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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Author Michael O'Brien on Modesty

Modesty is the guardian of chastity. Is it any wonder that, in a society fixated on sex, modesty, even among Christians, is so rare? Ironically, even those ostensibly trying to fight impurity in the culture tend toward vulgar and crude language. Michael O'Brien as an artist and author has some interesting insights on the problem.

"Semi-nudity has become commonplace on magazine covers, advertisements, at swimming pools and beaches. Total nudity is becoming more frequent in media such as television and film, and is rampant in the vastly more popular 'private' cultural consumption of the internet. Juxtapose with these near-universal phenomena the fact that more than sixty percent of marriages now end in divorce or separation, that self-denial and sacrifice have become widely discredited concepts, and that the pursuit of happiness through the avenues of sensual satisfaction have produced a profoundly disordered society. No people in history has been so richly rewarded with pleasures, and no people in history has ever been so unhappy....

"I am convinced that the modern harping on the supposed repressiveness of the past is really no more than a symptom of our current obsession with sex. If we were to plunge back a century or two, I think we would find that while our ancestors' manner of dress was indeed more formal, and at times even constricting, most people still wed and had children and made happy marriages with startling frequency - and with an enviable rate of success. Compare that to our own dismal, liberated era, in which the image of the cavorting human body is thrust at us a thousand times a day from the pages of the tabloids at the supermarket check-out counter, from chewing gum commercials on television, home computer screens, and from what is being worn on the beach and at church. Modesty has gone out of style....

"The times are very ill, indeed they are nearly sick unto death. "The culture of death," the Holy Father calls it. And by this he means far more than the death of the body. Within the short space of a century, Western society has degenerated from a Christian culture to a despiritualized one, and from there it has further degenerated into a dehumanized one. The next stage is the diabolization of culture, a process which has already begun. At this moment in the great war between good and evil, we must turn with renewed confidence to Our Lady, asking her for the particular graces of wisdom, prudence, and modesty for our young people. Daily we should invoke her protection against the spirit of the world and the spirit of our ancient adversary. If we do, she will help us see the areas of our lives where we have been deceived. She will help us find a better way, if we respond to her outpouring of graces. Then our children will learn to love more fully. And they will be loved for who they truly are."

Read the entire essay...

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