CEBU City, Jan. 31, 2016–In an age where skimpy skirts, see-through tops seem almost de riguer, delegates at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress make a powerful case for irresistible, refreshing modesty, especially during the Holy Mass.
It was a sense of awe for Jesus in the Eucharist that led Berna Manipon to start wearing a veil during Holy Mass despite it being a tradition associated with more matronly women in the Philippines.
“You prepare yourself for a date [with Jesus], so you veil yourself, you cover yourself because you’re meeting the Lord… You’re really [also] more focused,” said the 28-year old volunteer for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) media accreditation team.
According to Manipon, who has been veiling at Mass for several years now, she believes her personal practice of veiling is a testament to others.
“[I do it] actually not because I feel holy but because I’m focused on the Mass and another thing, I also want to encourage other people and by doing it you, encourage others more.”
The nurse from the Philippine General Hospital in Manila said she was especially moved by the sight of young, veiled women in churches in Parañaque as well as at the Padre Pio Shrine in Batangas.
“It’s too beautiful.. Imagine a church where all the girls wear veils [during Mass],” added Manipon.
For Tancy Delfin, a management accounting graduate, also volunteering at the IEC, dressing well for the holy Eucharist is more than just a personal preference but something that could have ecumenical consequences.
“Modesty really matters, especially… [because] there are also other religions, when they see us not dressed properly, instead of appreciating our Eucharist, the impression is not good,” the Negros Occidental native explained.
“When I see people who wear shorts to Mass, I feel offended as a Catholic. I know that it’s not the proper way [to dress]… when you’re on a date with the Lord,” she added.
For the 26-year old, modesty need not be boring, especially with products like “statement shirts” from groups like Couples for Christ (CFC) Ablaze, an organization committed to New Evangelization.
She said: “Even my friends outside the community [of CFC], they’ll really ask you, where did you get that? It attracts people. They appreciate how bold the statements [about faith] are.”
Only Jesus attracts the heart
“It’s nice because it’s really decent, but you can wear it in a cool manner. All kinds of people can wear it,” added Delfin.
Ablaze, which has shirts and other apparel that communicate Christ through their designs, also creates publications, music as well as organizes events and trainings geared towards New Evangelization.
At the end of the day, the entire person should speak about Jesus – from head to foot.
“We dress well because we are in front of God. We are in the presence of God. Young people have to [dress] well… [Doing this] would be a testimony in front of the others,” said Bishop Ottavio Vitale, RCI, an Italian Rogationist Father missionary based serving in Albania.
According to the Bishop of Lezhë, aside from the exterior witness of dressing modestly what matters most is a commitment to prayer because “only Jesus, only God attracts” the people to conversion. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz / CBCP News)