3 Tips for Magnifying Biblical Beauty in Your Life

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior

For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

The Almighty has done great things for me,

And holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him

In every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm;

He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

And has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

And the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel

For he remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers,

To Abraham and his children forever.

(Lk 1:46-55)

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The Magnificat is my favorite Bible passage. There is something about Mary’s life reflected in beautiful praise of God that is captivating. Although we could spend years meditating on her Magnificat, here are three points to ponder.

 

  1. Mary Reflects God

When Mary says, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my Spirit exults in God my Savior,” she was not speaking in vanity. She was not drawing attention to herself, but using her words and her soul to mirror praise and awe back to God. Mary is a mirror of love. She magnifies His greatness and mercy, which is why her prayer is called the Magnificat. We are all different reflections of God’s love. We all have different strengths, which are hints of God’s almighty goodness. Like puddles that reflect the sun after the storm, the puddle cannot reflect the whole sky- only a portion of it. We cannot possibly reflect the entirety of God’s goodness, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive to be the most perfect reflections of God that we can be. Modesty is recognizing the splendor and beauty with which we were made, but also realizing that none of the credit is due to us.

 

  1. Mary does not compare herself to other people

Although Mary is sinless, she never thinks highly of herself, but thanks God for His goodness that affects her life. Mary was made sinless by Christ; her soul was redeemed by the Blood of Christ, just like our souls are. Because Mary was to be the Ark of the Covenant and carry God made Man in her womb, God bestowed on her the grace of an Immaculate Conception, or a sinless soul. Mary knows that only by God’s grace in her life will she be remembered as blessed in future generations. “From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.” Mary’s focus was exclusively set on God and she saw that it was not by her own power that she was holy, but by God working through her. If we kept our eyes on God, we too would realize that we are not as righteous as we perceive ourselves to be, for we are truly incapable of doing good on our own. We need the grace of God. Mary maintains her modesty by holding herself up to God’s standard, never to the world’s. How often do we say things like, “Oh, well, I don’t drink as much as Katie” or “yeah, we shouldn’t have gone that far, but Matt and Sarah have gone even further.”? This is measuring ourselves up to the world, not to Heaven. We will not be judged on how we behaved in comparison to Katie or Matt, we will be judged on how we behaved in comparison to God’s commandments. When we look to God for direction and approval, we can see very clearly our faults and shortcomings. When we look to people for justification, however, we become desensitized to our own weaknesses. This can be compared to staring at the ground when we walk. I am in the habit of looking at my feet as I walk, and I think that I am being careful not to trip on anything. But, in reality, I am preoccupied with what is directly in front of me, losing sight of where I need to go. “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Modesty is choosing not to put ourselves above others, but opening up our peripheral vision to accept both our shortcomings and redemption in Christ.

 

  1. Mary is genuine

From Mary’s opening statement, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my Savior”, one would expect that she would spend the rest of her canticle proclaiming the goodness of God and exulting in Him, which is exactly what she does. She is true to her word, completely, and entirely genuine. Modesty is knowing who you are in all of your weakness, and yet still recognizing yourself as a saved beloved son or daughter of God, worthy of respect. This is freeing and allows us to be genuine and real like Mary. There is value in the old saying, “say what you mean and mean what you say”. When we are honest, we tell the world that we are confident enough to expose our true selves, even with the possibility of ridicule.

 

When we recognize our worth in Christ and act freely in that reality, we mirror Christ, like Mary did. I am glad that I am able to share my thoughts on the Magnificat with you, but I encourage you to read and meditate on it as well. We can draw so much from the words of Mary and this article only scratched the surface.

Swimsuit Season

The weather has been amazing lately! My winter wardrobe has been replaced with my spring wardrobe. This spring, however, I am looking for a new swimsuit. Dressing modestly during swimsuit season isn’t always the easiest thing. There are so many stinkin’ cute bikinis that I’ve seen. However, after watching Jessica Rey’s talk on the evolution of the swimsuit, I’ve seen that the bikini is not the most modest choice. 

I’ve chosen to avoid bikinis this spring, will you join me?

Not everyone has the same standards of modesty, especially when it comes to swimsuits. I understand that what I think is modest, some people may consider immodest, and what I consider immodest, others find completely acceptable. I’m not saying that everything goes when dressing modestly. I think we should, however, strive to reveal less of our bodies and more of our dignity.  Here are a few cute swimsuits that I have stumbled upon in my search for a new swimsuit this spring.

