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Sisters Without Habits?


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For myself, I am neither hurt nor offended in any way :) and have not decided to 'bow out' of the thread for any reason other than it is a discussion and debate often about concepts and notions that have no appeal to mepersonally. I certainly do not feel less than in any way at all - for myself personally :) What I am is another subject entirely. I follow my vocation from God and am awed that I am baptized and called in the first place to The Catholic Church and wherever The Lord chooses and wants me to be is where I want to be and nowhere else and mysteriously to me for the good of The Church.

First Epistle of St Paul to The Philippians........"........"For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
[url="http://www.drbo.org/x/d?b=drb&bk=57&ch=2&l=6#x"][6][/url] Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [url="http://www.drbo.org/x/d?b=drb&bk=57&ch=2&l=7#x"][7][/url] But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man."


Some sound Catholic Teaching here with quotations from reliable sources : [url="http://www.religious-vocation.com/"]http://www.religious-vocation.com/[/url]

Edited by BarbaraTherese
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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

[quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1344152216' post='2462884']
[color=#222222][font=Helvetica Neue', Arial, Verdana, sans-serif][size=4][background=rgb(255, 255, 255)]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.[/background][/size][/font][/color]
[/quote]

Careful here... he is not greater among equals or most honored of equals... that is an Orthodox position. The Catholic position is that he is the Vicar of Christ, above all other bishops. You are, however, on the road to having a better understanding of what "bride of Christ" means. There is a common bridal relationship of various grades and kinds, and a sacramental bridal relationship to Christ. There is a common priesthood and a sacramental priesthood of Christ. By baptism, people are priest/prophet/king and bride... through common participation. And through the conferral of Orders a man is made a priest/prophet/king and by conferral of consecration a virgin is made a bride.

Edited by abrideofChrist
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Catholic Catechism:
[b]789[/b] The comparison of the Church with the body casts light on the intimate bond between Christ and his Church. Not only is she gathered [i]around him[/i]; she is united [i]in him[/i], in his body. Three aspects of the Church as the Body of Christ are to be more specifically noted: the unity of all her members with each other as a result of their union with Christ; Christ as head of the Body; and the Church as bride of Christ.
[b]"One Body"[/b]
[b]790[/b] Believers who respond to God's word and become members of Christ's Body, become intimately united with him: "In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification."[sup][size=2]220[/size][/sup] This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ's death and Resurrection, and the Eucharist, by which "really sharing in the body of the Lord, . . . we are taken up into communion with him and with one another."[sup][size=2]221[/size][/sup]
[b]791[/b] The body's unity does not do away with the diversity of its members: "In the building up of Christ's Body there is engaged a diversity of members and functions. There is only one Spirit who, according to his own richness and the needs of the ministries, gives his different gifts for the welfare of the Church."[sup][size=2]222[/size][/sup] The unity of the Mystical Body produces and stimulates charity among the faithful: "From this it follows that if one member suffers anything, all the members suffer with him, and if one member is honored, all the members together rejoice."[sup][size=2]223[/size][/sup] Finally, the unity of the Mystical Body triumphs over all human divisions: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."[sup][size=2]224[/size][/sup]

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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]

Well, my post was referred to those that, in my understanding of the thread's title, are religious sisters. I am not an expert of CVs, but I guess you're not member of a religious institute. I imagine that it works this way: religious sisters may be -but not necessairly are, CV. CV may be, but not necessairly are, religious sisters. Well, my post was referred to religious sisters who belongs to religious institues (both consecrated virgins or not -this doesn't matter very much). So when I say that the habit is the first sign that a person is a consecrated one I mean that when I see a person wearing a habit I am sure that this person is a consecrated one. I do not mean that every consecrated person should wear the full habit. But I think, as I have said, that the habit is very important as an external sign of the internal state of life of a person. Every state of life has its own proper external signs. I'd never blame a married woman for the fact that she does not wear a religious habit! But I'd blame her for the fact that she does not wear her nuptial ring!

The question of a friar habit is a different matter too. I think the thread is about sisters not friars...
and in fact the example you provide of the male Missionaries of Charity is quite emblematic, because the same mother Theresa who did not think to a religious habit for them (even though they have always a little external sign of their consecration) was the one who wanted her sistes always to wear their full traditional habit. She was very demanding on this, and if you know her you certainly knows the importance she gave to her sisters' habit.

I think that it could be interesting -and maybe the subject of another thread- to point out the differences in the approach to the habit in religious sisters/brothers, anyway I was not thinking of friars but sisters when I wrote my post.

