Modest Dress

A Jewish woman reflects upon modest dress and the changes it has brought to her life How Dressing Modestly Gave me More Confidence About My body the article is an interesting read but what struck me most was why she began dressing modestly. She was simply following a code of conduct.

I had never thought of myself as a naturally modest person. I was the “bikini/short-shorts” gal who, in the summer before college, started covering up, not because she cared about modesty or because she thought dressing immodestly was wrong or detrimental, but rather because she was adopting an observant Jewish life and modest dress was part of halacha. Just as the Jewish nation accepted the Torah saying “naaseh v’nishmah” (first we’ll do and then we’ll understand) I took on modesty in a similar way.

Her modesty and understanding of  modesty grew from there:

But then something happened – I remember so clearly the first day I wore a long skirt to the mall at seventeen years old. A guy passed me by and gave me the old “up down,” but my “up” and my “down” were covered up, and I actually let out a quiet “yes!” when I realized that I was able to retain ownership of my body that he couldn’t gain access to. Which makes me understand that I have always been a modest person who was conditioned by societal values to behave in a way that conflicted with my innate values and left me feeling violated on a regular basis.

The letter of the law helped her understand the spirit of the law. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a widely accepted standard of modesty within the Church anymore. or at least a standard of modesty is rarely taught or enforced.

Once at a Parish I was visiting,  I saw they had a dress code (the same dress code of St. Peters I believe)  It asked the men not to wear shorts or tank tops, it asked women not to wear shorts, tank tops,  no bare shoulders were allowed, skirts/ dresses had to touch below the knee. Chapel veils were not part of the dress code but they were available in the back.

Now maybe some people were offended upon reading the standards. But the notice didn’t state it was immoral for men to wear shorts or for women to wear tank tops it just requested the parishioners to follow these basic standards when attending Mass. It was a code of conduct to follow and guess what? The Parishioners followed it;  The entire church (which was packed) was dressed to those standards. Well beyond these simple standards in fact.

50 Simple Steps to Wearing a Chapel Veil

you could  wear an attractive hat instead of a veil. However, I found church hats to be scarce and more expensive.

Copied from this site : “50 Simple Stept to Wearing A Chapel Veil or Mantilla”

You might think that the only step to wearing a mantilla to Mass is, you know, wearing it. (And getting one if you don’t have one.)

Bah! Codswallop! Humbug!

Such ignorance! But don’t worry, that’s why I’m here.

I’ve broken down this incredibly complex process into 50 simple steps. I can’t promise you success, but if you follow my 50 steps, you will succeed!

  1. Think about wearing a veil or mantilla.
  2. A lot.
  3. Don’t let anyone because that would be weird.
  4. Find you can’t get it out of your mind.
  5. Pray about it.
  6. Mention it your family or friends, all hypothetically of course!
  7. Bring it up again.
  8. Be surprised that they aren’t fazed by it — some are even enthusiastic! (Weirdos…)
  9. Decide it can’t hurt to check out some veils from The Catholic Company, Veils by Lily,Liturgical Time Veil Shop, Designs by BirgitSilver Tree Treasures, or Peter’s Bride or evenAmazon which has some lovely Spanish style mantillas!
  10. Find that the desire to veil isn’t leaving, and doesn’t seem likely to do so anytime soon.
  11. Pray about it more.
  12. Go back to those stores.
  13. Pull out your best friend, the credit card.
  14. Pick a veil length: long, medium or short.
  15. Pick a veil colour: white, black, ivory, purple, gold, or hot pink polka dots on lime green.
  16. Agonise over whether to choose French lace or Spanish lace (this is easily the hardest part.)
  17. Order it.
  18. Immediately regret your decision and think you’re an idiot.
  19. Wait.
  20. Fret.
  21. Get the package in the mail!
  22. Squeal!
  23. Try the veil on in the mirror!
  24. Squeal more!!
  25. Upload a pic to Facebook…
  26. Wait excitedly for the next time you go to Mass.
  27. Find you can’t wait.
  28. Go to Adoration with your veil.
  29. Pray about it.
  30. Feel a bit bad that you might have gone to Adoration just to wear your veil.
  31. Remind yourself that Jesus was glad to see you anyway.
  32. Take your veil to Mass on Sunday.
  33. Take deep, steadying breaths as you put it on your head.
  34. Secure with pins or clips.
  35. Or hazard it not falling off. (Some do, some don’t.)
  36. Walk nervously into church.
  37. Genuflect, and kneel to pray.
  38. Feel very self-conscious.
  39. Tug on your mantilla to make sure it’s secure but pretend to do it surreptitious. (WHAT IF SOMEONE SEES???)
  40. Look around to see if people are totally judging you.
  41. Be surprised that they’re not.
  42. Get a bit disappointed that it’s not even making a stir.
  43. I mean, you’re the only one! Doesn’t that deserve at least some whispered censures?
  44. Almost by accident, glance up at Our Lord on the Crucifix.
  45. Try to suppress your smile.
  46. Remember that’s why you’re doing this: for Him.
  47. Thank God for the joy of wearing your veil.
  48. Pray that it will only help you to love Him better.
  49. Smile.
  50. And realise He’s already answering your prayers.

Fool-proof, right? 😉

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