacks look totally different from my brothers’ and father’s formal pants? And believe me, the same thing goes for suits. In one of my tubby periods when I couldn’t find suits in my size in women’s, I tried to buy a suit in the men’s department. Neither the jackets nor the pants worked the same. It was horrible, horrible, horrible. Nothing androgynous about women’s pants. It’s a whole different engineering problem.

    5. Finally, it has been obvious to me (since an embarrassing neighborhood incident at the age of four) that skirts are a walking invitation to some people to try to expose women’s modesty, whereas pants at least make them work a bit. I’ve been reminded of this by a recent news report on pen camera peepers becoming common in the US instead of just being a Japanese problem.

    And now, a history lesson.

    Skirts are the oldest form of men’s clothing. Pants are the oldest form of women’s clothing. Anywhere that there’s a lot of stoop labor, pants were favored (particularly if women were doing the stooping). Anytime there was a lot of horseriding, pants also became favored (particularly if men were doing the riding). The modern workplace, for women particularly, has demanded a lot of stoop labor among non-relatives.

    Anywhere that there was a lot of leisure for men, robes and breezy long tunics were the fashion. Anywhere that fabric and tailoring were too expensive (as in Europe with the southern and eastern trade routes cut off by the Muslims and Norse), it saved fabric, time, and effort to make one long tunic instead of three tube shirt, two tube pants. Men tried hard for a long time in Europe to keep their Roman tunics by using various hose expedients instead of pants, but finally the requirements of horseback riding beat the crude barbarian connotations of men wearing pants.

  99. Sissy says:

    Like so many things that have changed in our culture, pants on women have come to be universally accepted as normal. But I think Supertradmum is right about the push among marxists to encourage the blurring of gender lines in general. When I was a small child in the early 60s, my mother dressed in skirts and dresses exclusively, and she always looked very “ladylike” (which was one of her favorite words). A married neighbor down the street (mother of 4) dressed in a very masculine way, with extremely short hair. She wore men’s work clothes all the time. We didn’t attend church, so I never saw how she dressed on Sunday. But once, we attended a funeral in her church. She came in wearing a skirt, and I gasped and shouted “MOM! Mrs. Jones is a woman!!”. There used to be much more clearly-defined social norms about gender and gender roles. That said, now that pants are considered normal and appropriate for women, I’d much rather see a young lady wearing properly-fitting slacks than a skirt that looks like a wide belt.

  100. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: doily objections — During most of the twentieth century in the US, medium-large hairbows and fascinators generally were held to satisfy the demands of being Church headgear, albeit they were more acceptable on the very young (hairbows) and young women (fascinators). But yeah, it doesn’t have to cover all your hair or even all of the top of your head to be part of traditional custom. People wearing “doilies” are totally in line with this. (And historically, the amount of hair covered or showing varied quite a bit among Catholic countries through time, usually much in line with what was acceptable fashion in public on formal occasions.)

    I don’t have any objection to women wearing chapel veils. That’s wonderful. I worry when people think that all US Catholics wore chapel veils since the year Zero, because that’s wrong and misleading. Outside of people from Hispanic and Hispanic-mission areas, most US Catholic women wore hats. There used to be a lot of people saying that hats were Protestant and veils Catholic, which was not only historically ignorant but insulted most of my Northern European Catholic female forebears. Fortunately, we don’t see that anymore.

    But there are literally hundreds of kinds of headgear in the world that are formal enough for church, and which were worn to the EF in many cases before lace was even invented.

    Personally, I like hats, especially because I have slide-y hair and have to use 500 bobby pins to keep veilish things on my head, or go full wimple and fillet. (And yeah, I can’t really see hauling out a tiara to wear to either EF or OF, practical as those are for weighting down floaty veil things onto your head.) Hats allow you not to worry about whether you’re having a bad hair day, or whether your part is magically vanishing. You can buy hats in neutral colors and styles and use them with a wide variety of outfits, and not just at church.

    But mostly, people should just dress up for church. It’s not difficult. You can even keep it down to one Sunday best outfit, as many Christians have done throughout history.

  101. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: the link to a “papal decree by Pope Pius XI” — I went looking through vatican.va for this, and there’s nothing for January 1930 that’s anything like it. That’s not to say that it might not be out there in the papal documents somewhere; but they’ve been pretty good on vatican.va about at least listing what exists, whether or not it’s been put on the website yet. The language certainly isn’t that of a “papal decree.” So I’m not going to call “urban legend” on it, but I’m suspicious.

    However, the list attached to the bottom of the “decree” is a list I’ve seen attached to a lot of different names of prominent churchmen, but it really seems to be from the “Marilyke” certification movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, which was an apostolate run by a US priest, Fr. Kunkel. I’ve posted about this movement on my blog.

  102. Sissy says:

    Suburbanbanshee: “You can even keep it down to one Sunday best outfit, as many Christians have done throughout history.”

    I think this point gets lost sometimes by some who feel they are being pressured to maintain a “Sunday best” wardrobe that they can’t afford or don’t want. When I was traveling a great deal back and forth from my home here and my job overseas, I kept one skirt here for Mass. One day, the DRE was looking for me, and she said “I recognized you by that skirt you always wear”.

    LisaP: I was required to wear a dress suit and pumps to teach, as well. My boss told me early on that one of my roles was to model a professional appearance for young people who might otherwise not know what professional dress is. I think he had a good point, and it’s one that can apply to our church attire as well.

  103. poorlady says:

    I’m putting in my two cents’ worth, although most everyone has said pretty much the same thing.
    I think the lousy clothing that women have chosen to wear today goes to a culture that started removing the “taboo” on everything–“If it feels good, do it.” We’ve dumbed down everything, even our belief in Christ, where Christians will say, “He likes me just the way I am.” It’s been a rebellion that has gone on now for over 40 years and is showing up more now because an entire generation has been raised by it and can’t imagine doing likewise.
    It is amazing to see what women will choose to wear now: jeggings, that leave nothing to the imagination, and how they choose not to wear a long shirt or even a skirt (as fashions were in the ’80’s and 90’s) , and tiny summer tops with their bra straps showing (remember the proper attire we had to wear with clothing like that?). They do not even have an attractive body (like who cares?) and embellish themselves with tattooes.
    There is just a sense of culture thought of individualism now that says, “I can do what I want and you can’t tell me what to do!”
    I was a nun and I wore two habits, with the veil made of cotton. It was a little warm in the summer, but not debilitating. I now wear a scarf or a hat to church because the chapel veil makes me look too nice, and I want to remain modest. To me, modesty is beautiful in itself, because it doesn’t distract.
    Chapel veils are very beautiful, though, and more women should wear them. Ladies, don’t be afraid to be modest! And please, to you priests, start talking to us from the pulpit! We can learn from you!!

  104. inara says:

    Suburbanbanshee ~ The reason you couldn’t find it on the Vatican website is that it’s not there in English (or even Hungarian!), but it is there in Latin. Search the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, annus XXII, Vol. XXII, beginning on page 26. It is from the Sacred Congregation of the Council (Sacra Congregatio Concilii), under direction of Pope Pius XI & addressed to Diocesan Ordinaries, entitled “De Inhonesto Feminarum Vestiendi More” (which google translates as “On Degrading Feminine Fashions” ).

