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Fashion for Jesus

Okay, let’s start with God.  God is Love, and the source of all that is good.  Among the many attributes of God–Truth, Goodness, Wisdom, and so forth–is Beauty.  God is Beauty and all things lovely come from Him; it has pleased Our Lord to share with women a particularly wonderful share in that beauty.  This feminine beauty is praised in Sacred Scripture, as in the Song of Songs and Psalm 45, as well as in great poetry, like Shakespeare, Dante, and Saint Hildegard of Bingen; she is one of my favorites and has this to say about woman, “Why is woman so radiant? God’s hand made her. He gave her an awesome beauty. Woman, what a marvelous creature you are! By grounding yourself in the Sun, you conquer the world.”   We can say that we glorify God when we shine with His radiance.

You might pause at this statement, dear reader, and protest that many of the saints deliberately turned attention away from their physical appearance, like Saint Rose of Lima, who intentionally disfigured her face.  Their actions seem to me to harbor suspicion for the body, which is definitely not part of solid Catholic theology, but I know that they are saints and trust the wisdom of the Church in that matter.  I can understand what Saint Rose of Lima was thinking, insofar as there is danger for us, as women, danger that we will use our beauty to glorify ourselves, and it is  difficult in our culture to not subscribe to the “my body is bait to lure men” mentality.  We have to navigate between the philosophy of objectification, which would turn out bodies into pretty pieces of meat, just as we have to guard against a philosophy of dualism, which sees the body as bad and the spirit as good.

The secret, of course, is to live just like Saint Hildegard encourages us, by grounding our radiance in God the Father’s love.  If we turn the focus from ourselves and fear of our bodies onto giving glory to God, then we are free to be lovely, truly and deeply beautiful, and not be attached to it.  By lovely, I don’t mean that you have flawless features; no one has those, even movie stars.  They just employ very skilled makeup artists.  By lovely, rather, I refer to your appearance, to the general package you present to the world.  If that is how we define feminine beauty, then each of us can manage it.  We can’t do much about our crooked noses or uneven chins, but we can certainly present a cheerful portrait to the world, with a cute skirt, curled hair, lip gloss, and a smile.  Wait, you ask, is Katie telling me that I need to be pretty to be a good Catholic?  No, I am not saying that.  Rather, I suggest that, because we are devout Catholics who are deeply grounded in the salvific mercy of Christ, we have a duty to proclaim through our appearance  that God is good and real and beautiful.

Next, let’s talk about our culture, the culture of death.  It is a dark place, a society where people are isolated and desperate and very afraid.  Our fellow Americans are starving for God and hoping that maybe, perhaps, our Christian claims might just be true; they mock our faith and claim to disdain us, but, deep down, they are waiting for us to prove them wrong.

We have our marching orders, don’t we, ladies?

 

This culture aches for evangelization, and the Holy Father has called upon us to be missionaries.  Each of us, by virtue of our baptism, are sent forth to evangelize the world with the good news of Jesus Christ, and in answer that mandate, as well as to Pope Benedict XVI’s call in this Year of Faith, It’s Fun To Be A Girl has launched the Catholic Fashion Blogging movement.

Colleen, Catholic Fashion Blogger at Ghostjar

Now, you ask, how does beauty and fashion correspond with the Year of Faith and our culture’s desperate need for evangelization?  Here is how.  Because, our neighbors think that they know what is Christianity, and they think it’s boring and small-minded, even dangerous.  Our neighbors think that Christians are out of touch with reality and don’t understand the daily struggles and sorrows that they face.  This is where we employ the missionary tool of fashion, namely, through dressing with an eye to style and following the latest trends in a reasonable manner, we communicate to those who see us that we speak their language.  A prairie dress or long plaid jumper sends the following message, “I reject this culture, and I don’t speak your existential language”, whereas a woman who looks fashionable enough (we are shooting for temperance here, ladies) shows that she is interested in the culture and those who live in it.

Deme, Catholic Fashion Blogger at Crinion Clan

Now, let’s see if we can make sense of the two messages I offer above.  What I am not saying is that every woman is called to be a missionary fashionista.  What I am not saying is that one has to wear mascara in order to please God.  What I am saying, however, echoes the words of Blessed Pope John Paul in this theology of the body, where he asserts, “The body expresses the person.”  Your body expresses you, my dears, and you are each a precious daughter of God the Father, so your physical appearance should reflect that glory.  I am giving to each of you permission to bedeck yourselves in prettiness as a way to shine for Jesus and bring light to your neighbors.  Bring light to your families and your offices and your favorite coffee shops through your glorious femininity.

