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Part 2B of Pope Pius XII’s Allocution to the “Latin High Fashion Union”

Therefore the Church neither blames nor condemns fashion when it is aimed toward the just dignity and adornment of the body; however, it never fails to put the faithful on guard against a facile misdirection of it.

This positive attitude of the Church derives from motives very much higher than those purely aesthetic or hedonistic ones assumed by a renewed paganism. She [the Church] knows and passes on that the human body, God’s masterpiece in the visible world, at the soul’s service, was elevated by the Divine Redeemer into a Temple and instrument of the Holy Spirit; and must be respected as such. Therefore, its beauty must not be exalted as an end in itself, and even less, so as to demean that acquired dignity.

On this concrete ground, it is undeniable that alongside honest fashion, there is another that is an shameless cause of disturbance in ordered spirits, if not actually an incentive toward evil. It is always difficult to indicate, with universal norms, the boundaries between honesty and immodesty of a hairstyle depend on many factors; however, the so-called relativity of fashion with respect to times, places, persons, and education is not a valid reason to renounce, a priori, a moral judgment on this or that fashion, that at that moment, goes beyond the limits of normal reserve. Almost without being questioned, this immediately averts one from where provocativeness and seduction, the idolatry of material things and luxury, or just frivolousness, are sheltered; and if designers of shameless fashion, or of contraband perversion, are skilled in mixing it into a set of aesthetic elements that are honest in themselves, unfortunately human sensuality is more dextrous at discovering it and quickly feeling its fascination. As said elsewhere, a greater sensibility for being warned of evil’s snare — far from constituting a label of blame for those gifted with it, as if it were a mark of internal depravity — is on the contrary, the countersign of chastity of the soul and vigilance of the passions. But as long as the moral relativity of fashion may be vast and unstable, it always exists as an absolute of salvation, after having listened to conscience’s admonition as a warning of danger: Fashion must never provide a near occasion of sin.

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Part 2A of Pope Pius XII’s Allocution to the Latin High Fashion Union

Part II
Defining the moral problem of fashion and its solutions

If it is not that the problem of fashion constitutes reconciling the person’s external ornament with the internal ornament of “a tranquil and modest spirit” in an equilibrium of harmony. But an internal moral problem truly exists around such an external, contingent, and relative fact, if some are asking themselves, ‘What is fashion?’And if this is granted, in what terms is the problem going to be posed, and with what principles should it be resolved?

There is not a cause to deplore at length the insistence of not a few of our contemporaries to force a removal of moral dominion over the exterior activities of Man, as if they belonged to another universe, and as if Man himself were not the subject, the end, and therefore, the responsible person, before the Supreme Ordainer of all things. It is very true that fashion (like art, science, politics, and similar activities that are called “profane”) has its own norms for achieving an immediate end for which it has been appointed; always and invariably their subject is Man, who cannot set aside those activities from turning toward the ultimate and supreme End, to which he himself is ordered totally and essentially. So the moral problem of fashion does exist, not only insofar as it is a generic human activity, but more specifically in how much it is expressed in a common field, or one very close to evident moral values, and even more, in how much fashion’s purposes, honest in themselves, are more open to being confused with the crooked inclinations of human nature, fallen through original sin, and transmuted into an occasion of sin and of scandal. Such a propensity of corrupt nature to abuse fashion not infrequently led ecclesiastical tradition to treat it with suspicion and severe judgments, expressed with lively firmness by distinguished sacred orators and zealous missionaries and even by the “bonfire of the vanities,” which were reckoned among the people as efficacious eloquence, in conformity with the customs and austerity of those times. By such manifestations of severity, which at the foundation showed the Church’s maternal solicitude for the good of souls and the moral values of civilization, however, it is not licit to argue that Christianity demands an almost absolute abjuration of the cultivation or care of the physical person, or its external dignity. Anyone concluding this in this sense would demonstrate himself to have forgotten how the Apostle of the Gentiles wrote, “The women should adorn themselves — in decent clothing, with self-control and modesty.” (1 Tim. 2:9)

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Part 1C of Pope Pius XII’s Allocution to the Latin High Fashion Union

Although an economic factor is this activity’s driving force, the soul is always the “fashion designer” — that is, the one who, with an intelligent choice of fabrics, of colors, of cut and line, and of accessories, gives life to a new expressive fashion design that is appreciated by the general public. It goes without saying how difficult this art is — the fruit of genius and experience, and even more, of a feeling for the taste of the moment. A design which is certain of fortunate success acquires the importance of an invention; it is surrounded by secrecy in preparation for the “launch;” and then when put on sale, it is sold for high prices while the information media give it wide circulation, speaking of it as if it were an event of national interest. The influence of fashion designers is so decisive that even the textile industry is guided by them to plan its own production, both for quality and quantity. Their social influence is equally great, in their part in interpreting public custom. So if fashion has always been the exterior expression of a people’s customs, today it is even more so, rather than when its phenomenon evolved as the fruit of reflection and care.

