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Question: For the first 6 years that we had daughters (they are now 12, 10, and 8) they wore only dresses. Because of a lot of family pressure, I started allowing them to wear pants to play in. I would very much like to get back to Marian standards of modesty in my daughters' dressing, but now we also have the neighborhood peer pressure. Sometimes they even argue to get to wear pants to Mass. Any ideas?

Dear Mom,

This is an interesting question. How do you feel about the clothing that you would like to see your daughters wear? I am inspired by your devotion to a Marian lifestyle. I believe that this is all too lost in our present day, don't you? Having five girls myself I have been faced with this problem in our own family. I will share with you what has evolved into our present time acceptance of 'dress codes.'

My girls are very athletic, they love to participate in all types of outdoor activity and gymnastics. I have one that loves to move and dance. She especially likes ballet and tap. Another, who is away at college, is learning to horseback ride. She is studying how to work at a camp for disabled persons. She will be helping two girls ages 21 and 22 with Downs Syndrome how to ride a horse and play sports in the water. Obviously she will have to dress appropriately for these activities. I know that Jesus will be joyful when she helps these young women experience a part of life that they may have been otherwise unknown. Two of my other daughters are big ball players. I enjoy watching their games more than any professional sport.

As you can see, my girls are active, and I sense that yours are too. I believe that one should dress properly to participate in any activity. Modesty is a challenge when you are in the world. When I was a teenager, the Religious Sisters often played ball with us on the playground. They would roll up their sleeves, tuck their rosary beads into a pocket and play with such joy. It was an inspiration.

I guess I believe that there is nothing unholy about our bodies and the Lord certainly made them for movement and joy. I do believe that as with all things that Christians face in this world, the challenge is to dress respectfully and prudently, never drawing undo attention to ourselves because of our actions. To try and play baseball in a skirt would be very difficult as would performing a ballet piece in clothing unsuited for this sport. As Christians our witness is our joy in the Lord. Our modesty is also a witness that requires thought and careful attention.

I try very hard not to let the girls wear pants to church, but sometimes they do. I do too as well. I must be honest. I have seen some skirts that were very revealing and immodest in comparison to my black pants suit and jacket. Once when I was fixing a bulletin board for my Faith Formation class, a visiting priest came up to me and addressed me as 'Sister.' He mistook me for a nun, pants suit and all. :)  When my youngest sister was pregnant with her fourth, she wore very stylish '40s maternity skirts (the kind you see in old movies). She said that she always wanted to wear one of those, ever since she saw pictures of our mom dressed in one.

Mother Teresa dressed in the traditional Indian dress so as to blend into the streets of Calcutta and be better able to be accepted by those persons she was helping. The traditional Indian dress is such for many reasons: modesty, comfort and religious.

I admire anyone who is able to live out their convictions with quiet resolve and in a way that is a witness without a judgment.

One of the little girls on my daughters' team was of the Pentecostal faith tradition. They are strictly prohibited from wearing pants. Her mother made her a pair of culottes or a 'skort' that was in the team colors. She played with such gusto and joy. No one noticed her 'pants' until she breezed by them in a cloud of dust at home plate. :)

Use your good judgment and pick your battles carefully. Remember that true modesty begins in the heart. A pure and innocent heart is visible for all to see and witness. The Blessed Mother is filled with joy when our girls move into the will of the Father and bring their love of the Father with them.

Thank you for your very good question. I am inspired by your thoughts. I do wish all our girls could get together. They would have such fun being 'girls' I hardly think they would remember what each was wearing. :)

You are a wonderful mom and I believe you to be a holy witness for your girls. Keep up the good work.

Jesus, I praise You and thank You for the witness of this mother. Please help me to learn to put modesty first when I am dressing. Give me the necessary grace to understand that what I put in my heart is the most important garment I can ever wear. I love You, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

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