“A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.” (CCC 1803)
There is nothing more that I desire for my children than for them to one day be saints and the more experience I get as a father, the more I realize that a focus on virtues is the roadmap to help get them there. It is impossible to meaningfully address how to instill virtues in our children in a few hundred words, but I’d like to scratch the surface of one that has been tugging at me (and my wife) for a little while now — modesty.
As a father, who was once a confused and misguided teen and young man, I have a particular concern for the purity of my seven boys. I remember the feelings and pressures that come with being a teen and I am sure that things are only more difficult now, as our society veers more heavily towards the crude and sinful. Though I was a young teen 30 years ago, I can clearly recall how my mind was not truly focused on the development of my character and that there wasn’t any emphasis on real virtues. I grew up in a “good” environment and am so thankful for the blessings that I was given, but even there, I was awash in impurity that directly opposed development of a virtuous character.
Impurity confuses the mind and clouds judgment, making it impossible to live a virtuous life. No, impurity is not the sole struggle for humans, but it is a very significant one for boys and young men. Thus, we need to do everything we can to help those at greatest risk of losing their purity and veering off into a state we never wish to find them.
Others can argue different points, but I believe that the abandonment of modesty in our society is the crux of all the impurity that we struggle to keep at bay. While there is more to modesty than dress, the deterioration of physical modesty is one of the most obvious poisons that is sickening our society. Yes, females can be affected by the immodesty of males, but boys are particularly vulnerable to the temptation that is presented by the immodestly dressed female. Men, we have the power to influence this problem and help countless young men to avoid the occasions of sin by ensuring our daughters reflect modesty at all times.
If you haven’t heard this homily on modesty (https://youtu.be/KS2dzTp_GM0), I think it is well worth your listening time. The only point that I believe is missed is the fact that modesty is not something we should practice only on Sundays. Like all virtues, modesty needs to be continuous, otherwise it really isn’t a virtue at all.
Fathers, I encourage you to make sure your daughters don’t succumb to societal pressures, laziness, or base comfort when they dress. Forbid wearing of tight clothing as an outer garment (leggings and other skintight clothing may cover skin, but are no more than another layer of different colored skin). Clear closets of those shirts and skirts that might have been appropriate when three inches shorter. And recycle those clothes that don’t properly cover what others don’t need to see.
Do not confuse my words, I am not implying that the impurity of our society is the fault of women. However, I am suggesting that women can take a prominent role in reversing current trends and we should help our daughters to be a part of that change. My wife came across this quote today and I think it is most appropriate to share… “When a woman veils her body in modest clothing, she is not hiding herself from men. On the contrary, she is revealing her dignity to them.” – Jason Evert