Modesty, like chastity, aids us in living the beatitude “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). It means purity of heart in action, especially regarding dress and speech. To be pure in heart penetrates deeper than the common understanding of relating modesty to dress as it also includes speech. Scripture reminds us, “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Therefore, it seems clear that to fully live this virtue and beatitude, we need to look at the desires of the heart.
I have always believed that chastity education – which includes modesty – begins in early childhood. I must add that it is wonderful to see curriculums such as Ruah Woods’ laying this foundation in their Theology of the Body programs. Imagine how well-formed the next generation would be if they had both Disciple of Christ | Education in Virtue® and Theology of the Body!
To instruct the young that their self-worth and dignity aren’t measured in what they do but in who they are as a child of God is the first step in living modesty. They need to be taught not to be boastful in their words or to behave in attention-seeking ways. Yes, acknowledgment and affirmation for accomplishing tasks are essential to growth and maturity, but when their response crosses over it, it is time to redirect. It is a fine balance, but it will bear fruit in later years. These little lessons are ways to teach them that our treasure lies in seeing God in all things now and forever (Matthew 6:21).
To see God and His creation requires a pure heart and the ability to see with a Christian worldview. This is a daily struggle, but an excellent place to start by examining what you look at daily.
“The lamp of the body is the eye” (Matthew 6:22). Start with yourself and answer the question, “What are concrete things I can do to keep my heart pure/clean?” This is the path to living the virtue of modesty and ultimately the beatitude “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).