But the formation of taste and preferences in the people, and the steering of Society itself toward serious or decadent customs does not depend only on fashion designers, but also on all of the complex organization of fashion, and especially on manufacturers and critics in that more refined sectors which has clients from the highest social classes, taking the name of Haute Couture, as if to designate through it the source of the currents which people then follow almost blindly, as if through a magic spell.

At this hour, in the face of so many elevated values being called into question by fashion and sometimes jeopardized — so many that we have enumerated them here with quick hints — there providentially appears a work of people who are prepared both as Christians and in a technical way, who propose thus to contribute to freeing fashion from trends that cannot be commended; of people who look above all to the art of knowing how to dress, whose purpose is indeed (however partially) to accent the beauty of the human body, that masterpiece of divine Creation, in a way that would not be hidden in shadows, but exalted — as it was expressed by the Prince of the Apostles, by”the incorruptible ornament of a tranquil and modest spirit, which is so precious in the eyes of God.” (1 Peter 3:4, Italian translation)

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Part 1B of Pope Pius XII’s Allocution to the “Latin High Fashion Union”.

Even as the origin and purpose of clothing is clear, so is the natural exigency of Modesty, understood both in the broadest significance — which also includes due consideration for the sensibility of others toward objects that are repugnant to the view — and above all, as a protection for moral character, and an avoidance of disordered sensuality. The singular opinion which attributes a sense of modesty to the relativity of this or that education — which, indeed considers it almost as a conceptual deformation of an innocent reality, a false product of civility, and even a spur to bad character and a wellspring of hypocrisy — is not supported by any serious reason; on the contrary, it meets an explicit condemnation in the supervening repugnance toward those people who, at times, have dared to adopt it as a system of life, confirming in this manner the rectitude of common sense, manifested in universal customs. Modesty — paying attention to its strictly moral meaning whatever its origin — is founded on the innate and more or less conscious tendency of each person to defend one’s own physical wellbeing against the indiscriminate greediness of another — which with a prudent choice of circumstances, is akin to reserving it for the Creator’s wise purposes, uniformed by Him with the mail hauberk of chastity and modesty. This latter virtue, bashfulness, has the synonym “modesty,” from the Latin “modus,” measure or limit; which perhaps expresses better its function of governing and mastering the passions, particularly the sensual ones — and it is the natural bulwark and strong outer wall of chastity, since it moderates the acts proximately connected to the particular object of chastity. As his guard is raised, Modesty makes the human feel her warning, even before he acquires the use of reason, and even before he first learns the notion of chastity and its object; and [Modesty] accompanies him throughout his entire life, requiring that certain acts, decent in themselves, are protected by the discreet veil of shadow and the reserve of silence, as if to reconcile them with the respect due to the dignity of their grand purpose — because they are divinely willed.

Therefore, it is just that Modesty, as if it is the repository of such precious goods, should claim for itself a prevalent authority over any other tendency or caprice, and should preside over the determination of styles of dress.

And here is the third final purpose of clothing, from which fashion most directly draws its origin, and which answers that innate exigency felt most by Woman — to emphasize the beauty and dignity of the human person by the exact same methods that provide satisfaction to the other two [purposes]. To avoid restricting the amplitude of this third exigency to physical beauty alone; and even more to remove a desire for seduction from the phenomenon of fashion, as its first and only cause; the term “elegance” is preferable to that of “adornment.” An inclination to elegant decorum of person manifestly proceeds from Nature, and is therefore lawful.

Leaving aside a recourse to clothing in order to conceal physical imperfections, Youth asks clothing for that accentuation of their glow which sings the happy melody of life’s springtime, and in harmony with the dictates of Modesty, makes it easier to start the psychology necessary for the formation of a new family. Meanwhile, Maturity means to obtain an aura of dignity, seriousness, and serene happiness from appropriate clothing. In any case in which one so aims to accentuate the moral beauty of the human person, the form of dress will be such as to almost eclipse what is physical by an austere shadow of concealment, to turn the attention of the senses away and concentrate in its place on the reflection of the spirit.

Considered from this broader side, clothing has its own multiform language — and it is efficacious, sometimes spontaneous, and therefore faithfully interprets feelings and customs — and at other times, it is conventional and artificial, and as a consequence is scarcely sincere. In any manner, it is given to clothing to express joy and grief, authority and power, pride and simplicity, riches and poverty, the sacred and the profane. The concreteness of its expressive forms depends on the traditions and culture of this people or that; when they change more slowly, the institutions, characters and feelings that those shapes interpret are more stable.

