+ Seven Dolors of the Blessed Virgin Mary+

Offering to Appease the Divine Justice

In order to appease Thy divine justice we offer Thee, O Lord, the merits acquired by Mary, Thy mother and ours, when she stood at the foot of the Cross. If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord who can stand?


There has been much confusion regarding the issue of modesty recently among various LibTrads, who are condemning those who dare to dress in slacks as violating the teachings of the Church. They do this even though there is not one papal pronouncement they can point to that specifically condemns the wearing of pants by women, and as quoted here before, there is even a papal statement that reads: “We consider what you asked about pants (femoralia) to be irrelevant; for we do not wish the exterior style of your clothing to be changed, but rather the behavior of the inner man within you, nor do we desire to know what you are wearing except Christ… For whether you or your women wear or do not wear pants (femoralia) neither impedes your salvation nor leads to any increase of your virtue” (Pope St. Nicholas I, who reigned from 858-867). This pope  addressed 115 questions posed to him by the Bulgarians, one of which was the wearing of pants by women in the 9th century! And even then, he declared that WHATEVER these people wore (long dresses, pants or gunnysacks) it would not hinder salvation or increase virtue.

The most recent decision on this matter came from the Sacred Congregation of the Council, Aug. 15, 1954, and its wording clearly indicates the type of clothing the Council was referring to.

“An unworthy and immodest style of dress has come into vogue not only at the seaside and in vacation camps but nearly everywhere, even in the streets of city and village, in private and public places and not infrequently in the very House of God. This exposes especially the souls of young people who are easily tempted to evil to the gravest danger of losing that innocence which is the greatest and loveliest ornament of mind and body. Womanly adornment, if it can be called such, and women’s clothing, if that can be called clothing which offers nothing by way of protection for the body or of safeguard for modesty, are sometimes of such a nature as to seem to favor immodesty rather than modesty… Most appropriately did a very ancient poet say on this subject: ‘To bare the body in public is the starting point of shameful crime…” (Pius XII, Jan. 1, 1954 — AAS 46-548, Canon Law Digest IV, Revs. O’Connor and Bouscaren).

Nowhere are women in pants mentioned. At least pants cover the entire lower body. Certainly it cannot be said women ever wore pants to church in that era. Rather what is obviously meant is bathing apparel, shorts, scanty, sleeveless tops, halters, shorts, backless sundresses, etc. Even Pope Pius XI, in another address on modesty, tells us: “It is possible to dress with ladylike decorum without imitating monastic severity” (Sex Education and Training in Chastity, Rev. Felix. M. Kirsch, 1930).

Also what was intended, — and is mentioned by Rev. Francis J. Connell in his work, Fr. Connell Answers Moral Questions (1959) — are girls scantily clad in costumes for participating in sports, band majorettes and those participating in beauty contests. Fr. Connell writes: “I would not hesitate to tell a girl who is planning to enter a bathing beauty contest that if she does so she will be guilty of mortal sin. Nor can I see how an easier judgment can be passed on a majorette… the case of a girl in a short skirt who marches before a band, twirling baton and exhibiting a considerable amount of her anatomy, with gyrations and high-stepping for its main purpose, is unquestionably to call to the physical attractiveness of the girl, at least when the band [and audience] is composed of men or boys.” More from the theologians follows.

What moral theology teaches

Below we will visit the theologians McHugh and Callan, in their Moral Theology, a Complete Course (based on St. Thomas Aquinas and the best modern authors; 1958).

  1. It is not always easy to determine in particular cases when a thing is obscene from its very nature, but the following general rules can be given:

(b) Female dress or adornment is lascivious when there is a notable display of the person through abbreviated skirts, necks, and sleeves; or a suggestiveness expressed in transparency of material or a closeness of fit that brings out the lines and curves of the figure; or in an extremity of fashion whose striking color or design will make the wearer conspicuous and direct special attention to her physical charms.