  105. inara says:

    Also, the “outfit” (as Suburbanbanshee referred to it on her blog) that Fr. Kunkel supervised (The Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate) had the approval & Episcopal Blessing of the Bishop of Belleville, it also received the Apostolic Blessing of Pope Pius XII…twice.

    It has recently been approved for promotion once again by the Bishop of the Diocese of Charlotte, NC.

  106. robtbrown says:

    I just returned from a mass at an FSSP church. Women wore:

    Veils, some white, some black
    Hats, not a few
    Scarves, the long kind that can be put over the head, crossed in front, then one of ends thrown over the back.

  107. jessicahoff says:

    I must check out what the nuns on the bus are wearing.

  108. The Sicilian Woman says:

    I forgot to mention that our pastor has mentioned modest dress for men and women at least a few times from the pulpit (thankfully, no mention of a head covering for women), and a couple times in the bulletin, including guidelines (covered shoulders, no flip-flops). I haven’t noticed a change. I think it’s something that should be posted regularly in the bulletin.

  109. oddfisher says:

    inara, can you point me to a place where I read Bishop Jugis on modesty? Thanks

  110. GeekLady says:

    I can’t believe I need to say this, but you know what? Sometimes clean, respectablely fitting clothing is good enough.

    Poverty isn’t the only factor in finding clothing like this, you know. If you’re fortunate enough to be a woman who can walk into Ross’s and walk out looking like you spent a million bucks on your wardrobe, congratulations. I have to set needle and thread to almost every piece of clothing I wear, just in order to hope to avoid a major wardrobe malfunction. I can’t even buy dresses off the rack and alter them – a below the knee skirt on me hits my mid thigh. If I’m lucky, I can occasionally find an ankle length skirt, cut off 10-12 inches, and rehem it. But that’s about the limit. Shirts are never long enough, even when I buy the biggest size they have and take it in, the extra fabric goes into girth, not length. Tee shirts and trousers are the only things I don’t have to extensively alter.

    So, you know what? I wore blue jeans today. They were clean. They are almost entirely unworn, are unfaded and unraveled, they’re the high waisted Lands End variety which guarantee no embarrassing mishaps, and as such are quite the nicest pair of pants I currently have in my possession. I wore a pretty coral button down with them, a little faded, but one of the few long enough blouses I have, and it was clean and pressed. I wore my comfiest pair of pretty shoes, and those were a big mistake when the four year old knocked me over as I genuflected leaving the pew, restraining my previously sprained ankle.
    That outfit may not meet someone’s standards as appropriate for Mass. But I’m terribly afraid I don’t care. I didn’t dress for them. I dressed for God. As as such I wore the best I had. It’s not much, perhaps, but I can’t change that. I refuse to angst over it, and I refuse to let anyone else tempt me to angst over it.

    1. I live in Texas. The right kind of blue jeans are some of the formalest things you can wear here.
    2. I don’t give a flying fig about dressing pretty to visit the Queen for tea. I’m an American, and I’m going to be just as polite (or otherwise) to the Queen as I will to anyone else, and if she insists on seeing me, she can see my blue jeans too.
    3. Ladies are free to wear chapel veils as they so desire, but I think they’re pointless. If the objective is to cover the hair (which is what I’m commonly told) out of respect, a see-through veil is totally ineffective and I don’t see why they excite so much fuss, for or against.

  111. Cathy says:

    I remember a non-Catholic co-worker commenting about the Catholic wedding of another co-worker that he attended. His remarks, I’m not Catholic, but I wore a suit and tie to the wedding. He asked why all the Catholic women were so scantily clad in tight clothes at the Church, weren’t they supposed to be modest? I didn’t know how to answer that!

  112. inara says:

    oddfisher ~ Bishop Jugis hasn’t written on modesty himself (that I’m aware of ), but he did preach about the necessity of it at last year’s Eucharistic Congress. He did approve the revival of the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate apostolate in Charlotte, however.
    That website is here: http://www.handmaidsofthelord.org/Home_Page.html

    He also approved the distribution of the booklet “Those Who Serve God Should Not Follow the Fashions” (which is available in printed form, at no charge, in some parishes): http://www.drbo.org/dnl/TWSG_read.pdf

  113. Jeanette says:

    Why is practically every woman commenting focusing on specific attire rather than the objective standard? If no one’s going to give the objective, binding, authoritative standard with reference to it, then the lot of “sin-calling” is either rash or harsh judgment in play.

    And…APX, seriously…a standard/manual transmission driver has to wear trousers or show things off? I think not, I drive a standard often with an ankle-length skirt.

  114. Forget the chapel veil. We just got back from an afternoon in Fort Lauderdale. Women walk the street in bikinis. Sin City? Oh man I had no idea.

    I was the Lone Veiler at the last two Florioda churches. That’s okay. Why should I let go of our beautiful Catholic traditions?
    Come win a free chapel veil over at my blog!!! veilnation.blogspot.com

  115. joan ellen says:

    I cover my head for peace and recollection, using a scarf tied as a bandana or as a ‘babushka’ sp tied in back…morning, noon and night, so if awakened in the middle of the night, as my young neighbor says, “and I want to pray my head is covered.”
    For clothing, I’m influenced and inspired by the statuary attire of Our Blessed Mother and Saints such as St. Therese of Lisieux in my parish church.
    Am also influenced and inspired by my Polish grandma who milked cows in a dress whether -18 degrees F or +89 degrees F. We do not remember seeing her in slacks. Our mother walked 8-10 blocks to work in the same kinds of temperatures in a dress, at least until the 60s. Our aunts also farmed in dresses until about that time. Since they are gone, I’m influenced and inspired by the Amish who do their farm work in dresses, as well as friends who don’t even own a pair of slacks as I do…at this point…and one who does her ‘farm’ work of gardening in jumpers only. Some of these friends are Catholic, some Protestant.
    More women are coming to Mass at my parish in dresses and skirts. It is a parish where the men are not afraid to tell women, and even young girls, that their skirt/dress is too short, or etc.

  116. elestirne says:

    full disclosure: I used to think that wearing pants was immodest, but now I wear them occasionally. I apologize if I make anyone angry, and I am trying not to insult anyone here.

    If pants are immodest because they create a triangle, then are v-necks (even with a modest camisole underneath) intrinsically immodest? Is it immodest for men to wear pants, since they create a v on men, too? (I know that men are more visual than women, but women are also tempted against purity, if to a lesser extent, by their vision.) Would wearing a necklace be immodest, because the chain creates a V or U shape? At least one writer on modesty I can think of claims that skirts with slits also create a line that draws the eye inappropriately. What about a skirt or dress that buttons up, or visible seams? Obviously most people have no problem with these things, but they do also create a line. (I don’t like slits, personally, but I dislike them because even when they don’t go higher than the knee, they show skin in a furtive way that seems more seductive than just wearing a shorter skirt, even though the skirt may show more skin – not because they create a visual line.)

    As for the argument that pants are men’s clothing, that may have been an issue at one point, but currently pants are perceived as women’s clothing just as much as men’s, so a woman wearing women’s pants is… a woman wearing women’s clothing, just as a woman wearing a women’s blouse is wearing women’s clothing, even though (I think – it’s possible I’m mistaken) button-down shirts were originally men’s clothing. Cultural norms do change, and at this point a women can wear a blouse with pants without looking like a man (unless she wants to). Yes, skirts are *more* feminine, and it is certainly easier to look like a man in pants, but you don’t have to.

