Should religious wear the traditional habit?


#1

Should consecrated religious persons wear the traditional habit (as opposed to modern “secular” clothing)? Note that religious are legitimately allowed to wear secular clothes, so long as they have some distinguishing “habit” that identifies them as part of their particular community.

Along with casting your vote, please post the reasons why you answered the way you did. Stories or theological statements would be great! Please share anything that explains your experience or thoughts on the presence or lack of the traditional habit in the life of consecrated religious.

God bless,
Lily628


#2

Note: this discussion is being continued from the thread Are there any Religious “Callings” Here?

I will share that I voted “Yes”, I believe religious should wear the habit. I am considering the sisterhood, and whenever I see a sister in the traditional habit, I see this as an opportunity to connect with her and learn about her community. Without the habit, I would have no way of knowing this about strangers.

Also, as a potential future sister, I would love for someone to recognize me as such, and come speak to me for that reason, to ask me for prayer, or ask about my faith, or about Christ, or tell me about how they remember when nuns taught them in school… whatever be the case–this type of encounter with a stranger or parishoner would be such a joy to me, and I expect to the other person also.

Additionally, I believe that part of the reason for the decrease in religious vocations is that children (or anyone) can no longer see and immediately recognize religious who do not wear the habit. To many it may seem to be a foreign concept since we have an entire adult generation that had little exposure to this.

I believe that wearing the traditional religious habit would take great courage and humility in our culture, since it is a very obvious statement about one’s faith. I see it as a way to better live out that saying from St. Francis, “Preach the gospel always, if necessary use words”.

Furthermore, clothes are a means of self-expression, as they always have been. When a woman joins a religious order, she is humbly giving up that right and taking on the identity of her community. She gives up her self and becomes united with Christ, taking on garments of humility. Wearing their uniform habits allows nuns to better live out their vows of poverty, since they don’t need closets full of clothes.

God bless,
Lily628


#3

I voted “yes”. I am discerning a call to the religious life, and I am at this point only considering communities that wear a habit. This is because a habit truly shows a radical abandonment of worldly pleasures for the sake of the heavenly kingdom. (I know that pleasures are not bad; I just mean that religious are called to forego some goods for the sake of the greater good.) It also seems that a lot of the communities that have gone to all lay clothes also have shaky theology. (Not all-- a lot.) I understand that the earliest consecrated persons just wore a simple versin of the clohtes of the day, and this is what religious habits are left over from. I do not think that regular clothes on a religious are in and of themselves bad, but I am concerned with the thought that led to individual communities eschewing the habit. The council did say that religious could simplify thier habits, and this I do not have a problem with-- but at this point I am not comfortable with entirely lay clothes.

Yours,
Jessica


#4

I don’t think this is just a yes or no answer, as it depends on what is functional for people to wear depending on their mission, and availability of resources.

For purely contemplative orders, the costly traditional habits are not a hindrance, as they will have longer life (the clothing, not necessarily the nuns). It makes more sense for them to retain “traditional clothing” since such garments don’t get in the way of working in the dust or in the jungle and need more care to clean than what missions established in more sparse living conditions can handle, with limited water resources and time constraints.

Orders that pusure more active lifestyles, need to delegate their time to active ministries so they don’t have as much time to commit to personal chores or the people they minster suffer. Whereas in contemplative life style, many of the prayers can be done during chores too. I am not saying that praying is less noble a mission than offering medical hep or other active work, but I do believe that noncontemplative work required more time that can not be used for prayer. I think it is unhelpful to require those communities to wear traditional clothes, if the clothing style negatively impacts the finances and time needed for other activities of the mission.


#5

[quote=serendipity]I don’t think this is just a yes or no answer, as it depends on what is functional for people to wear depending on their mission, and availability of resources.
[/quote]

Hi Serendipity,

I know, I realized this too late when the poll structure was already sealed. This poll is in response to Tiffse’s post on the other thread:

[quote=Tiffse]I thought we were supposed to be humble and ‘quiet’ and unassuming in our works and not single ourselves out for attention for our works? Isn’t wearing habits like standing on the street corner going “look at me”?
[/quote]

I am looking for people to say whether they think it’s right or wrong to wear the traditional habit, and perhaps I should have added a third option, but I was afraid that many would choose that as a cop-out. I want people to answer either yes or no, closest to what they believe on the issue. I hope that makes sense.

