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Sisters Without Habits?


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[quote name='krissylou' timestamp='1344134427' post='2462809']
I've noticed that very very very often, both sisters whose communities do not wear a habit as well as those who think the habit is very important will talk in terms of "being accessible."

(I'm talking about active apostolic sisters. The analysis would be different for contemplatives who don't go out-and-about.)

So, for instance, sisters who wear a habit will talk about being on the subway (or whatever), minding their own business, and someone pours out their life story because they just needed to talk to someone and the habit identified them as "safe." Sisters who don't wear a habit will often talk about how a habit can be a barrier, it sets them apart and can be something that needs to be overcome before they can minister.

Well waitaminnit. Some people say "a habit is important because it makes us more accessible!" Some people say "not having a habit is important because a habit makes us less accessible!" What gives? Is one just nuts? Or disingenuous?

I am guessing that for some people, seeing a sister in a habit triggers all sorts of senses of positive associations and paves the way for ministry. For some people it can be quite the opposite. And no one person, or one community, can be all things to all people. But, as any discerner knows, there are about a gazillion different communities out there! And just maybe, it's a really good thing that among all these different communities there are varying approaches so many different aspects of life, including dress.
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Thank you this is amesome!

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Thanks Sister Laurel and SrKateri and everyone else for offering your opinions on this.    I have a question that I already have an answer to in my mind having already made vows as a religious siste

Some times y'all make me want to cry.... Poor Jesus having to listen to all this hair splitting when we could all just be using this time simply loving Him and each other together. :console:  Now That

1. St. Catherine was a Dominican tertiary -- but so are the Nashville Dominicans and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Third Order Religious (as we know them today -- and this

First of all abrideofChrist welcome! I know you have been around for longer than myself here at Phatmass. I haven't however had the pleasure of meeting with you on the boards before. Thank you for your witness to the Church - She is more fruitful as a result of your consecration.

I am curious about the "proper title" of "Bride of Christ" only belonging to Consecrated Virgins. I've discerned the possibility of such a consecration and was a religious under vows for quite sometime.... and I never encountered what you speak of before. :) (Which doesn't mean it isn't true - I just am unaware of it!) I know that religious life has it's origins in those first virgins who lived in apostolic times and historically, religious (and religious women in particular) have always used and applied the term "Bride of Christ" in referring to themselves. It is also used to refer to those making vows in the liturgy of profession, which actually derives from the ancient consecration of Virgins... so I always assumed - and it seemed - being that it's in the liturgy - that it is a title also bestowed on religious. The reception of the veil in the liturgy of profession is also derived from the same consecration. I would love some further reading material on the matter as Consecrated Virginity is a beautiful and rare vocation in the Church that certainly enriches it. :)

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I'm all for something that makes a religious distinguishable from all the rest, pretty much what Canon 669 says minus the loophole. Doesn't have to be a full medieval habit, but something more than civvies. [/font][/color][list]

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Edited by Maximilianus
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[b]Catholic Catechism[/b]
[b][url="javascript:openWindow('cr/796.htm');"]796[/url][/b] The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist.[sup][size="2"]234[/size][/sup] The Lord referred to himself as the "bridegroom."[sup][size="2"]235[/size][/sup] The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and[u] of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride "betrothed" to Christ the Lord[/u] so as to become but one spirit with him.[sup][size="2"]236[/size][/sup] The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.[sup][size="2"]237[/size][/sup] "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her."[sup][size="2"]238[/size][/sup] He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:[sup][size="2"]239[/size][/sup]
This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many . . . whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head ([i]ex persona capitis[/i]) and in his role as body ([i]ex persona corporis[/i]). What does this mean? "The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church."[sup][size="2"]240[/size][/sup] And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: "So they are no longer two, but one flesh."[sup][size="2"]241[/size][/sup] They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union, . . . [i]as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself "bride."[/i][sup][size="2"]242 [/size][/sup]
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Dear Barbara Therese -- I'm not sure if you were replying to me (and I'm afraid at this point I ought to start a new thread) but my question was not that the Church is referred as the Bride of Christ - but that our consecrated virgin friend has informed us that the title is only proper to consecrated Virgins and not in reference to religious. I was always under the impression that they applied to both. :)

