Thursday, 12 April 2012

In the world but not of it/2

From "The Responses of Pope St. Nicholas I to the Questions of the Bulgars" (Letter 99), Chapter LVIIII, A.D. 866:

"We consider what you asked about pants (femoralia) to be irrelevant; for we do not wish the exterior style of your clothing to be changed, but rather the behavior of the inner man within you, nor do we desire to know what you are wearing except Christ — for however many of you have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ [Gal. 3:27] — but rather how you are progressing in faith and good works. But since you ask concerning these matters in your simplicity, namely because you were afraid lest it be held against you as a sin, if you diverge in the slightest way from the custom of other Christians, and lest we seem to take anything away from your desire, we declare that in our books, pants (femoralia) are ordered to be made, not in order that women may use them, but that men may. But act now so that, just as you passed from the old to the new man, [cf. Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10] you pass from your prior custom to ours in all things; but really do what you please. For whether you or your women wear or do not wear pants (femoralia) neither impedes your salvation nor leads to any increase of your virtue.

"Of course, because we have said that pants are ordered to be made, it should be noted that we put on pants spiritually, when we restrain the lust of the flesh through abstinence; for those places are constrained by pants in which the seats of luxury are known to be. This is why the first humans, when they felt illicit motions in their members after sin, ran into the leaves of a fig tree and wove loin cloths for themselves.[cf. Gen. 3:7] But these are spiritual pants, which you still could not bear, and, if I may speak with the Apostle, you are not yet able; for you are still carnal.[I Cor. 3:2] And thus we have said a few things on this matter, although, with God's gift, we could say many more."


New Catholic said...

LOL, I remember when we first posted this in Rorate, several years ago... It caused quite a stir...

A Canberra Observer said...

nice one.

surely there weren't pre-medieval modernists?

Frankly to me these debates seem to boil down to being prudently able to distinguish between substance and accidents.

Andrea said...

Thanks for this. I knew there was a document out there somewhere, having seen it years ago, but was unable to find it again.

Éamonn said...

Do you have a citation from Migne for this letter? I'd like to see the original.

Kate said...

The translation comes via W. L. North, edition by Ernest Perels, in MGH Epistolae VI, Berlin, 1925, pp.568-600.

You can find the full English version in the Medieval Sourcebook online for context.

Lisa said...

The Pope was speaking ONLY about THEIR style of pants and if you take a very long look at the way they dressed in this above picture, you can see clearly why the Pope said that their style of pants wasn’t going to harm their salvation because it was not immodest! He also tells them to conform though to the Church and that the church teaches only men were to wear pants and that is the churches custom.
Please take a very long look at the style the Pope was addressing. It does not reveal the rear end and the entire form of the woman’s body because the woman basically is covered by a dress that is below the knee. (which is more modesty/feminine than the pants we have today. Scientist today have said that men look straight up the lines of a woman's pants (because men are drawn to lines) and they see the woman's crouch or rear end depending on what side the man sees. The brainwaves of the man showed from seeing a woman in pants the man sees the woman as an object rather than a person. I would have to say that the only words from the Holy See are Cardinal Siri's on the women who are wearing pants today and they are forbidden because these fashions of today offend our Lord and our Lady and are neither feminine nor modest and they were never meant to be.

Kate Edwards said...

Lisa - There is no reason to think the Pope was looking at this or any other picture. Rather he was making a point about the distinction between customs and what is necessary for salvation.

Please point me to any authoritative teaching on the wearing of pants by women in the Catechism or any other similar place. And no, I don't mean Cardinal Siri - his words are not magisterial outside his diocese of Genoa and time in Office as Archbishop. Oh wait, there isn't any.

The reality is that the biblical injunction relates to the wearing of men's clothing, not trousers, which can be men or women's clothing (just as a long tunic, such as a cassock or habit, can be made to look appropriate for men or women!).

Modest clothing is a different issue, as you implicitly acknowledge.

And in my view is as much a problem in men today as for women. Yet for some reason traditionalist men feel they can wear anything they like while women have to go for the Amish look. Bizarre.