Saturday, October 14, 2006


A friend mentioned a book by Michael O'Brien and I went to read about it, finding O'Brien's website instead. He has some very interesting essays, one on modesty in dress that I snipped a portion of and posted below. It works well in line with my various posts concerning art, modesty, as well as identity. I'm going to continue thinking about these things and posting what I discover. Read my excerpt from O'Brien if you wish.

“Dad,” each of our children has asked me at one time or another, “Am I in my body or am I my body?”

The look of puzzlement and intense curiosity on their faces when they ask this is a sign that ultimate questions are working their way up from the soul to the consciousness. But how do you explain it to a six year old, or a twelve year old, or a fifty year old? Of course, the body is not a container, nor simply a biological organism, nor is it a machine. It cannot be owned, manipulated, used, bought, sold or violated without something drastic and negative happening to one’s well-being.

Which is why the Pope was so insistent about lust in marriage. The body is part of the gift of life from God. We are in exile and weakened, but we are beloved of God and capable of sharing in his divine love. We are made in his image and likeness. We are damaged but not destroyed. Since the Incarnation an added significance has been given to our flesh, for we are now temples of the Holy Spirit and Christ dwells within us.

Saint John of Damascus once wrote that when man first sinned he retained the image of God but lost the likeness of God; and since the coming of Christ we are freed to be restored to the original unity. Thus, any diminishment of this truth is an offence against God; any harm inflicted on our bodies or the bodies of others is ultimately an act against Love.

In his encyclical on the family, Familiaris Consortio, John Paul II teaches that God calls man into existence through love and for love:“God is Love, and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation and thus the capacity and responsibility of love and communion.

Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being . . . Conjugal love involves a totality in which all the elements of the person enter: the appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affection, aspiration of the spirit and will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, the unity that beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive self-giving; and it is open to fertility.” Michael O'Brien


  1. Terry,

    I've seen 'The David' in Florence and I can tell you right now, he's clothed! Michelangelo sculpted him in such a way as only a masterful artist can. This may be true of many works of art.

    I think you have to place things in context when it comes to such modesty. Belly Dancing was meant to be as a therapeutic practice for Pregnant women. It was only done in front of other women though. But "modernity" suggests that it not be placed in that context anymore.

    Maybe the Bikini is meant for women who go to the doctors office so that they're more Modest in an examination.

    So alot of things are in the manner of context. As for modesty today, it looks like pretty soon women will one day just go about in Nothing.

  2. Hi Juan - You should read Michael O'Brien's piece on modesty in an age of shmelesssnesss - I fixed the link to his webpage so people can access it.


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