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[quote name='organwerke' timestamp='1344169256' post='2462927']
Well, my post was referred to those that, in my understanding of the thread's title, are religious sisters. I am not an expert of CVs, but I guess you're not member of a religious institute. I imagine that it works this way: religious sisters may be -but not necessairly are, CV. CV may be, but not necessairly are, religious sisters. Well, my post was referred to religious sisters who belongs to religious institues (both consecrated virgins or not -this doesn't matter very much). So when I say that the habit is the first sign that a person is a consecrated one I mean that when I see a person wearing a habit I am sure that this person is a consecrated one. I do not mean that every consecrated person should wear the full habit. But I think, as I have said, that the habit is very important as an external sign of the internal state of life of a person. Every state of life has its own proper external signs. I'd never blame a married woman for the fact that she does not wear a religious habit! But I'd blame her for the fact that she does not wear her nuptial ring!

The question of a friar habit is a different matter too. I think the thread is about sisters not friars...
and in fact the example you provide of the male Missionaries of Charity is quite emblematic, because the same mother Theresa who did not think to a religious habit for them (even though they have always a little external sign of their consecration) was the one who wanted her sistes always to wear their full traditional habit. She was very demanding on this, and if you know her you certainly knows the importance she gave to her sisters' habit.

I think that it could be interesting -and maybe the subject of another thread- to point out the differences in the approach to the habit in religious sisters/brothers, anyway I was not thinking of friars but sisters when I wrote my post.
[/quote]

Thanks for the clarification. I totally agree that the sight of the habit can be the most striking and recognizable external sign of a consecrated person. What I was objecting to was the idea that the "wedding dress of brides of Christ" is the habit. My understanding is that even St. Clare wore a wedding gown of sorts before she took on her rough tunic. If the rough tunic was the wedding gown, then why bother with the rich jewels and best clothes of a bride? It is this precise notion of habits being wedding gowns of brides of Christ that makes people unwilling to believe that I, who do not wear a religious habit, am a bride of Christ.

I also find it interesting that you believe Mother Teresa's sisters to have a "full traditional habit". Actually, I can't think of much less likely to be equated to a full traditional habit as a lot of Catholics imagine habits on sisters (veil separate from other parts of the outfit, some kind of tunic, some kind of scapular, belt or cord, rosary and/or crucifix, wimple of some kind, a decorative cape or cloak or mantle, decorative sash or maniple, religious medallion). They don't wear a veil. They are wearing a poor cloth wrapped around their bodies in the fashion of a certain kind of Indian peasant woman. The only thing distinctively Catholic or "traditional" about it is the small crucifix. I think Mother Teresa's sisters are like some of the Congregations of sisters I know of in Africa. They wear the flamboyant clothes of the poor with their head gear and local garments. You couldn't tell just by looking at them whether they were a married woman, a single woman, or a sister (unless maybe the designs and colors on the cloth have some kind of meaning that escapes me as a non African woman). My point here is that Mother Teresa's outfit was indistinguishable from the poor other than that tiny crucifix. Ditto for the foundresses' outfits of many congregations. Widow outfits, peasant outfits (the most famous European peasant outfit perhaps being the winged one of the Daughters of Charity?) mostly were ordinary wear for the local poor. They did not scream out to the people of that time and era "I'm consecrated!" The only reason we identify an Indian sari with blue stripes on it as a "habit" is because Mother Teresa happened to become rather famous. Otherwise, if you were in Calcutta and were walking down the street, the odds are you would have thought she was just another laywoman...

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[quote name='abrideofChrist' timestamp='1344173101' post='2462940']
I also find it interesting that you believe Mother Teresa's sisters to have a "full traditional habit". Actually, I can't think of much less likely to be equated to a full traditional habit as a lot of Catholics imagine habits on sisters (veil separate from other parts of the outfit, some kind of tunic, some kind of scapular, belt or cord, rosary and/or crucifix, wimple of some kind, a decorative cape or cloak or mantle, decorative sash or maniple, religious medallion). They don't wear a veil. They are wearing a poor cloth wrapped around their bodies in the fashion of a certain kind of Indian peasant woman. The only thing distinctively Catholic or "traditional" about it is the small crucifix. I think Mother Teresa's sisters are like some of the Congregations of sisters I know of in Africa. They wear the flamboyant clothes of the poor with their head gear and local garments. You couldn't tell just by looking at them whether they were a married woman, a single woman, or a sister (unless maybe the designs and colors on the cloth have some kind of meaning that escapes me as a non African woman). My point here is that Mother Teresa's outfit was indistinguishable from the poor other than that tiny crucifix. Ditto for the foundresses' outfits of many congregations. Widow outfits, peasant outfits (the most famous European peasant outfit perhaps being the winged one of the Daughters of Charity?) mostly were ordinary wear for the local poor. They did not scream out to the people of that time and era "I'm consecrated!" The only reason we identify an Indian sari with blue stripes on it as a "habit" is because Mother Teresa happened to become rather famous. Otherwise, if you were in Calcutta and were walking down the street, the odds are you would have thought she was just another laywoman...
[/quote]

