I love this feast day. I love the fact that the Immaculate Conception has become a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church. I love the thought that throughout the entire world Mary’s Catholic children are celebrating her astounding purity. I love going to holy Mass and listening to the readings and thinking about the great gifts the heavenly Father has given to us in our Blessed Mother. I love the fact that we have this model of purity that we can at once have all to ourselves and share as Marian children. In the Fenelon Clan abode, I usually put some symbol on our home shrine to remind us of the importance of this day and to draw more and more into the heart of the Immaculata.
In contemplating this year’s feast, I found it ironic that so very many people today honor Mary’s purity while at the same time ignoring their own. I think of what we’re up against as our culture pushes harder and harder on us to let go of our ideals and morals.
Just look at the media. It used to be that primetime television offered true family programming. Well, it still offers “family programming”, but that programming is laced with raw jokes and sexual innuendos. Scan the radio stations in your area and you’ll find that every few seconds your ears are insulted by some of the most vulgar lyrics imaginable. The advertisements in newspapers and magazines and on billboards are becoming more and more seductive. Check out the eerily realistic video games with their sex and violence. I’m sure none of this is new to you, and Christian watchdog groups have been warning us about these things for years.
What concerns me most is that our young people absorb all of these impure subliminal suggestions without even realizing it. They’re completely unaware of the danger that threatens them. Satan and his cunning has worked it out so that they are constantly and unwittingly bombarded with this garbage. It’s intertwined in everything they live and breathe to the point that they no longer recognize it as an intrusion upon their purity, but as a normal part of life.
Next time you go to the mall, and I’m sure you’ll go soon as it’s the Christmas season, take a look around at the mannequins in the stores. Not only are they clothed in immodest garb, but now you’ll start to see them in more and more seductive poses. And of course our young people are mindlessly following right along. The fashions today are geared toward making their wearers feel “sexy”. Unfortunately our culture is teaching our children that if they’re not sexy, they’re not valuable. Additionally, the culture suggests that “sexy” is a compliment and means that the person is attractive.
That can’t be farther from the truth! When we call someone ” sexy”, what we’re really saying is they that they appear to us to be of value for for having sex with. It doesn’t say anything about who the person is, what talents they possess, or what beauty lies within. On top of that, no one has the right to make that judgment — or even think about making that judgment — but the person’s spouse. It’s an insult to the dignity of the person.
I have to point out that there are a large number of adults who are buying into this fallacy. And buying is exactly what we do. We buy what ever clothing the fashion designers tell us we’re supposed to buy, we wear them just the way they tell us to wear them, and we do so without giving a thought to our own purity and dignity. Everyone else is doing it, right? That’s all that’s available in the stores, right? So, I guess we’ll just have to wear them…
Let’s take, for example, one of my pet peeves which is the yards and yards of cleavage that surround us day in and day out no no matter where we go. It’s unavoidable! Think about how often we’re affronted by a woman who is wearing clothing that is so immodest that we struggle to keep our eyes on her face. Or maybe it appears modest at first until she leans over to reach for something, and then we get far more than we bargained for. That’s no accident, it’s the way the designers have designed the garment.
Whenever I see an immodestly dressed woman, all I want to do is rush up to her, wrap my arms around her, give her a big, chaste hug, and assure her that she is far too beautiful, far too valuable, far too intelligent, far too dignified to be wearing clothing like that. I want to point out every good quality I see in her and mention that there’s probably hundreds more that I don’t immediately see. All I want to do is assure her that she is loved and cherished without having to bare her chest to the world.
Walking around with cleavage — or anything else for that matter — hanging out is a lot like the vendors at the grocery stores on Saturday mornings who take the products, prepare them, divided into little servings, and try with all their might to lure people into coming up to their table and sampling what they’re promoting in order to convince them to buy what they’re selling.
Dressing and posturing immodestly is like taking ourselves, dividing us into little servings, and standing behind a vendor table so that people can be lured into sampling what we’re selling. Sadly, what we’re allowing people to sample belongs only to God and our spouse — whether that be our Lord Jesus Christ in the covenant of religious vows or a human being in the covenant of marriage vows. Just think what it would be like if we made a scrumptious meal for our beloved and let any array of strangers come by and sample it before serving it.
“Well, here honey. Here’s what’s left of the banquet I made for you after all those other people got to sample it. Hope you enjoy it.” Wouldn’t that feel a little strange for both of us?
Some may argue that dressing and posturing immodestly is not the same as having sex. And I would agree. Some may argue that simply because a woman, or a man for that matter, wears the latest fashions doesn’t make him or her a sleazebag. Again I would agree. Some may argue that what they where is none of my business and that they have the right to choose whatever they want to wear. And I would agree – but only to a point.
Dressing and posturing immodestly is a cancer that continues to grow under the skin of the culture. It wears down our defenses against temptation and clouds our vision of holiness. It slowly rots away our sense of purity and goodness. It normalizes something that isn’t normal all. It’s an illusion that tries to convince us that what is questionable is not only acceptable, but desired. That goes for the person wearing or posturing as well as all the people around him or her. It’s an intrusion on our sense of privacy. So, in that respect it is my business and everyone else’s business.
On this day during which we celebrate Our Lady’s purity, I think of how it must grieve her to see her children falling into the clutches of hedonism. I think of all those men and women, young and old, who deep down in their hearts want to be as pure and good as Mary, but are being duped by the culture, by their friends, and even sometimes by their own families. And I pray, I pray for all of them — I pray for all of us.
Hail Mary, for the sake of your purity keep me pure in body and soul. Open wide for me your heart and the heart of your Son. Implore for me deep self-knowledge and the grace to persevere and remain faithful until death. Give me souls; keep all else for yourself.