Habits vs. No Habits


#1

I am getting feedback from a group on Facebook that is driving me crazy. It is based on the argument from a few non-habited sisters and I think they are being a little too pushy about the subject. Someone originally posted an article on non-habited orders amongst women religious. The problem does not lie in the article at all. But the sisters have stated some pretty upsetting things that I don’t like at all.

I am currently in discernment towards becoming a religious sister, but even if I wasn’t, I would consider the habit crucial for a variety of reasons. The most important being that it is an outward symbol of abandonment of the secular lifestyle for Christ. But I don’t mean that doesn’t mean there aren’t women religious in our society who don’t wear a habit and live a good Christian lifestyle; it simply means that if you are called, why can’t you abandon your dress?

Here are some quotes of the sisters with my thoughts:

“As the next two years went on I found that wearing a habit distanced me from people.”
–This could be true for people who don’t understand it. The sister then decided she didn’t want to wear a habit anymore because of this reason. What I gather from this statement is that her idea of sacrifice is: only do what people will approve of. That may not be true, but how else am I supposed to think when I hear this? Didn’t Christ say that people would persecute His followers, but that they persecuted Him first? Isn’t it holy and commendable to continue with something that may separate you from humanity, than give it up simply because other people don’t understand? Some people will never understand, but Christ, I believe looks at our acceptance of humility as a testament to our faith.
**
Many told me outright: “You’re so much easier to talk to; I felt intimidated by that habit.”**
–Nobody can be intimidated by clothing. Clothing is inanimate. Perhaps they felt intimidated by the character within the habit? Many progressive sisters say, “A habit doesn’t make the sister.” But maybe some of those who wear it consider themselves above others in society. If this is the case, they should take a good look at themselves and see if their ego is inflated?

“To others it was a sign of entitlement… because I wore it, I deserved to be the first in line, to get out of paying a traffic ticket, and to have my opinion weigh a lot more than anyone else’s.”
–How can just wearing a piece of clothing say this? I would definitely think this sister’s view of the habit is warped.

“I wanted to be a real sister to people, not just a Sister with privileges and power. (Notice the capital “S” and lower case “s”. )”
–The only time I have ever seen this distinction is between a name and a reference. Sisters in habits are no different than sisters in secular dress, in terms of holiness or privilege, and certainly not power. Take the Poor Clares for example. They live a hidden lifestyle full of poverty and simplicity. They do not seek power or greater privilege. They take example from St. Francis (and this sister who said the quoted statement is Franciscan, so she should understand this), who desired to be forgotten. He wore a habit, but he wanted to wear it simply to show that he had no clothing; that he had abandoned it for Christ’s ministry. I certainly think that’s commendable.

“Second hand clothing is what the poor wear today; not medieval clothing.”
–The current habit is not medieval!

"So, naturally, when I hear younger folks today who feel adamant about wearing the habit, my first thought comes from my own experience and it’s “My gosh, are they seeking just to be recognized and thanked?”
–No one in the argument for habits said that they were seeking acknowledgment from anyone other than Christ. Some of her statements really make me angry because like this one they are stating that those who want to wear the habit are just doing it to be noticed. I think it is quite the contrary. I want to live a hidden life amongst either the Carmelites or the Poor Clares. No one will see me in my habit except the sisters and visitors. I will not be on the streets. But I still want to wear one simply because I want to surrender EVERYTHING to Christ, including my secular dress!

I don’t mean to imply that sisters without the habit are no less holy than ones who wear it, but I have discovered that most women without them embrace more New Age ideals. Take this picture for instance:
http://ccacarmels.org/images/Agnesahn.jpg
This sister is performing a liturgical dance that I have noticed that only non-habited sisters embrace. “What order does this sister belong to?” is what you are probably asking yourself. She is a Discalced Carmelite nun from Baltimore Carmel. None of the nuns at Baltimore wear habits.

Please give your feedback. I want to hear better arguments. My view will not change about wearing habits, but it could help others. Thank you, and God bless!:slight_smile:


#2

I wrote this back to the sister who made the above statements:

*Sister, some of your statements really upset me, to be honest. I am on the side of those who want to wear the habit because I want to be a habited sister. When you say things like:

“So, naturally, when I hear younger folks today who feel adamant about wearing the habit, my first thought comes from my own experience and it’s “My gosh, are they seeking just to be recognized and thanked?””