  1. (b) The obscenity of dress is largely dependent on its novelty, for things that are usual cease to excite special attention. This we can see from the fact that styles that are conservative today would have been extreme ten years ago. And so the scanty attire of hot countries, the dress of the bathing beach, and the moderate decollete tolerated in private gatherings are not obscene in their own proper times and places.

1458. Modesty should control not only the internal passions for excellence and learning, but also the external movements of the body (modesty of bearing) and the external use of corporal things (modesty of living).

(a) Thus, modesty of bearing moderates the bodily actions, both in serious things (modest behavior) and in things playful (modest relaxation).

(b) Modesty of living makes one temperate in the use of the externals that serve life (modesty in style) and of the clothing one wears (modesty in dress).

  1. Modest Behavior or Decorum

(a) The Virtue.–The movements and gestures of the body should be regulated by reason, both because they are indications of one’s own character and disposition, and because they express one’s disposition towards those with whom one lives. Hence, they are not a matter of indifference, but reason demands that they be suitable both to oneself (i.e., to one’s sex, age, position, etc.) and to one’s neighbor (i.e., to the requirements of good social usage in each business or affair of life). Thus, virtuous decorum employs both sincerity, which makes one honestly respectful in act (2403), and affability, which makes one agreeable in the company of others (2421). That this is an important virtue for individuals and society is declared both by sacred and human authority. Ecclesiasticus (xix. 26, 27) calls attention to the importance for himself of a man’s looks, laughter and gait; St. Augustine says that there should be nothing offensive to others in one’s movements; and Aristotle mentions among the qualities of the high-minded man that he is sedate and dignified in demeanor.

(c) The Sin of Defect.–This is committed when one’s mode of life is not up to the reasonable standard of one’s community, especially if this is due to negligence or itch for notoriety or disregard for decency. Examples are those who through carelessness go about unwashed or unshaven, who keep their quarters in a filthy and disorderly state, or who wear their clothing untidily; also females who dress in male attire, nudists who appear undressed in public places, etc.

  1. Morality of Self-Beautification.–Is it wrong to beautify oneself in order to improve one’s looks or to win admiration?

(a) In itself there is no harm, especially for females, in using means to improve one’s looks, such as remedies for deformities, facial paints, powders and cosmetics, hair waves and dyes, and the like. But accidentally there could be sin (e.g., deception). A poor man would be a deceiver if he lived in great style to make a woman believe he was wealthy, and likewise a woman would be a deceiver if she used an artificial beauty to deceive a man about her age (see 2404).

(b) In itself also it is not sinful to desire that others approve one’s appearance and dress. Thus, a wife should strive to be attractive to her husband (I Cor., vii. 34), and modest ornamentation may be used to win a suitor (I Tim., ii. 9). It is mortally sinful, however, to attire oneself with the purpose or in a manner to arouse carnal temptation or to awaken sinful desire in others–for example, if one wishes to capture the sex love of others without marriage (Prov., vii. 10); it is venially sinful to groom oneself well from mere vanity, that is, from a silly ambition to be regarded as handsome and fashionable.

Comments on McHugh and Callan

The Church’s view of modesty has developed over time according to custom and circumstances. And as the authors note above, Catholic modesty is not just expressed by what we wear. Catholic modesty is the humility to admit one has erred and correct the error; this corresponds with honesty and sincerity. It is the regulation of the senses, to not listen to those who teach error but only to the popes and the approved theologians following them; custody of the eyes, in not watching or reading things not approved by the Church in way of books, articles, videos and movies; of the extremities, in not touching those things we are forbidden to touch. It is regulated speech and proper comportment; modulated movements and reactions. It is so much more than just our attire.