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[quote name='abrideofChrist' timestamp='1344125188' post='2462778'] Opinions? I'm happy with whatever is approved for each institute. If it is a pin and that is approved, then I will not second guess the bishop or Vatican. One of my favorite communities that was started by a woman who's in a fast track for canonization in our times does not have a habit... they are the male Missionaries of Charity, whose foundress, Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta did not want a habit. I don't share that opinion. Maybe because my wedding dress of the "brides of Christ" was a wedding dress. I'm a consecrated virgin, and the proper sign of my espousals with Christ is my wedding band. This wedding band is a witness to the people that the person who wears it is a consecrated person and reminds them of the reality of the Kingdom of God. To equate the habit with a wedding dress makes one wonder what a friar's habit signifies. [/quote]
Right-you are correct in stating that second guessing the authority when they have approved secular clothing is faulty, but I think that stems from a misunderstanding of the debate we are having. For most on either side, it is not a [i]wrong[/i] vs [i]right[/i], but [i]good[/i] vs [i]better[/i]. No one is questioning the authorities and their approval-most seem to be saying, "although it is not wrong, it would be better and more beneficial for the public if.."etc.

I know Monsignor at our parish says that his clerical uniform expresses that he is married to the Church and bound to her service.

[quote name='ToJesusMyHeart' timestamp='1344127691' post='2462786'] Do consecrated virgins go by "Sister" or just their baptismal name? [/quote]
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The consecrated virgins I know do not go by Sister-not sure if this is their preference or if Sister is not a proper title for them.[/background][/size][/font][/color][/background][/size][/font][/color]

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I love the religious habit, but then I know religious in the habit and those in secular clothing and have great admiration for both. Both do wonderful work and are totally committed religious in the true essence of the way of life. One sister told me that she loved the religious habit (though in its original form it presented problems to her), but simply followed what her particular religious order was adopting and that happened to be secular clothing. She had made her vows to The Lord in that congregation and with Grace intended to stay to the end no matter her personal difficulties that might come along. She loved the habit personally, but embraced obedience fully, meaning heartfelt obedience, tho it was at cost to her.
Very sadly sometimes a person identifies a religious habit with something painful in their past and feel they can better relate to a religious in secular clothing. Some feel more comfortable with religious in a habit. I can see a case for religious in habit and those in secular clothing continuing to develop side by side without hopefully one condemning the other and in accord with [i]Vit[i]a[/i] Consecrata[/i] :
[quote]Since the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family, I join the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit, suitably adapted to the conditions of time and place.Where valid reasons of their apostolate call for it, Religious, in conformity with the norms of their Institute, may also dress in a simple and modest manner, with an appropriate symbol, in such a way that their consecration is recognizable.Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit should ensure that the dress of their members corresponds in dignity and simplicity to the nature of their vocation. [/quote]
What can be very saddening in these types of debates - and not a work of The Holy Spirit at all - is when, say,I have my preference in favour of the religious habit and then condemn and/or attack religious not in habit in some way.
It may be that as time progresses and The Lord's Will unfold that the religious habit becomes far more prevalent, and personally, I can even see this as a potential too.

The religious habit has come to symbolize (and it is merely symboolize, not "effect of"), I think, a religious living the way of life in its true meaning and essence, while those religious not in habit have come to symbolize (and not "effect of") what is probably more a career woman in The Church than a religious per se in its true essence. But in habit or in secular clothing there is no actual way to judge (and judge it seems to be) the actual person in the habit or in secular clothing. Nor should I consider doing so. Nor should one dismiss, it seems to me, a congregation completely because they have adopted secular clothing. It is a very sad and often heated (and not of The Holy Spirit thus) argument to me. And because these almost frequent, or at least regular, debates re the religious habit can become so heated at times, it can be a scandalous witness to Catholicism on the public internet available worldwide and ideally we are Catholics living The Gospel at all times and in all places and this is our call and vocation.