It really bothers me. What makes you think that I want to be recognized just because of the way I am dressing? I am called to be a cloistered nun, so even if I was seeking recognition, which I most certainly am not, I wouldn’t get it. It would be the same if I was going to be an active sister. I find no glory in the habit, but yet, something still drives me to wear it simply because Christ gave up everything for me. The little I have to offer Him is not enough, but I want to make the sacrifices. That includes how I dress. I want to embrace these sacrifices for Christ alone!

Please think a little more before you start making statements like the one above. You don’t want people to think less of you just because you are a sister who doesn’t wear the habit, and I see nothing wrong with that, but if someone wants to wear the habit, they shouldn’t be labeled as someone who is seeking recognition and praise.

Thank you and God bless!*

I hope I wasn’t too harsh in this statement, but I want to make it known that none of the habited sisters are seeking praise.:slight_smile:


#3

something I found on the subject.
domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19980701/ARTICLES/NUNS.HTM


#4

***Wow! :eek: ***
As a Secular Order Carmelite (x15 years) I thought ALL our Nuns wore the FULL habit, and was shocked a few months ago to hear there were some that do not.
Now you are confirming it…to me it is sad and very disturbing!

Back in High School (1968) when the sisters changed to street clothes, their respect went down the tubes, especially by our male classmates re: some of the younger sisters.
***I agree with you on all points whole heartedly! :thumbsup: ***
Religious should be a visible presence in the world , and not ’ a light hidden under a basket’!


You will be in my prayers as you discern your vocation.

God bless you †


#5

Thank you Fr. Corey! It is sad that we have to practice Apologetics within our own faith, but I am happy that there is good material to pull from to present convincing arguments. I hope I did not offend anyone. God bless!:slight_smile:


#6

I dunno. This is pretty much a lose-lose discussion. There are “habit” people and no-habit people. If you are attracted to the habit, as most young women today seem to be, then why get embroiled with people who reject them? You won’t change them. If you are discerning a vocation, just go to communities with whom you share an affinity.

And you have to be very careful with discalced Carmelites.


#7

In my brief time as a Catholic, I have had the opporunity to meet many sisters. I have yet to meet a religious sister who does not wear a habit who did not dissent from major teachings of the Catholic Church such as the all male priesthood, abortion, gay marriage, papal primacy, God as Father and creator of the Universe just to name a few. None of them really embraced the idea of authentic femininity but tended toward radical feminism instead. Many were also politically active. Few pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

On the other hands, none of the nuns I have met who wear a habit dissent on anything the Church teaches. They all pray at least three of the offices of Liturgy of the Hours.

My conclusion is this.

No habit = Dissenter

Habit = Humble servant of God.

Of course this is based solely on my own personal observations.


#8

Can you explain what you meant by this statement please ~
Thanks and God bless †


#9

You got it (IMHO)! :thumbsup:


#10

Thank you for your prayers. They are a big help! God bless you! And yes, it is indeed upsetting to learn that so many religious are straying from the habits, and some are straying from the concrete ideals by developing New Age charisms. Liturgical dance, in my opinion, has no place in Catholicism. Neither does Reiki, Zen Meditation, channeling, etc. :slight_smile:


#11

I think you missed the point I was trying to make. I wasn’t trying to change the sister’s mind at all. I was just simply trying to make her aware that what she thinks is not correct. If she doesn’t want to wear a habit, so be it, but she should not be condemning those who wear it, thinking they are seeking praise and recognition.

And, the Discalced Carmelites are perfectly fine, IMHO. St. Therese and St. Teresa were both from the Order of Carmelites Discalced (OCD). Discalced just means “shoeless.”


#12

We have the same midset! :wink:
Stay strong in your convictions!!


#13

These communities are quite independent and range the gamut from exemplary to dotty, Just like the rest of the Religious world.


#14

I know what OCD means. And you will never persuade the sister that she is not correct. Religious communities all over the place are shriveling and collapsing; it doesn’t take rocket science to see that habited communities with a strong adherence to traditional forms of Religious life are the ones that have more vocations than they can handle. But those who reject the idea of traditional Religious life simply refuse to connect the dots.


#15

Thanks for expaining; yes, it appears to be so ~

I should clarify that I have had no personal experience with the nuns (we have no orders close to us),except in correspondence with a group in the midwest .
Though they wore a modified habit, they tended toward new age thinking, and I stopped my contact with a particular nun there.

Very true!

I am grateful my friars and local priests stay the course and wear their clericals/habits.

Blessings~


#16

I would imagine that communities that have relationships outside their own walls (e.g, work with the OCDS) would tend to be a little more accountable and stable than the cloistered groups that have too much time on their hands and get involved with invoking spirits of the four points of the compass every morning (I know a community – not Carmelite – that does this :rolleyes: ) and dancing at Mass.


