This article is inspired by a TCF reader who wrote to me asking:
Hi! How’s it going? I want to ask you what to respond to some “traditional Catholics” who imply in their blogs or websites that it is a sin or something wrong for a woman to practice a sport (even if she does it with the right intention and dressing modestly). Is there any Church teaching that prohibits women from exercising? Some go so far as to say that if women want to keep fit they should do it only with housework, not doing exercises or sports, aren’t these false and scrupulous statements?
I mean, the idea that Catholics should not engage in sports or exercise isn’t just ludicrous, crazy talk, it is also not biblical or church teaching at all, and smacks of scrupulosity.
Like, have they not seen pics of nuns running, exercising playing sports like basketball? Are these nuns, in their habits, not modest??
If these nuns can exercise and play sports in FULL HABITS and still be modest, nothing stops you from exercising or playing sports while being modest too.
Of course, you can absolutely engage in sports and exercise, and dress modestly too. Just google modest sportswear or something.
We must be very careful about the type of traditional blogs or content we follow.
Many of them lack truth, substance and authenticity. They have a warped perception of the trad aesthetic/lifestyle and think they are being catholic.
They also lack both discernment and common sense!!
If they were truly traditional and had a sound spiritual life, their discernment and common sense would be strengthened and they’ll be able to discern right from wrong.
Regular confession, adoration, Mass, rosary, and staying in a state of grace should fix that. The Holy Spirit brings wisdom, clarity, truth, and sound judgment…..but these would only flow through a vessel that is holy and in a state of grace. Living in sin (not just sexual sin) clouds your judgment. Sin literally makes you stupid.
And even if no one knows of your hypocritical life, you will expose yourself by the things you do/say. As the bible said: people will know you by your fruits.
Scrupulosity like this is a sin of immodesty due to lack of temperance.
In 1904, Pius X opened the doors of the Vatican to sport by hosting a youth gymnastics event. Saint John Paul II put engagement and dialogue with sport at its highest level of importance with respect to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. After the Jubilee of 2000 where he preached in front of 80,000 young athletes at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, he decided to create the Church & Sport office, which since 2004 has been studying and promoting a Christian vision of sport that emphasizes its importance for the building of a more humane, peaceful and just society as well as for evangelization.
While the Church “….. rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for its sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports” (CCC 2289), it values sport in itself, as an arena of human activity where the virtues of temperance, humility, courage, patience can be fostered and encounters with beauty, goodness, truth and joy can be witnessed.
View Saint Pope John Paul II’s quotes on sports HERE.
Sports and exercise are absolutely fine!!
We have been given the gift of a human body by God and it is our duty to take care of that gift with healthy eating, exercise/sports, and so on.
As long as we are modestly dressed, it is done in moderation (the virtue of temperance), it is not done to be boastful or prideful (ie showing off our toned physiques), and it is not taking precedence over Sunday Mass or our spiritual growth, it is definitely NOT a sin.
Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!
ad Jesum per Mariam