    I dress pretty modestly. I wear skirts most of the time. I don’t show cleavage, shoulders, my back, or my knees. I even use the two-finger rule for necklines. I just disagree that women should wear skirts and dresses all the time. If that works for you, good! However, even though one’s intentions are probably good, one must utilize a lot of delicacy when, in reply to a comment saying that someone has to wear pants when doing action Z, one says “Well, I do Z in skirts all the time!” You probably have good intentions, thinking that pants are genuinely sinful, and are trying to help the woman to be more virtuous and to serve our Lord better. However, maybe that woman has a physical issue or peculiarity that would indeed make that action immodest or excessively difficult in a skirt, and is trying to do the right thing.

    I believe there is a picture somewhere of St. Gianna Molla wearing pants skiing. If pants were okay for her, they’re okay for me – you just want to make sure that they’re modest. It helps to feminize them if you wear them with a pretty blouse, nice shoes, or a bright scarf.

    Chapel veils: I’m in favor, though as long as you’re covering your head I don’t think it matters whether you wear a hat, mantilla, or scarf. It’s a good way to show piety and reverence towards our Lord, though I don’t consider it exactly a ‘modesty’ issue, since most Catholics would agree that women don’t need to cover their heads *all the time*.

    I hope that wasn’t too bitter a monologue. Though honestly, I am getting very very tired of the pants vs. skirts debate. Please, women who wear only skirts, do not take my post as an insult; I used to wear skirts only too, and I still like them better than pants. I simply disagree that they are intrinsically immodest. I have several friends who are pro-skirts-only. I’ve really given this matter quite a bit of thought over the last couple years.

  117. elestirne says:

    P. S. I would be extremely creeped out if a layman that wasn’t in my immediate family told me that I was dressed immodestly. If a woman is dressed immodestly at Mass, either the priest or a woman should take her aside and let her know.

  118. LisaP. says:

    I’ll say it one more time, more directly, at the risk of offense.

    Wearing a bare midriff, to church or elsewhere, assuming you know exactly what you are doing, is *wrong*.

    Wearing white after Labor Day or sneakers with black socks is *not wrong*.

    It’s not about me thinking I can redefine right and wrong based on my “feelings”. If I had reason to believe that God would be offended by my wearing jeans to Mass (and nothing above has given me no reason to believe it — no references to Church Fathers directing flocks to wear their best shoes to Mass, or to Biblical passages about how the disciples put on the good dinner jackets for the Last Supper), I’d do whatever it takes to dress well, no matter my resources or preferences or feelings. But there is nothing I’ve seen in Scripture, in Tradition, or in the teaching of the Magesterium that says God prefers I wear *formal* attire. It says God needs me to respect the Sabbath. It says I do that by going to Mass. It doesn’t prescribe a particular dress code, except to note that at no time am I to dress like I am trying to get men to want to commit adultery with me.

    An obvious exception to this is that if I have a perspective that informal dress in itself signals disrespect, and I dress informally at Mass in order to communicate my disrespect, I am sinning. But it’s not the clothes, it’s the intent.

  119. elestirne says:

    Sorry, that P. S. comment was supposed to come after a longer one, but the longer one is still being held for moderation.

  120. acardnal says:

    joan ellen: I support modesty. However, the 1983 Code of Canon Law reference to #1262 in your email link pertains to “The Acquisition of Goods” not modesty. Perhaps they were referring to the Code of 1917.

  121. TravelerWithChrist says:

    I once had a priest, during a class, explain that veiling, as mentioned in 1 Cor 11, was old-fashioned and out-dated (what else is out-dated?).
    That’s when I researched the topic and began veiling. I have asked many, including a bishop on a call-in show, and none can explain why we ignore St. Paul, but just say that post VII allows for it. I also wonder why we ignore tradition in dress. Both tradition and the bible should be heeded, it’s our Faith.

  122. AnnAsher says:

    Myself and the young women who “belong” time veil for Mass and all public prayer and if I or they taught the faith we would then too. After quite a journey from one end (fashionistas) to the other ( only long skirts, eyc) we have swung to a place I call the modest middle. Everywhere we go, we dress according to theVatican dress code for visitors to St Peter’s. We wear dresses or skirts to Mass. It is a family charism and Carmelite devotion to be as shoeless as possible so to Mass there are sandals.

  123. AnnAsher says:

    Myself and the young women who “belong” time veil for Mass and all public prayer and if I or they taught the faith we would then too. After quite a journey from one end (fashionistas) to the other ( only long skirts, eyc) we have swung to a place I call the modest middle. Everywhere we go, we dress according to theVatican dress code for visitors to St Peter’s. We wear dresses or skirts to Mass. It is a family charism and a Carmelite devotion we have to be as shoeless as possible so to Mass there are sandals. (plus it’s better for your feet).

  124. AnnAsher says:

    I’m going to add that I think it is of utmost importance for women to build each other up vs tear each other down. Scoffing and judging another woman who hadn’t realized what I have is harmful and arrogant and supposes it was my wonderful holiness that led me here. It was not me. It was God. His grace, softly calling. It would be grievous, IMO, for me to judge the woman in jeans or not veiled or short skirt etc. better to notice the good and be the light. Build up your sisters, don’t back bite them, we fight a whole culture of sleeze.

  125. TZ says:

    “Jennifer Fulwiler believes: ‘Immodesty is dressing in such a way to wield power over others’.”

    Thanks, Sullibe, for an insightful contribution. I immediately dug up the relevant post: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jennifer-fulwiler/modesty-is-an-opportunity-to-love

    It was worthwhile reading. It’s very common in my Midwestern town for people of both sexes to dress immodestly (and yes, in the last few years tattoos have upped the ante considerably) and then shoot ugly looks at those who stare. Or grin, even.

  126. Charlotte Allen says:


    I found “De inhonesto feminarum vestiendi more” (1930) here on the Internet (p. 26 is indeed the correct page):


    I’m a reasonably good Latinist, and I can assure you that there is not a word in this document about necklines, sleeve lengths, skirt lengths, or transparent fabrics. It is a general exhortation concerning Christian modesty in dress for women and girls. There are no specific standards.

    Thus I’m inclined to believe, along with Suburbanbanshee, that the “two-finger rule,” the rule about hemlines below the knee, etc., are interpolations dating from the “Marylike dress” campaign of the 1950s and have no official Vatican provenance.

    That said, I’m all in favor of modest dress in church, and I think that women–and men–ought to dress up for Sunday Mass.

  127. joan ellen says:

    Re: joan ellen says:
    5 August 2012 at 8:12 pm

    acardnal says:
    5 August 2012 at 9:10 pm
    “Perhaps they were referring to the Code of 1917.”
    Yes acardnal. That is what I just learned. It is the code of 1917. Sorry for that. And thanks.