Fashion pays attention expressly to give emphasis to physical beauty — it is an ancient art of uncertain origins, a complex mix of psychological and social factors, that is here; and which in the present has attained an indisputable importance in public life, both as an aesthetic expression of custom, and as a desire of the public and a convergence of relevant economic interests. From well-founded observation of the phenomenon, it seems that fashion is not just a bizarrerie of forms, but a meeting point of diverse psychological and moral factors such as the taste for beauty, the thirst for newness, the affirmation of personality, and the intolerance of boredom, no less than luxury, ambition, and vanity. However, fashion is elegance conditioned toward continuous mutation, in such a way that its own instability becomes its most evident identification mark. The reason for its perpetual change — slower in fundamental lines, most rapid in secondary variations, arriving seasonally — always gives insight to the anxiety of surpassing the past, aided by the frenetic disposition of the contemporary age, which has a tremendous power to burn through everything destined to satisfy the imagination and the senses, in a short time. It is understandable that new generations reaching out for their own future, having dreamed of different and better things than what belonged to their parents, feel a need to break loose from not only their forms of dress, but from the objects and furnishings which most clearly remind them of a kind of life that they want to surpass. But the extreme instability of present-day fashion is determined over all by the will of its designers and influencers, who have, on their side, methods unknown in the past: such as the enormous and varied textile industry, the inventive fertility of modistes, the ease of media information and launches through the press and movies and television and exhibitions and fashion shows. The rapidity of change is also favored by a sort of silent race (really not new) among the “elites” who are eager to assert their own personality with original styles of clothing, and the public, which immediately gloms onto them through copies that are more or less good. Nor should one neglect the other subtle and decadent motive – the care of the modistes — who rely on drawing away attention from others in order to ensure the success of their own creations, and who are aware of the effect caused by continually provoking a renewed surprise and caprice.

Another characteristic of today’s fashion is that, while remaining principally an aesthetic matter, it also has assumed the properties of an economic element of major proportions. The few old tailors of haute couture, who dictated the laws of elegance without a challenge in the world of European culture, from this or that metropolis, have been replaced by numerous organizations with powerful financial means, who, to shape the taste of whole populations while satisfying clothing needs, stimulate their desires, in order to build ever larger markets. The causes of this transformation are found, on the one hand, in the so-called “democratization” of fashion, by which an ever greater number of individuals are subjected to the spell of elegance; on the other hand, it is found in technical progress, which allows the mass production by fashion designers of so-called “confections” that would otherwise be costly, but are now made easily purchasable at stores. In this way there arose the world of fashion, which includes artists and artisans, industrialists and retail workers, editors and critics, and an entire class of lowly laborers as well, who all make their livings from fashion.

Yep, this is really long. There’s about three more paragraphs before we get through Part One! Also, I think my head will explode if he says “psychological” again….

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Apponius on Christ’s Burial

“The Church — that is, the crowd of the faithful — has found liberty in His teaching; life in His death; undisturbed quietness in His burial; and rest in His hard labors — by which deeds He has rid them of the demons’ scourges, every day.

[At the Holy Sepulchre] “…the conjoining of the Son of God and the Church was celebrated… there the Church was rewarded by finding with Him the delectable sleep of His Passion, and the eternal joy of His wakefulness….”

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The Magnificat Says Mary Knew

I’ve been studying the Greek 101 course on The Great Courses, off and on. (Not very diligently. Basically, whenever I’ve got enough brainpower.)

Not long after the bit where you realize you can understand the first five lines of the Iliad, the second episode about dactylic hexameter includes a portion of Luke’s Gospel, where Gabriel speaks to the Virgin Mary. And yesterday, thinking about it, I noticed something that connects to the Magnificat.

St. Gabriel says about the son that Mary is being asked to bear, “He will be great.” (Literally, “Houtos estai megas,” He will be big/great/important.)

Some people say that Mary couldn’t have known Who her son was. But St. Elizabeth knew right away. The Spirit of the Lord came upon her, and she cried out in a loud voice (“krauge megale“) that Mary was “the mother of my Lord.”

Well, obviously the Holy Spirit had done a lot more quality time with Mary, by overshadowing her, and God Himself was right there inside! Prophecy might occur!

So what does Mary say about her unborn son?

Megalynei he psyche mou ton Kyrion.” (Literally, My soul makes the Lord big, or My soul displays/proclaims that the Lord is big. “Megalynei” has the extended sense of “extols.”)

Mary is clearly alluding to her promised son being the Lord Himself! And then she underlines it, saying as a pregnant woman:

“Hoti epoiesen moi megala ho Dynatos.” (The Mighty One has done big things to/at me.) Like in her womb. Getting big.

But wait, there’s more! In Luke 1:58, after Mary had gone home and Elizabeth had given birth, the neighbors and relatives of Elizabeth heard that: “…hoti emegalynen Kyrios to eleos autou met autes, kai synechairon aute.” (“….that the Lord was magnifying His Mercy with her, and they rejoiced with her.” And notice Gabriel’s greeting being echoed with “chaire.”) So literally, the double meaning was that the Lord had been staying at her house, working on getting big!

Probably this is old news to a lot of you, but I’ve never heard it pointed out before. (And this allusion pattern is probably why some scholars are super-anxious to deny Mary’s composition of the Magnificat — because it shows that she understood what was going on, and was a Bible-contemplating poet as well as a prophetess.)

It would make sense for Luke to back up Mary’s allusions with at least one of his own, because that would show his audience that he also understood what was going on. It also rounds out the story, by alluding to elements of the Annunciation at the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth and name.

