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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hot Topic

Kevin - "pax tecum" said...

Sister...? It has been a few days since you've posted...Is everything ok?

The pews are extra dusty from all the smoke. We've had our work cut out for us. Good thing I have my fire fighter habit handy in the closet.

Sister, this nun in plain clothes thing baffles me. Do you guys always wear habits, to grocery stores and baseball games and in your drivers license photos and stuff? As you said, there's no rule against it... but is it frowned upon to wear regular old clothes to these things? Just curious.

I don't have a firefighter habit in the closet.

To answer your question, it depends on what the Sister wears in the first place. Wearing a full habit like this, a Sister would have three or four 'outfits', the everyday, the 'dress blues' and the pew duster. It's all the same looking habit, it's just in various states of perfection. Today's dress blues are tomorrow's everydays and next year's pew dusters.

I do have a sort of 'gardening' outfit with a big hat. No one ever glimpses me in that. Maybe the meter reader.

But if a Sister is wearing more secular clothes to begin with, the sky's the limit.

Okay, not exactly. But think of it this way, if you were a business woman and wore a business suit all the time, you're not going to just suddenly jump out in front of the clients in a bikini or a disco dress and stiletto heels. You're going to wear conservative looking clothes even if you're attending the office picnic. Unless you have a screw loose.

That happens.

We are never not with our clients.

Another reader writes:
Personally, I feel about nuns without habits the same way I do about teachers wearing miniskirts and priests without collars. (And I have to admit that I once flirted with a priest out of uniform; then he had the nerve to tell me as if it were MY fault.)

It was your fault. Just who was doing the flirting?

Here's what I have to say to people who want nuns wearing full habits:


Stop asking people who have chosen the religious life to dress in medieval garb so that you know how to act around them. Behave yourself all the time and you won't have a problem. What nuns wear is their business and the business of their orders. It's all about them. It's not about you.

I wonder how orders decide what color their habits will be.

I'd like to know the color to order thing too. I think the teaching sisters in Lincoln wear blue. Some are in gray, why?

I suppose we could have all stuck with black or brown. But then our hats would have had to get ever more elaborate so as to tell us apart. Again, we are talking about medieval garb here. The simplest most inexpensive fabric is going to be brown. We're definitely going to throw in some white for purity and voila, you've got you're basic habit colors.

Then along comes the order that is dedicated to the Blessed Mother. They are going to go with Mary blue, for sure. Why does Mary wear blue? Did Mary wear only blue all her life? She probably never ever wore blue even once. Mary is always depicted in blue because there was a time when to legally adopt someone, you put your cloak around them. The sky is blue.

Hold on, it will all makes sense in a moment.

Mary wears blue, because like the sky, which is blue, that covers us all, Mary has adopted us all.

I'm sure the gray orders just wanted to stay humble in a drab unassuming color.

How do they decide? I don't know. I'm sure they had a meeting and discussed it. Obviously these girls had cake at their meeting.

I'm kidding. Although everyone refers to these cloistered sisters as "The Pink Nuns", they themselves call their habits 'rose colored'.

I call it hot pink. Maybe it's my monitor.


Anonymous said...

I had noticed Mary was always shown in blue but I never knew why. Learn something new every day.

Jane said...

The nuns in our area do not wear habits but dress in conservative skirts or slacks and wear "sensible" shoes. I don't have a problem with it. Not that it's any of my business. I do love those pink nuns though!

ann nonymous said...

Years ago I was having a bit of a spiritual crisis so, I returned to the parish of my youth and spoke to the pastor to seek some assistance. He suggested I meet with one of the sisters who worked in our parish office.

I made an appointment to meet with "Sister Mary." The day of my appointment I arrived at the parish office. A woman greeted me at the door. She was wearing a navy A-line skirt, a blouse and red patent leather pumps. I asked for Sister Mary. She said she was Sister Mary. I'm ashamed to admit I cannot remember anything about our meeting other than the fact that Sister was wearing red patent leather shoes! It really threw me for a loop. It was all I could do to keep from staring at them or asking her about them.

Tom in Vegas said...

I like these "Pink Nuns." Their habits are quite beautiful.

I'm told by the time Vatican III rolls around all nuns will wear habits that can teleport them anywhere they wish (except Heaven), with internet access and GPS tracking. WOW!


Kirsten said...

I do have some roses that bloom in that shade of pink.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Oh, there's nothing quite like the Intercessors of the Lamb's get-ups. Those things look more like Halloween costumes than habits! I recently saw them at a conference that our parish had and I thought it was some kind of joke until I realized that they REALLY WERE sisters and that those REALLY WERE their habits! I really don't care what sisters/nuns wear (as long as it covers their bodies properly), but that one kind of threw me for a loop!