God bless,
Lily628


#6

Hello Lily,

I clarified my answer a little in an edit, but you were too quick for me. I voted no, but I guess my answer is yes and now…


#7

Of course not.
Police patrol officers should wear street clothes. State Police should street clothes, Military should were street clothes, Airline officers should wear street clothes, priests should wear street clothes, popes should wear street clothes, Sacred Saint statues , Pictures, paintings should have our street clothes (so we can relate by bringing down to our level, where they belong), and finally, those muslim women should wear slacks and tank-tops
Remember “Ut unum Sint” is the new mantra. “We all may be one”…the communist manifesto, freemasonry…egalitarianism, all agree.
It was a crazy conspiracy to teach that one’s uniform in their station in life effected their conduct, and persuaded others to control theirs.
Finally, most of those trad habits had “rosaries” hung on them…really big ones. That’s just a way to offend the prot, muslim, atheist…and especially “catholic” ecumaniacs.

ps. Are there still nuns? If so, how many compared to oh, 50 years ago? Consider the practical. If you don’t have volume, one-of-a-kind uniforms get really expensive.

.


#8

Yes, because:

[list]
*]It’s a way of preaching, as St. Francis used to do when walking a whole morning around the main square.
*]It’s also a reminder to others of their own faith.
*]It’s an external sign to others of the commitment that God calls us for.
*]It’s an invitation to look inside one’s own consciensce.
*]It’s a form of evangelization.
[/list]Among other reasons, but they all go back to the 1st reason: it’s visual preaching. :wink:

:blessyou:

#9

This is an interesting question. I can see positives to both wearing a habit and being allowed to not wear it. I agree with all of what has been previously mentioned above about wearing habits, but I can also see why a nun or a priest might desire to be anonymous in appearance sometimes. Without the habit religious may reach some people they may not reach with it on, but the same can be said of wearing it…so I didn’t vote, because this is challenging for me, a lay person, to answer. I can see the benefits to both…


#10

I voted yes. The Habit itself is a very simple way for religious to evangelize! It silently but powerfully states “I am a solider for GOD!”

I now a Nun who shed her habit because someone spit on her and someone else called her a witch… Sadly she gave up the habit to blend in and not be so readily identified as a NUN. THE VOCATION she so generously gave her entire life too!!!

I know a priest who is one of the biggest and most gentle men I’ve ever met. He proudly wheres his habit even when vacationing and travelling around the world as an outward sign of his devotion to the Lord and as a challenge to all who see him to question his vocation in light of the disgusting Scandal that has rocked THE Church and its Holy Priesthood!

My Grandmother used to enjoy anonymously paying restaurant tabs for Nuns and Priests whom she saw in habit out in public. She often voiced her regret at paying for fewer and fewer meals as she neared the end of her natural life. It is a tradition I hoped to continue but I must be dining at the wrong places.


#11

Yes.

We have Sisters who work in our diocese that very few people know about…they don’t look like nuns! Everyone assumes they are hired help.

All of the Religious make an impression when they wear their ‘Colors’ for all to see. The habit is a uniform that most people recognize, and allows the wearer to better perform their ministry.

There should be various levels of uniform for various tasks though…
Similar to the military having Mess, Class A, Class B, and Utility uniforms to fit the situation.


#12

Yes to show that they are always on duty, or standby if you like.
Plus it’s easier to pick them out of a crowd if they wear their collar, some are afraid and ashamed to wear it now, for fear of being attacked, because of all the scandal.


#13

[quote=serendipity]I think it is unhelpful to require those communities to wear traditional clothes, if the clothing style negatively impacts the finances and time needed for other activities of the mission.
[/quote]

Interesting thought. Could you expand on how it could negatively impact the mission? I am not seeing why.

By the way, I am not advocating that the Church require the wearing of the traditional habit. Rather, asking whether religious communities should choose to operate this way.

God bless you!
Lily628


#14

I think that consecrated religious should wear a habit. First, it enables the wearer to get the respect that they deserve. Second, the position demands a bit of sacrifice, so giving up wearing street clothes would be good. It also is a distinguishing factor and just looks really nice. It would be awesome to be able to see priests walking down the street with Roman collars on, so if anybody was in trouble, help could be found quickly. I am quite amazed when sisters wear their habits too. It just looks so much nicer and more professional. I don’t think that should change.