This will probably be a better-sounding Marian argument if you say “great” instead of “big.”

UPDATE: The Greek word “megas” is used in the Septuagint to translate Hebrew “gadol,” great (or big!). The Greek word “dynatos” is used to translate Hebrew “gibbor,” which can mean “mighty,” “the Mighty One” (as in Zephaniah 3:17), or “warrior.”

SECOND UPDATE: The sacred extension of the “extols” meaning is “make the Lord’s Name big, by letting other people know His deeds and power.” And it shows up a lot.

Megalynei references at Bill Mounce’s website.

Acts 10:46 — “For they were hearing them speaking in tongues, and exalting [megalynonton] God.”

Acts 19:17 — “And the Name of the Lord Jesus was exalted [emegalyneto].”

Phil. 1:20 — “Christ will be exalted [megalynthesetai] in my body, whether by life or by death.” (See, being Christian does imply identifying with Mary….)

The word also shows up in the Septuagint. One of the most important ones is in Sirach 43:35 — ‘Who shall see [God] and describe Him as He is? Who shall magnify [megalynei] Him as He is, from the beginning?’

Well, apparently Mary will see God, and will magnify Him. So there’s an answer to Ben Sira’s question, heh….

Another super-important LXX reference is 2 Sam. 7:18-29. Mary’s Magnificat refers a ton to the prayer of Samuel’s mother, Hannah; and legend identified her own previously barren mom, Anna/Hannah, as also identifying strongly with Hannah. But Mary was of the House of David, so it’s not surprising that she would also identify strongly with David, since her entire situation was a fulfillment of what the Lord had promised David through the prophet Nathan — that God would be father to the Son of David, that David’s House and kingdom would endure forever, and his throne would endure forever. So Mary refers to David’s thankful response to God, and Elizabeth also calls back to this speech (although obviously 2 Sam. 6:9 and Hannah’s song even more). David calls himself the Lord’s servantman [“doulo” – Hebrew “ebed”] and Mary calls herself His servantwoman or handmaid [“doula”], so the parallel is strong. (And obviously this is the usual OT way to talk directly to God, so it’s not surprising.)

“And David went in, and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that You have brought me thus far? But yet this has seemed little in Your sight, O Lord God… For Your Word’s sake, and according to Your own heart You have done all these great things [megalosynen], so that You would make it known to Your servant. Therefore You are magnified [megalynai], O Lord God, because there is none like to You. 

“And what nation is there upon earth like Your people Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself… and to do for them great things [megalosynen] and awe-inspiring things upon the earth, before the face of Your people…

“And now, O Lord God, raise up for ever the Word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house: and do as You have spoken, so that Your Name may be magnified [megalytheie] for ever… Because You, O Lord of hosts, O God of Israel, have revealed this to the ear of Your servant, saying, ‘I will build You a house.’ Therefore Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to You. 

“And now, O Lord God, You are God, and Your words shall be true, for You have spoken these good things to Your servant… and with Your blessing let Your servant’s House be blessed for ever.”

(Oh, and btw, the Hebrew for “great things” in this passage is “hagedullah,” from “gadol,” and “be magnified” is “weyigdal,” also from “gadol.”)

I love finding all these deep things, just sitting there in plain sight. I guess people think more about Hannah’s Song and the Magnificat because it’s apt for a woman, but there’s a ton of stuff pointing out that David’s response is sort of a bookend to Hannah’s Song. So why wouldn’t Mary refer to them both?

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“My hands, the hands of Christ”

I’ve been chasing this quote a while, in this form, as well as “Christ has no hands but ours/yours” and “Christ has no hands but our hands.” It gets attributed to St. Francis, St. Teresa of Avila, and tons of other saints or religious people.

But apparently this is a version of a real quote from a real saint.

As noted in the post just below, St. Jean-Gabriel Perboyre was a Vincentian missionary in China. On Sept. 11, 1840, he was executed in Wuchang (now part of Wuhan, China) as a traitor in one of the typical ways: tied to a cross, and then strangled by a rope from behind, by the public executioner.

At some point, he had composed a prayer which was included in the 1889 “Vie du Bienheureux Jean-Gabriel Perboyre.” It gets quoted different ways. Here’s the original text, from his French Wikipedia page:

Seigneur, transforme moi 
Que mes mains soient tes mains. 
Que mes yeux soient tes yeux. 
Que ma langue soit ta langue. 
Que mes sens et mon corps ne servent qu'à te glorifier ! 

Mais surtout, transforme-moi 
Que ma mémoire, mon intelligence, mon cœur 
soient ta mémoire, ton intelligence, ton cœur. 
Que mes actions et mes sentiments 
soient semblables à tes actions et à tes sentiments. 

Amen!

Here’s a literal translation into English:

O Lord, transform me. 
May my hands be Your hands. 
May my eyes be Your eyes. 
May my tongue be Your tongue. 
May my mind and my body serve only to glorify You. 