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The first image is a boyleg swimsuit from anthropologie.com This one is perhaps my favorite one of all. It is by far the most expensive, but it is a great modest swimsuit with a classic and vintage feel. I think I will be saving up for this little gem!

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The second image is a one-shoulder tankini top from limericki.com. I liked the one shoulder look and the bright fun pattern. I recommend checking out their website because they offer some very cute and reasonably priced modest swimsuits!

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The third image is a romper swimsuit from target.com I thought it looked very flattering, beachy and fun. Plus, I have yet to see a romper swimsuit that is cute and intended for a younger crowd, until now. 😉

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The fourth image is a tankini top from swimspot.com. I liked how it looked a little more athletic, but still flattering and feminine. It reminds me of the running tops that are very “in” right now.

These are just four of MANY cute swimsuits that I have stumbled upon this season. And many are cute MODEST ones too! Jessica Rey offers modest and classy swimsuits as well (reyswimwear.com). Hooray for that refreshing change.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Broken and Beautiful: Letting Go and Letting God

Image-1 (1)The devil knows me well. He knows my weaknesses, and he knows how to deflate me so much that it affects every aspect of my life. Lately he’s been actively trying to convince me that life is of no value, which is exactly the opposite of what I am fighting for in my pro-life work. Coincidence? I think not.

Satan is so perverted that he is taking the core issue of my mission in life (defending the dignity and value of every human life at every stage), and he is trying to convince me that life has no meaning, beginning with my own. He tells me how worthless, unworthy, shameful, ugly, messed up and imperfect I am. He wants me to believe that I am beyond the power of Christ’s redemption. He is doing everything in his power to blind me of my worth in Christ.

Satan’s self-destructive thoughts spill over to how I view others. Sometimes I can only see people for their imperfections. Sometimes I question why any of us bother in life since we’re just going to fail again. Sometimes I feel completely unmotivated to help others because “they’re not worthy”. How much pain this must cause Christ! I’ve been fed with Christ’s truth before, and, therefore, I know these are damaging lies.

The devil wants nothing more than for me to lose hope. He wants nothing more than to see me suffer in this life and burn in hell for eternity. He’ll do all he can to make me feel so unworthy of Christ so as to stop approaching Him in prayer, in the Eucharist, and seeing Him in others.

There is hope. There is help. Christ Our Lord has sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice in full. There is no redemption that we can possibly win for ourselves. It must hurt Him terribly when we choose to ignore Him and deny His love. What a slap in the face to tell God that He doesn’t know what He’s doing by loving someone so undeserving. He has a love that truly knows no limits. New life in Christ is His gift of love, and when I choose to accept it, I can truly love others more. I can love them for who they are and meet them where they are at, just as Christ has chosen to do for me.

With my experience in doing pro-life work, I have come to see the damaging effects of Satan’s lies. In some cases, it’s not just a question of proving when human life begins. Rather, it is a question of does this life have value? It’s sad to hear people describe a child as a “product of rape” instead of a child.  It’s sad that many hold the idea that a child with a disability would be better to never have been born. It’s sad to hear people prejudge a life by saying that abortion would be better so the child wouldn’t have to experience the same cycle of poverty that he’s born into.

The truth is, we will never know the potential of a human person, and everyone is born with same dignity in Christ. Jesus died for every individual, no matter how imperfect, just the same as he died for you and me. Yes, every one of us is broken, but thanks to Christ, we are broken and beautiful.

If you are struggling with some of the same things that I struggle with, I invite you to say this prayer on letting go and letting God take control.

Let Go and Let God

Dear God,

I let go of my need to be perfect, and I let You fill me with Your perfect love.

I let go of my ideas of fulfillment, and I let You fill me with what I truly desire.

I let go of what I think of myself, and I let You define my worth.

I let go of what others think of me, and I let You tell me who I am to You.

I let go of my appearance, and I let You shine through me.

I let go of my unreasonable standards, and I let You work through me.

I let go of my will for my life, and I let You reveal Your plan for me.

I let go of all of my past sins, and I let You forgive me.

I let go of my reliance on myself, and I let You be my Redeemer.

I let go of how I view others, and I let You love them through me.

7 Ways to Embrace Modesty Through Respect

Modesty, at its core, fosters respect. It has everything to do with recognizing your worth through the eyes of God, for we were made in His image and likeness. So, yes, you are amazing because you are respectfully made. This acknowledgement should be welcomed in every aspect of life and should pour forth a desire to respect other people. But how can we do this? Here are a few tips on how to respect others.

