Modest Dressing for Catholic Ladies

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For so many years, my Catholicism was Mass on Sunday and that was it. Don’t talk to me about birth control, modesty or chastity. There were even a few years that I “fell away”. When I returned, being Catholic meant much more to me than “getting my sacraments”. I began digging deeper. I gladly fled the world for a time. Maybe too gladly. I love the Mass. I crave the nourishment of the Holy Eucharist. But there is even more. I want to live as a statement of the love of Christ. When I’m not busy sinning. Or being selfish. Or angry. Or pathetic. Being Catholic is looking to my faith for the answers to my shortcomings. It is getting back up after each fall and cleaning off with confession. Repenting. Again. Accepting that I cannot do this life on my own but that with Christ I can do anything. He can do anything.
I have looked to the Catholic Church for guidelines to modest dressing. I found some from the 1950’s. A very few Catholic writers have addressed modesty. Apparently it is not popular to stand for things that have been thrown to the wind, for each person to determine on their own. This is probably as it should be, but perhaps there could be some guidelines to look to as well. Not necessarily rules, but suggestions.
Modesty applies to both men and women. Modesty in dress and behavior would help heal so many of society’s ills. I am talking about striving for a respectful attitude toward others. As clothing has become more and more immodest, immoral sexual behavior has become more and more widespread. We are called bigots and haters if we do not accept this. It is the behavior and not the persons that we do not accept. Because I do not accept vegetarianism for myself does not mean I hate vegetarians. Because I am a Catholic does not mean that I do not have good friends that are atheist (I do). But back to modest dressing. As Colleen Hammond so eloquently points out in her book, Dressing With Dignity, eyes are drawn to the sexual areas. No wonder such over exposure of bodies has led to such widespread corruption of sexual expression.
There is concern about violent movies and video games desensitizing our children to violence. Have we ignored the same desensitization that has been caused by immodest dress? Undoubtedly, a return to modesty will not eliminate all sexual deviancy, but it will eliminate much confusion and tension present in today’s society. When the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have to pass rules protecting the rights of lgbt children to participate in scouting one has to wonder – why is sexual orientation even an issue pre-puberty and in early adolescence? Even in later adolescence? Something is very wrong with that.
I have a few guidelines that I follow. Some I have picked up from other Christian faiths that have actual guidelines, some I have added from my own ponderings. Here they are:
– Show no cleavage, male or female, top or bottom
– Opaque clothing, not sheer
– What is under should not show if you bend over or lift your arms
– Wear an undershirt
– Leggings should be worn under dresses and skirts, especially if they might blow up
– Sleeves at least to elbows
– Skirts at least to mid calf
– Shorts at least to knees
– Long pants preferred for boys and men
– Modest bathing suits for women – wetsuit style with long shorts and a skirt or sari cover up when not in water
– Same rules for children – do not expose their precious bodies to unknown eyes
I have been guilty of judging others by their dress, so I do not hold anyone to my standards, and I try to catch myself and behave. But I truly encourage you, if you are so inclined, to develop your own standards of modesty.
Lead us not into temptation and help us not to be a cause of sin to others, intentionally or unintentionally.
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Dolls From Heaven – Nurturing Catholic Culture

I wish these saint dolls had been available when my youngest son was a toddler. Now they’re going to be here in time for my goddaughter and grandchildren. At least I hope so. Dolls From Heaven is the brainchild of the Kiczek family and they are currently crowdfunding on indiegogo to get started. (update – indigogo campaign raised enough to get production started. Continue to participate towards final payment of first run at link below).

st theresa dolls from heaven1

For less than the price of an American Girls doll with all her books, accessories and games, you can get St. Therese Lisieux, in full habit, with accessories, book and Sunday Best dress. I love the idea of the book and the doll together. I can see myself reading Therese’s story to my god daughter while she plays with the doll (ahem, after I get her off the trampoline). Talk about a fantastic way to foster vocations!

