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July 13, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. What can one say to a teenage daughter or granddaughter who wears skimpy bathing suits? I know that is the “style” these days, but it seems wrong for many reasons. — M.M., Virginia.
A. When our five daughters were teens, my wife and I ruled out the wearing of skimpy bathing suits, as well as skin-tight jeans or shorts or revealing tops. We gave our girls certain rules and the reasons for them.
One, we said that such outfits were immodest in that they made parts of the female body public that ought to be kept private, and they could be an occasion of sin for others. When presenting this argument to a Confirmation class a few years ago, one girl said that if boys were turned on by her lack of clothing, that was their problem. We agreed that boys who responded that way were responsible for their actions, but we added that it could be a problem for the girl, too, since she was inviting unwanted advances and should not be surprised if such advances were made.
The virtue of modesty is mandatory. It can be compared with the drawbridge that protects a castle. If the person in charge of the drawbridge is careless, intruders could invade and capture the castle. So, too, if a person is not careful how they dress, they will find their purity threatened and perhaps even compromised. If the way a person dresses might cause someone else to get sexually excited, it is wrong, whether that is their intention or not. Being our brother’s and sister’s keeper means not doing anything that could lead them into sin.
Two, we told our girls that we wanted boys to like them for who they were, not because of their bodies. They were composed not only of physical bodies, but also of spiritual souls created in the image and likeness of God, redeemed by Jesus on the cross, and destined for eternal joy in Heaven. They weren’t objects to be used or abused, but rather persons to be loved.
Three, we cautioned that wearing revealing clothing exposes (pun intended) girls to sexual predators, of whom there are many in today’s sex-saturated culture. Pornography is pervasive now, and the primary viewers are teenage boys. How will they react to girls in skimpy bathing suits after having immersed themselves in porn?
Serial killer Ted Bundy admitted before his execution for murder in Florida that hard-core pornography fueled his sexual fantasies and inspired his murderous rage. “You reach that jumping off point,” he said, “when you begin to wonder if actually doing it would give you that which is beyond just reading about it or looking at it.”
Four, purity is security. Despite all the media propaganda to the contrary, it is possible and normal to be pure. But it is not easy, especially at those colleges that sponsor “sex weeks” to promote promiscuity and break down whatever inhibitions entering students might have by establishing “dorm brothels” on campuses and pushing every kind of sexual vice imaginable, and some not so imaginable.
Even young people who want to remain virtuous are confronted with many obstacles. College, said one student at an East Coast university, has become “a parent-funded motel party of casual and impersonal, but, yes, ‘safe sex’.”
The culture is much worse today than when my daughters were teenagers back in the eighties and nineties. All the more reason for parents to instill in their children a desire for modesty and purity. And one way to do this is to have their daughters dress modestly.

Q. On the Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the priest said that John was freed from original sin. I thought the Blessed Mother was the only person without original sin. — G.B., Missouri.
A. The Blessed Mother was conceived without original sin from the moment her life began in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. However, there is a tradition in the Church that John the Baptist, who was conceived with original sin, was freed from that sin while in the womb of Elizabeth during the visitation of Mary. This tradition is supported by the words of the Angel Gabriel, who told Zechariah that his son’s name would be John and that he “will be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15).
A person still in original sin could not be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The archangel’s prediction came true during the Visitation when Elizabeth said to Mary, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy” (Luke 1:42-44).
This leaping of John in his mother’s womb is thought to signify the Baptist’s release from original sin.

Q. I recently had a conversation with a person who is a daily reader of the Bible and believes everything in it to be 100 percent true. We talked about the story of Creation, about Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel, and other things. So I want to know, what is the Church’s teaching on the 100 percent truthfulness of the Bible in terms of what science says about the universe and the evolution of mankind? — E.W.M., via e-mail.
A. First of all, the Catholic Church teaches that the books of the Bible were written by human authors who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach the truth. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 107):
“Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures [DV, n. 11].”
Second, while there can be no conflict between religious truth and scientific truth since God is the Author of both, there are those who question what the Bible says about Creation, Adam and Eve, and original sin and suggest that the Genesis accounts are mythical or fictional stories. However, the Church teaches otherwise.
For example, in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII conceded that the first eleven chapters of Genesis do not conform to modern historical methods. But they “do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense,” he said, in that they use “simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people little cultured” in order both to state “the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also to give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the Chosen People” (n. 38).
The Holy Father said that “whatever of the popular narratives have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things, which are more the product of an extravagant imagination than of that striving for truth and simplicity which in the Sacred Books, also of the Old Testament, is so apparent” (n. 39).
Echoing Pius XII forty-two years later, the Catechism (n. 390) said that “the account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.”
Third, whatever figurative language or popular narrations were used by the author of Genesis, Catholics are required to believe the following truths:
1) God created everything out of nothing, and everything He created was good.
2) He created the first man and woman in a special way, and Adam and Eve enjoyed not only friendship with God, but also a state of holiness, justice, and immortality.
3) Our first parents, at the instigation of Satan, disobeyed God’s command not to eat from “the tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17) and lost their original holiness and harmony with each other and with creation and brought death into human history.
4) Because we are descendants of Adam and Eve, original sin is transmitted to us, leaving us weakened and prone to sin.
5) God promised a Redeemer (Gen. 3:15), a promise that was fulfilled in Jesus so that we “might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).

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