Les FemmesE-mail from Heaven: Is your computer on?

Our culture has lost the virtue of modesty. We’re not just talking clothing (or lack of it) although that’s an element. Modesty is a profound virtue enveloping the heart and soul like a chrysalis protecting a forming butterfly. The modest person not only dresses to avoid lust, but also guards the eyes and ears, gateways to the soul. Modesty doesn’t confess its sins on national TV or share indiscriminately what should be treasured and hidden. It doesn’t flaunt itself by revealing clothes or bizarre body piercing and tattoos, nor does it express itself in loud or vulgar language that shocks. The answer to a lascivious age is a return to modesty.

Pontifical Council for the Family: "Even if they are socially acceptable, some habits of speech and dress are not morally correct and represent a way of trivializing sexuality, reducing it to a consumer object. Parents should therefore teach their children the value of christian modesty, moderate dress, and when it comes to trends, the necessary autonomy." [Truth and meaning of Human Sexuality, no. 97.]

Pope Pius XII: [These prophetic words were spoken in 1941 to the young women of Catholic Action of Rome.] " With the exception of the Blessed Virgin, it is vain to imagine a human life which could be at once pure and lived without vigilance or combat…You do not know the depth of human fragility, nor what corrupted blood runs from the wounds left in human nature by Adam’s sin — leaving ignorance in intelligence, malice in the will, greed for pleasure and weakness as regards the difficult accomplishment of the good in the passions of the senses…As long as certain provocative clothes remain the sad privilege of women of questionable reputation and as the sign that makes them known, you will not dare adopt them for yourselves. But the day when these clothes will be worn by individuals above all suspicion, women will no longer hesitate to go with the tide, a tide which may bring about the worst falls." [In a later talk the pope stressed modesty’s discretion. We tend today to talk too freely about private things, sex education being a prime example.] "Modesty…accompanies [man] throughout his entire life and demands that certain acts, which are good in themselves because they are divinely established, should be protected by a discreet veil of shadow and the reserve of silence, in order to confer on them the respect owed the dignity of their great purpose."

Bl. Teresa Bracco: Teresa was born in Santa Giulia in northern Italy in 1924 and named after St. Therese of Liseux, beatified the year before. When she was nine, Teresa read a biography of St. Dominic Savio. Fascinated by his motto, "Better to die than to sin," she was determined to follow his example. The virgin martyr saints: Agnes, Lucy, Cecilia, and the patron of her parish, St. Julia who accepted crucifixion rather than renounce her faith, also attracted her. During W.W. II partisan guerrilla activity against the Third Reich brought retaliation to her little town. The villagers fled from the approaching Germans. Teresa and her sister Angela hid in the cavity of a rock but were discovered and captured. Later, with other young women of the town, they were taken into the woods and attacked. The girls returned with terrible stories of their violation, except for Teresa. Her body was discovered later, hands crossed over her breast as if protecting herself. A bullet had penetrated her hands and lodged in her chest. She was bruised and bitten, her skull was depressed from the kick of a hobnailed boot. A friend recalled her saying, "I would rather die than be defiled." Teresa was 20 years old. She died, like Maria Goretti, a martyr for purity. At her beatification, Pope John Paul II called her life "a message of hope for those who are striving to run counter to the spirit of the world! To young people…learn from her clear faith…and the courage of sacrificing even life if necessary, in order not to betray the values that give it meaning."

Blessed Alois Stepinac: [After World War II when the Communists occupied Croatia and suppressed the Church Archbishop Stepinac (later made Cardinal) remained loyal to the Holy See. His action earned persecution and imprisonment. A man of great humility and simplicity, he saw in war the bitter fruit of sin especially sins against purity. His words are a warning to our own deeply immoral age.] "Married couples no longer respect the values of marriage; they practice adultery, they no longer worry about children; in a word, they do everything to erase the name of God from the face of the earth. They destroy all moral values. Thus, it is not surprising that God now speaks to the crowds in the only language that they can understand…and there is chaos in the land, the horror of war, the destruction of everything. It is the fruit of an immense selfishness…The first rule, if we wish to see better days, is to give to God the respect that is due Him, with humility; it is the only way to peace."

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