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Original Sin & Modesty - 1

On the Virtue of Chastity

Addressing the 1956 meeting of the a Archdiocesan Confraternity of Christian Mothers, Archbishop Albert G. Meyer of Milwaukee (1903-1965,) spoke strong words on decency and modesty. In his Pastoral Letter on Decency and Modesty, he appealed to Catholics to be models for the modern world, proclaiming by word and example the virtues of purity and chastity, as well as the beauty of the virtues of modesty and decency.

We offer here, the three reminders he made about chastity: that sins against chastity can be committed in thought and desire as well as in word and in deed; the effects of original sin on man move man to sin against chastity, and the ways to combat these tendencies to sin. This is especially important since progressivist theologians today are denying original sin, leading to the denial of the purpose of Christ's Incarnation and Redemption. (1)

Arch. Meyer was shocked at the lack of prudence and modesty among Catholics in the year 1956; one can only imagine what horror he would have today to see the dress and customs of Catholics.

Archbishop Albert G. Meyer

The first teaching of our faith is that the law of chastity is imposed on every human being. It binds him in public and in private, in marriage and outside of marriage, in youth and in old age. It is one of the serious laws that God has made, which means that it is one on which the salvation of our soul depends. ...

It is most important to remember that the same law of chastity equally forbids the unchaste thought and the unchaste desire. The words of Christ in this regard are crystal clear: "I say to you that anyone who even looks with lust at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mt. 5:28) ...

The second teaching of our Faith which we ask you to recall here is the doctrine of original sin. Every human being, except the Immaculate Mother of God, has through original sin inherited a tainted nature, which manifests itself more intensively perhaps in inclinations to unchastity than in any other way. The resulting battle with concupiscence is not limited to a given age or state of life; it must be waged by all at all times.

It is fashionable to deny original sin. But to the Catholic, the doctrine of original sin is fundamental for the true understanding of the whole economy of grace and salvation. The denial of original sin ultimately leads to a denial of Christ and the purpose of His Incarnation and Redemption. The denial of original sin leads to a completely false appraisal of the meaning of life.

Such a tragic denial, for example, underlies much of the theory of some progressivist educators. And such a tragic denial is implicit in much of the ostrich-like approach to the very real connection between modesty and chastity, between unchaste thoughts and unchaste deeds, between the unchaste picture or book or dress or film and these unchaste thoughts, desires and deed. It is the teaching of our Faith that through original sin man's nature has been wounded, although not totally corrupted. The wound in our nature is universally experienced through the struggle in which we have to control our imagination and our passions.

Imagination by itself, we know is simply a picture-making power. It certainly is of real use to the intellect of man, but because of original sin, it plays a part in the mind's affairs totally out of proportion to its merits, and has passed far beyond the condition of a useful servant.

Hence, to feed the imagination with all sorts of pictures that serve to excite the passions in man's bodily nature is obviously against God's plans and God's will. Such pictures tend to make the passions rebel against the control of the intellect and will, and to draw the will itself away from conformity to God's will. That is sin. Original sin and its consequence in our fallen nature impose upon us the obligation of keeping the imagination in proper subordination to the intellect and the will.

The third teaching of our holy Faith is that this weakness of human nature, which is the result of original sin, can only be met by following the natural counsels of prudence and right reason, and by using the plentiful means of supernatural graces that have been provided for us by our Divine Savior. The world uses neither.

Prudence tells us that we must reasonably avoid whatever tends to make the imagination rebellious to the intellect and will, and to draw both of these away from God. Prudence is a dictate of the natural law. Prudence see the intimate and necessary connection between the thought and the deed, between the sensory impression of the imagination and the thought and desire.

Therefore, the prudence that sees the virtue of chastity as a desirable and necessary good, also sees that certain things must be avoided to assist the will in the pursuit of that good. The world does not use prudence in the matter of chastity, because it provides a constant flow of incentives to lust, completely heedless of the intimate and necessary connection between modesty and chastity, and indeed often denying the sin of unchastity itself ...

The world does not heed the admonition of Christ (Mt. 18:8-9) because it denies the reality of the sin of scandal, and because it ignores or despises the supernatural means for preserving chastity and the helps which come though the Sacraments and prayer.


  1. Ample proof of this betrayal of doctrine can be found in Vols. 9 and 10 of Atila Guimaraes' Collection on Vatican II, Creatio and Peccato Redemptio.

Albert G. Meyer, Pastoral Letter on Decency and Modesty, May 1, 1956,
(Milwaukee, WI: Chancery Office, 1956), pp. 12-15.


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Posted April 14, 2018

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