holiest works for the sanctification of the soul
Whether there can be virtue and vice in connection with outward apparel?
. . . Honesty pertains to virtue. Now a certain honesty is observed in the outward apparel; for Ambrose says (De Offic. i, 19): "The body should be bedecked naturally and without affectation, with simplicity, with neglect rather than nicety, not with costly and dazzling apparel, but with ordinary clothes, so that nothing be lacking to honesty and necessity, yet nothing be added to increase its beauty." Therefore there can be virtue and vice in the outward attire.
. . . Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. iii, 12): "We must avoid excessive pleasure in the use of things, for it leads not only wickedly to abuse the customs of those among whom we dwell, but frequently to exceed their bounds, so that, whereas it lay hidden, while under the restraint of established morality, it displays its deformity in a most lawless outbreak."
In point of excess, this inordinate attachment occurs in three ways.
First when a man seeks glory from excessive attention to dress; in so far as dress and such like things are a kind of ornament. Hence Gregory says (Hom. xl in Ev.): "There are some who think that attention to finery and costly dress is no sin. Surely, if this were no fault, the word of God would not say so expressly that the rich man who was tortured in hell had been clothed in purple and fine linen. No one, forsooth, seeks costly apparel" (such, namely, as exceeds his estate) "save for vainglory."
Secondly, when a man seeks sensuous pleasure from excessive attention to dress, in so far as dress is directed to the body's comfort.
Thirdly, when a man is too solicitous in his attention to outward apparel.
Accordingly Andronicus reckons three virtues in connection with outward attire, namely:
"humility" which excludes the seeking of glory, wherefore he says that humility is "the habit of avoiding excessive expenditure and parade";
"contentment" which excludes the seeking of sensuous pleasure, wherefore he says that "contentedness is the habit that makes a man satisfied with what is suitable, and enables him to determine what is becoming in his manner of life" (according to the saying of the Apostle, 1 Timothy 6:8): "Having food and wherewith to be covered, with these let us be content;"
"simplicity" which excludes excessive solicitude about such things, wherefore he says that "simplicity is a habit that makes a man contented with what he has."
In the point of deficiency there may be inordinate attachment in two ways:
First, through a man's neglect to give the requisite study or trouble to the use of outward apparel. Wherefore the Philosopher says (Ethic. vii, 7) that "it is a mark of effeminacy to let one's cloak trail on the ground to avoid the trouble of lifting it up."
Secondly, by seeking glory from the very lack of attention to outward attire. Hence Augustine says (De Serm. Dom. in Monte ii, 12) that "not only the glare and pomp of outward things, but even dirt and the weeds of mourning may be a subject of ostentation, all the more dangerous as being a decoy under the guise of God's service"; and the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv, 7) that "both excess and inordinate defect are a subject of ostentation.
Although outward attire does not come from nature, it belongs to natural reason to moderate it; so that we are naturally inclined to be the recipients of the virtue that moderates outward raiment.
Those who are placed in a position of dignity, or again the ministers of the altar, are attired in more costly apparel than others, not for the sake of their own glory, but to indicate the excellence of their office or of the Divine worship: wherefore this is not sinful in them.
Hence Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. iii, 12): "Whoever uses outward things in such a way as to exceed the bounds observed by the good people among whom he dwells, either signifies something by so doing, or is guilty of sin, inasmuch as he uses these things for sensual pleasure or ostentation."
Whether there is virtue regarding outward movements of the body?
It would seem that no virtue regards the outward movements of the body. For every virtue pertains to the spiritual beauty of the soul, according to Psalm 44:14, "All the glory of the king's daughter is within," and a gloss adds, "namely, in the conscience." Now the movements of the body are not within, but without. Therefore there can be no virtue about them. . . Further, study should be applied to all works of virtue,. . . Now it is censurable to apply study to the ordering of one's outward movements: for Ambrose says "A becoming gait is one that reflects the carriage of authority, has the tread of gravity, and the foot-print of tranquillity: yet so that there be neither study nor affectation, but natural and artless movement." Therefore seemingly there is no virtue about the style of outward movements. . .
I answer that moral virtue consists in the things pertaining to man being directed by his reason.
Now it is manifest that the outward movements of man are directable by reason, since the outward members are set in motion at the command of reason.
Hence it is evident that there is a moral virtue concerned with the direction of these movements. . . .
The beauty of honesty pertains to virtue.
Now the style of outward movements pertains to the beauty of honesty. For Ambrose says:
"The sound of the voice and the gesture of the body are distasteful to me, whether they be unduly soft and nerveless, or coarse and boorish. Let nature be our model; her reflection is gracefulness of conduct and beauty of honesty."
Therefore there is a virtue about the style of outward movement.
. . . Moral virtue consists in the things pertaining to man being directed by his reason. Now it is manifest that the outward movements of man are directable by reason, since the outward members are set in motion at the command of reason.
Hence it is evident that there is a moral virtue concerned with the direction of these movements.
It is censurable to study the style of one's outward movements, by having recourse to pretense in them, so that they do not agree with one's inward disposition. Nevertheless it behooves one to study them, so that if they be in any way inordinate, this may be corrected. Hence Ambrose says "Let them be without artifice, but not without correction."
Now the direction of these movements may be considered from a twofold standpoint.
First, in respect of fittingness to the person;
Secondly, in respect of fittingness to externals, whether persons, business, or place.
Hence Ambrose says: "Beauty of conduct consists in becoming behavior towards others, according to their gender and person," and this regards the first.
As to the second, he adds: "This is the best way to order our behavior, this is the polish becoming to every action."
Hence Andronicus ascribes two things to these outward movements: namely "taste" which regards what is becoming to the person, wherefore he says that it is the knowledge of what is becoming in movement and behavior; and "methodicalness" which regards what is becoming to the business in hand, and to one's surroundings, wherefore he calls it "the practical knowledge of separation," i.e. of the distinction of "acts."