Support a great Catholic family of active pro-lifers, not to mention entrepreneurs who will be putting other families to work by outsourcing the manufacturing of the dolls. The doll clothes will be made by the Kiczeks, themselves. Plans are to release one doll a year, including St. John Paul II, St. Bernadette, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Patrick.

st theresa dolls from heaven2

What a wonderful way to nurture Catholic culture. We shower our children with so much stuff, then we end up giving or throwing it all away. What if we got them less stuff and made it more meaningful? Then taught them to take care of what they did have? Lovingly promoted our Catholic faith instead of worldly valuelessness?

Help the Kiczek’s now:

learn more about the start-up fund and participate here:   http://www.dollsfromheaven.com/store/c1/Featured_Products.html.

Only 120 pre-orders are needed to fund their campaign and start manufacturing the dolls!

Update: down payment was raised, now raising funds for final payment for production of first batch of dolls. Participate at link above.

At any rate, I think I know what I’m getting my goddaughter for Christmas and maybe an extra for that future granddaughter, hmmm.

http://www.dollsfromheaven.com/thereses-little-missionaries.html read about how the prototype is already witnessing to Christ.

http://www.dollsfromheaven.com/ read more about the Kiczeks and their Dolls From Heaven.

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The Great Train Adventure

train sta j n me
The Great Train Adventure began with booking our trip. In the past, I had reserved our Amtrak seats online and had our tickets mailed to us. Always sitting on pins and needles until they arrived. Now I can print them out or store them on my smartphone. I opted for the printout, since I am new to the whole smartphone thing.
smartphone
Packing was the next step. Amtrak has a strict 2 carry-on limit, so we wanted to pack as light as possible, not only because we would be hauling our luggage everywhere, but we also did not want to leave it unattended as we wandered around the train during our 39 hour ride. Our seats were in coach, so there would always be other passengers around us.
train sta j schlwk
My dad dropped us off at the park and ride and we took public transportation, the commuter train, to the express bus that stops just across from Union Station. Inside, we found comfortable seating for our 2 hour wait, and checked in to get our seat assignment. Yak worked on some school lessons while I caught up on reading newsletters and books.
Before boarding I decided we’d better get some food, or we would be stuck with several expensive meals of not so good quality. Fortunately, Union Station has some nice, reasonably priced offerings, so we got some fresh fruit, snacks, yogurt and veggie juice, as well as a hot meal for our dinner.
famima fresh foods
Soon enough we were walking down the tunnel to our platform and boarding our train. Squeezing up the narrow stairs to the upper level is always a challenge, but we made it and stowed our gear. We settled in, ate our dinner and waited for the conductor to check our tickets. Later, we explored the café car, the observation car and the menu for the dining car. Pretty much the same as the last time we rode, several years ago.
Back in our seats, we broke out the gadgets and played video games (the boy) and read (me). No movies on the train anymore. Guess everyone brings their own now. That’s sure what it looks like, anyway, with tablets and smartphones blazing away at every turn.
observation car
Sleeping in coach is not too bad. We had our pillows and blankets (Amtrak no longer provides them) and were plenty cozy in the reclining seats. The movement of the train lulled us to sleep. I woke up just before the café car attendant announced coffee and I had my travel cup ready! It felt good to stretch my legs and walk around a bit. Back at our seats, the boy was beginning to stir and I retrieved our breakfast from the overhead rack – fruit, yogurt and juice. The train ride itself became a pilgrimage as I quietly had my morning devotions and said my rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet.
The long day of slow travel allowed for schoolwork, correcting schoolwork, writing, reading, playing video games and getting off the train at one of two 30 minute stops, to stretch our legs and inspect the wares of local vendors set up in front of the station. We also treated ourselves to lunch in the dining car. The food was not exciting, but the conversation was nice. Amtrak tries to fill its dining tables, so we had a luncheon companion we had previously not known. Conversation ranged from publishing, to video games, to Flagstaff, AZ and several subjects in between.
j train schlwk
Dinner was cheese and crackers and after reading some more and wishing we had brought a dvd or downloaded some videos to watch, we got out our blankets and pillows and slept almost all the way to Colorado.
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How To Find Mass on the Road

