Sunday, October 14, 2007

What's Out? Lay clothes. What's In?: Clerical Garb and Habits

On the vocations front, I've been following something for the last two years: Traditional clerical garb and religious habits are making a comeback. Here's more evidence found among the many comments in this thread at the blog of Fr. Z:

I have a friend who is a seminarian in Rome who belongs to a newer religious Order called the “Servants of Mary Immaculate”. They wear their particilar habit, which is just a Roman cassock with a royal blue cord around the waist, 15 decade rosary, and shoulder cape with an embrodered Immaculate Heart image on the left side. They also wear saturnos (Roman platter hats).

There are not many of seminarians for the Order in Rome, only about 20-30, but then again, it’s a relatively new Order. But my friend said that in the last 2 years He’s been studying in Rome (but He’s been in the Order in Italy for 5 years),
he’s seen a perceptable visible change in the number of religious wearing habits (both men and women).

It’s a growing trend to see more habits, cassocks, soutanes on the streets. And even the wearing of the saturnos by some seminarians. And even some wearing the national cassocks (particularly on the streets of Rome on Sundays) of their Pontifical Seminaries. He said that there are dozens of Orders of sisters wearing habits he’s never seen before, and in the old fashioned “1950’s” style habit, a la Audrey Hepburn in “The Nuns’s Story”, not the typical little short grey, brown white or beige skirt and small veil like most communities wore for the last 35+ years.

He’s seen Franciscan Friars of new branches of the Order in ahbit (two new communities), Dominicans, and Trinitarians all in habit in seminary and on the streets of Rome. The only seminarians who still cling to layclothes are some of the Pontifical seminaries and universities, the Gregorian UNiversity (unfortunatly). The only groups of seminarians who never ever wear clericals apparently are the very few Jesuit, Salesian, and some diosecean seminarians. The “dying” policy against wearing habits and cassocks is mainly from the liberal Orders. The Legionaries of Christ are all over Rome in cassock, as are the OPus Dei seminarians. Also the INstitute of Christ the King.

My friend said He’s seen the liberal Orders of nuns still hanging around in layclothes, but they are all very aged women in their 70’s, while the nuns who wear the conservative or even old fashioned “1950’s” habits are much younger. He was surprised that some groups of traditionally habited nuns He’s seen in St. Peter’s Square and other Churches are hardly more than girls just in their 20’s, compared to the liberal nuns in their 70’s and older. What a contrast.

My friend said that it’s a statement on two different images of the Church. One is the “dying” image of the Church…the rad progressives of the 1960’s which discarded everything (including the TLM). The other is the reborn Catholic Church, which is the Church of tradition, of John Paul II , Benedict XVI, and Summorum Pontificum.
You’d have to see the e-mails and booklets he’s sent me to prove His point, but from the hundreds of photos and films He’s sent me over the last few years, it’s quite a contrast between two interpretations of the Church.

Source comment

I've been saying this for two year now. Then again, in the Detroit area we have "recognizable sisters" in Sisters of the Holy Cross (ORC) at Grotto, as well as through orders like the Dominicans Sisters - Mary Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor. We see the youthfulness of those choosing the habits.

I also still have a belief that the surge of vocations taking place in cloisters, like that of Mother Angelica's order, is much like the way the military soften's the target by sending in artillery ahead of troops. Their prayers and sacrifices are preparing the Church for less ambiguous times ahead, and I believe the fruit of that work will be more orthodox priests and sisters in parishes where we so desperately need them.

The cassocks are coming! The cassocks are coming!!!

Are you seeing a trend in this direction in your area? Tell us about it.

Te Deum Laudamus! Home


Moniales said...

Yes! We are! We have 4 in the novitiate and my calendar is filled with appointments of young women coming to inquire, and hopefully make aspirancies, not to mention the many I correspond with via email, even as far away as Australia!
God is so good!

The habit is SO important but I do think we have to be careful not to look at women religous who are wearing the coif as "more" religious or "better" religious than those who don't. It takes more than the style of veil to have a fervent, holy, HEALTHY religious community.

If you go to our blog you can see our new vocation video. Please forgive the homemade look!

Diane K said...

You are so right, Sister about how we look at women religious who wear the habit.

I'd also like to point out that that in many communities which went the way of secular clothing, are quiet nuns who - likely out of humility and obedience, eased up on the habit when the community dressed down. I can imagine that many a good sister suffered through these times.

And, I know that there are nuns in street clothes who work tirelessly in hospitals and with the poor. The habit doesn't drive virtue, it's what is inside the habit or street clothes.

However, I am a staunch advocate of clerical and religous order garb and I am glad to see it making a comeback. It gives the Church visibility, while making life simple for those wearing them. There is no need to spend money with the changing seasons to keep in style, to get hair-do's, etc.

I will check your video soon and post on it!

Prayers for the vocations coming your way.

Moniales said...

I'm sorry; I wasn't clear. I wasn't talking about the issue of wearing the habit or not but about wearing what some call the "full veil" or the "modified veil". Lately, there seems to be a trend toward judging a religious community based on the STYLE of their veil. We wear the full habit (always have) but our veil has been simplified although we don't show our hair and are not planning to!
I'm in total agreement with you about the importance of the religious habit. It is a sign FIRST to the one wearing it of taking on a life of conversio.
I really love your blog, btw!

Diane K said...

I see what you are saying now. Yes, I have seen examples of this out there and we need to be careful of how we perceive sisters based on style of habit or veil.

I use Mother Angelica as a perfect example. I had no less admiration for her when her habit was short and her veil simple, as opposed to now. The Mother of today is still the Mother of yesterday. I respect her decision to bring back the more full habit, but in no way does this diminish the many who wear various forms of modified habits. A habit at all, is a sign in itself.