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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A Catholic Traveling

Oatman burro gets friendly outside of town

It occurs to me that I have not mentioned about our plans to get back on the road. When I first started the Catholic Traveller blog and website, the plan was to travel frequently and visit missions, shrines and other holy places, take lots of pictures and video, and share impressions, recommendations and interesting facts. Then my children became interested in horses and – nuff said. That batch of children is now grown and on their own. Now comes an opportunity to lighten up again and travel full time with my trailer for awhile. We will be traveling slow and enjoying the journey.

The new home: 1975 MeToo; bumper to bumper inspection before starting renovation

While the coming year is planned for the Western U.S., there will also be a few weeks in Wyoming, with a possible trip to New York and North Carolina, depending on finances and family situations. We are renovating a 28 foot RV and a 14 foot travel trailer – if you are interested in that process, you can follow it on Mrs. D’s Homestead, my other site, where we will also post more about full-time RV living, homeschooling on the road and minimalist, homestead-spirited living on the road.

Miner’s “cabins”, Calico Ghost Town, Yermo, CA

Catholic Traveller will continue to focus more on the places we visit and on our spiritual journey, as well as the challenges of finding Mass, confession and fellowship opportunities on the road.

Until next time, Happy Trails!

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Grace To Climb Mountains


Last Sunday’s sermon touched on Confession.  About how we will face mountains at various times in our lives and need God’s grace to climb them.  God’s grace comes to us in the sacraments.  Especially in Confession and Holy Communion.  When we are suffering, we face a mountain we must climb.  God’s grace helps us to climb it.

When I moved to Arizona, I purposely chose a location where I could live on less and enjoy life more.  I was going to go hiking in the local mountains every day and travel to places I wanted to explore more often.  Then gas prices went up.  My kids became teenagers.  My plans didn’t work out the way I had hoped.   Somehow, I got through the initial adjustment, then I began to look at other areas to cut back.  Finally, I began to be able to live within my means again.  

When I am suffering, it seems as if I will never be able to handle what God has sent me.  Events in my life overwhelm me.  Only the grace of God strengthens me.  Confession heals me of my shortcomings.  The Eucharist is food for the journey.  Like a walking stick, the Sacraments give me something to lean on when I am tired of climbing the mountain.

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The Transfiguring Power of Bleach

This morning was beautiful and 70 degrees, with no wind.  A welcome respite from the icy weather of the past week.  I even shed my long johns and winter socks for the day.  Not for long, another storm is due Wednesday. As I hung my clean laundry on the line to dry, the sunlight bounced off some of the whites, causing a glare to irritate my eyes.  As I was wishing I had thought to wear my sunglasses, I was reminded of yesterday’s gospel reading – the Transfiguration.  “His clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.” Mark 9:3.

This made me smile, as I reflected upon Our Lord, conversing with Moses and Elijah, with Peter, James and John speechless at His Divine Glory revealed.  If only it were so easy today, to climb the mountain and see Jesus revealed in all His glory.  Yet, there is a way.  Jesus, on the altar at Mass, by transfiguring the bread into His Body, comes to me at Holy Communion, that I may bask in His loveliness. All through the day, His glory manifests itself – in the startling blue of the Arizona sky, the hilarious antics of the new baby goats, the stunning night sky, sometimes so crowded with stars that I can barely make out the constellations.

I may frequently become discouraged.  My soul may frequently become soiled, but with the “laundering” of confession and receipt of the Holy Eucharist, once again, the garment of my soul can become dazzling white and I may just need my sunglasses…

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Cultural Diversity

Several recent events have given me cause to be grateful for our cultural diversity here in the United States.

Once again, St. Patrick’s day came and went, this year, with more meaning to me.  I had watched the movie  “St. Patrick, The Irish Legend” and subsequently did a little further research on this beloved saint.  I’m not so much on corned beef and cabbage, but my Irish heritage has a bit more meaning when I contemplate the sacrificial love with which Patrick won over the Irish people, and stayed with them to continue to lead them to Jesus.

I read “Hopi Summer” by Carolyn O’Bagy Davis for book club.  The story is about a Massachusetts family who toured the U.S. one year in the late 1920’s, spending a lengthy time on the Hopi mesas in Arizona.  (The book was the Arizona One Book winner for 2011).  They struck up a friendship with several Hopi families which lasted their lifetimes, and left behind a wealth of photographs and correspondence which serves to chronicle that moment in American history.

I attended a Presentation celebration for a young Mexican friend.  At the age of 3 or 4, a Mexican child is “presented” to Jesus and Our Blessed Mother at a special Mass, followed by feasting, etc.  The Mass was very simple, the child dressed like a princess, knowing it was her special day, and taking all the ceremony and blessing very seriously.

I watched “The Singing Revolution”, a documentary about the non-violent Estonian revolution and their ultimate break from Communist oppression in the late 1990’s.  Through their persistent preservation of their culture of singing, the Estonians eventually won worldwide support in their cause to liberate themselves from the USSR.

In the past, groups of immigrants would form their own close communities and preserve their language, culture and tradition.  Not so much any more.  Oh, we can still find tiny pockets of Polish, Amish, Native American and others.  But mostly we really have to search them out.  There is so much beauty in each different cultural tradition. Yes, we have our Sacramental celebrations, but the Mexican Presentation and Quincenera are beautiful additional reminders to continue to dedicate our lives to the Lord.  The Polish blessing of the food  before the Easter Vigil, reminds us that all we have comes from God, and Jesus lived and died that we might have it more fully.  Shrove Tuesday (before it became a corrupted form of Mardi Gras) is the day before the start of Lent, when English-speaking immigrants would feast on foods rich with fats, sugars and eggs, before giving them up for Lent.  The Swedes celebrate the feast of St. Lucia in December, with a teenage girl portraying the saint, adorned with a crown of candles and dressed in white; the candles symbolizing the fire that would not consume the saint when she was condemned to be burned.  If you’ve had a chance to celebrate Passover, just as Jesus and the Apostles did, maybe you’ve experienced the mystical connection between the Jewish and Christian celebrations.

Americans are as guilty as any other country of trying to eradicate the customs and traditions of our many different citizens. A great deal of the Native American culture has been lost through earlier governmental intervention, much of which was done in the name of Christianity. Somehow, I don’t think Christ would approve.

This Lent, instead of or in addition to giving up some thing, maybe we can try to give up some attitude that prevents us from being more Christ-like.  I promise, once you get started, there is no end.  We are forever slipping back into negative thought patterns.  But as we confess our weakness and firmly resolve to try again, little by little we become more the children God created us to be.  And like little children, we can accept and celebrate our wonderful cultural diversity.

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