We radiate with the Light that comes from our Heavenly Father and put our natural feminine beauty to good use, tailoring our appearance to communicate a message of hope and goodness to all who see us.  Come Holy Spirit and teach us how to be beautiful for the glory of God!

About Katie

Katie spent her girlhood in a cult, where she was sexually wounded and nearly crushed by sorrow. Katie is here today because she belongs to a Father who turns tears into dancing and darkness into light. She earned her undergraduate degree in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, which is also the place where she met Jesus in the Eucharist and took Pope John Paul II as her spiritual father. Katie ministered at a Honduran orphanage, had her heart pierced in India, and served as a pro-life lobbyist before marrying and becoming a full-time mother. Amidst her days of washing dishes, chasing chickens, and kissing babies, Katie is earning her Master of Arts in Theology at the Augustine Institute. The mother of two precious toddlers and three babies who have run ahead to heaven, Katie lives with her beloved husband, Devin, on a farm outside Austin, Texas, and serves as the co-director of Feminine Genius, Inc.

  • dymphn - Interesting. I’ve always thought it was a shame that I had to go to Mormon sites for fashion and wondered where the Catholics were.January 29, 2013 – 7:07 amReplyCancel

  • Katie - Thanks, Dymphn! I, too, read many Mormon fashion blogs and am often impressed by their femininity and modesty. We, who are blessed with the fullness of Truth and the Holy Eucharist, should be leading the way in modesty and beauty. 🙂 I love being Catholic.January 29, 2013 – 2:15 pmReplyCancel

  • Meg - If we’re going to do this, could we perhaps (in a spirit of obedience) have a look at what the Vatican has to say about women’s dress, rather than flying blind with our own ideas of how women should dress? It’s not enough to look around and say “well I dress more modestly than most of the women I see…” That’s not saying much these days! We know the culture is sick, what does Our Lord’s church recommend as the presecription?January 29, 2013 – 7:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Katie - What a great point, Meg! I totally agree and, at Its Fun To Be A Girl, we do our best to follow the statement from the Cardinal Vicar of Pope Pius XII, dated 1956; you can see it here: http://www.catholicmodesty.com/Popesonmodesty.html. As far as I know, there have not been any recent Magisterial pronouncements on modesty, which is why we look to the 1956 statement and why Catholic Fashion Bloggers commit to fabric that reaches for their collarbones, elbows, and knees. Not every outfit that we wear reaches that standard, but we do our best. You can see the Catholic fashionistas at: http://itsfuntobeagirl.com/catholic-fashion-bloggers/.

    Personally, I only wear skirts, but that is not a necessary for CFB. And, I dream of a world in which we all wear hats again. 🙂January 29, 2013 – 9:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Bridget Green - I love what you are saying here and it is how I was always taught to think of dress and fashion. We are not called to wear sack cloth and ash. In fact, aren’t we called to do the exact opposite? So long as we maintain modesty why shouldn’t we dress as if we live in the world when we do in fact live in the world? I think it especially important for mothers of large families to do this. Very well said!January 30, 2013 – 1:01 amReplyCancel

  • Erin Pascal - Thank you for this!
    I have always agreed to the notion that true beauty is made up by more than just a woman’s outward appearance; and that God looks at the beauty of the heart rather than the physical attributes. However, I certainly do not think that God wants us to neglect how we look. It is still important that we try to look good but we should not make it the most important facet of our lives.January 30, 2013 – 5:42 amReplyCancel

  • Joining the Sista-hood - […] It’s Fun To Be A Girl has joined the ranks of cool and witty Catholic ladies at Catholic Sistas and my first post launched today. […]January 31, 2013 – 1:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Susan - I agree completely with your post! As the mother of 5 boys, I believe that I have a duty to represent our Catholic faith and our growing family well, first by showing a proper dignity toward myself and others. That includes dressing in an attractive manner. I have found that this simple action really helps me “get my foot in the door” with non-Christians/Catholics when it comes to evangelizing!January 31, 2013 – 1:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Katie - Thanks, Bridget, Erin, and Susan! It is a treat to hear from devout Catholic women who value the gift of their femininity.January 31, 2013 – 7:22 pmReplyCancel

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