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Friday, June 22, 2012

Out of Habit

Supertradmum, who has posted here before made a comment on WDTPRS which has made me think.  The thought is that I agree with her 100%.  My comments follow her post.
 If the nuns acted like women, I would support your criticism. However, as one who is not afraid of my femininity and who tries to act and live like a woman, I can assure you that most of the nuns in question have not pursued the spirituality of the female.
Wearing pants is just a start. Not being in habit is a huge problem. Having very short hair and lacking in manners, using male tactics of aggression, etc. are not marks of a Catholic woman who is happy with her feminity.
Our Lady, (note the word, Lady) is our example, and I would start a criticism of the nuns with the fact that Mary is no longer their model. I am not passive, nor merely “in the home”, but in the market place, but I can assure you, I embrace my womanliness. Opinions are fine, but if one has become a Bride, one tries to tune one’s mind to that of the Bridegroom, Who, is this case, is Christ.
I think they have forgotten their first Love. I know some have, by discussions and comments. Christ is not a real Lover to them, but an idea. They are afraid to confront a Real Man, because they are not real women.
There is nothing more disappointing to me, as a Catholic than meeting a nun who is out of habit.  There is nothing more joyous for me than meeting a nun in habit.  There is something magnetizing and very individual about a nun in a habit.  What do I mean?  Well, a Dominican nun has a distinct habit and that habit tells me a lot about who she is and what she believes.  The same thing holds true for any other nun.  This individuality though is not based upon personal preference or style, but it is based upon charism.  And that is what is being lost.  I think that is what Supertradmum is getting at too, btw.

When I meet a nun who is out of habit, I can't help but think to myself what is she trying to prove?  That she's an individual?  That's she's trying to live in the world?  How?  By being of the world?  That doesn't make sense.  God calls women to be radical in their love for Him.  In what more way can one be radical than to put on a habit and become a clear witness for Christ, not just on the inside, but on the outside.  Sadly, polyester pantsuits and a lapel pin don't convey that.

Shifting gears a little, I'm going to take Supertradmum's thought to another level.  I think that the reason why these nuns dress, act and present themselves the way they do is for one reason.  It is calculated and it is never spoken about.  They are trying to set themselves up as masculine role models within the Church, while still being women.  They dress, they act, and they present themselves as men.  What is the reason that nuns cut their hair?  Practically, it was so it would fit in the veil and accompanying accouterments.  Spiritually, it was to deny secular beauty.  There is no practical reason to cut their hair, yet they do.  Spiritually, it doesn't follow with the shift in dress and abandonment of the habit.  Unless, they are trying to protray themselves as masculine.

If they are trying to portray themselves as masculine, why?  Is it to set up an alternative to the priest?  That has happened in a lot of places.  Is it to present themselves as a mode of authority to be "taken more seriously?"  They tried and succeeded for a number of years, yet as they got older and didn't try to promote vocations, they have become a caricature of what they were attempting.  In short, this was an epic fail.  The nuns undercut themselves at every turn.

Oh they say that the habit doesn't make the nun.  I disagree.  The habit does make the nun.  The habit defines a charism and brings a sense of communal individuality which is unmistakable.  Now, the nuns are mistaken all the time...

What is the point of the nun out of habit?  In my estimation, it is to be in the world and of the world, attempting to do something which needs distinction.  There doesn't need to be a sense of individuality, in the sense that they are trying to express.  The nuns should be able to find their individuality in the charism of their order.  But they should find the very thing which binds them together commonality.  and the most perfect sign of the commonality and individuality is the habit.  Not a pantsuit.  Not short hair.  Not a lapel pin.

Shameless plug:  If you get a free moment, check out her blog Etheldrasplace.  It is a good read.

1 comment:

  1. Barely anything said here is true or even close to the truth. I am Sr. Elizabeth Segleau, SDS. I clearly realize that you are a lay person, looking in from the outside on the life of Nuns and Sisters.

    Since you did not participate in our daily life, especially during the time we had to change out of the habit, you would never hold the understanding or knowledge of why and what we went through. We never consulted the lay about our troubles and hard decisions. As a younger Sister, I had to research it myself, directly from the source. So, I am not expecting you to know and I am not surprised at your comments above. I do invite you to go directly to the source, it is no secret what happened. We just chose not to share or burden anyone with our pain and the suffering that came with it.

    The pain, tears, struggles were accompanied by much dialogue with Rome. That is where the dialogue needed to be kept.
    Some day, some where, some person will have to courage to write about this event that has puzzled the lay for decades. But it shall be written only when we are strong enough, ready enough and don't have to shed too many tears over the pages we shall share some day.

    So I ask for your prayers, understanding and if you are able, for some respect to all consecrated women who have given up their lives to serve God's people.

    God's blessing and strength be with us all.