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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[quote name='mantellata' timestamp='1344141408' post='2462857']
Dear Barbara Therese -- I'm not sure if you were replying to me (and I'm afraid at this point I ought to start a new thread) but my question was not that the Church is referred as the Bride of Christ - but that our consecrated virgin friend has informed us that the title is only proper to consecrated Virgins and not in reference to religious. I was always under the impression that they applied to both. :)
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My apologies- I did not see the thread develop... Anyway, I did not say the title was proper only to cv's but that it was specific to CVs and the Church. I do not want to hijack this thread. Our opinions were asked about the habit and not about consecrated virginity. I objected to the habit being seen as a "wedding gown" and "the" symbol of consecrated persons because it isn't a wedding garment nor is it the definitive sign and witness to Christ of [b]all[/b] consecrated persons. I'll open a new thread to discuss your question so as to respect the habit discussion.

Edited by abrideofChrist
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[quote name='mantellata' timestamp='1344141408' post='2462857']
Dear Barbara Therese -- I'm not sure if you were replying to me (and I'm afraid at this point I ought to start a new thread) but my question was not that the Church is referred as the Bride of Christ - but that our consecrated virgin friend has informed us that the title is only proper to consecrated Virgins and not in reference to religious. I was always under the impression that they applied to both. :)
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I really was not replying to anyone in particular :) - just wanted to share what The Church has to say on the subject of "bride of Christ".

Must confess that I always though that religious were generally in The Church referred to as "brides of Christ" as well as consecrated virgins, although I have read some blogs I think by CV's that they only are properly called "brides of Christ". For me personally, every baptized soul in Grace is The Church and The Church is The Bride of Christ - and therefore each soul a bride of Christ and betrothed to Him and as stated in the CCC. I find it confusing that the CCC referes to each faithful memberof The Church as rightly a bride betrothed to Christ but then other distinctions and definitions seem to be cropping up and seemingly with The Church as support. But then all these titles and 'ranks' etc. etc. are totally confusing to me and for me personally beside the point who have chosen quite deliberately to remain down in the pews, as it were. For me, the "bride" imagery is about Unity with Christ to which we are all called and strive towards each in our own way according to our circumstances and vocation from God.

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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[quote name='BarbaraTherese' timestamp='1344150115' post='2462876']
I really was not replying to anyone in particular :) - just wanted to share what The Church has to say on the subject of "bride of Christ".

Must confess that I always though that religious were generally in The Church referred to as "brides of Christ" as well as consecrated virgins, although I have read some blogs I think by CV's that they only are properly called "brides of Christ". For me personally, every baptized soul in Grace is The Church and The Church is The Bride of Christ - and therefore each soul a bride of Christ and betrothed to Him and as stated in the CCC. I find it confusing that the CCC referes to each faithful memberof The Church as rightly a bride betrothed to Christ but then other distinctions and definitions seem to be cropping up and seemingly with The Church as support. But then all these titles and 'ranks' etc. etc. are totally confusing to me and for me personally beside the point who have chosen quite deliberately to remain down in the pews, as it were. For me, the "bride" imagery is about Unity with Christ to which we are all called and strive towards each in our own way according to our circumstances and vocation from God.
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I understand your confusion. When first hearing of my application to the PCCs, my Methodist piano teacher said, "But...But don't you WANT a husband?" "Oh, I am going to be a bride of Christ," I said. She did not like that. "But [b][i]I[/i][/b] am a bride of Christ along with the whole Church," she said.

I think the Church teaches (as many contemplative sisters have told me this) that when the contemplative makes her solemn vows, a true mystical marriage is formed in Heaven. That woman is now a vowed bride of Christ not just in symbolism, but in act/deed as well. I cannot speak for active sisters or those who take simple vows because I am fairly ignorant about them.

Of course, the Eucharist, for all Catholics in the state of grace, is the consummation of the union of the individual soul in Holy Mother Church and Jesus the Bridegroom, in the same way that a wife and husband consummate their marriage.

It may help to view the bride of Christ issue in the same way we Catholics view the Pope. He is the greater among equals. He is the Bishop equal yet greater to all bishops. I am NOT saying that vowed religious are greater or above everyone else-just that the solemn vows they make concretely cement their marriage with Jesus. They go beyond being a [i]part[/i] of THE bride of Christ that is the Church, and, through the vows, they transform their soul to participate in this union in a highly individualized manner. See St Catherine of Alexandria and her mystical marriage to Christ, with included an actual ceremony in Heaven with Mary present!