1. Pray. Yes, this seems too obvious, but it’s hard to respect every person that you come across. Some people act like jerks. Some people come across as arrogant and stingy. Some people appear inconsiderate and hurtful. Why should we respect people like that? Don’t we deserve to be treated better because we hold ourselves to higher standards? But, alas, Christ chose to associate with the weak, sinful, and shamed people of His time, and we have so much to learn from his example. We aren’t better than a single person in this world. We are all failures in some way, shape, or form, and Christ still chooses to respect us. The only redeeming factor about us is Christ. He has redeemed us and has created us in His image and likeness. We must see the dignity in others, even when they fail to see it in themselves. Therefore, we must pray to be healed from our pride and pray to see others as Christ sees them.

2. Dress Modestly. It is often said that we should dress modestly to keep our brothers from falling into sin. While this is an important part of modesty, we shouldn’t only try to avoid immodest clothing. I think we should also put some time and effort into our appearance in order to dress in a positive way. Being well dressed is a beautiful form of politeness, and politeness shows respect for others. A spirit of modesty requires that we don’t go to either extreme in form of appearance. For instance, I don’t think we should try to hide in unflattering clothes as if our bodies are bad. Our bodies are temples, for Heaven’s sake! (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”) How do we glorify God in our bodies? By dressing in a way that respects ourselves, God, and others. We must, also, avoid the opposite extreme of being so invested in our appearance that our vanity detracts from God and magnifies ourselves. Modesty demands a balanced approach.

3. Be Punctual. I get it, life happens. You aren’t going to make it to every class, event, or scheduled appointment on time. Habitual tardiness, however, is disrespectful. To the one who values time, it is hurtful that you arrive late. Every. Single. Time. Punctuality shows respect and proves that you value the company and time of others. While we’re on the subject, I think Jesus values your time and company as well. Show up to church on time, please! If that means waking up 15 minutes earlier, so be it.

4. Use Manners. Walking down the hallway, you spot a stranger coming from the other direction. In attempt to avoid awkwardness, you look down at your phone and pretend like you are checking your texts. I’m guilty of this scenario. In reality, it is so much more pleasant and less awkward to put your phone down, smile at the stranger, and ask him how his day is going. Or even a simple hello will do. YOUR smile has the capacity to not only brighten the day of others, but to also brighten your own day. Manners show respect, whether it be a smile, a quick greeting, or a simple “please” and “thank you”.

5. Affirm Others. Words are powerful. Be intentional in noticing things about other people and share some words of affirmation. For example, after my boss’s last speech, I told him, “You did a great job of rallying up the kids in your speech. They really seemed enthused after the words you spoke.” These words left him feeling encouraged. Additionally, simple compliments can show your love and respect for others. This morning, my roommate told me, “You look so cute today. I love your sweater.” Such simple words, but such power. Focus on the positive traits of others, and be intentional in your affirming words.

6. Listen. My mind was going to explode as I called my mom on the phone and spilled out whatever was on my mind. She didn’t try to solve the problem right away. She didn’t interrupt and try to relate it to herself. She just listened. Her lending ear proved that she cared about me and that she was there for me. She was very respectful in giving me my own time to share what I was feeling. There was a lot of healing in that.

7. Give. Giving of yourself shows people that you respect and appreciate them. This can be in a letter or card, a little gift, or an act of sacrifice. Mother Teresa said “give, but give until it hurts.” That is exactly what Christ did for us. The cross was His ultimate gift.

Respecting others requires much intentionality, but I promise you, if you pray for humility and respect, intentionally dress modestly, make punctuality a priority, put your manners into practice, use affirmative words, take time to listen, and give until it hurts, you will begin to see the dignity in each person and love more as Christ loves us.

Modesty: The Mirror Of Love

Modesty allows us to love, and in a world that so desperately wants and needs love, it’s a shame that more people are not striving for modesty. This probably goes against what you think of as modesty because typically when we think of modesty, or humility, we imagine people who are scared of the world or think poorly of themselves. They act timidly, avoid eye contact, and do not state what they believe for fear of offending others. If you act like that, you won’t form healthy, loving relationships. That’s not what humility is. That may be our society’s misconstrued view of it, but timidity is not modesty.