It is not maybe the traditional habit we are mostly used to see, nevertheless it is indeed a traditional habit for its characteristics and for the fact that it was never modified after Mother Theresa. Mother Theresa too instructed the sisters about the importance and the meaning of the habit. I have read it myself somewhere (I don't recall now since I've read many books on her, but I may look for), anyway you can ask also to phatmass member Indwelling Trinity if she still visits the phorum, as she was a former MC nun and personally knew Mother Theresa. I do personally see it as a traditional habit by the way: they wear a veil which covers all the hair, the habit comes from the neck to wrists and ankles. the three blue lines on the veil and on the habit represent the three vows, the blue represents the marian devotion and recalls the importance of purity. They wear sandals, and have a crucifix and the rosary.

Surely this is an unusual habit for us coming from european/american culture. But, as you say, this is because Mother chose to adopt a habit that would enable her and her sisters to be similar to the indian poor they served...and this is true, she did as many other foundressed did in the past...
The thing that I can't understand is why this should be in contradiction with the fact that these are traditional religious habits.

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MarysLittleFlower

[quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1344152216' post='2462884']




[color=#222222][size=4][background=rgb(255, 255, 255)]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][/color]
[/quote]

Although I'd agree with abrideofChrist that the Pope is more than "greater among equals", I see what you are saying, because he is also a Bishop :) the Bishops hold the fullness of priestly ministry, if I'm not mistaken, and the Pope has a special charism as the successor of St Peter and Vicar of Christ. :) But I think i'm just being nit-picky ;) cause I see what you meant to say!

I have heard this too about nuns... there's so much to think about! .. I don't think I could really articulate what I want to say, too many questions still :) But I agree with you about nuns, I have heard the same.

[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:

"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]
[/quote]

wow! beautiful :)

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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 is a juridical term descending from the Franciscans -- not historically used by congregations previous) are of fairly recent development as convents of Sisters without full enclosure were all required to have enclosure during Theresa of Avila's time. As such the Mantellatae - lived in their own homes and gathered for Mass and prayer - and went together for works of Mercy. Bl. Raymond of Capua goes to great pains in his biography to say that St. Catherine did live out the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience. Perhaps juridically, she did not have the title of "religious" but she did effectively live the religious life. She is the forerunner to the congregations of Sisters mentioned above.

2. The MC brothers do not wear distinctive garb, not at Mother Teresa's wishes but because her Jesuit Father Director who became Brother Andrew and the founder of the brothers felt that they should not wear one.

3. I know personally several of the missionaries of Charity and they would be very surprised to know that they do not wear a habit. (And by that I mean "non-secular garb" not a European monastic garb.) They speak of their saris as wedding dresses and the pin on their left shoulder with the cross is in the same place a married Indian woman would wear her keys to her home - indicating to all that she is married. You would never mistake an MC sister for a laywoman, as they all wear the same saris that are produced by their Lepers. The identification with the poorest of the poor is indeed there (white saris were only worn by the poor at the time - though now next to no one wears white in deference to the sisters). Yet Mother had the blue stripes added as a symbol of Mary and the traditional profession cross added to their belt much like her former Sisters.

4. By stating that religious are also properly called Brides of Christ, just as our Lady is, and consecrated Virgins are etc... does not mean that CVs are any less Brides of Christ because they do not wear a habit. The habit has to do with public witness much the same way as a police officer wears a uniform to indicate that he is on duty to protect the people in an [b]official[/b] way on behalf the government. Religious are called to public witness. Other forms of consecration - such as Secular Institutes or Societies of apostolic life are [b]not[/b] called to public witness even though they are very much Consecrated. Similarly - just because the religious habit [b]is [/b]a symbol of the marriage / spousal union between Christ and the Church doesn't mean that Consecrated Virgins are somehow less because they do not wear distinctive garb. (Though some in Europe do).