As much as I think the above information is correct I hate to post it, because I do not want someone to read it and feel less than or left out in some way. Trust me, you aren't! By partaking of Holy Communion, Christ gives himself to you completely and consummates His union with you. But the vocation to contemplative life (remember I am pretty ignorant about active life) is a vocation to BE a Bride of Christ more fully. Their job is not to [i]do[/i] something but to BE something, and that something is a better bride to Christ. This is not just poetic imagery.

I think that for anyone discerning, exploring and researching bridal theology is a great tool for discernment between the married and religious life. I am guessing here, but it would seem that most married people are satisfied with being a bride of christ as one soul united with the true bride which is the Church. Most nuns I have spoken with say they found their vocation when they realized they did not just want to be a part of the bride of christ, but really cement this bond with a life that gazes on Christ as their Spouse with an undivided heart.[/background][/size][/font][/color]

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[quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1344152216' post='2462884']
See St Catherine of Alexandria and her mystical marriage to Christ, with included an actual ceremony in Heaven with Mary present! [/quote]

Saint Catherine of [b]Siena [/b]too! Mama Mary held St. Catherine's hand and gave her hand to Jesus, while king David played the harp! From her biography:

"She prayed and scourged herself, while she begged her Lord to forgive all those who now offended Him. She received a princely answer: 'For My sake you have thrown away the vanity of the world. You have regarded the lusts of the senses as nothing and chosen Me as the only joy of your heart. Therefore now, while all the others (her family) here in your house feast and enjoy themselves with good food and drink, [i]I will celebrate the solemn marriage feast with your soul. I shall betroth you to Myself as I have promised.'[/i]

Around Christ there now appeared His blessed mother, the apostle St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul, and David the poet-king bearing a harp upon which he played beautiful melodies. As is the custom at betrothals the mother, [i]the Virgin Mary, stepped forward and took Catherine's right hand. She lifted it up towards her Son, and bade Him bind His bride to Him in faith as He had promised. Jesus put a beautiful ring on her finger[/i]; it was adorned with a brilliant diamond surrounded by four large pearls. He spoke the solemn words which the bridegroom says to his bride: 'I here betroth you as My bride in perfect faith, which for all time shall keep you pure and virgin, until our marriage is celebrated in heaven with great rejoicing. My daughter, from now on you must undertake without protest all the works which I come to demand of you, for armed with the power of faith you shall triumphantly overcome all your opponents.'

The vision disappeared. But afterwards the maiden could always see this engagement ring on her finger, although it was invisible to all others."

[size=2][size=3] :love: :blowkiss: [/size][/size] :nun3: [size=2] [/size]
[size=2][img]http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/543055_10151505563080602_1694535015_n.jpg[/img][/size]

[size=3]Note the company at the betrothal![/size]

[size=3]Edited to add: ​*[/size][size=3]NB: This totes relates to the thread, because St. Catherine is wearing a beautiful Dominican habit during her betrothal ceremony. ;)[/size]

Edited by ToJesusMyHeart
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"To whom more is given, more is expected" I must confess that I simply do not understand it all nor why there are all the debates that there are. What the CCC says is sufficient for me. If God calls one to the religious life, contemplative life or to consecrated virginity then all the qualities and Graces necessary to fulfill that call are His Gift and to whomsoever He may for His reasons and for the good of The Universal Church. Sadly, what seems to be happening to me is that there is a sort of 'rank of importance, or value, whatever' spiritually 'in the undertow' - a sort of individualism. But I may be wrong. At this point I am bowing out of the thread, it is not a discussion nor debate that appeals at all.

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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[quote name='ToJesusMyHeart' timestamp='1344153673' post='2462893']
Saint Catherine of [b]Siena [/b]too! Mama Mary held St. Catherine's hand and gave her hand to Jesus, while king David played the harp! From her biography:

[size=3]This totes relates to the thread, because St. Catherine is wearing a beautiful Dominican habit during her betrothal ceremony. ;)[/size][/quote]

And yet St Catherine was not a religious, but a Dominican tertiary, which is specifically a secular state in life. If tertiaries are allowed to wear the habit - and this is determined by their constitutions, just as it is for religious - how does this reflect on the 'special' witness of religious? And if St Catherine entered into a mystical marriage with Christ as a secular woman, how does this reflect on the 'special' espousal of religious?