But transform me even more: 
May my memory, my understanding, and my heart 
Be Your memory, Your understanding, and Your heart. 
May my actions and my feelings 
Be likenesses of Your actions and Your feelings. 

Amen!

There’s also a famous hymn/poem from 1919 by Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932) called “The World’s Bible,” which seems to be the biggest source for this quote in English. She was disabled by arthritis while still young, but received consolation from her strong faith.

Christ has no hands but our hands
To do His work today;
He has no feet but our feet
To lead men in His way;
He has no tongues but our tongues
To tell men how He died;
He has no help but our help
To bring them to His side.
We are the only Bible
The careless world will read;
We are the sinner's Gospel,
We are the scoffer's creed;
We are the Lord's last message,
Given in deed and word;
What if the type is crooked?
What if the print is blurred?
What if our hands are busy
With work other than His?
What if our feet are walking
Where sin's allurement is?
What if our tongues are speaking
Of things His lips would spurn?
How can we hope to help Him
And hasten His return?

Before that, there were similar quotes from the Quaker speakers Sarah Eliza Rowntree and Mark Pearse, which seem to have come down through the social justice/liberal side of Christianity.

But those quotes date back to 1888 or so, as opposed to this 1889 quote of a guy who died in 1840.

Of course, the general idea of the Mystical Body comes from St. Paul, and from Jesus. But although we baptized Christians are Christ’s Body mystically, that doesn’t mean that Christ has no body in Heaven or in the Eucharist, or that Christ is powerless if we don’t act. Not only is He alive and active and all-powerful and incarnate. No, if we don’t do it, there’s nothing stopping God from making stones into children of Abraham, or the stones from taking the actions that we’re too lazy to do.

Needless to say, I didn’t find anything in Latin along the lines of “Christus manibus non habet.” The most you get is commentaries pointing out that when the Psalms talk about God’s hand or arm or feet or ears or eyes, the psalmists are not generally being literal. Only Christ is God incarnate, with body parts and clothes. So the idea that this quote is medieval or from the Fathers is just wrong.

But there’s nothing wrong with puttting on Christ and becoming Christ-like, and carrying our crosses like Him. The more we act as His Body and do His Will, the more we let His life come into us and make us eternally alive.

But His hands are our hands when they are wounded, and His Body is our body when we are on the Cross.

That’s the prayer of a martyr. Jesus took him up on it.

UPDATE: An article about St. Jean-Gabriel Perboyre and St. Francis-Regis Clet.

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“De Inhonesto Feminarum Vestiendi More”

A lot is said about supposed Vatican or papal documents on feminine modesty in dress. But the Internet is not exactly great on providing exact information. So here I present a literal (but unofficial) translation of an actual Vatican document.

(The bad news is that the OCR is terrible, and the book is not in public domain in the US. I will try to find an original volume or some microfilm, if I can remember to do it.)

You can find the Latin document in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, Vol. 22 (1930), on pages 26-28.

Here is that volume on vatican.va.

Here is that volume on Documenta Catholica.

Instruction to Diocesan Ordinaries:
“De inhonesto feminarum vestiendi more”

(aka “On a degrading custom of female dress”)

Issued by: The Congregation of the Council (Sacra Congregatio Concilii — now subsumed into the Congregation of the Clergy)

Unofficial translation: Maureen S. O’Brien

——————————-

Our Most Holy Lord Pope, Pius XI, with the force of his supreme apostolate, which is performed within the whole Church, never ceased to teach what St. Paul did — that is, “The women in decorative* apparel, adorning themselves with modesty and sobriety… and with good works, as is right for women professing piety.” (1 Tim. 2:9-10)

And numerous times as occasion was given, the same Supreme Pontifex expressed disapproval sharply, and condemned a degrading custom of dressing among both Catholic women and girls, introduced today here and there, which not only offends gravely against feminine splendor and ornament, but even more is also the true ruin of these women in the temporal world — and what is worse, throws others into the most miserable everlasting ruin.

Therefore, it is nothing strange if bishops, and others in the office of Ordinary, have also opposed this kind of crooked license, and every kind of forwardness, in their own dioceses and with one voice — enduring, with a strong and patient soul, no few mockeries and scorn for this reason, brought upon them by people of bad will.

And so, let this Sacred Council describe the vigilance and merited action of this kind of Sacred Prelate with approval and praise, to the clergy and people of approved discipline. Then may it encourage them vehemently, so that they may persevere what they have undertaken, with advice and a suitable beginning. And let them urge eagerly for the sake of men, until this deadly plague may be rooted out from the honest association of humans.

So that it may be put into effect more easily and safely, this Sacred Congregation has decided to establish what follows:

I. As occasion is given, let parish priests and preachers particularly “insist… reprove, entreat, rebuke” (2 Tim. 4:2) about how women wear clothes, so that they may understand modesty, that they may be the ornament and guard of virtue; and let them warn parents not to allow their daughters to wear disgraceful clothes.

