Sayings of the Saints
On Immodest Attire, Fashion, etc. "The attire of the body, and the laughter of the teeth, and the gait of the
woman, show what she is.
SIRACH 19: 29
FROM WHOM do those women attract notice--women who are of the world, most
worldly-women whose vanity leads them to employ every artifice to attract remark
and win esteem? Is it from the good and pious?
Oh, no! for they look upon them with horror, seeing that they dishonor Jesus Christ
and ruin His religion. Is it from clever people? No, for they regard them with
indignation, seeing that by their vain display they are anxious to astonish and take
them by surprise. Is it from rakes and libertines they seek esteem? From these,
doubtless, they would rather fly than seek. Oh, if they only knew how they speak of
them, how coarsely they criticise them, their confusion would be equal to their pride.
You show yourselves in public, ye worldlings, with all that furniture of vanity. You do
not even spare the temple of the living God, whose sanctity should not be violated by
your luxuries, for the church was not built for the display of all such vanities. We
should appear therein richly clothed with grace and virtue, not decked out with gold
and jewels. Nevertheless, you attend church dressed out as if you were going to a
ball, or like actresses on the stage, so careful are you to be noticed, or rather to be
laughed at, by those who see you.
When divine service is over, and all are returning homewards, your vanities and
follies are the theme of their conversation; they forget the important instructions left
us by St. Paul and the prophets, and can only talk of the value of your beautiful
dresses and of the luster of your jewelry.
Tell us, I entreat, what are the useful advantages to be drawn from these precious
stones, and from these costly dresses? You tell me that you are satisfied with
yourself, and that you take delight in that magnificence. But alas! I ask what benefit
you derive from your vanities, and they only tell me of the harm they do.
There is nothing more deplorable than to be ever running after frivolous fashions, to
take a pleasure in studying them. Shameful and shocking must that slavery be when
its golden chains are enjoyed.
How can a Christian female apply herself as she ought to any exercise of devotion or
solid piety? how can she despise the follies of the age if she encourages a taste for
finery? In time she will experience so great a distaste for prayer that she will not like
to hear it named.
You will perhaps reply that you have made yourself admired by all who sew you. But
this is an additional misfortune, that these costly trinkets should have gone so far as
to feed your growing vanity and pride!
Is it not an evil most grievous to be overwhelmed with cares so vain and restless, to
neglect the beauty of the soul and the love of one's salvation; to fill one's self with
pride, vanity, and conceit; to be, as it were, intoxicated with the love of the world;
willingly to give up going to those sacred places where your thoughts should be
raised to God; to have no fear of prostituting the dignity of your soul, and subject
that soul to things so base and so unworthy?
You will perchance reply, that when you frequent assemblies and promenades very
one turns round to look at you. It is for that very reason you should shrink from gaudy
attire in order that you should not expose yourself to the gaze of every man,, that
you should not give any one an opportunity for making scandalous remarks.
Not one of those who gaze upon you will hold you in the esteem you imagine you
have secured. You will be the laughing-stock of every one, and people will set you
down as a vain, ambitious woman, as one who is wishing to be admired, as one
absorbed in the love and vanities of the world.
DO YE not tremble, ye gay and worldly women, at the thought that, when our Lord
and Savior shall come to judge the living and the dead, He will bid you leave His
presence forevermore, and that He will thus reproach you?
Depart from Me, you are not My work, and I cannot trace the least resemblance to
your former self. The paint, powder, curls, and other vain appliances have so altered
and disguised you that I cannot recognize that you once belonged to Me. You will not
be able to see Me, disguised as you are by face, eyes, and features so utterly spoiled
and disguised by my enemy the devil. You have followed him; you have selected the
brilliant hues of the serpent's skin; it is from your enemy you have learned and kept
those embellishments and fineries; you will be with him forever and forever. My
kingdom is not for such as you, and part of it can you ever share with Me.
D' Habitu Virginnum