DAILY CATHOLIC for November 28-30
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vol, 8
no. 41

Kicking the habit wasn't the answer!
          St. Paul encourages us all to garb ourselves in the garments of faith, hope and love in his epistles. He also uses the imagery of battle plates to prepare us as members of the Church Militant in Romans 3: 12 where he tells us to cast away the darkness by donning the armor of light; in 2 Corinthians 6: 7 he advises we vest in the armor of justice. In Colossians he describes the vestments of virtue which is reflected upon in today’s reflections in "Come Unto Me". It is probably Ephesians 6: 13-17 where he carries this simile of battle garb to full vesture. "Therefore take up the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of justice, and having your feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace, in all things taking up the shield of faith, with which you may be able to quench all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, that is, the word of God." This passage has long been the benchmark of how to gird ourselves for battle against the powers of darkness. With these excellent instructions, why would we want to divest ourselves of such a wonderful wardrobe of Christian perfection?

         But that is what hundreds of thousands of nuns have done over the past thirty years. They have shucked these wonderful garments which protected them and allowed them to wear the evangelical counsels well. Now they are out there naked so-to-speak in the world, without these garments of identification and edification. They are prey for the wiles of satan and have played right into his hands by divesting themselves of their armor by taking off the veil and habit. In place of the long-flowing garments that were good enough for St. Scholastica, St. Claire, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Bridget, St. Catherine Laboure, St. Therese of Lisieux, Mother Seton, Blessed Faustina, Mother Teresa, Mother Angelica and many other loyal sisters today whose orders have not been tarnished by the modernists’ agenda, countless orders and their members shortened the skirts to show legs, streamlined the veils to show hair. From there it was only a short step to make-up, hairdoes, jewelry, high-heels and what-not. After awhile, why even wear a "uniform?" So they chucked the modern modified habits for whatever they wanted to wear. Simultaneously vocations to the religious life, especially in America, dropped drastically. We wonder why?

          Don’t know about you, but this editor finds it very, very difficult to address a woman as "Sister" and show the same respect for that calling to such a special way of life when you can’t tell the difference between her and the woman in the mall! To this editor the title "Father" and "Sister" has always been a great sign of respect and reverence for the total commitment that person had taken for God. To ensure that commitment, priests and nuns should purposely stand out from all others as an example to all. The only way to identify them is naturally by their garb - their uniform of the cloth. Though there are many priests who opt to be "one of the boys" rather than a role model, there are many more who pride themselves in wearing the Roman collar as an immediate identification tool for evangelizing to Catholic and non-Catholic alike. The uniform of the cloth represents their total commitment; it warns others to be on their best behavior; it alerts all that a special respect is expected for a man or woman of the cloth. You can’t demand respect, you earn it. And through the centuries, priests and nuns have earned it because of their commitment to the cause of Holy Mother Church. But today there are so few nuns visible. Most of the orders who have maintained the traditional habit are contemplative, cloistered orders that have not been tarnished by the lure of the world. But many teaching orders, the ones who taught us in our formative parochial years, have died off because of age and because of modernism. Convents are collecting cobwebs or being transformed into storage sheds. The modern convent is an apartment with TV’s, all the conveniences of technology and no thought whatsoever for contemplative silence at all. The cacaphony of the world drowns out their resolve to truly commit to the Evangelical counsels and, void of the armor they had shed it is easier to let their guard down. They are more susceptible to the trappings of satan. As the years go by, the world gains and God loses as vocations shrink. Why? Because there are few role models to look up to…let alone know who’s who!

         We bring this up today because in the Daily Synod Synopsis page there’s a story about two nuns who addressed the Synod a few days ago. One took the podium demanding, the other took the podium beseeching; one boasted, the other spoke humbly; one was dressed as any other woman, the other looked like a nun; one was politely excused, the other loudly applauded. Thank God, the majority of the bishops at the Synod aren’t going to be hoodwinked. Despite the presence of a few liberal American prelates, wiser, more reverent voices among the bishops are being heard including Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver who is making a strong presence at this Synod of the Americas.

         But the attempt by one nun representing a modern, "we-want" organiztion to brow-beat the bishops is a microcosm of what is happening in the Church today as the polarization continues between the liberals who cry for democracy and equality, denigrating any who strive to fulfill God’s Holy Will, and the traditional conservatives who remain loyal to the Magisterium and all the teachings of Holy Mother Church. Almost in every parish there are nuns who you couldn’t tell from the next woman until they remind us to call them "Sister." But do they mean "Sister" as a sign of respect for the calling they have undertaken in becoming a Bride of Christ, or do they mean "sister" in the overall sisterhood of the feminist agenda? You can often tell by what they’re wearing. There is a saying, "clothes make the woman!" The saints and fathers of the Church knew what they were doing in outfitting the religious - setting them apart in garb that told all they had denounced satan and all his pomps. But today, that pomp has been pumped up by the unbelievable logic of militant radicals who don’t realize how much they’re aiding and abetting the enemy. When this editor sees a nun who looks like a nun, the immediate thought is "Thank God." Conversely, when encountering the denuded modern sister, the natural response is "Oh, God!"

         When historians look back on this era what will they discover? What will they say? We wouldn’t be surprised if they exclaimed, "What were they thinking?!?" since, after all, we've all discovered over the past thirty years that kicking the habit wasn't the answer!

Michael Cain, editor

November 28-30, 1997       volume 8, no. 41
Catholic Pewpoint Editorial



November 1997