II. Mindful of that most grave obligation which they hold, to care for the morals of their offspring and for their first religious education, let parents show particular diligence so that their daughters may be set up solidly in Christian teaching, from their first years; and let them eagerly kindle the love of the virtue of modesty and chastity in their souls, by word and example. Let them be busy with imitating the Holy Family’s example in their own families, in order to set up and govern their families in that way. And so let each family have a cause and an invitation for loving and serving modesty behind its domestic walls.

III. Let parents keep their daughters away from public drills and assemblies of exercise [in immodest clothes]. If their daughters should be forced to take part, let them take care that their clothing shows that they have dignity. Never allow them to wear degrading clothing.

IV. Let principals of colleges and schoolteachers strive to embue the souls of girls with a love of modesty, so that they may be efficaciously influenced to dress worthily.

V. Let these principals and schoolteachers not admit girls that wear clothes that are less than worthy, into colleges or schools; and let those who have been admitted be sent back to their mothers, unless they stop and become reasonable.

VI. Let religious women** not admit girls, nor tolerate those already admitted, who will not keep a Christian custom of dress, in their colleges, schools, oratories, or recreation facilities, according to the letters from August 23, 1928 sent by the Sacred Congregation of Religious. Indeed, let them show particular care in educating female students, so that the love of holy bashfulness and Christian modesty may drive deep roots into their souls.

VII. Let pious women institute and encourage associations of women, which by advice, example and goal of work may decide ahead of time to restrain abuses in the wearing of clothes, by the Christian modesty which disagrees with it; and to promote purity of customs and worthiness of dress.

VIII. Let no one who wears degrading clothing be admitted into pious associations of women. Indeed, if an admitted woman should go wrong in such things afterward, and she will not act reasonably after being warned, let her be expelled.

IX. Let girls and women who wear degrading clothing stay away from Holy Communion, and from the office of godmother for the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. And if the case warrants it, let them be prohibited from entrance into their churches.

X. When festivals occur throughout the year, let parish priests and sacerdotes, as well as heads of pious Unions and Catholic guilds, take the particular opportunity to teach Christian modesty to women, especially on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Do not let the opportunity pass to call them back and excite them for dressing according to Christian custom. And on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived without sin, let them complete the particular prayers in every cathedral and parish of the Church, whatever the year; where one can do so, let it be considered an opportunity for encouragement, during solemn sermons for the people.

XI. Let the diocesan council act with vigilance upon what was given in the declaration of the Holy Office on March 30, 1928, advising women efficaciously on better means and reasons for modesty, at least once a year, by declaration.

XII. Indeed, so that this healthy action may advance more efficaciously and safely, it is preferred that bishops and others in the office of Ordinary, also in the third year, alone and with relation to religious institutions, should observe the norms of that instruction given in the Letter “Orbem Catholicum” from June 29, 1923, also upon the condition and status of things concerning the custom and works of women’s dress.

Given at Rome, from the chair of the Sacred Congregation of the Council, on January 12, on the Feast of the Holy Family, in the year 1930.

Donato Cardinal Sbaretti Tazza, Bishop of Sabina-Poggio Mirteto, Prefect.

Giulio Serafini, Bishop of Lampsacus, Secretary.

* Greek: kosmein – “decorated”, with connotations of “orderly, decorous.”
Latin: ornato – “decorated, ornate.”

** religious women = nuns and sisters.

Stuff to notice:

1. Nothing is said about the particular fashions being condemned.

2. No particular hemlines, necklines, or other measurements are mentioned.

3. Totally okay with Italian churches making you wear more clothes, if you want to see the indoors.

4. That said, it’s also totally okay for laywomen to start clubs and apostolates about their concerns.

Other stuff to notice:

This site has a totally different wording for this decree. Their Latin decree appears to be on a similar topic but written in 1954, from the same Congregation but with different folks in charge. Obviously I need to check the 1954 volume of Acta.

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A Patristic Easter Egg Hunt: Aelfric of Eynsham

In Aelfric of Eynsham’s homily, “On the Greater Litany” (“In Letania Maiore”), he also draws from St. Augustine’s egg material when quoting Lk. 11:12.

“God is our Father through his mildheartedness [ie, mercy]. And the fish betokens faith, and the egg, holy hope; and the loaf, true love.

“God gives these three things to His chosen, for no man can have God’s kingdom unless he has these three things. He must believe rightly, and have hope in God, and have true love for God and men, if he would come to God’s kingdom.

“…The egg betokens hope. For the birds do not propagate like other animals, but first give birth to an egg; and then, with hope, the mother raises that egg to be a bird. In like manner, our hope does not yet come to what it hopes for, but is like an egg. When it gets what it has been promised, it will be a bird.”

This translation is adapted from The Homilies of the Anglo-Saxon Church, Vol. 1: The Sermones Catholici, or Homilies of Aelfric, by Benjamin Thorpe.

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A Patristic Easter Egg Hunt: Even More St. Augustine

In Sermon 105, c. 4-10, St. Augustine elaborates further on the symbolic meaning of the “three opposing” choices of gift in this passage, and he gives the egg a little more credit. Here’s the egg parts from chapters 5-10:

“What’s left is hope — which, it seems to me, is compared to an egg. For hope is for a thing that has not yet arrived; and an egg is something, but it’s not a hen yet.