As to females who dress in male attire, mentioned above, let’s use some common sense in determining exactly what this means for us today. Please point me to a male, even a cross-dresser, who decks himself out in a frilly or flowered top or sweater set, loose-fitting tailored slacks, shoes with heels and jewelry to match. Seen any of those lately? No; cross-dressers generally present in dresses, usually of the lascivious type above, and sometimes even long dresses. Normal men would never think of dressing in women’s slacks and feminine-style tops. So by wearing slacks and outfits as just described here, how can Catholic women possibly be violating the Church’s teachings on modesty?! Nowhere is there any obscenity of dress in what has just been described. A woman dressing as a man is readily understood today of those identifying as other than heterosexual who wear men’s hairstyles, pants, tops and outerwear. Or the business type who wears a woman’s pantsuit complete with tie as a man would wear one.

We don’t have to worry about going to the beach today because of the scandal involved. Obviously some leeway in dress was given to those living in very hot climes. And it does not appear that women were forbidden to wear Bermuda shorts at home, while gardening for example, as long as they didn’t scandalize anyone, according to other literature on this topic. So if this was the case, then why do some consider it sinful to wear pants in public? One answer would be that scandal would be given, but to whom? Even those who know of a person’s status as a pray-at-home Catholic do not expect to see them in long skirts, or would ever think it inappropriate for them to dress in modest slacks and a feminine blouse. The only ones taking scandal, if they even knew of any “violations,” would be those at a distance who truly believe that not wearing long skirts is a sin. Rev. Connell calls this “pharisaic” scandal, “arising from the malicious will of those scandalized” (Ibid.). But even here we are talking about an act that could be termed truly scandalous — scandal as it normally interpreted — when the Church has never condemned women wearing pants. More on this below.

Jansenism and probabilism

As one “Traditional” website author noted in 2019: “Dressing in such a radical manner that instead of drawing people to Christ, you garner attention for being a spectacle is immodest, scrupulous and a vice of singularity, which is rooted in pride [as McHugh and Callan also note]. One is free to believe whatever one likes, but one is not free to believe whatever one likes and call it Catholicism. While you are free to dress however you like, you are not free to dress however you like and call it Catholic or Christian modesty. So you are free to dress like a Muslim if you like. Or like an Orthodox Jewish woman, a Fundamental Mormon, or like an Amish woman. But dressing in these manners and claiming [them] to be Catholic is a sin of hypocrisy and simulation.”

Why is this true? Because scrupulous persons see sin where the Church says sin does not exist, or it may not exist in certain cases. Insisting that it is sinful for women to wear slacks when the popes have never condemned it, and theologians were allowed to profess varying opinions on it, is Jansenistic rigorism. And Jansenism of course is a heresy. In Rev. Sabetti and Barrett’s 1940s adaptation of Rev. Pierre Gury S.J.’s Compendium of Moral Theology (1890) we read: “St. Gregory Nazianus said to an opponent regarding doubtful matters: ‘What evidence have you to prove this? Either show that this is the fact or if you cannot, do not condemn. But if the fact is doubtful, let gentleness and kindness prevail’… [The theologian] Dominic Soto taught, ‘When there are probable opinions among authoritative doctors, whichever one you follow your conscience will be safe.’”

Rev. Gury continues: “In case of doubt, favors are to be extended and burdens restricted. This is rule 15 of canon law in Sexto and means that in doubt the milder course should be preferred [except when it involves eternal salvation or the validity of the Sacraments]. A favor or that which is favorable is considered to be anything that permits freedom or grants a favor without detriment to private parties or the community or the law itself. When the true meaning of a law or statute is not certain and after inquiry it cannot be determined, either by the nature of the thing or by the context of the words or BY THE CUSTOM OF THE PLACE or any other circumstance, the less onerous interpretation or the one more lenient to liberty must be admitted. The reason for this is that the legislator is not deemed to be willing to bind any beyond that which is clearly expressed in the law. Absolute tutiorism requires absolute certitude that a law either never existed or has already fully ceased before it will allow anything to liberty and therefore, even if the most probable opinion be adduced in favor of liberty, one is bound to follow the law… But this system must be clearly rejected, for it was condemned by Pope Alexander VIII (DZ 1293, the errors of the Jansenists).

