Modesty in Church
A subject close to Babushka Sian’s heart.
A charitable fund should be set up in every parish so that visitors – whether male or female – who inadvertently arrive at Church clad inappropriately may be given or loaned garments to enable them to feel
less conspicuous more comfortable.
Babushkim are hereby authorised to deny entry into Church to both men and women wearing backless, sleeveless and excessively low cut clothing, unless they are happy to don alternative clothing, or in the case of women, to accept the loan of an all-enveloping pashmina.
Head coverings are not compulsory in many parishes, but it does the Babushka’s heart good to see modesty taken to the level of head-covering as it generally means that all other parts of the body are likely to be safely covered too.
Scarves, hats, berets and mantillas are all highly commendable.
Bare feet are not normally acceptable unless the person in question is doing public penance or walking to Our Blessed Lady’s shrine at Walsingham. Jesus – type sandals are perfectly acceptable, with or without socks, providing the feet are clean. Unless of course the person concerned is on a holy pilgrimage, when dirty feet would be considered acceptable proof of the need for the Babushka to provide the pilgrim with a jolly good hot meal and a packed lunch to take out.
Skirts which are mere frills around the waist are not acceptable, even with opaque tights. Kilts are only allowed when assurances have been given in writing prior to attendance at Liturgy that appropriate underwear is also being worn. Budgie-smuggler type shorts or underwear are not acceptable for similar reasons; metanoias and prostrations are far too revealing when done with this type of clothing and have been known to give small children nightmares and parents some difficult explanations to formulate for those of a tender age.
Anyway, Orthodox churches are generally far too cold for these items to ever be suitable clothing, unless in Midsummer in the United Kingdom, and having to summon the clergy to anoint persons who have turned blue with hypothermia during the Liturgy is NOT a good thing as it means that the lovingly prepared food cooking in the church hall will not be tended to in good time and is likely to be burnt, due to the temperamental Aga.
Schisms have started over far less, and it is the babushka’s duty to ensure good order.
Reference should be made to Babushka Joanna for further clarification regarding current climactic and clothing conditions in the United States of America.
The well dressed Babushka and modern fashion.
This is something of a contentious topic, and it should be clearly understood that these are mere suggestions, not hard and fast rules.
In more traditional Orthodox countries, Babushkim and Yia Yias generally wear a sober and serviceable black outfit which is hard wearing and relatively stain resistant, as well as clearly depicting the wearer as a solid and dependable member of society and as a warning to the unwary not to cross canes with a babushka.
These principles are indeed generally endorsed by the International League of Babushkim, but as the role of the Babushka has extended and been enhanced several times during the twenty first century, we must needs move with the times too. This may be contrary to the general ethos of Orthodoxy ; I hear some members cry out “Change – what is this change ? We don’t do change. we are Orthodox !” but Orthodoxy does evolve, though admittedly at an often glacial rate of progress, measure in centuries if not millenia. Babushikm in the western developed world are also being forced to change, but at a slightly faster rate.
Practical, modest, serviceable and respectable clothing continues – and will always – be the global standard of Babushkim, but outside of Church, trousers and jeans are now sometimes the most vital garments in the Babushka’s armoury, and in order to be able to blend in on some of our more arcane and exciting assignments, we may need to embrace a variety of colour schemes depending on the task at hand.
It must be stressed however, that pillar box red clothing should only be used as a last resort in dire emergencies, such as when running out of clothes due to the breakdown of washing machines, being at a ridiculous distance from laundrettes and/or lack of access to a suitable bathtub for hand/foot washing clothes. Pillarbox red is likely to cause comments if worn to Church, however modest the style may be, though red coats are entirely appropriate for Remembrance Sunday in November. and during the darkest winter months.
Clashing colour schemes and patterns are to be avoided if possible; Babushkim are expected to set a certain standard of fashion for others to follow in church and some of our younger girls need no encouragement to to experiment with allegedly fashionable ideas.
Head coverings would be recommended although not mandatory for attendance at Church, but are optional at all other times unless having a bad hair day or if your favourite hardresser is off sick, which may make it advisable in order to avoid drawing attention to one’s self and to avoid comments from the senseless, which may in turn need reprimanding by judicious use of the brolly or cane.
When confronted by females wearing clothing wholly unsuitable for anything other than attendance at work in a brothel, it is permittable to shout loudly in horror- stricken tones : “You look like a prostitute !” in order to bring the aforesaid female to her senses.
Many women now are so immersed in modern culture that they forget that even forty years ago, some fashions were indeed only worn by working women of a sort which one would not wish to be mistaken for.
Unless going through a period of teenage rebellion, which needs a Babushka-ly word of advice and possibly a conversation with the parents of the young woman in question.
This should however be a last resort only, as if the parents grew up under your tutelage and have allowed their offspring to dress like working women of the wrong sort, you have clearly failed in your duties as a Babushka and will be summoned for urgent peer review by the Council.
Standards must be upheld. MTV has a lot to answer for.
Beachwear is a different matter altogether, and skimpy clothing is now de rigeur, though Babushkim might be wise to consider the use of all in one bathing costumes if there is any chance that they might be seen by other parishioners in order to avoid accusations of “it’s not fair ! You told me that….” Hem hem.
A contentious issue. Feelings run very high on this subject.
The International League of Babushkim have contented themselves with this brief policy statement to be taken under advisement by all members and given the most serious consideration:
The one thing which is essential is that all our young women are clearly instructed that they MUST NOT kiss the icons or receive Communion when wearing lip-balm or lipstick; it does irreparable damage the icons and Father has the dickens of a job to get the grease marks off the chalice after Communion, sometimes necessitating the entire post-Communion set of prayers to need to be said no fewer than three times on one dreadful occasion in Babushka Sian’s parish. It is of course normal practice for the faithful to remain for the post-communion prayers before leaving the church, and considerable amounts of food had to be thrown out as a result of being overcooked. This is totally unacceptable and a scandalous waste of time and money.
A box of paper tissues and one of wet wipes should be kept in the Narthex at all times, so that ladies may wipe off their lipstick etc before entering the Church proper and avoiding all the unnecessary inconvenience to others.
It is perfectly acceptable for make up to be re-applied immediately after leaving the Church, and many Babushkim do, in fact, now carry a small compact mirror in their handbag for emergency purposes.