5. Religious profession and the consecration of Virgins is not a sacrament of the Church - it does not confer character the way that the Sacraments do. There is some theological debate afoot at present whether it can be called a "quasi-sacrament" but strictly speaking it is a sacramental. The Consecration of Virgins is a particularly beautiful and needed witness in the Church as it more distinctly shows forth the union between the Church and Christ, as the Church is a Virgin Bride - never given to anyone else but her Lord. This is true of many religious as well, but not all... and so Consecrated Virgins show forth a unique and needed witness that is particular to them.

6. As has been stated before - the whole point of these boards is to have discussion and dialogue. Sometimes we can get a little too worried about "feelings" when we are talking about something that has actual Theological consequences. We are trying (I imagine) to think with the Church. The habit - in regards to religious, as has been stated by the Magisterium time and time again, is very important. It certainly does not make the religious - and someone in a Communist country might not be able to wear it without fear for their lives - but that doesn't mean that identifiable garb is negotiable. The [u]form[/u] this takes (as I indicated previous) is certainly varied.

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Post writing the above I read the lovely post by abrideofChrist which really clarifies things. I suggest to all to wander over and read in full (even though it is long - it's good!) [url="http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/122838-bride-of-christ/"]http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/122838-bride-of-christ/[/url]

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[quote name='abrideofChrist' timestamp='1344163072' post='2462919']
Careful here... he is not greater among equals or most honored of equals... that is an Orthodox position. The Catholic position is that he is the Vicar of Christ, above all other bishops. You are, however, on the road to having a better understanding of what "bride of Christ" means. There is a common bridal relationship of various grades and kinds, and a sacramental bridal relationship to Christ. There is a common priesthood and a sacramental priesthood of Christ. By baptism, people are priest/prophet/king and bride... through common participation. And through the conferral of Orders a man is made a priest/prophet/king and by conferral of consecration a virgin is made a bride.
[/quote]

Thank you for the correction! I typed those words into the PM search and I am so confused, because here ([url="http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/99092-maronite-catholic-patriarchs/"]http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/99092-maronite-catholic-patriarchs/[/url]) a Church Militant PMer says the Pope is first among equals, but other places on PM it is conveyed as an Orthodox position. Regardless, I am grateful for your response...I would have hated to go around saying that and not have it be in line with actual Church teaching.

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[quote name='emmaberry' timestamp='1344231738' post='2463343']
Thank you for the correction! I typed those words into the PM search and I am so confused, because here ([url="http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/99092-maronite-catholic-patriarchs/"]http://www.phatmass....lic-patriarchs/[/url]) a Church Militant PMer says the Pope is first among equals, but other places on PM it is conveyed as an Orthodox position. Regardless, I am grateful for your response...I would have hated to go around saying that and not have it be in line with actual Church teaching.
[/quote] No worries. It's a dogma called papal supremacy (one of the things that keeps us divided from the Orthodox) and the Catechism references it it in paragraph 882. We all make mistakes, especially when they sound good and reasonable! (And obviously millions of Orthodox believe the first among equals idea).

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  • 4 months later...
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.

 

Depends upon the location and situation. If I wear a habit while ministering in a hospital the habit tends to break down the boundaries imposed on the patient by an alien situation. Outside this situation as well as in it people will often come up to me and ask for prayers and want to talk. Sometimes this is an imposition (say if I am having coffee with another Sister who is not in habit; this time is private.) However, I have also had people who would never speak to me while I was in a habit, some for whom I become a target of invective (and in two cases, physical attacks) and others who note themselves that they feel distanced (at best) from me because of it or because of the title Sister. The habit is SUPPOSED to mark some distance from the world which is resistant to Christ and so, in most cases, it does. This is not always helpful however, especially when what one wants is a person's deep identification with all that one represents. I respect the choices each Sister and her congregation makes in this regard. They do so for significant reasons and with broad lived experience behind them. I would like to see this better appreciated by those who have never worn a habit day in and day out, and never tried to minister in one.