  128. joan ellen says:

    LisaP. says:
    5 August 2012 at 8:55 pm
    “It doesn’t prescribe a particular dress code…”
    1. It seems that some women commenting on this post who wear skirts/dresses have had a conviction to do so. Surely, then, it can be said that those who also wear slacks have not had such a conviction placed on them.
    2. Saced Scripture -Courtesy of Protestants-
    (Douay-Rheims Version DRV) dress guidelines, besides 1 Cor 11:14 (head coverings) – Deut. 22:5 Male/Female separateness, distinctions; Deut. 22:12 strings in the hem; 1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Pet. 3:3-5 plain vs. gaudy; Rev. :18 shame of thy nakedness; and Mt. 22:11 – uniformity? or Philip 3:16 same mind, same rule…uniformity?
    3. Christian practice -Courtesy of Protestants-
    Tertullian (150-229 AD)regulaion garb for universal Christian recognition,
    Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD) outer ornamentation, form fitting clothing, clothes above the knee, etc. Apostolic Regulations (about 200 AD, 220 AD, 300 AD). Cyprian (195-258 AD), Cyril (315-86 AD) Chrysostom (347-407 AD), Basil (330-379 AD), Jerome (342-420 AD), Council of Gangra (370 AD) Re: women in men’s clothing.
    -Courtesy of Catholics- Cardinal Siri (1960) http://www.national-coalition.org/modesty/modsiri.html on women in men’s clothing, http://www.catholicmodesty.com/Popesonmodesty.html
    4. I am in the process of eliminating blouses with pointed collars and or short sleeves unless they can be worn as an over blouse…in favor of rounded necklines.
    Also, 3 pair of bermuda shorts and 5 pair of slacks for around the house. I shall keep my long johns which I roll up if necessary under my skirts.
    These are not easy times.

  129. Springkeeper says:

    I have never quite understood why a discussion on modesty gets side-railed onto dressing up for Mass. These two matters are not related. Personally, I would 100 times over rather see someone (especially a woman) in Mass wearing jeans, non-cleavage showing t-shirt, and sandals then one wearing a “dressy” micro-mini with belly, cleavage, etc. hanging out and sky-high heels that preclude the wearer from genuflecting. (I think it is lovely and laudable those who can and do dress up for Mass, I just think the issues are distinct.)

  130. Springkeeper says:

    elestirne: You must be tall and I completely commiserate. I am not that tall (5’11”) but a long skirt for me is 44″ long and a just past the knee length one is at least 32″. And NO ONE sells those clothes around here. Thank God I can sew and I have found a couple of decent online stores.

  131. lilye says:

    Just a tip for those concerned about wearing skirts in cold weather. I wear mid-calf to ankle length skirts every day in winter. Underneath them I wear leggings and warm bulky socks. I wear full length boots and no one ever sees my leggings or socks. I stay very warm and am quite comfortable. Much more comfortable than when I wear tights and shoes in warmer weather.

  132. inara says:

    @Charlotte ~ #6 of the Decree demands compliance with the Letter of Aug. 23, 1928 (from the Sacred Congregation of Religious, by order of the Holy Father). This letter was the original document in Pope Pius XI’s “Crusade Against Immodest Fashions” (though he had spoken about it during a consistory on Aug. 15, 1928).

    One month later (Sept. 24, 1928), the Pope directed another letter be sent to further clarify the original, stating that “in order that uniformity of understanding prevail … we recall that 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 …”

    These standards were given by Cardinal Pompilii, who was the Pope’s Vicar General (therefore, they can be correctly attributed to the Pope himself). They were also included in 1935 League of Modesty materials which had the Imprimatur of George Cardinal Mundelein. Rufino J. Cardinal Santos, Archbishop of Manila, quotes these standards as “The Church’s stand concerning modesty in dress” in his Pastoral of December 6, 1959.

    The Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate (aka the Marylike Crusade) did not come up with these guidelines, they were merely attempting to promote the cause that the Church had so fervently begun.

  133. St. Epaphras says:

    It may (or may not) help someone to know the reason conservative Mennonites and groups like them have for wearing head coverings. It has to do with I Cor. 11 and it isn’t, at least for the M’s, to cover the hair but to show headship of “the man over the woman”. Please read in particular I Cor. 11: 3-5 and verse 7. The conservative Mennonites wear one when not in church, too. About hair — not a problem; they put that super-long hair up. Not a distraction in church or elsewhere.

    I never could see that the Bible taught us that we were required to cover our heads all the time, though the church said it did and they did require it. (One of the MANY problems with “sola scriptura”.) If God expected us to do that, the Catholic Church would have required it!

    Now as a Catholic woman, I cover my head in Mass or before the Blessed Sacrament unless I forgot some type of covering or for whatever reason. I do NOT obsess over it either way, nor do I judge those women who do not cover their heads even though I personally believe it is preferable. Having seen what a sacred cow headcovering was in the groups we were in and how they judged all Christians by that very thing — do your women cover????? All the time??? — I am just over it. Now I do it from my own choice, am glad to, have a good variety of coverings, and to each her own! And if the Church absolutely said “Do it!” then I would never not wear one when expected to. But like it or not, she doesn’t. We can set a happy and positive example of covering, therefore, but we women have no authority to fuss out someone who is not being disobedient to the Church.

    One note, and this will be disliked by some, I feel. The way some Catholics put forth the mantilla or triangular lacey veil-type covering as the only way to go reminds me way too much of the mindset of the type of people we used to fellowship with. You know, “Our way is the only right one! Everything else is wrong.” Honestly, if (and this is purely hypothetical) someone at a very traditional parish were to rebuke me for my non-mantilla covering, for next time I would most likely pull out one that looked as opposite as possible from a mantilla or wear a beret or something else. On the other hand, I may wear a mantilla if I feel like it.

    As this is a long post on one topic, I’ll leave the modesty subject alone except to say: Women! Men are not like us! You probably have NO idea of their struggles. As a young woman I finally “got it” and it was a shocker. We are our brothers’ keepers. Holy Catholic men and boys are still male. I believe if you attractive women out there pray specifically, Our Lord will give you insight on how to dress and behave so you are not an occasion of sin to men. Let’s not be too hard on them. God made them different than us, thanks be to God!!

  134. elestirne says:

    @Springkeeper: Haha, I wasn’t talking about myself when I said it was hard for some women to wear skirts modestly in certain situations. Thanks for the commiseration though! :) I’m just a student living in a suburb, and I spend most of my time inside. So I’m not tall – 5’5.5″, which is around average, I think.

  135. Charlotte Allen says:


    You are correct: Those “modesty standards” (the two fingers, the below-the-knee hems, etc.) are not a product of the 1950s but appear to have been floating around since at least 1930. They are apparently quoted in the September 1930 issue of Homiletic and Pastoral Review (vol. 30).

    I must point out the following, however:

    Section 6 of “De inhonesto feminarum vestiendi more,” which is indisputably a Vatican document, does allude in passing to the August 23, 1928 letter. This letter was issued by the Congregation of Religious and thus specifically directed to nuns. Here is the entire Latin text of Section 6:

    VI. Religiosae, iuxta litteras die xxiii mensis Augusti, a. MDCCCCXXVIH,
    datas a Sacrae Congregatione de Religiosis, in sua collegia, scholas, oratoria,
    recreatoria puellas ne admittant, admissas ne tolèrent, quae christianum
    vestiendi morem non servent: ipsae vero in alumnis educandis peculiare
    adhibeant studium, ut in earum animo sancti pudoris et verecundiae christianae
    amor altas radices agat.

