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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Modesty Is the Guardian of Chastity

Modesty Is the Guardian of Chastity

Continuing his address to the Confraternity of Catholic Mothers of 1956, Archbishop Albert G. Meyer of Milwaukee, warns Catholics about the importance of the virtue of modesty and its role as the guardian of chastity. 



Arch. Albert G. Meyer


This brings us to a consideration of the virtue of modesty in the general scheme of virtues, and more especially as it relates to the virtue of chastity.

The virtue of modesty, in general, may be described as that virtue that prompts us to be decorous, proper and reserved in the way we dress, stand, walk, sit - in general, in the way we behave exteriorly. The virtue of modesty bears a relation to other virtues besides that of chastity, especially to the virtue of humility.

In a special way, manner, however, the virtue of modesty is particularly regarded as the guardian of chastity in thought, word and action.

St. Thomas says that it is the virtue by which we rightly regulate our conduct in respect to those things that can lead to impure thoughts, desire and actions, in ourselves and in others. He says that, while chastity deals with the regulation of difficult things, powerful passions and strong desires for pleasure, modesty deals with the regulation of easy things, the remote and proximate occasions and conditions that lead to unholy desires. Thus, we see that modesty is a virtue allied to the virtue of temperance, or the general habit of self-restraint. ...

It is this virtue of modesty, in its relation to chastity, which prompted the Holy Father (Pope Pius XII) to write in his Encyclical on Holy Virginity:

"Educators of the young would render a more valuable and useful service if they would inculcate in youthful minds the precepts of Christian modesty, which is so important of the preservation of perfect chastity and which is truly called the prudence of chastity. For, modesty foresees threatening danger, forbids us to expose ourselves to risks, demands the avoidance of those occasions which the imprudent do not shun.. It does not like impure or loose talk, it shrinks from the slightest immodesty, it carefully avoids suspect familiarity with persons of the other sex. ... He who possesses the treasure of Christian modesty abominates every sin of impurity and instantly flees whenever he is tempted by its seductions."


Albert G. Meyer, Pastoral Letter on Decency and Modesty, May 1, 1956,
(Milwaukee, WI: Chancery Office, 1956), pp. 16-17.