Sun—Fr. Parsons introduces a highly controversial subject, and then complains that he finds the controversy distasteful!
We who disagree with him are not condoning immodesty, but merely pleading for good sense. If there are members of the Finchley Tennis Club who find conventional tennis costumes disturbing, it is not a matter of general interest, and obviously the solution of their problem lies not in a readjustment of the standards of modesty or in a reshaping of fashions to accommodate their own peculiar reactions, but in their avoidance of the tennis courts where they meet the offending costumes.
There are many other occasions of sin which have to be faced in daily life. Fr.
Parsons has given us a lead which suggests n new form of parish entertainment. We
might find much amusement in the dark winter evenings by inviting the Mothers' Guild, the Children of Mary, the G.B.S., the Boy Scouts, the Girl Guides, and all the rest, to decide by vote the sinful occasionableness of such daily stumbling-blocks as the Albert Memorial, the B.B.C., the masterpieces of certain distinguished Catholic artists, etc. Only let us keep our decisions to ourselves, and preserve our sense of humour.
J. P. REDMOND (REV.).
66, Crooms Hill, S.E.10.
Wimbledon, for Instance
SIR,—I am on the side of Fr. Parsons and his "conspicuously virtuous omen," every time. I have just had a chance of upholding their views in this matter. Last week I was at Wimbledon at the Tournament, and the remarks passed by the men sitting around me at the " exhibitions" of. the women players during their play, certainly proved Fr. Parsons correct in there being "an occasion for sin."
Fr. Edmunds and " An Aged Priett " have evidently not witnessed the scenes at dances. where a large number present were Catholics—e.g., the dance at the Albert Hall on St. Patrick's night—and others of the same variety. They would then perhaps change their opinion that Catholic women are " without desire of exhibition."
" B. Sc."
The Relative Theory
SIR,—This question of women's dresses is extremely puzzling—and there is in it. surely, a danger of the creation of false consciences. I am always struck for example by the contrast between the private and public attitude of people about it. In private most people and many priests are tolerant and inclined to laugh at the whole business as exaggerated. In public however these same people adopt very rigid views.
To avoid this danger of hypocrisy it would surely be well if we did not set our public standard too high, while, of course, continuing to recommend the highest degree of modesty—whatever it may be—to those who are brave enough to practise it. This is why to talk in absolute terms of " occasion of sin " seems to me unreaL Within certain limits this must be relative to individuals. Let us say : " This is absolutely sinful, whether it is an occasion of sin or not for A or B "; " This is tolerable under present conditions of life, though it may be an occasion of sin to Y and Z who must be on" their guard "; and " This is desirable, and we hope all good Catholics will try and live up to this ideal."
Enamelling Finger Nails
SIR,—The question of modesty in dress is not unconnected with the much-criticised practice among girls of enamelling the
finger-nails in bright colours. Of all present-day customs I think this is one of the most objectionable, and the other day I saw quite a respectable school-girl at Mass who had adopted it. Surely parents and teachers need reminding of their responsibilities by the parish priest when things reach this stage.
(Mr.) A. P. MITCHELL.
SIR,—The present fashions are immodest. Only too true are the Holy Father's words when speaking of the present immodest fashions as a cause of sin. " a pestiferous disease dragging souls to Hell." We hear much through your papers about immodest fashions. Why are we not constantly instructed on modesty? These instructions are much needed, for many offend because they do not know the teachings of the Church on the subject. Even nuns who instruct us are unaware of them.
Modest fashions need not be dowdy, as others and I have proved. What we consider the great need of the moment is that a Catholic paper should enlist the services of an artist of refined taste to bring the fashions of the day into line with the true Catholic idea of modesty and to supply paper patterns of the same. This would be a simple task for a designer, but impossible for the majority of girls and women who have to make their own dresses and depend solely on current paper patterns to work on.
A WORKING GIRL.
SIR,—For what it is worth I pass on this remark : " After reading the letters in the CATHOLIC HERALD on the cost of having a baby and average families, I am driven to the conclusion that Catholics are not taught to practice self-control. Therefore they take it for granted that a woman must produce from " five children upwards" or practice " birth-control."
There are many parents outside the Catholic Church who abhor contraceptive methods, but who practise the more heroic way of self-restraint in the interests of the family that God has already given them.
Does your Church condemn these people?
[Certainly not. " Self-Restraint " is a Christian way at' solving what is today only too often a pressing problem. It is not however as good, especially when continuously practised. as having the number of children reasonably-controlled nature permits. Barron. ]