    As you can see, the section merely instructs women religious to enforce standards of Christian modesty in the schools and other facilities that they operate.

    Now, about that letter of August 23, 1928 alluded to in Section 6: I found a citation for its Italian text: the journal Commentarium Pro Religiosis, vol. 9 (1928), pp. 414-15. The Commentarium is a journal of canon law, not an official Vatican publication. The Commentarium cites in turn the Italian church journal Monitore Ecclesiasto, 1928, pp. 298-99 as its source. The Monitore does (or did) publish papal pronouncements and other Vatican documents.

    So–does that August 23, 1928, letter to the nuns contain that language about the two fingers, the below-the-knee hems, and so forth? Here is some evidence that it doesn’t. It’s not the best evidence, but it does exhibit some indicia of reliability. I found it on the Internet here:


    It’s an anonymous article titled “Notes on Moral Theology” that appeared in the journal Theological Studies sometime during the late 1950s, as indicated by the typeface, the style, and the dates of the footnoted citations. The relevant pages, which discuss the August 23, 1928, letter and also De Inhonesto, are pp. 183-7 of the journal article and pp. 19-23 of the pdf. Elsewhere in the article, the author devotes many pages to picking logical and theological holes in the writings of Bernhard Haring, the then-chichi Vatican II theologian who wanted to substitute situation ethics for traditional Catholic moral theology. The needle of anyone who blasts the self-regarding Haring (God rest his soul, of course) goes way to the right on my credibility meter.

    At any rate, the author of the Theological Studies article asserts that the “two fingers,” etc. language appears neither in De Inhonesto nor in the August 23, 1928, letter, whose text he looked up in vol. 9 of the Commentarium. Here is what the Theological Studies author has to say:

    “According to S. Woywod, O.F.M. [the author of the 1930 article in Homiletic and Pastoral Review], whose acknowledged source was a leaflet published by the Central Bureau of the Catholic Central Verein, they [the sleeve, collarline, and hemline rules]]are contained in an earlier document to which the Instruction [Section 6 of De Inhonesto] makes passing reference, viz., a letter from the Congregation of Religious (Aug. 23, 1928) to teaching sisters in Rome. A careful reading of that letter reveals nothing of the kind–literally not a word which could possibly be construed as an attempt to define in concrete terms what is modest or immodest in feminine dress. What the origin of the interpolation may have been, one can only conjecture. But until more reliable evidence to the contrary is adduced, the passage in question would appear to qualify as a theological facsimile of Topsy.”

    But the above is mere hearsay, and it’s not good enough evidence for me. Fortunately, there is a copy of vol. 9 of the Commentarium in the library stacks at the Catholic University of America. Even more fortunately, I live in Washington, where CUA is located, and as the holder of a CUA doctorate, I have library privileges. So, driven by curiosity, I intend to check out the text of the August 23, 1928 letter myself and see what it says. My Italian is terrible, but I can pick my way with a dictionary through scholarly articles in Italian. I’ll also look up vol. 30 of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review so that I can compare texts.

    I probably won’t get to CUA until this weekend at the very earliest, by which time this thread will surely be dead. Here is my e-mail address, however: charfleur@aol.com. If you’ll send me your own e-mail address, I promise to e-mail you the results of my research on what exactly the Holy See had to say about female dress in 1928. Alternatively, I’ll wait until the next discussion of female modesty comes up on this blog (and it will!), and I’ll “publish” what I’ve found then.

  136. inara says:

    @St. Ephaphras ~ great points! The headship argument for veiling is precisely the reason Catholic women are supposed to follow it as well. It’s an argument from natural law (which is supposed to supercede Canon law). My understanding is that this is the reason Jewish women in Biblical times covered their heads when in public also.

    I completely agree that, as the Church has not specified what type of headcovering should be worn, we are allowed to choose. I guess I would add that we should be careful, though, to avoid anything ostentatious. Metallic lace mantillas, sequined scarves & Kentucky Derby hats are not really in keeping with Christian simplicity (which is part of modesty). Of course, I would never ever give the “evil eye” or actually correct someone who wore such a thing to Mass, just as I would never chastise someone for not covering her head at all! I am always surprised at the comments of those who have been verbally assaulted by busybodies at Mass (though I did have a woman come up to me once & say “So what’s with the tulle on your head?!”)

    Thank you for reiterating our responsibility as women to dress in a way that does not cause men to have improper thoughts. It is not their fault, God created them to be attracted to the female form! Yet society has twisted things around so that any man who is distracted by an immodestly dressed woman is told HE is guilty. It is extremely difficult for a man to practice custody of the eyes, especially in our body-worshipping culture. It is our duty to assist him in holiness, out of charity.

    A great quote on this is from St. John Chrysostom: “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.”

  137. Fr Jackson says:

    Hi Father,
    This is slightly off-topic, but in my humble opinion a more “real” problem. What advice can we give to Catholics – and one just asked me – about how to handle the lack of modesty present in some of the olympics? I’m thinking it’s a sliding scale: there’s some things out there that I don’t think Christian men / boys can really watch (volleyball comes to mind), whereas other things are fine…

  138. Supertradmum says:

    Fr. Jackson, and the tennis. which is over. I think moms have to decide on what they let their children watch. And, dads should set the example. If someone or something is an occasion of sin, we have a duty to avoid it–“custody of the eyes”.

  139. Indulgentiam says:

    Inara, thank you for all the great citations and since you and others have covered all the most important reasons for veiling and modesty i’ll just add my wholehearted agreement. There really is no reason, unless you are homeless and living out of your car, for not dressing properly, as the Church considers proper, to Mass. Though i know someone who lived out of her car for a bit and she didn’t wear jeans to Church even then. The posters who express a liking for wearing jeans and such, to Mass, basically do so as personal preference. Chafed thighs can be taken care of by long bloomers purchased cheaply at walmart or made even more cheaply by someone with even the most basic sewing skills. Skirts in every size and length imaginable are available at Goodwill, Salvation Army and every other kind of thrift store. i have been buying clothes from there, and only there, for the last 10 years. i have bought entire outfits for under $10., shoes, suits you name it for near pennies. Dress the whole family for what most women spend on 1 outfit from a department store, course i have a small family.

    i heard someone say yesterday; “I wish i had the freedom to know the right thing to do.” and it got me to thinking how very, very fortunate Catholics are to have Holy Mother Church. We do not have to sift through the many voices that compete for our attention and allegiance. We know b/c we have been told by Our Lord who it is He left in charge. Now we can of course always choose our own preferences but that will not in fact give us more freedom. It does in fact enslave us to our own concupiscence, or as St. Francis called it “brother ass” or “sister ass” as the case may be.
    When i began going to the TLM and was not dressing as modestly as i should the ladies there were still kind and inclusive. By contrast when i have worn my veil to NO Mass i have encountered shall we say those who whisper loudly and give me a WIDE berth. It strikes me as odd that they feel they are being looked down upon by the orthodox ladies. and with no more proof then “they feel it” label us “The divisive veil crowd” I was once given a very interesting explanation of why people do this. It is the Cain and Abel syndrome; those who do less are angry at those who do more. By his actions alone, without a word, Abel pointed out Cains shortcomings and we all know how Cain reacted. Anyway I love my veil, my long skirts and high neckline 3/4″ sleeve loose blouses. and of course Our Lady Who put me in the company of ladies who taught me by example that when i enter the Holy House of God; i must decrease and and He must increase.

