Q. In the summer, I notice fewer and fewer people dressing modestly at Mass. What should I say to them?
A. The Church teaches that modesty “exists as an intuition of the spiritual dignity proper to man.”
Modesty is a choice to protect the mystery of our hearts, and the meaning of our bodies, from exploitation, objectification, or disrespect. Modesty means covering ourselves properly, because of our dignity and the dignity of others.
In the summer months, when it is hot, many people are tempted to expose more of their body than reflects their dignity. In Church, and in the world, the Lord reminds us to protect our dignity through the virtue of modesty.
However, the Catechism of the Catholic Church also tells us that “Modesty is decency… it is discreet.” This is a reminder that we must be careful and thoughtful about the way we encourage others to modesty. In fact, this encouragement is best left, first to parents, and then to pastors, and friends. It would be immodest to publicly criticize someone dressed immodestly, especially at Church, where a visitor may not have a developed sense of modesty’s virtue.
While it is appropriate for parents and pastors to encourage modesty at Mass, it is most appropriate for all of us to pray that we will develop a greater sense of modesty, and that we we will treat all people with respect, modesty, and dignity, even those who seem not to realize the dignity of modest dress.
Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.