Modesty: Your Body is a Temple (Pt 2)
Thinking about modesty can often feel discouraging or confusing especially regarding dress. Many of us have maybe grown up with our culture telling us that it’s fine to wear anything. Learning the Church teaching on modesty and trying to figure out how to apply it can at first seem overwhelming. Personally when I first started learning about modesty, I had many questions. Maybe you have felt judged by what some women say about modesty and how we should or shouldn’t dress. I wondered in the past: “what is the big deal?”
I believe that God does look at the heart. Yet it is also true that what we do with our bodies affects the soul and He also cares about the purity of our bodies. Modesty – not just in dress, but in actions and speech, since it is a virtue – is something that helps to guard chastity and thus the purity of our souls after Baptism. It also comes from within, and perhaps we can think of it as an exterior expression of an interior reality: so that the physical and the spiritual sides of our nature are in harmony. When others look at me, do they see a daughter of God who is striving to emulate Our Lady? Do I show in my actions and appearance that I am more than a body; do I point to the reality that our souls will last eternally and were made for participation in God’s own life? Do I show that my values are those of a Christian and not those promoted in our world?
As I considered all this, the image that came to my mind was that of a bride. Brides wear white as a symbol of purity and innocence. Though the symbolism may have become forgotten today, a bride dressed in a beautiful white gown rejoices when her bridegroom finally sees her. She looks forward to wearing this special dress. What if we considered modesty in a similar way? So often it can feel like a burden, instead of something we can offer to God with a joyful heart. It took me a long time to see it that way because I was worrying about myself and others’ opinions, rather than turning it into an act of love. It is a sign and an expression, yet in this case it is more than this because it also guards the purity it represents. Turning modesty into an expression of my heart has helped with my worries of it being self-righteous, because the focus is on the reality within.
Each soul is like a bride as it receives Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. You are His precious daughter whom He loves and desires to unite Himself with. I invite you to spend some time with Him in Adoration and reflect on His gaze, so sweet, gentle and pure; on His way of speaking; picture Him walking through the streets or the desert, so recollected and attracting others to follow Him simply by His presence. Our call as Christians is to be transformed by grace into His likeness. As we grow more and more, and Jesus takes possession of everything in us, His presence would shine brighter and brighter until others see Him and not us. In this, our personalities do not disappear but become just like unique stain-glass windows in church through which His light shines. Modesty is one of the ways of following the Divine Bridegroom of our souls who is perfectly modest and chaste, and of following Our Blessed Mother who is the most perfect daughter of God. In seeking greater modesty, we would also bring joy to our Guardian Angel as we are constantly in His sight.