(No axe to grind here, by the way. Just asking!).

[quote name='mantellata' timestamp='1344132728' post='2462798']
The male missionaries of Charity do wear a habit -- [url="http://www.mcpriests.com/01_who.htm"]http://www.mcpriests.com/01_who.htm[/url] It's a grey-blue sort of affair with the same cross pin on the shoulders that the Sisters wear.[/quote]

This would be the MC fathers, as opposed to the MC brothers: Mother wanted the former to be distinguishable as priests, but the latter do indeed not wear a habit.

I think this is a very important point - usually the wearing of religious garb (or not) reflects the wishes of the founder of the institute. Since this often reflects the views of a canonised saint, or someone in the process of becoming one - Blessed Mother Teresa, St Vincent dePaul, Ven. Mary Ward, and many others - we would do well to assume that they knew what they were doing, even if [i]we[/i] would have done it differently. :unsure:

It's also worth remembering that many religious institutes stopped wearing the habit post-V2 because [i]Perfectae Caritatis[/i] demanded that they return to the wishes of their founders (an interesting call given that some condemn the council for being 'modernist') and so adopted the civilian clothing that had historically been the norm for them. The fact that many congregations wore the habit prior to V2 was often not the result of a considered decision, but ocurred when bishops had, effectively, abused their authority by insisting that they wear it even though this was against the wishes of their founders; and it had simply become standard practice over time.

What seems odd to me is that much of the nostalgia for religious dress - in itself a nostalgia that is neither good nor bad, and one that is shared by me in some respects - is specifically for seeing choir dress or indeed, cloister dress - out in the street, something for which it was never intended. Historically, and most especially in terms of a rigid enclosure using grilles and walled gardens, it would have been likely that the secular faithful could go an entire lifetime and never see a nun's habit (if one makes the distinction between [i]nuns[/i] and other sisters). Now some people demand that the old-style habits are visible all the time, including upon sisters who had no need - or indeed, right - to wear cloister dress; and think that religious who do not conform to this are being rigidly individualistic. Although it's fine to have preferences about the habit - I do too - it's good to know a little history, and most importantly, not to condemn others simply because they don't match our aesthetic likes and dislikes.

(And I'm not suggesting anyone here has condemned others, just saying that such condemnation is endemic in the church re: habits, chapel veils, Latin liturgy, chant etc. It isn't a pretty sight, or a good witness, as BarbaraTherese said above).

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[quote name='Discipulus' timestamp='1344157460' post='2462905']
And yet St Catherine was not a religious, but a Dominican tertiary[/quote]
Woah there! That is a great point.. I will ask the nuns about the bridal theology again when I next visit, and hopefully I will remember to bring the saint up!

As to people bowing out and so on...I feel like I put enough disclaimers in my post so as not to offend anyone (see below). I also said multiple times in my post that I did not have that information from the church, only various nuns. If those of you hurt or offended by that post are not living in vows to Christ that obviously does not mean that a mystical union common to consecrated persons is not working in you, as Discipulus pointed out with St Catherine, who was a tertiary.

Also, keep in mind that I say this as a layperson not in religious vows of any sort. For all I know, I will be a mom with 10 kids or a single laywoman. I am not speaking from a holier than thou standpoint because I am not in religious life. If I don't persevere, I know I won't be any less a bride of Christ. But, that is what vocation is, the fullest way a soul can be in union with God, and I think for me that union will be best achieved through religious life, while for others it may be as lay persons. There is really no need to feel less than.

[color=#222222][font=Helvetica Neue', Arial, Verdana, sans-serif][size=4][background=rgb(255, 255, 255)][quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1344152216' post='2462884']
[background=rgb(255, 255, 255)]I am NOT saying that vowed religious are greater or above everyone else-just that the solemn vows they make concretely cement their marriage with Jesus. [/background]

[color=#222222][font=Helvetica Neue][size=4][background=rgb(255, 255, 255)]As much as I think the above information is correct I hate to post it, because I do not want someone to read it and feel less than or left out in some way. Trust me, you aren't![/background][/size][/font][/color][/quote][/background][/size][/font][/color]

Edited by emmaberry
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