  140. inara says:

    We skip the Olympics altogether. It’s unfortunate that athletes no longer feel they can compete unless they are nearly nude or wearing spandex clothing that would represent them as nude in silhouette.

    Contrast that to the 1908 Olympics (which Pope Pius X actually promoted), where lady competitors still looked like ladies: http://theladyrebecca.livejournal.com/55888.html
    and men’s uniforms at least had quarter sleeves & pant legs: http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/other-sports/1908-london-olympics-pictures-golden-809057

  141. Mariana says:

    Quite a trial to watch the women’s triathlon where they rode their bikes in some frightfully unbecoming swimsuits that covered about half their bottoms. More off-putting than alluring, I should think, though!

  142. silicasandra says:

    I, too, am curious about how discussions about modesty seem to end up being discussions about clothing choices at Mass in particular, when modesty is something we’re called to be at all times and it will look different in different situations. I may wear a tank top around my house in front of my husband and 16 month old, but I’ll change my shirt if I go out. I would argue that even in situations when you’re naked you still have to be modest – i.e. not (ab)using your body or encouraging others to (ab)use it. The idea that there are specific clothes that are modest or immodest – regardless of time period, situation, etc. strikes me as bizarre. (I think a good Catholic wife could even have some nice lingerie in her closet without feeling a need to think of it as “naughty” or somehow bad, though there are choices in that line of clothing that are definitely inappropriate even within the context of a marriage.) I think there IS a line when it comes to situations where some clothing choices could be almost universally deemed as immodest (i.e. swimming attire at Mass) but even that might be subject to some change over time as fashions change.

    That said, I do wear jeans to daily Mass, but not to Sunday Mass (jeans are my “work outfit” as a mother). I cover my head all the time at Mass (started a few months ago), but at daily Mass it’s a headband or scarf, and chapel veils at Sunday Mass – usually with slacks! I do like skirts and dresses, but I am not practiced in wearing them and feel more confident in my ability to dress attractively, femininely, and modestly when choosing slacks or jeans. I would say probably the same amount of skin is covered regardless of situation if I am out in public – shoulders to knees and as little cleavage as possible with a still-nursing toddler. Swimming changes things but that’s an out-of-the-ordinary situation.

    To the women who said that it’s a benefit to be able to sew – absolutely! I do not know how but I find myself thinking that I wish I knew how when I look at how inappropriate skirts and dresses that are intended for “everyday wear” are! There are sewing classes offered every now and then in my area and hopefully I will find one that accommodates my schedule and doesn’t sound too intimidating! And I will make sure that once I do it’s a skill I’ll pass on to my own children (even sons could benefit from knowing how to hem or sew on a missing button.)

  143. inara says:

    Charlotte ~ No, the Aug. 23, 1928, letter does not contain the specific dress standards (I have the text in English & will send it to you). They were contained in the letter of Sept. 24 (apparently it became obvious rather quickly that without definite guidelines, confusion would ensue). I tried to explain that in my 10:38am post, but I wasn’t very clear.

    In addition to the Imprimatur, Papal blessings & other Ecclesial approvals/promotions of the standards I mentioned earlier, I have a secondhand source stating that Fr. Jesus Cavanna, C.M., located & translated the Sept. 24 letter from the Oct. 1928 issue of the “Bulletin of the Roman Clergy.” I assume this publication was in Latin & I would love to have a copy (in any language!) if you come across one in your sleuthing.

    Thanks for keeping me on my toes!

  144. St. Epaphras says:

    Inara, great quote from St. John Chrysostam. Thank you and all women who love their brothers in Christ and would not knowingly cause a one of them to sin, even in thought.

    Example is also a powerful thing and we can teach a bit when necessary (see Titus 2:3-5 which speaks to us older women).

    A small group of Catholic homeschooling women were influential in drawing me back to the Church by their examples twenty-something years ago. They were modest and also covered their heads during Mass. We took a long detour via the Anabaptists, but anyhow, the Lord’s grace brought me home to His Church. I never forgot those truly feminine but modest Catholic women who just wanted to please God in all areas of their lives and loved the Church. They were happy and pro-life too, which didn’t hurt the evangelization cause. ;-)

    “Yes” to sewing, which many have mentioned. I learned mostly on my own when I was over 40. Lots of people out there can help you. You just have to ask! Second-hand stores have good older machines, the kind that last, usually very cheap. You may have to have someone work on it though.

  145. AnAmericanMother says:

    Another “yes” for sewing! I also was largely self-taught, with some help from my grandmother.
    Agree on hitting the thrift shops/secondhand stores for a good used machine. An older Singer (without all the electronic bells and whistles) or a Bernina if you can find one cheap, are good bets. I had a Singer 601 (pre-Golden Touch & Sew) for years, then managed to find a good Bernette 715 used. Most of the big-box craft stores have a sewing machine repairman in-house or who picks up work orders a couple of times a week. It doesn’t hurt to have the machine serviced once a year – they really need a thorough cleaning, new oil, and tension adjustment on a regular basis.
    The major pattern companies have “EZ” patterns in their sample books, you can learn to sew by following the very clear directions provided (avoid Vogue patterns, they are for accomplished seamstresses and leave out a lot of basics. They still make me nervous.) If you want to have a dry run, cut up some worn-out bedsheets (or buy cheap remnants) and run up the pattern in that first. Any time I’m making something complicated with expensive fabric, I still do that. It also enables you to adjust the pattern for a perfect fit.
    As far as the main issue of controversy here, I think it’s not so much skirts versus pants as the way they fit. You could have properly cut slacks (not tight in the wrong places) that would be much more modest than a tightly-fitting dress cut up-to-here and down-to-there.
    But it is just not possible for me to wear skirts given the activities I’m involved in. It’s true that you can milk a cow in a dress . . . but mucking the barn would be problematic given that the hem would get wet and sweep up all sorts of . . . stuff . . . . And unless you’re willing to invest serious money in a sidesaddle (and they are outrageously expensive) and a horse with a long, straight back (your average TB cannot comfortably carry a sidesaddle because of their high withers) you can’t ride in a dress. Retriever training in a dress would be o.k. on land, but water training would be soggy and hilarious. Even with wellies. Although it would be fun to sew a camouflage skirt to go with my camo veil, and show up at the line at the next hunt test. The judges already make fun of my ADHD dog Psycho Ruby, they would have a field day with that.

  146. Charlotte Allen says:


    In pointing out that the Aug. 23, 1928 letter to women religious (alluded to in the 1930 Vatican document De inhonesto feminarum vestiendi more) doesn’t contain specific dress standards, either, you have potentially saved me a trip to the library to read it. Nonetheless, I plan to make the trip anyway, since I am now so curious about exactly what the Vatican had to say about modest dress for women.

    You say that those specific standards–how low necklines can be, how long hemlines must be, etc.–are actually contained in a Sept. 24, 1928 letter by Cardinal Basilio Pompili, vicar general of Rome from 1913 to his death in 1931. (Pompili held that post under three popes: Pius X, Benedict XV, and Pius XI.) You say that the letter appeared in the October 1928 issue of the Bulletin of the Roman Clergy. I can’t find that letter on the Internet. The closest I came was a Jan. 16, 1914 article in the New York Times, in which Pompili, as Pius X’s vicar, denounced immodest fashions, along with the tango and certain newspapers and theatrical performances as signs of “the overwhelming immorality of the new paganism.”