 

best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

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I'm just adding my opinion here, nothing cited from the Catechism or any fancy research   :coffee:  In my discernment, I've only considered Orders that wear the traditional religious habit.  I just feel that when you love Jesus and feel called to be His alone, the desire to enter religious life is a very radical choice.  Taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and leaving behind family and friends is not something anyone could do for any reason other than love.  So I just see the habit as an extension of that love.  As some have already said, it's considered a "wedding dress" of sorts.  It's the same reason I would want to take a new religious name rather than be called Sr. Stacey (that sounds so weird lol).  I'm giving my life totally to Him and it only seems fitting.  Plus, I would want people to know simply by looking at me that I'm a Sister because I feel that it's a very obvious witness of how deep a love of Christ can be.  Especially when you see very young Sisters in full habit.  People just don't expect that these days and so it throws them for a loop. That being said, I don't think that the habit makes someone holier.  There are Sisters who don't wear the habit yet are very holy women.  Ultimately what matters is how we live out our love for Christ.  God Bless!

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I'm just adding my opinion here, nothing cited from the Catechism or any fancy research   :coffee:  In my discernment, I've only considered Orders that wear the traditional religious habit.  I just feel that when you love Jesus and feel called to be His alone, the desire to enter religious life is a very radical choice.  Taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and leaving behind family and friends is not something anyone could do for any reason other than love.  So I just see the habit as an extension of that love.  As some have already said, it's considered a "wedding dress" of sorts.  It's the same reason I would want to take a new religious name rather than be called Sr. Stacey (that sounds so weird lol).  I'm giving my life totally to Him and it only seems fitting.  Plus, I would want people to know simply by looking at me that I'm a Sister because I feel that it's a very obvious witness of how deep a love of Christ can be.  Especially when you see very young Sisters in full habit.  People just don't expect that these days and so it throws them for a loop. That being said, I don't think that the habit makes someone holier.  There are Sisters who don't wear the habit yet are very holy women.  Ultimately what matters is how we live out our love for Christ.  God Bless!

 

 

I see many things as an extension of that love and allowing others to feel you are completely approachable is one central aspect of this. What is true is the habit CAN witness to one's love for Christ but it is not nearly as important as hospitality, being visibly his in other ways (they'll know we are Christians by our love), and structuring our lives in ways which attest to the fact that Christ comes first. As far as being only Christ's we are actually and for that reason ALSO everyone elses as well.

 

Regarding young Sisters, while I respect their vocations, I think the witness of an older Sister who has lived her entire life for Christ and his People is much more striking, no matter how these women have chosen to dress. A Sister in jeans and T shirt standing in a Chilean road with other poor people in order to face men with guns and prevent the appropriation of land belonging to those poor people says more to me about loving Christ than a Sister in habit who cannot eat with "seculars", for instance or one who thinks her vocation is a "higher one" than a lay woman's (or more genuine than the Sister standing in that road wearing jeans!!). We really do have to learn to look beyond the superficial to the heart. Recently I was with a Sister friend who just celebrated her golden Jubilee. She does not wear a habit any longer. A woman was introduced to her and said, "Oh, you don't look like a Sister!" My response was that she did indeed look like a Sister. My point was that this Sister shows us the face and the heart of ministerial religious life today as well as  a Sister standing next to her in a habit does; we have to learn to see beyond superficialities to the actual commitment and service involved. After all she HAS given her entire life whereas a young Sister really has only begun to do so --- and quite frankly, may never proceed beyond the "Look at me, I'm specially chosen and wear special garb to disnguish me from the merely called" stage of things. (This is a stage most every religious goes through if their congregation wears habits, but it is also ordinarily one they outgrow in significant ways.)

 

If some of these young Sisters were asked to sacrifice that "specialness" and immediate visibility and show people with their lives and accessibility what it means to love Christ as a religious given wholly to Christ's own, I suspect it would be a more radical sacrifice than many who are more in love with the habit than with those who are precious to Christ would be willing or able to make. (Remember, that despite the onerousness of some habits and customs related to these in the past, it was still wrenching for most religious women to give them up after Vatican II. Some could not do it and left the life --- though this was not the only reason of course. Others did let go of the habit, precisely out of obedience and love for Christ and those they were called to serve. I would say their love is and was definitely greater.)

 

By the way, I  am personally not comfortable saying a habit symbolizes how much I love God. There are other less ambiguous and better ways of doing that. At the most it is a sign that I have committed to learning to love him more and more, but not to actually proclaiming how much I love Christ. That whole self-centered way of speaking makes me a little queasy and if I thought that was the reason I was wearing a habit (or that people THOUGHT that was the reason) I would cease to do so forthwith!

 

all my best,

Sister Laurel M O'Neal, Er Dio

Stillsong Hermitage

Diocese of Oakland

http://notesfromstillsong.blogspot.com

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