Dear Father Angelo,
I’m always A.
I wrote to you some time ago about a question regarding Genesis and the conception of women, for which I received a clear and enlightening response. I sincerely thank you.
I would now like to ask you a few more questions. As I told you some time ago, I have always been a Catholic, but for years I was little attentive and spiritually lukewarm.
Since Easter 2018 I have experienced a kind of “grace” that the Lord has granted me, for which I have begun to do many things in a different way and to instruct myself spiritually. Because of all this, doubts arise from time to time about various issues.
One question concerns vanity and its limitations. I am a fairly simple person, I do not like jewelry and various things very much, I do not like to follow fashion for example, but I usually dress with things with which I can feel comfortable and at ease.
But every now and then I like to put on something prettier or choose more carefully what I will wear (I state that before I did not have too many scruples, but after my “awakening” I tried as much as possible to recover and be careful, eliminating what can offend God).
I pay this greater care when, for example, there are occasions for celebration etc. (I speak for example of well-groomed clothes and hair with a nice fold, high shoes etc…). Is all this to be defined as vanity? Is the Lord happy with me anyway? Or do I have to change my way? Do I commit a sin? I care very much about pleasing God.
However, on some occasions (more rarely on a daily basis) I feel the need to take care of my person and appearance, even though it is only on an external level and without being obsessed with my body (and in this I ask you: is it right to do physical activity? Is it right to try to keep a good figure? To take care of yourself in short, but with moderation, remembering that we are only dust?).
The situation is different for prayer, fasting or almsgiving (even for people outside the supermarket) … I am always careful not to show off or to show off in front of others.
It is enough for me for God to see me and be really pleased with me.
Another question: social media. I am not addicted to social media, however from time to time I like to post photos or landscapes, glimpses of streets or even of myself. Leaving aside and smiling about the fact that unfortunately I am not very photogenic, there are some “selfies” that I take from time to time, which maybe come out better and in which I like myself, which I then publish as a profile photo/picture for example (…).
Is it permissible that, albeit in moderation, I have pleasure in a minimum of “social approval / appreciation” (I don’t know how to define it) and therefore post photos of my face when, for example, I have makeup or maybe I have done my hair well, so to be also appreciated by the opposite sex (or if there is a guy I would like to attract an interest in)?
Excuse me for the long e-mail, perhaps these are somewhat futile things to ask you.. however I believe that, to deserve Heaven and one day see God, all carelessness must be omitted …
I remember you with sincere affection in my prayers and I pray for your Order.
Response from the priest
For the first question:
1. It is right to dress better and also take care of yourself on special occasions.
When St. John Bosco’s mother would dress him up on Sundays, she used to say to him something like this: this is what it is necessary to do to honor the Lord and it is also necessary that dressing well on the outside is a sign of an even more beautiful dress on the inside.
2. God himself manifested care for the clothing of our forefathers.
After the original sin, Adam and Eve, discovering themselves naked, covered themselves with fig leaves.
God met them and clothed them in tunics of skins (Gn 3,21).
From which it is inferred that God himself wants man to dress decently.
3. This need for clothing refers to another even more necessary dress: that of God’s grace.
Before original sin, man was clothed with it to such an extent that the corporeity, even naked, did not arouse embarrassment, but referred directly to the presence of the One who lived in their heart and who was the starting point and the point of arrival of all their actions and their whole life.For the second question:
1. Positioning and renewing your photo on facebook is in itself a good thing.
We are not only souls, but also bodies. And bodies need to see, to hear …
Seeing a person’s photo is almost like meeting her, especially if you haven’t seen her for a long time.
For a few moments the thought is fixed on her and we remember many things.
Sometimes the thought is accompanied by a wish and also by a prayer.
2. Renewing the photo is also a nice thing. Very often it makes you participate in beautiful or even important moments of somebody else ‘s life and stimulates visitors to be pleased with them.
It is a sign of life that flows, it makes other people participate in our own joys, actions, moments of leisure, excursions and so on.
This is a form of communion too.
3. However, it cannot be denied that one can misuse one’s clothing and even one’s photographs.
But also in this regard the ruling of ancient Latin law applies: abusus non tollit usum (abuse does not prohibit use).
4. I wish you to walk more and more in the ways of God. It will be a source of joy and blessing. You will never regret it.
I thank you for the prayer you offer for me and for the Dominican Order to which I belong.
I gladly reciprocate.
I wish you all the best for the new year (2020) and bless you.
Translated by Germana Casaccia