    I couldn’t find the Bulletin of the Roman Clergy (Bollettino del clero romano, now called Rivista diocesana di Roma) in any local library catalogue, including that of the Library of Congress. This leaves me up a creek, since I don’t have the resources to travel to Italy to look at that October 1928 issue in an Italian library. I do have a friend who is researching her doctoral dissertation in Florence, and she may be able and willing to look for the issue there and photocopy the article one of these months. Should she be able to do that, I’ll definitely send you a copy.

    But let’s assume that Pompili actually did publish that letter in the Bollettino, and that the text of that letter actually does set forth exactly those specific standards (the two-fingers-below-the-collarbone, well-below-the-knee hemlines, and so forth) that you and many others have quoted in this thread and on many a Catholic website.

    As vicar general of Rome, Pompili represented the pope in his role as as diocesan bishop of Rome. The vicar general governs the Roman diocese (or “vicariate”), leaving the pope free to devote most of his attention to the universal church. The Bollettino was the official organ of the vicariate–equivalent to a diocesan newspaper here in America–but it was not an organ of the Vatican. Vatican documents emerged then–as they do now–from the Roman Curia, not the Roman vicariate. The Bollettino thus did not speak for the Vatican and did not set policy for the universal church. It set policy only for the diocese of Rome.

    Pompili undoubtedly wrote as Pius XI’s representative–and with Pius XI’s approval–in that Sept. 24, 1928 letter. Yet for some reason Pius did not choose to allude to that letter, much less incorporate its specific standards, when it came time in 1930 to draft De Inhonesto–a genuine Vatican document issuing from the Sacred Congregation of the Council (the predecessor to today’s Congregation for the Clergy)– which was addressed to all diocesan bishops (it is titled “Instructio ad ordinarios dioecesanos”). De Inhonesto did allude to the Aug. 23, 1928 letter from the Sacred Congregation for Religious, which does not include specific standards for female dress, either. Perhaps Pius and the Curia thought that it would be better to let custom and local authorities–including women religious–set standards of modesty for laywomen.

    That oft-quoted text from Pompili’s Sept. 24 letter clearly struck a chord with many pious people who longed for more concrete dress standards. It was widely reprinted over the years and widely misattributed, sometimes to De Inhonesto, sometimes to the Aug. 23 letter alluded to in De Inhonesto, sometimes to Pope Pius XI personally, and sometimes to the Blessed Mother speaking through Pope Pius. Not surprisingly, some other bishops have apparently endorsed the Sept. 24 text, and many lay and clerical Catholics over the years have assumed that the standards it set forth emanated from the Vatican and applied authoritatively to the universal church. That’s simply not the case.

  147. LisaP. says:

    Love your examples, very fun. A camo veil?! That makes my day.

  148. Charlotte Allen says:


    Here is Chaucer’s Wife of Bath (from the Ellesmere Manuscript, made in 1404, four years after Chaucer’s death), proving that you CAN ride astride a horse in a skirt! Note the spurs worn as anchors for the skirt:


    Chaucer’s ladylike Prioress, however, rides sidesaddle:


  149. Volanges says:

    I do find it interesting that ‘veiling’ has become the hallmark of the “real Catholic woman” when a ‘veil’ was virtually unheard of in North America before the 60s when Jackie Kennedy wore one and suddenly everyone wanted to be seen to be like her. Before that, a veil was something worn by Sisters, first communicants, confirmandi & brides.

    Yes, we were required to cover our heads in church but for most women, pre-Jackie, that meant a hat. Those who couldn’t afford a hat, or those who went to daily Mass, wore a kerchief or a beret. In the winter it could be a tuque or whatever style of head covering was in fashion (remember the fake fur helmets?). And we all know that a Kleenex would do in a pinch (rarely had to do that unless it was a sightseeing visit to a church while on holidays).

    When did a veil become the be all and end all of head coverings? I remember them being the ‘practical’ option because they folded up small and you could tuck one into your purse so you had a head covering for when a hat wasn’t available.

  150. Volanges says:

    I thought I would mention that when when the priest who’s been our administrator decided to drop in to Mass a few Saturdays ago when a visiting priest was celebrating, he wore shorts, flip flops and a sport shirt.

  151. Lirioroja says:

    I just want to say one thing to all those advocating that women should only wear skirts/dresses or that women are only modest in skirts/dresses or that wearing pants/trousers call attention to women’s private parts. Google “man arrested for pointing camera up women’s skirts”. It’s ghastly. There’s a looooooong list of results – and that’s only the first page. I mention this because there was recently a case of a man in New York City who put a tiny camera on the end of a pen, clipped it to a folded newspaper, and pointed it up women’s skirts and dresses on the subway. He was caught by a chivalrous man who alerted the police and the perp was arrested. Not to mention a man with mischief on his mind will prefer a woman in a skirt or dress because it provides “easy access”. I like to wear skirts and dresses but I confess I feel much safer in pants.

  152. AnAmericanMother says:

    Charlotte Allen,
    Hoo-boy! A little fun for a Friday afternoon!
    The Wife of Bath was riding a soft-paced horse (an “ambler”) — the nearest equivalent is probably a plantation-style Tennessee Walker or a Paso, with a four-beat gait that doesn’t bounce you. The “foot-mantel” (and you can see it in the picture) is like a loose set of fisherman’s waders that go on over the dress skirt. Even though you’re astride, you’re still really just a passenger, especially if your skirt is all bunched up inside the foot-mantel. And you will get saddle sore because loose-fitting clothing rubs at speed! which is why she’s riding an ambler and not a charger or a hack. The side-saddle of the day wasn’t any better – it wasn’t until the “leaping head” was invented in the 1830s that you could ride securely aside. And everybody wears breeches anyhow – when you’re hunting or showing you put an apron or “safety skirt” on top.
    Of course, Chaucer and his artist were emphasizing her mannishness in this (and in wearing spurs). She’s definitely a tough customer, and in Trollope’s time she would have been one of those hard-bitten women who rode to hounds three times a week (sidesaddle), and not to look all fetching in a velvet habit and feathered hat either.
    I’ve taken sidesaddle lessons, and it’s fun, but you have to learn the proper way to sit, and the horse has to be retrained for his off-side aids. And the expense is mind-boggling – $3,000-4,000 for a good USED jumping saddle, never mind the saddle fittings and the clothes.

  153. AnAmericanMother says:


    Yours truly with my camo veil on that I made at the time of the LAST veiling discussion on WDTPRS. My Chocolate Lab is patiently cooperating, even though she thinks I’m silly.

