A Plea to Women
Woe to women wanting in modesty.
Our Lady of Fatima to Jacinta
We are glad to see here and there ladies and girls who do not need to be told in order to follow these norms. But as for those who stray away from such wise norms, I, as God’s minister, ask them to heed my plea:
You cannot maintain an upright, unseared conscience and be so thoughtless!
Do not say, What evil is there in the way I dress?
For would that not be a naive question? You must suspect that exposing a woman’s body as you do can be terribly provocative.
Do not say, Those who see me this way are not forced to sin!
For we admit that. But should we not wish to reduce the offenses our Divine Lord receives when we can? Woe to us if we are indifferent about this! Woe to us if, from this indifference, our conduct coaxes others into sin! We know that some good men will so successfully resist any woman’s provocativeness that they will not sin in the least, but will gain merit. However, some others, being weak, will consent to what is forbidden; and according to the Scriptures, you will share in their sin for unnecessarily giving them a lure to it. (Matt. 18:7)
Do not say, All the other girls dress this way!
For we admit the sad fact that many are that thoughtless. But even if all were so thoughtless, you should not follow such an example. You consider yourself capable of making wise decisions of your own in personal matters. Seeing that you have the freedom, the privilege, and the duty to pursue virtue and heaven, would you unthinkingly follow the herd like sheep do?
Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction: and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! (Matt. 7:13-14).
Let a sense of responsibility and uprightness distinguish you from the herd.
Do not say, I do not mean to do evil.
For I can believe that. But the mischief you are doing by dressing without due care of the consequences is an evil you will be responsible for.
Do not say, I feel I should be in style and up-to-date.
For there are good women and girls who, using a bit of resourcefulness, manage to dress with a modest attractiveness and charm. But beware of a style which, luring men toward corrupt morals, serves only vanity and the devil; for it is a tragic deception. No matter how styles change and popular tastes change, the moral law does not change.
Do not say, Often it is hard to judge if a dress is modest or not.
Reflect: If you suspect that a dish of food is poisoned, you do not serve it to anyone, for fear of doing harm. Even more so should you not wisely play safe when you have any prudent suspicion that your manner of dress will be a source of harm? Does not an upright conscience look upon sin as the greatest of harms?
Do not say, I refuse to be a bigot and a hypocrite!
For how can it be wrong to act upon an upright conscience, which tells you that an offense against the all-holy God is truly the greatest of evils? A bigot and a hypocrite is one who pretends to hate sin and love God when he does not really care about these things. But I ask you to care, and how is that wrong? Uprightness, which at times requires sweat and tears and courage, is never the same as bigotry and hypocrisy. And the Saints who fought valiantly against immodesty, were they bigots or hypocrites?
Do not say, Men want me this way.
That may be true of men who prefer a bit of pleasure to God’s friendship; but it is not true of men who live by a right conscience. Furthermore, it is to God that you must one day render an account, not to men.
Do not say, Beauty is supposed to be seen.
I could reply that “When bodily beauty is shown off a great deal, it loses its loveliness.” But there is a physical beauty that cannot be displayed without becoming a lure to tempt men to forbidden satisfactions. On the other hand, if you thought that there was beauty in displaying your legs, why is there not beauty in showing Christian modesty and a concern for the good of souls?
Do not say, But I feel hot!
You know how to put up with the heat when you want to. Surely a good conscience is worth suffering a bit of heat for. Many good souls bear the heat willingly in order to offer it as a penance to God. But – sad to say – some women in hot weather go scantily clad to Mass and other church gatherings who dress modestly when they must work in an office where they receive all kinds of clients, or when they must teach school, or when they must work as salesclerks where they have to satisfy all kinds of customers.
Do not say, There are bigger problems and bigger sins than this.
Yes. Some sins are worse than others (John 19:11). But even the less grave ones are real sins. One need not be a hunted outlaw in order to go to hell. And I have the strongest objections to seeing you go there. I will go there myself if I do not try to keep others from going there.
Young Lady, let nothing cheat you out of a good conscience and your eternal destiny!
If you want to be Christian in fact and not just in name, if you want to help and not hinder the work of grace to reform consciences, if you do not want to feel remorse tomorrow and bear a weight of guilt, then put forth the effort to dress with Mary-like modesty,
…so that you may prove yourself a Christian woman and not a mere man-trap;
…so that you uplift and inspire chaste love, and not enkindle forbidden pleasure.