Anonymous said...

Okay, everyone who just ran to Google to look up Intercessors of the Lamb, raise your hand!
(The color makes me think of an order of surgical nurses in scrubs! That medical shade of green...)

dilettantus in interrete said...

Perhaps the picture is taken on Gaudete or Laetare!

greeting from Germany

Therese said...

Lol. If I was ever called to be a nun I would be more than happy to wear a habit like that. It would give me great joy to wear something like that.

H F J said...

"Obviously these girls had cake at their meeting."

Sister! You are so funny. LOL.

Thank you for the explination of Mary wearing blue, I never knew. God Bless!

Anonymous said...

I like the pink. My daughter is crazy over pink but not enough to join a silent order!!

Anonymous said...

Sister, I have to disagree with you on nuns' habits. I am not saying that nuns should wear uncomfortable medieval wimples, but I have noticed that the nuns who wear lay garb act differently.

I went to Catholic school for 13 years and had actual nuns teaching me (I'm a post V-2 baby) and I have to say that the ones who wore at least a headdress acted like nuns (nice, happy, religious, pious, etc., good examples for vocations).

The ones without the headdress were extremely bad examples for vocations: complaining about being a nun, wearing makeup and jewelry, wearing short skirts (and telling the girls to lengthen theirs), venial, overtly racist/ bigoted, and flirting with men & women.

Sorry, I'm a feminist who would love to say that religious women should not have to wear something seemingly 'oppressive', but this is my experience.

Perhaps a habit, even a modified one, keeps sisters/ nuns focused and behaving better!

Adrienne said...

Glad to see you back. Like others, I was becoming concerned.

Interesting take on Mary in blue. I was always led to believe that painters often put Mary in blue because it was the color of royalty -- in particular dark blue. Other colors are used also, such as red which I think was done mostly by Flemish painters.

We do have sisters in our area who dress very casually. By casual I mean bermuda shorts (polyester) and tanks. Past a certain age and weight I consider it an act of charity not to dress like that in public.

Anonymous said...

The most expensive paint in Mediaeval times was made of crushed lapis lazuli, which gives the most glorious blue colour. Cost a pretty penny, though, so if you were a slightly impecunious noble you'd make sure your painter saved it for the most precious bits of the painting. Thus, we have Mary wearing a deep, rich blue.

Anonymous said...

Hi sister, I've missed you this week. I've been praying for all those sufferring the effects of the fires. I'll keep you in my prayers.
ps. Thank you for telling it like it is, sistah!

coley boley said...

Sister,I understand your point but I must disagree. Why wouldn't a sister want to wear her habit all the time? She has been given the gift of such an amazing vocation in life, why not proclaim it! it might even getother, younger girls interested in a vocation to the religious life. I so much appreaciate it when sisters where their habits all the time. What amazing witnesses to the faith. I am discerning a vocation to the relegious life, and I can say now that if the religious life is what I am truly called to, I shall be overjoyed to wear a full habit, no matter how "medivial", because I will be doing it for love of Christ.

Alexandra said...

I love the pink nuns! Thye look like the light of the world, beautiful.

Anonymous said...

How do they keep the white part so unwrinkled and white? (is that the scapular?)

I think I would have to be a Carmelite, just because keeping clean-looking would be so much easier. Never mind clean... although if I were a nun I wouldn't have six children in my home and there would be a lot less mess...well, presumably.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister, thank you so much for your blog. When you have a moment, I have two questions.

First is a short one about discernment of vocations to religion: any advice?

Second is a longer one about All Saints, All Souls, and the South American custom of celebrating "days of the dead." At our parish school some of the teachers (none of them vowed religious by the way) have the children decorate "altars to the dead," which they decorate with "offerings" of fruits, gourds, art, and other objects. Some of us parents are perfectly comfortable with these activities, seeing them as baptized folk customs in which we are as happy to have our children participate as we would be to have them decorate a Christmas tree. Others of us see these activities as pagan survivals that could lead to intellectual confusion (about the no-idols commandment eg) and spiritual danger (if the children end up praying to --OK for the intercession of-- spirits that are just "dead," not sanctified or even benevolent.

What about that?

antonina said...

Pax et Bonum sister, may the Lord give you His peace! We are all praying for you.