    What the well dressed Catholic duck hunter wears

  154. Supertradmum says:

    AnAmericanMother. PUHleeze may I use that photo for cute day blog? I understand if you say no. Also, all this time, I thought you looked just like Doris Day with longer blond hair…hmmm

  155. wmeyer says:

    AAM: Very nice pic. ;)

  156. St. Epaphras says:

    Love that camo veil! A young woman I know who hunts (not ducks, I think) wears a camo kerchief she made. She also sewed her dress out of camo material. (That group only wear skirts, dresses or jumpers. )

    Modesty is not always a pants/skirts thing. The old style ladies’ slacks were far more modest due to the way they were cut. Also it does depend on what you’re doing. Most things can be done in a skirt, but some things it makes no sense to do when wearing them. So many skirts have gotten caught in my rear bicycle wheel that I took to wearing pants or capris and a long shirt or something like that over them. I still prefer skirts/dresses over the typical revealing pants of today unless the skirts are the problem, not the solution. Bottom line: women do have a responsibility here to not either be an occasion of sin or to set a poor example for some woman who would most likely be an occasion of sin if she dressed like that. And the better they look, the more they should consider that responsibility when they put on whatever they put on. Love in action, you know?

  157. benedetta says:

    I remember that discussion! Wherein I yearned for a flaming orange veil and you helpfully described how to pull it together! Love your photo!

    An update: since that discussion on WDTPRS, I have joined a wonderful parish and sing in a schola at the Extraordinary Form! Participating on this blog has really helped me to discover the good, the true, and the beautiful!

  158. AnAmericanMother says:

    So glad you found a nice parish home. The best thing about this blog is that you find out you are NOT alone . . . . :-) Did you make your orange veil yet?
    Be my guest. I’m pretty notorious anyway. So is my dog (that’s my 11 year old Choc, the obedience-agility-nosework-hunting retriever-Canine Good Citizen who loves pheasants more than ducks.)

  159. Nineteento20 says:

    I don’t think it’s immodest to not wear a chapel veil. In 1 Cor 11 Paul recommends it but says it’s not required. I don’t know what “Therefore ought the woman to have a power over her head, because
    of the angels.” means in 1 cor 11 either but I don’t wear a veil.
    Modesty is important though. We don’t want to be the cause of another’s sinning. Luke 17:1-2 says it’s better to be cast into the sea with a millstone around your neck than to cause another to sin!

  160. tnconvert says:

    I have been veiling for about a year, and recently some of my friends have decided to take on the chapel veil. This has led to the most ridiculous persecution you can imagine. I have tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, but several women in our parish with an irrational fear of all things “traditional” are accusing those who veil of making a spectacle of themselves. Really? This from a choir ” leader” who handed out barbecue aprons with flames on them at Pentecost for the choir to wear? Tube tops in Mass are not drawing attention? It is the usual toleranc issue. We are suppose to tolerate librality, but any move that is more modest or pious is a spectacle. Jesus, help us!

  161. Jeanette says:

    Nineteento20, when an authority states a subject “ought” to do something it is not a recommendation as if he said a subject “should” do something. An “ought” is a duty.

    Check out what St. John Chrysostom had to say in his 26th homily on St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians:

    “Every man praying or prophesying having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonors her head.”

    For there were, as I said, both men who prophesied and women who had this gift at that time, as the daughters of Philip, Acts 21:9 as others before them and after them: concerning whom also the prophet spoke of old: “your sons shall prophesy, and your daughters shall see visions.” Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17

    Well then: the man he compels not to be always uncovered, but only when he prays. “For every man,” says he, “praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.” But the woman he commands to be at all times covered. Wherefore also having said, “Every woman that prays or prophesies with her head unveiled, dishonors her head,” he stayed not at this point only, but also proceeded to say, “for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven.” But if to be shaven is always dishonorable, it is plain too that being uncovered is always a reproach. And not even with this only was he content, but added again, saying, “The woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.” He signifies that not at the time of prayer only but also continually, she ought to be covered. But with regard to the man, it is no longer about covering but about wearing long hair, that he so forms his discourse. To be covered he then only forbids, when a man is praying; but the wearing long hair he discourages at all times. Wherefore, as touching the woman, he said, “But if she be not veiled, let her also be shorn;” so likewise touching the man, “If he have long hair, it is a dishonor unto him.” … “But if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled.”

    Thus, in the beginning he simply requires that the head be not bare: but as he proceeds he intimates both the continuance of the rule, saying, “for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven,” and the keeping of it with all care and diligence. For he said not merely covered, but “covered over ,” meaning that she be carefully wrapped up on every side. And by reducing it to an absurdity, he appeals to their shame, saying by way of severe reprimand, “but if she be not covered, let her also be shorn.” As if he had said, “If you cast away the covering appointed by the law of God, cast away likewise that appointed by nature.”

    But if any say, “Nay, how can this be a shame to the woman, if she mount up to the glory of the man?” we might make this answer; “She does not mount up, but rather falls from her own proper honor.” Since not to abide within our own limits and the laws ordained of God, but to go beyond, is not an addition but a diminuation. For as he that desires other men’s goods and seizes what is not his own, has not gained any thing more, but is diminished, having lost even that which he had, (which kind of thing also happened in paradise) so likewise the woman acquires not the man’s dignity, but loses even the woman’s decency which she had. And not from hence only is her shame and reproach, but also on account of her covetousness.

    Having taken then what was confessedly shameful, and having said, “but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven,” he states in what follows his own conclusion, saying, “let her be covered.” And he said not, “let her have long hair,” but, “let her be covered,” ordaining both these to be one, and establishing them both ways, from what was customary and from their contraries: in that he both affirms the covering and the hair to be one, and also that she again who is shaven is the same with her whose head is bare. “For it is one and the same thing,” says he, “as if she were shaven.” But if any say, “And how is it one, if this woman have the covering of nature, but the other who is shaven have not even this?” we answer, that as far as her will goes, she threw that off likewise by having the head bare. And if it be not bare of tresses, that is nature’s doing, not her own. So that as she who is shaven has her head bare, so this woman in like manner. For this cause He left it to nature to provide her with a covering, that even of it she might learn this lesson and veil herself.

  162. priests wife says:

    for those women who commented about chaffing when wearing a skirt- try something like these: http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Cotton-Pettipants-Bloomers-Culotte/dp/B001UTI2UU/ref=sr_1_4?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1344810083&sr=1-4&keywords=bloomers I’m sure with some research you could find a non-amazon source

  163. AnAmericanMother says:

    Supertradmum . . .

    I almost forgot (I was so gobsmacked). Doris Day? Wow. Wonder why I sound/write like her. I am Black Irish and Highland Scot from the word ‘go’ – with a little more Cherokee than “Fauxcahontas” Warren.

    I do have a blonde dog though. She’s really cute and perky.

  164. I’m black Irish-American, too Am-Mom. Cheers, or rather shall I say Sláinte. :-)

  165. Jael says:

    The Magisterium has decreed that women no longer need to cover their heads at Mass. Period. [Not “period”. your statement is not accurate. The Code of Canon Law no longer requires that women use a head covering. This is a matter of discipline. The Code does not address the deeper issue of whether they ought to by their own choice because of what Paul wrote. Some argue that there is still an obligation that can be discerned from Scripture. The Code doesn’t deal with that.]

  166. Supertradmum says:

    An American Mom, thanks. I have a “cute” day on my blog…As to headgear, love it. I am probably from the only Catholic family east or west of the Mississippi with no Irish or British in me. I wish I did for citizenship reasons. All the way back as far as we can see–18th century, Moravians, Bohemians and Luxembougians and I am sure they all wore head scarves, hats or mantillas.

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