To: Immodestly Dress Women
From: Fr. John Lyons

Immodest Dress Is Not
Allowed In Church

“At this time we most especially need to remind girls
and women to not wear immodest low-cut dresses or blouses.
Women and girls should be careful that their dress is
not revealing at all, even when they bend over or kneel

Blogger Note: All headlines are added for effect. The priest was much more delicate than the headlines used.

My fellow Dads, this priest defends the dignity of women. He even has the courage to refuse Holy Communion to properly informed women wearing immodest dress.

Immodest Dress Defined

Father John Lyons defines immodesty as ANYTHING Revealing.

  • Do you defend this definition on immodestly dressing?

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24 Responses to Immodest Dress, The Catholic Church & Priest

  1. John Jansen says:

    There's a big problem with defining immodest dress as "ANYTHING Revealing", as the word "anything" is open to interpretation.

  2. Anonymous says:

    And why is it that women are always the ones who get hammered for "immodest dress"? Last week I was treated to the sight of a young man whose pants didn't just bag down his back side, but his entire buttocks (encased in boxers) were hanging out.

  3. RobK says:

    Anonymous is right, though the reaction of "why are you picking on women" seems odd. After all, pointing out that others are wrong too, doesn't make something right. There is probably a slight difference between the provocative attire of young women and the slobbish and revolting attire of many boys. We should all be conscious of not leading others into sin – especially at mass.Noevertheless, Anonymous is right in that this is more than an issue of girls/women. It is more than a young old issue. Ultimately, I think it is bigger than a modesty issue. At one level it is a respect problem. At a deeper level (imho) it is a faith problem.If you believe that at mass we come to meet Christ in the real presence of the Eucharist and celebrate the sacrifice of the mass, then how can we dress so inappropriately? How can people wear t-shirts? How can anyone wear flip-flops anywhere (not just those in the sanctuary)? Or clothing that is revealing?What happened to our Sunday best? I think the answer is that to many believe that nothing special happens at mass. The root of the problem is faith not immodesty – immodesty (and other inappropriate dress) is merely a symptom of the real disease.

  4. The Dutchman says:

    One hot August Sunday, about fifteen years ago, I went to a parish I'd never been to before. Before the homily began, the celebrant said, "We shouldn't take this hot weather as an excuse to dress indecently. Why — there are some women I can see from here who shouldn't leave the house dressed as they are."I've been going to that parish ever since.

  5. John Michael says:

    And why is it that women are always the ones who get hammered for "immodest dress"?There are exceptions, we agree. Men need to step up to the plate and take ownership. Let's flip it around. The same thing could be said if the article was about pornography. Why should articles about pornography be geared towards men when we can show examples of women with the same problem?Father is addressing the main issue and not the exceptions. JMJ

  6. Subvet says:

    I doubt looking at some boy with his butt crack showing is going to prove as arousing as a girl with skirt so high she can't even decently genuflect.Thus the concern for immodesty in women while men get a pass. Double standard? Sure it is, but thats how life is all too often. And Dutch, I'd LOVE to find that parish you go to. My own is fairly decent but there are times I think all that might be missing is a pole in the foyer for some of the younger women to work out on. Unfortunately that includes a few of the altat servers.

  7. The Dutchman says:

    Sub:John Jansen and I both attend Saint John Cantius here in Chicago. Latin mass, altar BOYS, full length cassocks, people lined up every Sunday for confession — it's quite a place!

  8. cubegirl says:

    I REALLY don't think it matters what anyone wears to church. We're born naked. I even read somewhere that God has x-ray specs that can see through our clothes. Do you REALLY think He cares if my shirt has a picture of Him or a picture of.. (I dunno).. Guns n' Roses? Or if part of my neck is showing? God doesn't worry too much about such trivial things.

    • ModestMama says:

      That's so stupid. You need to read 'Immodesty: Satan's Virtue' and 'Dressing with Dignity'.

