Is it a word that makes you feel defensive or uncomfortable? Is it something you think just doesn’t apply to our modern Catholic living? Something that is antiquated? Something that is his problem, not mine? An optional area of virtue some people happen to prefer?
Modesty takes on a lot of baggage as a topic of discussion, so it seems like we just avoid the conversation all together. We add it to the relativistic group of topics, deciding “to each her own” and “whatever floats your boat.”
Okay, I absolutely thought all of those things about the buzzword “modesty,” and not all that long ago. That what I wore didn’t actually matter in any real, true sense. That it was my business how I wanted to dress, and certainly no man, or woman even, could or should advise me on what I should be wearing. That “mostly modest” or “modest most of the time” was more than enough effort on my part. I can’t say that I’ve figured it all out, or that I’ve acquired this virtue, even. But what I’ve learned from a number of wonderful resources has been so beautifully transformative that I just want to share it. To open the discussion up, to share the resources I’ve connected with, and to walk out this piece of growing in virtue together with other like-minded women.
For a little while, I’ve been doing that through #modestyonmondays on Instagram. It’s been a fruitful, continuous discussion - I think those of us who are drawn toward authentic Catholic living truly need the affirmations that a space like IG can give! We are not alone. We are not isolated in our challenges and struggles, and we are able to lift each other up through sharing the way Our Lord is moving in our lives. Within those conversations and direct messages, I’m often sending a handful of my favorite resources to ladies who want to learn more - below is that list!
Steak or kale? This homily has been such a game changer for me and my understanding on what the Church (actively!) teaches about modesty. It’s one I’ve listened to again and again, and my top recommendation for a starting point to learning about the virtue of modesty.
Father Ripperger: http://sensustraditionis.org/release/modesty/
Sensus Traditionis is a wealth of edifying, faith life-changing information! I have learned so much from this brilliant, straight-shooting, traditional priest. The link above is for the whole eight part series of talks. He does talk about modesty in dress, but as a part of the bigger picture of the virtue of modesty, which falls under temperance. It’s heavy hitting and Thomistic, and so very helpful in getting a broader understanding of why this virtue matters as much as it does!
Written by a woman for women, this book covers a lot of ground in a pretty quick read. Most interestingly, she covers how fashions have been disrupted and why our culture and modern Church has lost so much ground on this virtue. One of my questions when beginning to learn about modesty was if this is what the Church has always taught, and the teaching is unbroken and unchanged, then why have I not heard about it in 30 years of being Catholic? Colleen Hammond brings the answers to the table in an accessible way.
The Privilege of Being a Woman: (here on Amazon)
While she does not primarily cover modesty, I have found this book to be foundational in my understanding of femininity and the value of womanhood. Alice von Hildebrand answers the question “Why does modesty even matter?” without the topic being significantly approached. Truly, understanding the dignity gifted to women is the interior cornerstone for external efforts in modesty. It’s a book every Catholic woman will find value in, and is indispensable for those raising daughters in today’s moral climate!