God Bless–JMJ
Laura :slight_smile:


#15

[quote=Augustine]Yes, because:

[list]
*]It’s a way of preaching, as St. Francis used to do when walking a whole morning around the main square.
*]It’s also a reminder to others of their own faith.
*]It’s an external sign to others of the commitment that God calls us for.
*]It’s an invitation to look inside one’s own consciensce.
*]It’s a form of evangelization.
[/list]Among other reasons, but they all go back to the 1st reason: it’s visual preaching. :wink:

:blessyou:
[/quote]

Amen to this post. An additional reason I like to see nuns (and friars/brothers for that matter) wearing their habits is that it brings to mind that “we are to be in the world, not of the word”. It is a visible sign of contraction to the secular world around as (much as St. Francis preaching by simply walking around a town square).


#16

Oops./ I meant to write “yes and no,” but typed “yes and now.” I think habitsshould be requiored for everyone, but don’t believe it is prudent to insistance that every one in every location across the world wear a “traditional habit.” In some places such dress is a financial and occupational liability.


#17

[quote=lily628]Interesting thought. Could you expand on how it could negatively impact the mission? I am not seeing why.
[/quote]

Isn’t the habit a sacramental? If so, it’s a very good thing for those who wear it. A constant reminder of their vows and of their mission in this world.

Sure, one shouldn’t need sacramentals, but God knows our weakness better than us…

:blessyou:


#18

[quote=(Joshua)]…some are afraid and ashamed to wear it now, for fear of being attacked, because of all the scandal.
[/quote]

That’s another point for Satan, zilch for Christ. :frowning:

To think that people became martyrs for the Church while some hide instead of risking being spit on…

:blessyou:


#19

Sure they should. Here’s something from Vita Consecrata, #25:

“The Church must always seek to make her presence visible in everyday life, especially in contemporary culture, which is often very secularized and yet sensitive to the language of signs. In this regard the Church has a right to expect a significant contribution from consecrated persons, called as they are in every situation to bear clear witness that they belong to Christ.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.”

vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_25031996_vita-consecrata_en.html

Also, a “traditional habit” isn’t necessarily expensive. If it is, the material it is made of should be changed so that it isn’t. The one I wear cost $100. I suppose the mantle is another $25 maybe. A Nun’s habit has more material but still shouldn’t cost that much…considering the alternative.


#20

[quote=lily628]Hello Tiffse,

I see that we disagree on this issue, and that’s ok.
[/quote]

Hi Lily:

I have no problem disagreeing either. I appreciate every person’s input and point of view. It’s only through dialogue with others that we expand our minds and deepen our level of understanding of anything. I come to forums because my husband won’t indulge me in debates about important issues – so you’re doing me a favor!

I voted no for the reasons below, which I’ve restated here from the thread “Are there any religious callings here?” at forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=8025

I thought we were supposed to be humble and ‘quiet’ and unassuming in our works and not single ourselves out for attention for our works? Isn’t wearing habits like standing on the street corner going “look at me”?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lily628
Furthermore, it is a type of uniform, a sign of her consecration to God. Military, FedEx drivers, UPS drivers, and many others wear uniforms. Are you saying that the role of a member of a religious order is less important than these jobs?

No, it’s more important. FedEx and UPS wear uniforms to advertise an earthly product. God is not a product.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lily628
A woman in religious habit no more “singles herself out” than one who wears a cross necklace, a WWJD bracelet, Christian t-shirts, a head covering, a Jewish man who wears the yamaka, those who bear ashes on their forehead on Ash Wednesday, etc. These are all outward signs of an inward commitment to God. Wearing these things takes a humble courage, especially when society around us considers it strange. It opens one up to persecution and provides opportunities to stand up for one’s faith.

I do wear a small cross neclace usually under my shirt, but otherwise I try not to be pretentious in my faith. As a matter of fact, I don’t use offering envelopes because God knows how much I put in the offering plate; no one else needs to know. I don’t need to get “my reward on earth,” I’d rather get it in Heaven. Plus, it’s God’s money anyway; why should I put my name on it?

**Matthew 6 **
*16. *"Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
*17. **"But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face *
*18. *so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

I don’t think “outward signs of an inward commitment to God” are earthly, man-made, material things at all. Anyone can buy jewelry, t-shirts, or special clothes, it doesn’t mean you have an inward commitment to God. Expressing an inward commitment to God would be loving others and all that entails.

Also, I don’t need to “open myself up to persecution” for opportunities to defend my faith. I try not to be defensive, but proactive.


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