“And so quadrupeds give birth to children, but birds to a hope of children.

“Therefore, it is for this that hope cheers us on: that we may despise present things and hope for what is to come, forgetting what is behind us, when we are reaching forward along with the Apostle [Paul]. For he says it this way: ‘But one thing I do: I forget what is behind in stretching forward to what is ahead, leaning toward the finish line, to win the palm leaves of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus.’

“Nothing is such an enemy of hope as considering what is behind us — that is, to put hope in those things which cross our path and slip past us….

“Be afraid of the example of Lot’s wife. For she looked behind her, and she stayed where she looked. She was turned into salt; she was pickled in brine as an example for the prudent.

“The Apostle Paul has spoken about this hope, like this: ‘For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen, is not hope. For why does a man hope for what he sees? But if we hope for that which we do not see, we wait for it with patience.’

“‘For why does a man hope for what he sees?’

“There is an egg. It is an egg, and it is not a hen yet.

“And there is a turtleshell. The turtle is not seen, because it is covered by the shell. With patience, it can be awaited. Let it warm up, and it will come back to life.

“Work toward this finish line: to lean forward, to forget the past. For the things which are seen are temporal things.”

“‘Not looking back,” he says, ‘at what is seen, but considering what is not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal things, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’ (2 Cor. 4:18)

“Therefore, reach out your hope to those things which are not seen. Wait for them! Hold on! Don’t look back!

“Fear the scorpion coming for your egg! See how it strikes with its tail, which it holds behind it.

“Therefore, don’t let the scorpion kill your egg! Don’t let this world kill your hope, I tell you, with the poison that’s behind it, which goes against you!

“How much the world says to you! How much ruckus it makes behind your back! It’s all so you will look back — that is, put your hope in things of the present. But not really of the present — they can’t be said to be things of the present, because they don’t stay that long.

“And it’s so that you will move your hope away from what Christ promised and has not yet given you, but which He will give because He is faithful. It’s so that you will turn your soul away, and wish to quit, still in this dying world.

“…If I have hope, if I hold onto hope, my egg will not be struck by the scorpion.”

“…All those who blaspheme against our Christ because of these adversities — they are the tail of the scorpion.

“Let us put our egg under the wings of this Gospel hen who clucks, ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem,’ to those false and wandering ones. ‘How often would I have gathered together your children, as the hen gathers her chicks? But you would not.’

“It is not said to us: ‘How often would I’ and ‘You would not.’

“For this Hen is the Divine Wisdom. But He assumes flesh so that He may fit with His chicks.

“Look at the other hen – the one of molting plumage shaking her wings, with a voice broken and quavering and weary, and sluggish to gather her little ones.

“Therefore, let us put our egg — that is, our hope — under the wings of this Hen over here.

“Perhaps you notice how a hen can peck up a scorpion. So therefore, would that this Hen would also peck up and devour these blasphemers, creeping out of their caves and crawling across the earth, and stinging us with evil! Let the Hen drag them into her Body and turn them into eggs!

“…Let them stop blaspheming. Let them learn to adore. Let the stinging scorpions be eaten by the Hen, and be converted by being drawn into the Body! Let them be trained on earth, and crowned in Heaven.”

This is actually topical, as one of the old games with Easter eggs was to knock your egg against that of a neighbor at table, and see which egg was the strongest.

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A Patristic Easter Egg Hunt: More St. Augustine

In Sermon 61, St. Augustine references Luke 11:12 and other passages to show that, even when we are wicked, the Father still loves us and is good to us.

Sermon 61, 1-2:

“A wonderful thing, brothers! We may be evil, but we have a good Father.

“…Therefore, brothers, since we evil ones have a good father, let us not remain evil forever.

“Nobody evil does good. If nobody evil does good, how can an evil person do good to himself?

“The One Who is always good makes good out of evil… We know He gives His children good things ‘according to the time’ (Rom. 9:9): good temporal things, good bodily things, good carnal things, even when we may be evil.

“And what are these good things, if you doubt them?

“Fish. Eggs. Bread. Fruit. Grain. This light, this air. These things which we observe — they are good.

“Men are celebrated for such riches, and they do not recognize other men as their equals in such things — in things, I say, for which men are celebrated — loving flashy clothing, rather than considering the same skin that’s underneath.

“These riches are good things, all the same. But all these good things which I have mentioned, they can be owned by either good people or evil.”

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A Patristic Easter Egg Hunt: Tertullian

Tertullian also references Luke 11:12 in his book Against Marcion, lib. IV, c. 26. (Adapted by me from Peter Holmes’ 1870 translation.)

“Even if he has offended, man is more friends with the Creator than with Marcion’s [demiurge] god. Therefore he knocks at the door of Him to whom he has the right to come — the One Whose gate he could find, Whom he knew owned bread, Who will be home in bed with the children Whom He had willed to be born. Even if the knock comes late, Time belongs to the Creator.

