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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Habits = Vocations (It's really not that simple, but habits are certainly a part of the equation)

The post below was written by Stephen Hand for his blog "The Bride and the Dragon".

Every Religious Order That Has Left Off the Habit is Dying; and Coversely...

This Could be Called 'Don't Kick the Habit' Week At This Site;
Following up on the previous post...

I never met a (real) nun I didn't feel inspired by, though (especially when young) I'm certain the feeling was not always mutual, but that would have been my fault, not theirs. I wish I could apologize to some nuns for some of my bratty behavior as a kid. We didn't mean anything by it; we were just, well, idiots, as the Sisters seemed to understand.

When I was young (and I am 'only' 55 today) nuns seemed to be everywhere, in the schools, in the hospitals, on the busses and trains... living works of mercy.

Doubtless we do not see more today because vocations are down in much of the intoxicated secular West, especially after the Council with all the irresponsible interpretations that followed in its wake, but isn't it also because many who are consecrated to Jesus Christ in religious Orders do not wear their religious habits anymore? I find this heartbreaking.

While not doubting their dedication and calling in many cases since they only followed the herd, it must also be said habitless Sisters blend into all crowds, if not the woodwork. And that's the problem; it's part of the reason that many Religious Orders began dying. Young women can hardly aspire to something they cannot see.

Now look at those Orders which are growing today and almost invariably we find these are nuns who have not abandoned the habit.

Visible signs. How the world needs them in our time. Visible signs of purity as an ideal as opposed to the fashions and vanities of this world. How we all need to be reminded this still exists in our day.

The Church, while encouraging modesty for all, has never insisted like Islam that all women "belong" in burqas. But we have seen so many girls and women exchange beauty---real beauty (Juiet beauty) which is always aligned to purity, simplicity and modesty---for crass, vile confomity, for--God save us-- "sexiness". Young women today have been degraded and violated by lust-filled money grubbers who take their purity and keep the money. They hardly know anymore that Christ, His Mother and the Saints offer a higher way. It's another reason we need visible signs: to inspire, to remind us all that this life is not all there is.

Many young women I have talked to confess there is something sublime in this visible sign of consecration. They are tired of feeling inadequate because they don't always want to appear "the fox," and they are tired of apologizing for wanting to be real. They miss the noble ideals of sweetness, purity, consecration, and the possibility of contemplating Something higher than themselves and endless media images.

But who will understand in today's world where women are encouraged to exhaust and degrade themselves to look "hot" like the anorexic "babes" on TV?

Nuns. Nuns should understand.

But what if these nuns can't be seen, and are thus unknown because they have unwittingly conformed to the awful sameness of the present age? Many young women in their deepest hearts would love to be brides of Christ but hardly know that such a transcendent alternative exists anymore.

Vatican II allowed an optional modification of the nun's habit and veil for health and climate's sake (the cloth maybe, the style a little, but certainly not a complete rupture with their Order's past, see pics here)---it never encouraged its abandonment.

Haven't we as the Church let young women down in thinking Sisters should become just more of the same? Everyone---all of us!--- need to see vocations and purity again! Especially men! Then, with such visible signs everywhere again, all women are more likely to be respected as they should be---and that should not surprise us. Every time we see a nun in the Habit we are reminded that this world is not all there is, that God is far from "dead" (what an oxymoron and nonsense!). God only "dies" in dead souls.

99% of all the stories about those mean, ugly, sexually frustrated crows we see dished out in Hollywood in our time are pure bunk, nasty vile propaganda perpetrated by the enemies of the Church (1). I know. I was there. Nuns are beautiful ---in the most sublime sense possible.


Jean said...

Preach it!

Nick said...

Back in the 60's our local nuns modified their habits, getting rid of long skirts, scapulars, and starched white cornettes. What they ended up with still looked like habits. Then they went completely secular, except for small black veils. These too were eventually cast aside, as they "clashed" with the secular garb and didn't look "professional". Sad.

A humerous and related memory: on a windy day in the late 60's, I saw these nuns in a school yard with female students. Some of the students were wearing maxi coats, which were then popular. They stood in the wind, unruffled, while the sisters had to use their hands to keep their little veils from flying off and their skirts down. Guess who looked more dignified?

kk said...

A recent CARA poll of women taking final vows in 2010, sponsored by the USCCB, found 79 total, of whom 68 responded to the questionnaire. Forty-six superiors reported one final and 12 superiors reported 2-9 final vows. But if you check the websites of cmswr.org and religiouslife.com you will find many habited orders that don't appear to be growing. The recent study shows that the number of those taking final vows remains low and is spread among many orders, with only a few reporting 2 or over.

Check the posts of cara1 on forums.catholic.com and yaatee on phatmass.com for more breakdown on who is entering and taking vows. Go to cara.geargetown.edu for the full report in pdf. format.