For what it's worth, I just wanted to say that I've always found it very saddening when I see the spouses of Jesus, King of the Universe, dressing and acting like they were just the neighbor across the street. Religious and priests are not, not, not regular people! The vocation to the religious life is supernatural, it says so in the Cathechism. Habits are meant to set the religious person apart from everyone else so that they may be a witness to the ever-living, divine Presence of God in the world. What honor! What joy! I would wear a sackcloth if it made people think of Christ's Presence! What a tremendous work of love and surrender, to witness with everything you are and with everything you have to the existence of God! I am joining the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal, who wear the full gray habit of Father Francis, complete with bare feet in sandals, the cord with the three knots symbolic of the vows, a wooden rosary, and the veil which symbolizes that the sister is a permanent bride of Christ. What's even better is that our own sisters make our habits by hand, and when they get old, we patch them. Just like Father Francis. When I went to visit my old catholic school, our one and only sister was wearing trousers and a polo shirt, complete with hair done up and one fashionable earring hanging from one ear. And people wonder why so many congregations are dying out. Would I trade a gray, patched habit for that? (And why traditional, conservative orders are absolutely booming with vocation). Young people, people in general, want to be inspired! We do not join the religious life for comfort, nor do we do it with the "common sense" of the world around us, we do it because we are called to a closer relationship with a God who is madly in love with us and makes us fall madly in love with Him, and so we go around the world mad, with bare feet in the snow, and long uncomfortable habits in the summer. It is all done out of love, out of love for Christ and the Cross he chose in order to save the world. We must be crucified with Christ and die to ourselves. Glory be to Holy Lady Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. Amen

Anonymous said...

God gives us what is sufficient for today, especially if we ask for it in His will.

Congratulations on your vocation and may God richly bless you; Our Lady keep you under her mantle, Antonina!

SMM, you are a riot! God bless!

"S" in Maryland

Anonymous said...

I just had to comment on Antonina's post. Until her comments, I thought, well, maybe SMM is right, it's not a big deal about habits. After reading her rationale, it makes perfect sense for nuns to wear habits. God bless you in your vocation.

Anonymous said...

I want nuns in habits. I want police officers in uniform. I want the UPS man in his browns. Does it mean ALL the time? Nope just when they are working. If you want to lay around in your sweats while watching TV fine. In public, on my time, dress so I know who you are. I might need a nun sometime.

Anonymous said...

So how do we address nuns/priests when they're incognito? I saw our priest in a bookstore in his civvies, but I didn't say 'hello' because I thought it just might be his day off and maybe he wanted a few brief moments where he didn't have to answer any questions, and if I went up and called him 'father' the cat would be out of the bag and some nutso might follow him out of the store in order to harass him about the inquisition or something. So I let him alone to buy his books.

Anonymous said...

"It was your fault. Just who was doing the flirting?"

Sorry, Sister, but he started it. It's the same as if a man without a wedding ring behaves like he's available. That doesn't mean that every married man has to wear a wedding ring, but they sure as heck better behave like married men.

As for my "getting over it" - what does that mean? Here was a priest who wants to wear civilian clothes, then decided to "pull rank" on me. It's like a cop out of uniform trying to pull me over. Maybe the priest should have gotten over the idea that he's going to be treated deferentially because of his vocation. Perhaps I should just have treated him like any "taken" man who tries to pass himself off as available.

Jean said...

I grew up near New Orleans and was raised around nuns in habits. I went to a Catholic school where our principal was even a nun in a habit.

When I got to Mississippi, I was quite surprised to realize that nuns didn't have to wear habits!

However, our nuns seem to have decided that blue is quite the color and they wear similar outfits just about every day. I knew our parish nun for over 3 years before I saw her wear something other than blue.

Do they have "don't wear habits, but wear all blue" orders?

Heather said...

I have a question for you, Sister, unrelated to nuns or habits. It's about sin. I'll try to be brief.
A non-Catholic friend of mine is having a crisis about it. She's got that gluttony is a sin (one of the seven deadly!) and so is homosexuality (acting on it, that is).
So... her question, which I told her I'd ask you, is: what's the difference between going to a fat preacher's home for dinner and going to a gay couple's home for dinner? Obviously, the fat preacher overeats and is thus a glutton.
It just occurred to me about an unmarried couple living in sin. How would that be any different from either of the above?

Thanks for your time, Sister.

Anonymous said...

Sister, I work in a home that is all religious-- only priests, sister and brothers; so what I hear is pretty well gospel. The flying nun veil of the Sisters of Charity (told to me by Franciscan)was invented when the fledgling nuns were arguing over dinner how to design their veil. Finally the head nun declared-- I will drop the napkin, and however it lands-- that's our veil!! End of history lesson.

Anonymous said...

Is that Blessed Pauline in the picture? I won't try to spell her long last name.

Anonymous said...

Canon 669
1. Religious are to wear the habit of the institute made according to the norm of proper law as a sign of their consecration and as a testimony of poverty.

-from the Code of Canon Law

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