Friday, August 8, 2008

"The Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot."

St. Augustine

On some Sundays, my husband and I wake up early to attend the Old Latin Mass. I love the beauty of it. The incense, chant, and intensity remind me that I am truely engaged in the ultimate act of worship. The richness of the liturgy reminds me of the Byzantine rite I love so much and the joyous beauty of being Catholic.

Unfortunately, it is particuarily at this mass that I begin to wonder if my husband and I are the only ones who see the joy in our faith. The pews are filled with Somber Families sitting silent and still. Their children never cry, their attention never wavers, they never smile. They are dressed, almost without exception in home-made "Christian Modest Clothing," styled very much along Prairie or Mormon Fundamentalist lines. I have met these families outside of Mass, and they are lovely people, but the clothing and the somber stillness disturb me. Whatever happened to Catholic Passion?

We Catholics have a tradition of beauty, passion, and ostentatious joy that it seems we are abandoning in favour of the puritanical notion that modesty must mean shapeless jumpers, bulky dresses, and the abandonment of beauty for sensible similarity. But we are Catholic! Look at any church that holds true to Catholic building ideals, look are our art, our Icons; listen to our chants, our prayers. Look back at the history of the Church and see her passion for beauty. The sacramental nature of our Church demands that we strive for beauty in modesty, not modesty alone.

But look up modest Catholic clothing on the internet: in general, the clothing you find will not encourage women to believe that Catholic modesty is beautiful. Look up Jewish or Muslim clothing though and the options for modest, beautiful, funky fashions open up. Two I particularily like are and It seems that Catholics have some catching up to do when it comes to clothing. We need to remind ourselves that we are called to be an "Alleluia from head to foot," to reflect the beauty of God to the best of our ability, and to remind the world that "Truth is beautiful in itself."


  1. here here em! I know we talked about this one the phone, but I do think that modesty also demands that one draw attention to beauty. It's like Mrs. Dougherty said, pounding emphathetically on the hardwood table: Beauty, Truth, and Goodness-- they are never apart from eachother.

    Keep writing! Seth is a husband! ( giggle!)

  2. Oh Thanks Loretta!
    Mrs. Dougherty got it better than a lot of the Steubenville moms, particuarly Mrs. Hahn, who didn't seem to get it at all.

    Love you,

  3. i think it's like holly used to say: it's all about attitude. I think sometimes when you have confronted a particularly hard past where you have regrets it's more difficult to see beauty in yourself mostly because you have pride and it's hard to accept the beauty of forgiveness.