  9. RobK says:

    cubegirl,It is important to have an educated conscience. The modesty says more about the person who is immodest than it does about God. It is the immodest person who says that they do not care about God or neighbor. Here is a bit from the Chatechism. Perhaps that will help. "Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden" (CCC # 2521)"Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It is discreet" (CCC # 2522)"There is a modesty of the feelings as well as of the body. It protests, for example, against the voyeuristic explorations of the human body in certain advertisements, or against the solicitations of certain media that go too far in the exhibition of intimate things. Modesty inspires a way of life which makes it possible to resist the allurements of fashion and the pressures of prevailing ideologies" (CCC # 2523)"Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person" (CCC # 2524)

  10. The Dutchman says:

    CubeGirl:I’m afraid that you are hopelessly naive. The simple fact is that if you dress like a tart, people will treat you like a slut.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I don't care what people wear to church. Located close-to-downtown, our parish is a hub of homeless and barely housed people who often don't have a weekday wardrobe, much less a Sunday one. Shorts? Tshirts? flip-flops? They are upright and recognize the Body of Christ when they encounter It. And so do we.

  12. RobK says:

    Fair enough Anonymous. Would you agree then that the discussion is contained within one's means?I grew up in a family that was definitely on the lower end of the scale when I was young. It was tough for my parents. Our best was nowhere near best for others, but when we dressed for Church it was the best we had.We need to be wary of treating those of lower means as though they are sub-human and that such issues just don't apply to "them". I suspect there are many, who will go out of their way to put their "best" on – whatever that may be.

  13. cubegirl says:

    I just don't see the point of all of you judging everyone's wardrobe choices. It's only clothes. Jesus — I'm sure — couldn't care less if you wear sweats or crushed velvet.Ah, and dutchman.. I actually dress pretty conservatively. I'm only secretly slutty 😉

  14. RobK says:

    Cube girl Here are three reasons why people should care about this – especially fathers who teach their children. It isn't about "judging" it is about using your judgment.1. We mist recognizing the dignity and immensity of what is taking place, we must respond in kind. The Eucharist is HUGE. It is important. It is the source and summit of our life. How should one dress for that? Like they rolled out of bed? Like a day at the beach? Like they are headed to a night club?2. Not leading others into temptation. Christ says that should a man lust after a woman he has already committed adultery in his heart. Knowing that, should people try to encourage or discourage the downfall of others – especially at mass.3. Not being modest disrespects one's self. It is treating our bodies – a tremendous gift, as if they were cheap and of little value.

  15. Naive says:

    Cubegirl, it's understandable that people have been mislead or untaught. I'll address two of your statements: "God doesn't worry too much about such trivial things," and "It's only clothes." First, God does not ignore details that you pooh-pooh as "trivial." The Bible says that God concerns himself with every hair on the billions of human heads, and with how every flower is clothed, and whether or not the birds have food to eat. He certainly paid attention to creating all the detailed laws of the sciences. So there's good evidence that he does concern himself with small details such as how you decorate the Temple of the Holy Spirit, which is your body, which is in Mass to receive the living Body of Christ. Also remember that to whom much is given, much is expected. God knows the difference between the clothes He has given you and the clothes He has given the homeless person. The widow gave only a mite, and yet God knew her sacrifice was the greatest offering in the temple that day. You should offer God your best – not the same as what you offer the secular world. Cubegirl, the second statement implies that clothes are powerless. Clothes are not powerless. Wearing such clothing gains attention in public. If it didn't, people wouldn't buy those clothes. (I bet you're smart enough that you don't really believe your own statement.) In Church it's no different. The point of the Mass is to focus on Jesus and His sacrifice that we receive. By wearing inappropriate clothing, we distract others from focusing on the Mass. Wearing appropriate clothing (whether men or women) helps everyone focus on the Mass. Part of the reason God put us on earth together is to help each other get to heaven. We should at least help each other get through Mass. This is part of Christian charity. And finally, the Church is the Pillar and Bulwark of the Faith – the Defender and Teacher of the Faith. So if the priest says such and such behavior is inappropriate, we shouldn't do it – even if we don't understand why. The priest says it because it's in the best interest of the members of the Body of Christ. It is our job to bend our will to the will of Christ rather than to challenge His Church. That means that if we don't understand why, we should do what the Church says anyway, and we should pray for understanding.