Inside Stella Maris, Goose Island, Texas

I still am getting used to the idea of using my smartphone instead of paper maps, telephone books and a cell phone. Everything evolves around here, especially with rving full-time and relying heavily on modern technology to navigate and assist in finding what we need during our slow travels. The travel tip I’ll share today is from my smartphone, it sure makes simple work of finding Sunday Mass.
yp on google play

We have previously used various websites to locate Catholic churches and Mass times while adventuring. Currently, with our smartphones, on this most recent road trip to parts previously unknown, we have made good use of the YP (yellow pages) app and the pre-loaded maps app on the iPhone4. Although, in a couple of instances we have been steered wrong, these two apps have helped us find churches, post offices, homes of friends and relatives, rv parks, campgrounds, grocery stores, and more.

maps from apple

I shudder to recall the days when Google maps always had to be backed up with a paper street map and a cell phone to call and get directions. I still laugh about my friend’s couchsurfers, who never did find the Grand Canyon, because their smartphones sent them off on a more direct route – as the crow flies, rather than as the car drives. I now laugh at myself, when I get frustrated at the phone for leading me to an empty warehouse instead of the post office, but I am learning to pull over, re-calibrate and enter different info when that happens. It also helps to drive around a bit and have a young’un who’s pretty good with reading maps and navigating. And smartphones.


We haven’t gotten lost yet, but I can tell you, we have unintentionally taken some scenic drives and did arrive late for Mass once. We haven’t missed Mass on Sunday, though. I usually check YP on Friday, map out the route to the church, then call the number provided to check Mass times. 

Our Lady of the Valley, La Jara, Colorado

I still carry a road atlas and some state maps for general route planning and reference, but to find local stuff along the way, the YP app and the maps app have been invaluable and saved an enormous amount of time and frustration. I highly recommend checking your smartphone or tablet and trying out similar apps which may be available to you, as you plan your next pilgrimage.

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Big Church Little Church

I have to admit, I am partial to little churches and missions. My “home” congregation consists of about 60 families. I like the intimacy, the colorful characters, even the feuding. To me, it is so much more like a family. Yes, we have our differences, we frequently do not get along, but we pull together in times of crisis and need. It is our Catholic life.

In a big church, I feel lost. There seem to be so many people and so much to do. I lose focus. I get complacent. There are too many choices. The children are sent out during Mass, not taught to sit quietly, participate fully and honor the Sacrament. The music is modernized to entertain and attract an audience. Just my take on things.

Inside tiny Stella Maris, Lamar, TX

I walk in to a big, modern Catholic church and I can’t find the holy water. I want to bless myself with it when I walk in and when I walk out. It is a sacramental reminder of my devotion. Now, there is usually one large font, instead of the small ones at each door. I feel funny walking up to that big baptismal pond to use the holy water, then find my way out.

St. Anne’s, Deming, NM


I still want to genuflect when I enter the pew where I am going to sit. I am here for Mass and I want to honor my Host. I want to put the kneeler down and spend some quiet time in prayer and thanksgiving before and after Mass.  Most often, now, the Blessed Sacrament is not even kept in the main part of the church, but in an attached adoration chapel. I guess that’s okay for big churches.

View from Lake Lodge rec room, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming

On this pilgrimage of slow travel, I have attended Mass in churches in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Texas. It is always an adventure, come Saturday, to find out where we will be attending Mass on Sunday. The Holy Eucharist is always nourishing and enriching. Small churches just ensnare my heart. St. Anne’s in Ash Fork and St. Francis in Seligman, Arizona, where I had the honor of leading the music for 15 years. The rec room of the Lake Lodge in Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, where we attended when we were there for my daughter’s wedding. St. Anne’s in Deming, NM, where we worshiped after a long night of trying to find a campsite in the dark. Stella Maris, outside of Goose Island SP, Texas, where we shivered on top of an AC vent, until someone realized it was cold outside and in and turned it off. The pastor there had recently been healed of stage 4 cancer and spoke confidently about God’s merciful love and healing. 

This week of our full-time rving life, this awesome road trip, we will be celebrating Ash Wednesday in a big church in Texas and we will be grateful to have found another spiritual home on the road.

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