What does Canon Law say about custom?

This concurs with what the Traditionalist site explains above. Here again, we are referring to development of doctrine. It is true that St. Thomas Aquinas taught: “It is in itself sinful for a woman to wear man’s clothes, or vice-versa; especially since this may be the cause of sensuous pleasure; and it is expressly forbidden in the Law (Deut. 22) …. Nevertheless, this may be done at times on account of some necessity, either in order to hide oneself from enemies, or through lack of other clothes, or for some other such reason” (Summa Theologiae II, II, question 169, article 2, reply to objection 3). And Rev. Gury above cites custom as a reason. So even the Angelic Doctor does not condemn this out of hand, and he wrote long before the manner of women’s dress changed over the centuries. It should also be noted, as one reader long ago pointed out, that Deuteronomy 22:5 does not forbid women from wearing pants, because  what pertained to a man at the time this verse was written didn’t refer to pants. Men in the Middle East through the history of both the Old and the New Testaments generally wore long robes, such as Christ and the Apostles wore. So what was really forbidden in this verse was transvestism and cross-dressing.

The following canons state regarding custom: (Can. 26): “A community which is capable of receiving a law can introduce a custom which can obtain the force of law;” (Can. 27): “In order that a custom may have the power to change an ecclesiastical law, it must be reasonable and lawfully prescribed by a continuous and uninterrupted usage of 40 years;” (Can. 28): “A custom outside the law which has been knowingly introduced by a community with the intention of binding itself obtains the force of law if it is reasonable and legitimately prescribed by having been observed for a full 40 successive years;” (Can. 29): “Custom is the best interpreter of the law;” (Can. 30): “Customs against law and customs outside of law are revoked by contrary custom or by a contrary law. The ordinary universal custom of 40 years standing is considered to have the same force as a common law and it can be revoked in the same manner as common laws are revoked, by contrary custom or by a contrary law.” The canonists Woywod- Smith comment:  “The Supreme Authority of the Church… has granted that under certain conditions it will give its consent to the customs introduced by the people and it is by this consent that the customs obtain the force of law.”

But there is no set ecclesiastical law that is being changed here, no ecclesiastical authorities to consult as required in Can. 25. And women wearing pants in this country dates back much further than 40 years. As Pope Nicholas I taught over 1200 years ago, the question is really irrelevant. It is the inner man that we must struggle to change; we must put on Christ, develop the interior life, and that change will then be reflected in our modest actions and attire.


We have noted before that there is a definite tendency to the errors of Jansenism among LibTrads. This especially manifests itself in their beliefs regarding grace (particularly the Feeney crowd), their rejection of papal authority and adherence to the Gallicanist heresy, the rejection by some of the Church’s teaching on the efficacy of the Perfect Act of Contrition, their tendency to Quietism, their belief that the fewness of the saved is a Catholic fact rather than an unsettled question and their insistence that the practice of external religion is the ultimate yardstick to judge Catholicity. The Jansenists taught, as M.L. Cozens notes in his work A Handbook of Heresies,(1928), that “God, the All-Merciful, condemns men for sins which it was impossible for them to avoid, lacking grace which it was impossible for them to obtain. Many a soul, meanwhile, wholly unable to appreciate the theological subtleties involved, was discouraged and driven back by the rigorism which those harsh views engendered in preachers and directors” before the popes formally condemned this heresy. The Jesuits saved the day by spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart, emphasizing Jesus’ great compassion for humanity.