  16. cubegirl says:

    naive, I wonder if you truly believe this one.. or wish you hadn't said it:So if the priest says such and such behavior is inappropriate, we shouldn't do it – even if we don't understand why.Priests aren't perfect. If a priest told you to gouge your eyes out.. you'd do it.. and ask for understanding later?Anyway, I must go dance naked in my livingroom. (Please picture me clothed in only the best crushed velvet, and pray for me!)

  17. Naive says:

    Hi Cubegirl, While it's true that priests are human, the teaching of the Church is not. I’ll have to look up the citations, but the Church does teach that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and therefore we should treat it as such – including clothing it appropriately. Perhaps you missed the context of my statement. Here are some clarifications. If the priest is stating the teaching of the Church, then we should follow it. If the priest is telling you to do something that is against the teaching of the Church, such as gouging your eyes for no reason, then we should not follow it. My statement of following the priest was in the context of the teaching of the Church. If you did not misunderstand my statement, but rather took it out of context for exaggeration, then you should realize that is evasion. It gives the impression that you're unable or unwilling to process and answer the information presented to you. If you are unable to answer, it is right to pause and think so that you can answer well. (Do you have a response to address any of the points presented to you?) If you are unwilling to answer, you should ask yourself "Why?" As Christians, we seek Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Many people quit their side of a discussion because they can not reason their side further, and because facing the Truth is inconvenient to their lifestyle.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Regarding poverty and dress code:A previous parish priest of ours put it quite well–"I have no problem with someone wearing a pair of ripped jeans to Church, providing that's all he has. If he has other, better stuff in his closet, then there's a problem".I get a little tired of the "why don't men get the same rap" thing, regarding women and immodest clothing. Last I checked, women were created a little different from men. In general, don't men tend to be turned on more by what they see, while women do not *generally* have the same propensity??? Of course we all, regardless of sex, have the duty to dress modestly so as not to be a source of scandal or sin to others. Especially during Holy Mass. But, immodesty seems to affect men more in the arena of temptations against purity than it does women. Whether or not the man gives in to the temptation is HIS failing/sin. However, the Church has always been clear that those who lead others into sin are also culpable. Of course the degree of culpability is only known to God and the person(s) involved.Would you give a pack of cigs to someone swearing off smoking, a glass of Scotch to an avowed alcholic? Why bare it all–or most of it–when it may be a cause of temptation to others? Is this charitable and in the spirit of love of neighbour that Jesus and Mary would have us live by?God Bless,Embattled Catholic

  19. Jeremy says:

    Here's a nice book on the subject…Dressing with DignityMy wife and I both read it and it's changed our lives!

  20. Anonymous says:

    People shouldn't dress immodestly, regardless of their gender. If you follow that rule, then your dress at Mass shouldn't be an issue. By immodestly I mean showing me more of your flesh than I care to see, which frankly is not much at all. I seriously don't care if people wear modest jeans or clothes that aren't their best to Mass. People are petty – I trust that God is not. I think its great that anyone bothers to attend, unlike 70-80% of Catholics these days anyway. I think I would address the attrition issue before trying to get everyone to dress up.anonymous#2

  21. Michael says:

    I'm glad that many of the Catholics still care about modest dress. As a Latter-Day Saint (Mormon), I was beginning to wonder if we were the only religion still practicing that in America. Sadly many of our women of all ages our starting to wear more revealing attire. Sure it's modest by the World's standards. But that's how it starts.Signed, "The Prude"

  22. I value your blog post, write some more.

  23. Not judgemental says:

    There are a few things here I wish to comment on:
    1. Men need to learn to control themselves whether at Mass, at work or on the street. Control your self before you try to control others.
    2. In my experience revealing clothes are often cheaper than non-revealing ones and many women in this time of the Great Recession cannot afford anything but the cheapest.
    3. You can go to a high end department store to buy a woman's suit and you will be hard pressed to find ones that do not have above the knee skirts in formal suits that are $300 on sale! Most of us cannot afford dressmakers.
    4. I knew a woman who had put on weight and her skirts were hiked up because of that. People, like many of the writers here, criticized her. What they did not know was that she could not afford new clothes because she and her husband were helping out both sets of parents as well as taking care of their own five children. We all need to be less judgmental of others as we do not know their circumstances and that includes self-righteous priests. Let God be the judge.