What is modesty anyway?

modestyI was trying to write this post on modesty, and then I realised I was way too cheeky. So I scrapped the first version and am now re-writing the post from the position of someone who struggles with modesty.

I’m 38 now, overweight and knackered from my 3 kids – which helps. It was much more of a struggle when I was younger and totally hot and had loads of energy. In someways it is actually a relief to be too tired to be bothered about how I look, and all that male attention I used to get is really the last thing I want nowadays. However, I’m not dead yet. I think it is important to look nice. But there is a difference between looking nice and looking sexy.

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The truth is, if you are a woman and you have a pulse, men are going to find you attractive. It took me many years and many prayers before it dawned on me that being a woman comes with a huge amount of responsibility. It also helped when I started to learn about how porn effects a mans brain to the point where it can quite easily become a fully fledged addiction. Suddenly the smug ego trip I used to get from all the attention changed into the horrifying emptiness of the thought that some of those men would actually be aiming for holiness and I was causing them to stumble.

I started to think about how I was dressing, but quickly realised that modesty is much, much more than just the clothes we wear. It is attitude, behaviour, motivation. Lets face it – it is possible to be covered up from head to toe and still lick an ice-lolly in an immodest way. You see my point?

It is possible to wear a burka, a space suit or bin bag and STILL flash that smile and bat those eyelashes. Modesty is not just about how we present ourselves on the outside, but also what out motivations are on the inside.

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I wanted to be desired by the men and envied by the women. But it was all very much under the surface. I don’t think I was even totally aware of it myself. I wanted attention. I wanted to feel special. I wanted to feel loved and adored. I wanted to feel successful. Modern western society taught me that I would gain these things by being sexually appealing.

But my desires were not fulled by love or goodness. They were fulled by fear. The truth is that I had a self esteem problem. Deep down I didn’t believe I was special, or lovable, and so what I was trying to do was to prove to myself that I was. The problem was that the attention I was getting from men was not fulled by love or goodness either – it was fulled by lust, which meant that I was never finding the attention and love I so desperately needed – which only made me try harder to find it by becoming more and more appealing. It is a vicious circle – and it only gets harder as we age.

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If I am honest, I do still struggle with modesty, not so much in a sexual way now, but in a reality kind of way. Even now I still have echos of those deep fears that I am somehow not appealing enough as a person, and it is all too easy to paint that smile on and present a version of myself on social media that is more appealing than the real person sitting behind the keyboard. You do it too…

I am finding that the more I meditate on how Christ sees me, the less concerned I am becoming about how other people see me – or even how I see myself. Ironically, I have trouble accepting His love. Perhaps because I still don’t really believe I am worthy of it – which of course I am not, but He chooses to give it to me anyway. I hold my crucifix and still can’t figure that one out.  With Him there is no need to try. There is no need for hair dye or botox or breast implants. He created me – He knows all my flaws, inside and out, and He still loves me. For some reason I find that extremely painful and overwhelming and often find myself holding my crucifix and wiping my tears. But I guess healing does hurt sometimes.

And the real punchline here is that my whole life – while I have been trying my hardest to get peoples attention left right and centre, I missed the fact that He was there all along trying to get mine.

 

The first time I wore a mantilla…

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Rhoslyn Thomas wears a Di Clara Aubergine Mini Mantilla.

By Rhoslyn Thomas.

The first time it ever occurred to me that I might like to veil, I was 21 and walking home from Mass. I admitted to my friend that I was having thoughts about wearing a mantilla. We both laughed: What was happening to me?! This wasn’t ‘me’ at all. But we had both changed a lot in that last year and we were slowly getting used to the idea of letting God take the reins in our lives.

A few weeks later, I was living about 60km outside of Rome and attending, almost daily, an Old Rite Mass celebrated by the FSSP. I wanted so much to cover my head in Mass, not because anyone ever pressured me, but because I thought it was a beautiful gesture. However, I was very nervous and self-conscious.

Someone had once mentioned veiling to me on pilgrimage. She told me that our hair is our glory and that by covering it, we honor God while we are in His presence, i.e. in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. I am ashamed to say that, before this short conversation, I actually thought that women who wore veils were a bit oppressed! As I began to become interested in veiling, I very quickly realized that this assumption could not be further from the truth (if only I could have seen myself now, how I would have laughed!).

The first time I finally worked up the courage to cover my hair during Mass, I was absolutely terrified. I wanted to do it so much, but in my mind I felt everyone was watching me. I sat at the back of the church in Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini in central Rome and tried to forget all my worries.

I actually felt different when I was wearing it. In a very short time, my mantilla came to be a great help to me in concentrating on the Mass and in helping me to differentiate between the outside world and God’s house, where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass would take place and where I am in the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

At home, the reaction to my mantilla is almost always overwhelmingly positive. People just realize somehow that it is a very beautiful reverent thing to do in a sacred place. Now it is second nature to me and I would not be without my veil.

For those who are just starting out with veiling, a mini-mantilla might just be the thing for you. It is not as big as a full size mantilla and is also really practical if you are dealing with young kids at Mass. I have promised myself an early Christmas present of a purple one I can wear during Advent!

Until you veil, it’s hard to describe what it will do for you. The best way to find out would be to just try it! If you are feeling nervous then just start wearing it at home while you pray, then you might want to wear it at adoration, and before you know it you will have the desire to wear it every time you step into the church!

Before long, you’ll come to see how much more a veil will be to you than just a piece of material.

For a full range of mantilla veils, I would recommend www.diclara.co.uk who offer flat rate shipping worldwide.

My high point of the 2016 Olympics – Bikini vs Burkini.

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Nothing illustrates the culture clash of Islam and the west better than a bikini vs burkini olympic volleyball match.

At least the Italian woman has remembered to protect her eyes, hey?! That’s a nice pair of Sunglasses! 😀

I find myself looking at the inappropriateness of both these outfits in regards to the sport being played and wonder which one I actually prefer. I guess if I looked anywhere near as good as the woman on the left then I would probably feel right at home in a pair of dental-floss knickers. But the fact remains that after 3 kids I would probably prefer to heap my fat porridge belly into the outfit on the right. 😀

But seriously, I’m not sure I would be too happy about letting my teenage son watch this match on TV…

Unlike the West, Islam has not passed through a secular sexual revolution. I do not like very much about Islam, but I do appreciate their value of modesty – even if they do take it to the Nth degree.

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And this is probably the time to articulate my pet hate about semi naked women in church. Why?! Why do you not think about what you are wearing?! What are your clothes saying to the men around you – including the priest? Why come to church in hotpants?! Why expose the rest of us to your acres of naked flesh?! Why does my husband have to have your butt in his face when he is trying to pray?!

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And then of course there are the strapless bridesmaids dresses…

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But seriously, more and more these days I am finding that the western sexual revolution has run its sordid course. Modesty has actually become counter cultural in our society, which means like everything else counter cultural, it is going to be attracting those who find themselves disillusioned and unsatisfied with what western secular culture has to offer.

And while the Feminazis brains go into shut down at the sight of this volleyball match due to not knowing which of the women is more oppressed and exploited, someone needs to teach all those people disillusioned and unsatisfied with our hyper sexualised culture about modesty, and religion.

And if the Christians don’t do it, the Muslims will be more than happy to do so.