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True modesty is realizing that our entire worth comes from God and then striving to live in that truth. That being said, God gives us a lot of worth. I mean, He is God after all, and God is love, so He is the most loving Father that could ever exist. And we’re His kids, so yeah, we have no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed about who we are. So why should we be humble when we are that awesome? We should be humble so that we can reflect the glory of God, like a mirror reflects light. I first heard of the idea of being like a mirror in a prayer that mentions St. Therese the Little Flower. She is said to have been a “mirror of angelic purity, of love strong as death, and of wholehearted abandonment to God.” (I’m not sure who that was originally accredited to, but you can see a full prayer here). Mirroring God is a beautiful thing that we should all strive for. I don’t know how they make those distorted mirrors that you see at carnivals, the ones that make an image appear skinny, fat, twisted or upside down, but arrogance is what turns the clean, smooth mirror of our souls into that type of mirror. When we become arrogant and focus on ourselves, we become inverted and twisted. That is not how we were made to be because it prevents us from reflecting the pure, perfect love that comes only from God. We are creatures of love. God created us in love and for the purpose of reflecting His love into the world. If we want to show love to anyone, whether it be our boyfriends/girlfriends, spouses, parents, friends, or perfect strangers, we must first practice modesty.

In order to strive for modesty, we need to consider if what we are doing, saying and wearing is modest or not. Because we are used to applying modesty only to how women dress, considering our actions in the context of modesty is difficult. To make it easier, I suggest that instead, we consider if what we are about to say, do, or wear is loving or not.

 Living in modesty, and so living in love, hinders us from being judgemental towards others, as well as from getting jealous of others. It causes us to realize that all of those around us are our equals because they are human beings. We realize this because we recognize our fallen human nature, everyone else’s fallen human nature, and their God-given worth and beauty. When we realize that all humans are, well, human, then we realize that we cannot look down on others or judge them because they are no less than us. They may fall in different ways, but they fall and we fall. Our duty as Christians is to help each other get back up when we fall and to try to help others avoid falling by setting good example through modest dress. When we have a loving demeanor, others are less tempted to have lustful or hateful thoughts towards us. Modesty hinders jealousy, because, again, all are equal to us. They are human and we are human. They fall and we fall. They have God-given talents, just as we do. Ultimately, we are all part of the same fallen human race that is created and redeemed by God.

Truly understanding all of this would allow me to love so much deeper than I do. I wouldn’t be helping someone because I pity them, but because I love them. Instead of getting jealous of others, I would love them. Instead of being unjustly angry with someone, I would love and try to help that person. Instead of wondering if someone is worth my time, I would simply love them without question. Instead of thinking badly about myself or the mind and body that God gave me, I would love myself. If I could become a truly modest person, it would change my life. How would it change yours?

What is Modesty?

photo(3)Typically, when people hear the word “modesty” they view it in the context of fashion. Many think of it as covering up, hiding, or wearing extremely unflattering clothing. Modesty in its original meaning actually refers to a particular virtue, humility; humility in both character and in conduct. Now, this obviously extends to clothing, but it is much, much more.

“…God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6. We should strive for humility in order to magnify something bigger than ourselves; God. Ultimately, He is the one who gives us our worth. Mother Teresa said, “If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.” – and what you are is a beloved child of God by His grace! Without Him, you and I are nothing. With Him, our dignity is restored. We must wear an attitude of modesty in order to acknowledge our beautiful worth in Christ.

As I mentioned earlier, modesty does extend to clothing, but it is not limited to outward appearances. The outward expression of modesty in dress should reflect what one is striving for on the inside. 1 Peter 3:3-4 states, “Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in the fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.” Therefore, the focus is on inward beauty, and dressing modestly is a manifestation of one’s attitude.

Moreover, a modestly dressed woman is showing men that there is so much more to her than a body. There are gifts, talents, interests, desires, goals, and a unique personality. There is actual substance. There is a soul. A modest woman should not dress in order to cover up her body because it is something evil; rather, she is clothing herself in her God-given dignity. She acknowledges that she is made for a love so much greater than what the world has to offer. If she wants a man to respect her, she must first respect herself.

Modesty is often distinguished as a womanly virtue. However, there are concrete ways that men can practice modesty as well. Men are modest when not drawing unnecessary attention to themselves by showing off (muscles, “toys”, wealth, etc.). Moreover, when men choose to respect women through their speech, through their manners, and through their selfless demeanor, they are exemplifying the virtue of modesty. They are honoring a woman’s God-given beauty and honoring themselves and God.Modesty honors beauty article