“…So recognize Him Whom you call the Creator as Father, too. It is He Who knows what His children need. For when they asked for bread, He gave them manna from heaven… not a snake instead of a fish, or a scorpion instead of an egg.

“…Marcion’s god, on the other hand, doesn’t even have a scorpion to give away, so he couldn’t deny what he didn’t own. Only God could do it — He who holds, but does not give out, the scorpion.”

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A Patristic Easter Egg Hunt: The Venerable Bede

I think I will look around and find some egg quotes in the Fathers. Here is one.

From St. Bede’s commentary on Luke (Lk. 11:12):

“‘Aut si petierit ovum, numquid porriget illi scorpionem?’

“In ovo, indicatur spes. Ovum enim nondum est foetus perfectus, sed fovendo speratur.”

“‘And if [a man’s son] should ask for an egg, will [his father] hand him a scorpion?'”

“Hope is shown in an egg. For an egg is not yet a complete offspring, but it is hoped for and kept warm.”

Bede seems to have gotten this from St. Augustine’s Letter 130 to St. Proba, “a religious handmaiden of God.” She was a nun who wrote letters full of questions, to folks like St. Jerome and St. Augustine. This letter was one of the many answer- slash- treatises she got from these guys.

“‘Aut si ovum petit, numquid porrigit ei scorpium?’ …

“Spes in ovo, quia vita pulli nondum est, sed futura est, nec iam videtur, sed adhuc speratur. Spes enim quae videtur, non est spes.”

“‘But if he asks for an egg, will he hand him a scorpion?’…

“Hope [is signified] in the egg, because the life of a hen is not yet there, but it is coming; nor can it now be seen, but it is still hoped for. For ‘hope which can be seen is not hope.’ (Rom. 8:24)

Augustine and Bede both compare the fish, egg, and bread to faith, hope, and charity; whereas the snake, scorpion, and stone represent the devil making unbelievers in God, worldliness making unbelievers in eternal life, and the hardheartedness making people who have no charity.

You’ll also notice that St. Augustine is using a cool (but more inaccurate) Old Latin translation of the Bible, because the Vulgate hadn’t been finished yet. And both versions of the Bible use “numquid,” a question word indicating that the answer is “No.”

St. Augustine is going by the state of the art, when it comes to Greco-Roman natural philosophy. But St. Bede seems to indicate more clearly that an egg is alive — just not ready to go.

I suspect that monastic life in England included more contact with chicken coops than the life of a minor North African Roman aristocrat, or a bishop in Hippo.

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Partial Translation of St. Albert’s 32 Sermons

It turns out that there is a partial translation available of a partial version of St. Albert’s 32 Sermons.

But there’s a reason I’d never seen it before!

First of all, the gentleman who translated it, Fr. Rawes, was really not interested in doing a full translation, but rather was writing up a meditation book for the priests of his new confraternity (that’s like a club for praying together), the Society of Servants of the Holy Ghost.

So he translates the major headings, but then goes off in his own direction. Also, many of the major headings are altered somewhat to sound more modern (which is to say, Victorian), and there is no clear line drawn between his own work and that of the original author. His preface says he didn’t see this as being a problem, as the treatise was readily available and priests all could read Latin easily, right?

Second, he was translating the version attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas as a treatise, which leaves out a bit of stuff; and he really did think he was doing an Aquinas work.

The book has been available on archive.org since 2008, and has been reprinted by Aeterna Press. Apparently they also have no suspicion that it’s a St. Albert the Great-related book instead of a St. Thomas Aquinas-related book.

So anyway, here is a link:

The Bread of Life: or, St. Thomas Aquinas on the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar.

Arranged as Meditations, with Prayers and Thanksgivings for Holy Communion,

By Father Rawes, D.D.

London: Burns and Oates, 1879.

So now what?

Well, I intend to finish the translation, because it should be done fully, authentically, contemporaneously, and under the correct title and author!

Also, Fr. Rawes was not providing references other than the Scriptural kind. The Latin editions do include references to patristic and ecclesiastical writers, but sometimes they are incorrect or outdated. Also, sometimes they have missed something entirely. (Like the reference to Valerius Maximus that I located this morning!)

Still, Rawes’ meditations are undoubtedly cool. The original is a deeply prayerful book, and includes a lot of examples and neat thoughts that don’t appear in the Aquinas-attributed version. So it’s not surprising that Rawes would want to “fill in” what was left hanging. It makes me happy to think that I’m not the only fan of the book, but it makes me sad to think that he never read the real one. (At least up to the point of publication in 1879.) I have discovered a colleague!

Here’s the Catholic Encyclopedia on Fr. Henry Augustus Rawes, DD, STD. He was an Anglican convert who spent all his fortune on his parish. He was a member of the English Congregation of Oblates of St. Charles. Besides the Society of Servants of the Holy Ghost, he also founded a confraternity for devotees of St. John the Evangelist. He wrote a tonload of books and hymns, and he passed away in 1885 in great holiness.

Fr. Rawes, pray for us!

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