Rigorist sects pervaded the Traditional movement from its inception. Feeneyism is only one example of the type of despair concerning eternal salvation that such sects spread today, when we are without the hierarchy and must fend for ourselves. The most severe view, i. e., the supposed prohibition against pants, is not even stated in the law and yet these new Jansenists insist on it. This even though we can determine with certitude that there is no specific law against it and a custom exists in the civil community allowing the wearing of pants by women. In way of an ecclesiastical law, Woywod-Smith’s commentary on Can. 1262 cites only the 1930 instruction (AAS 46-18) delivered by Pope Pius XI, which states only that: “A dress cannot be called decent which is cut deeper than two fingers breadth under the pit of the throat; which does not cover the arms at least to the elbows; and scarcely reaches a bit beyond the knees. Furthermore, dresses of transparent materials are improper.” If applied to feminine tops worn with pants, the papal directive is satisfied. These new Jansenists are reading an actual law into a papal directive where it doesn’t exist.

Given the above, LibTrads cannot forbid Catholic women to wear pants unless they wish to defy the teaching of Pope Alexander VIII. Nor should those who dress modestly in slacks and feminine tops complying with the directives of Pope Pius XI, criticize those who choose to dress in skirts and dresses (which those who sometimes wear slacks also wear on any religious occasion!). We no longer can attend the Holy Sacrifice, where we would be bound to wear long dresses or skirts, as well as three-quarter length sleeves and our mantillas. So why are some still pretending these laws, set mainly for Church and school attendance when the Church yet existed, still apply to us? Those advocating this position have presented no proofs whatsoever, as St. Gregory and others advise, to justify this false assumption, an assumption which is actually a rash judgment on their part. “If the fact is doubtful, let gentleness and kindness prevail.” Then why is this gentleness and kindness so noticeably absent even among those praying at home?

The answer lies in the rigoristic mean-spiritedness and harshness that governs Jansenistic sects/cults. Fear is a powerful motivator and an effective slave master. For many years, while trapped in a conclavist sect, I doubted that the man elected was truly Pope. I remained in that sect only because I feared that if I left and was somehow mistaken, I would lose my soul. God was merciful and helped me find the information I needed to arrive at certitude in that matter and escape. Rigorous sects instill fear in their members by fostering scrupulosity — fear of sin where there is none. Using classic cult techniques, they attempt to isolate members and keep them from outside influences, frightening them with the prospect of sinning mortally if they leave or being branded and shunned as pariahs. The Jansenists returned to the discipline and teaching of the early Church to frighten their members into submission, when the Church had long ago softened her position regarding the necessary means to salvation. By doing this they effectively divided Catholics, making it appear that those who were actually devout were lax in their beliefs and headed to hell.

The Enemy’s methods never change. After Vatican 2, Gnostics and Old Catholic heretics, many linked to Jansenist and Gallicanist sects, gathered like vultures to prey on those exiting the Novus Ordo church in order to populate their own ranks. Fear of losing the Mass and Sacraments, of losing the graces they transmit (so typical of Jansenism), keeps most Trads in these sects, and they will not even consider that the Mass and the hierarchy no longer exists because of this pervading fear. Now fear of being “home alone” after leaving Trad sects — isolated and disconnected from other true Catholics — is what currently attracts some who are praying at home to the commune idea and inclusion in a private, elitist forum that censors any who disagree with their “Catholic” beliefs. The leaders of these groups succeed in presenting what they teach as Catholic because they know their members are “wholly unable to appreciate the theological subtleties involved,” just like the Jansenists. That is why I have tried for nearly 35 years to present the true teaching of the Church on these subtleties, taken from the best possible sources available.

Our membership in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church militant, suffering and triumphant — made possible only by rejecting all heresies and desiring with all of our might and effort to be members — is the only membership that will ever save our souls. No human simulation of that membership could ever suffice. “Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world… Dearly beloved, let us love one another, for charity is of God… Fear is not in charity: but perfect charity casteth out fear, because fear hath pain. And he that feareth, is not perfected in charity. Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us. If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not? And this commandment we have from God, that he, who loveth God, love also his brother. (1 John 4, vs. 1, 7, 18-21). Condemning others for sins they never committed is not charity. Try the spirits and discern the truth, then love for truth — the only true charity — will cast out fear and allow us to love each other as God intended.

“In things essential, unity; in doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity.”  Thomas a’ Kempis

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