#17

Again, I was not trying to persuade her. She may be as set on her beliefs as I am on mine, so I know that I will get nowhere. But I would rather get nowhere than simply allow her to go on ranting on how habited communities only wear habits for the glory and praise they get from other people. Unfortunately, her little incident when she was younger changed her mindset forever.

I hope you don’t think me harsh from my last comment. If I came off that way, I apologize. I just really don’t like when someone (like the sister) pigeonholes others into a context that they deem the truth, when they are way off base. You understand that, so I have no problems with you. God bless!:slight_smile:


#18

When I first began discerning, I didn’t think it was important to me whether an order wore a religious habit or not. But, as I began visiting different communities, I’ve found that in the ones who wear secular clothes seemed to have something missing for me in terms of how they approach God and pray. I’ve definitely felt more at peace and closer to God around sisters who do still wear a habit. So, there may be orders out there who don’t wear a habit AND have a strong foundation in God and in prayer that feels right to me- but my purpose isn’t to spend all of my time trying to prove that… but instead to follow where God sees to be leading me.


#19

I’ll include my thoughts from what they said.

Well, of course it’s supposed to distance you! The reasons nuns wear the black habit (from what I read on Mother Angelica’s shrine website) is that it symbolizes being “dead” to the world, and to all worldly thoughts, ideas, pleasures, desires etc. (even wanting others to like you is a worldly desire). On the flip side of the coin, I think when people see a nun, they know they can ask them to pray for them, or whatever else they need. I know there’s a nun in my parish, but I have no idea who she is, or which Mass she attends because she doesn’t wear a habit.

**
Many told me outright: “You’re so much easier to talk to; I felt intimidated by that habit.”**

I would beg to differ. Then again, that’s coming from someone who’s a convert to Catholicism, not someone who attened a Catholic school. In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen nuns in true, traditional habits (excluding Mother Angelica) was in movies (usually pre-Vatican II) and in the children’s book “Madeline”. I don’t hear anyone saying they’re intimidated by a priest in a cassock and that special flat hat (our Msgr. has that hat - looks pretty cool).

“To others it was a sign of entitlement… because I wore it, I deserved to be the first in line, to get out of paying a traffic ticket, and to have my opinion weigh a lot more than anyone else’s.”

Seeing it as a sign of entitlement should disqualify one from being a nun in the first place. That’s not even close to what the habit symbolizes.

“I wanted to be a real sister to people, not just a Sister with privileges and power. (Notice the capital “S” and lower case “s”. )”

A Nun/Sister has nothing to do with priviledges and power…

“Second hand clothing is what the poor wear today; not medieval clothing.”

Priests wear chasubles. Those date back to the time of the Romans…

"So, naturally, when I hear younger folks today who feel adamant about wearing the habit, my first thought comes from my own experience and it’s “My gosh, are they seeking just to be recognized and thanked?”

I don’t even see it as that. In fact, wearing a habit means one has to give up their modern clothes and dresses that they like, because it is of the world. Granted, looking at the picture below, I’m not surprised why some are wanting the habits back.

I don’t mean to imply that sisters without the habit are no less holy than ones who wear it, but I have discovered that most women without them embrace more New Age ideals. Take this picture for instance:
http://ccacarmels.org/images/Agnesahn.jpg
This sister is performing a liturgical dance that I have noticed that only non-habited sisters embrace. “What order does this sister belong to?” is what you are probably asking yourself. She is a Discalced Carmelite nun from Baltimore Carmel. None of the nuns at Baltimore wear habits.

In Baltimore!!!??? :bigyikes: :crying: :nope:
feverishly starts writing a letter to Archbishop O’Brien :compcoff:

I thought they looked a little too modern when I was looking at local convents…

http://www.baltimorecarmel.org/Vocation%20Discernment/chapel.JPG


#20

***My husband (JimR-OCDS) made the point …when I mentioned this topic to him…to be sure THESE nuns are actually APPROVED BY THE VATICAN. ***

***There are many offshoots (dissenters) who in failing obedience to the main order, start their own order to accomodate THEIR ideals. ***
They may claim themselves to be of a particular order but may actually not have canonical approval.

He reminded me of a group of ‘Teresian Carmelites’ from our diocese; recently closed down by the Bishop because of variant activities and had nor formal affliliation with either the O’Carm or OCD orders.

Sometimes they are not who they appear to be at first glance.
When discerning…be sure to ask for validating papers, and have a set of questions in mind re: their rule of life etc ~


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