The Epistle of Paul to the Colossians: (3:12-17) is the perfect designer outfit for all who proclaim Christ as Lord, God and Savior, the Only-Begotten Son of God.
Forget todayís fashion statements, designers, those of the past, those yet to come. If we put on the design created for us by God, then we would have no fear of, nor danger from, immoral fashions at any stage of our lives; in this epistle Paul tells us, as he told the Colossians to "clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect." He goes on, a little later, to state: "In wisdom made perfect, instruct and admonish one another."
Oh, if we could see how off the mark we are in our lives, for we are not clothed in this manner and do not consider it very important. What Paul speaks of in the beginning of this epistle are the Eight Beatitudes, the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, the Two Great Commandments. This is how we are to be clothed, and all of the above are wrapped up in love. Not human love, mind you. Divine love, which is God, comes from Him, and abides in us.
Look again at the line "In wisdom made perfect admonish one another." Ah! Wisdom, the pearl of great price. Wisdom made perfect! Do we make it perfect by exercising our supposed wisdom? Or, does God perfect Wisdom, which is His to give, by the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit day in, day out, one moment at a time.
You see, were we all to clothe ourselves in Christís design, as explained by Paul, then Wisdom would be the thread that held our clothing together, and this Wisdom would continue to be perfected, strengthened by the Holy Spiritís action upon us, so that never would we seek to be judgmental, uncharitable, or the like. In turn, were any of us to be admonished in the manner described by Christ, explained by Paul, we would not turn a deaf ear, nor would we turn defensive. Rather, we would humbly seek to amend our fault, so that our garments were always in compliance with Christís Light, Way, Truth, Love and Mercy.
Weíve just completed the national holiday we call Thanksgiving. Now, we turn toward Advent. What better way to thank God and to prepare for the coming feast of Christís Birth, then by putting on the garments that God wishes to clothe us in, to perfect us in them, so as to bring forth His light in us to all whom we meet.
Then there would be peace - His peace. Then there would be unity - His unity. Then we would have Heaven on earth!
Our fourth "bone to pick" with dissenters is on the misconception that Vatican II made wide-ranging changes encouraging and authorizing through the documents that religious, especially nuns, were to strive to be more modern and thus modernize the habit, even discard it in favor of the lay uniform to foster more of an ecumenical role. Wrong! In fact, Vatican II said very little about habits and wearing apparel of religious. The mandate did not come from Rome but was insidiously planted by liberal bishops and heads of orders who wanted to modernize on their own and used Vatican II as an excuse to forge their agenda on their fellow religious. The interesting fact today is that those orders who maintained their traditions in rule and habit, are still thriving, while those who forsook their garments of God for the modern apparel are on life-support. Below are the few paragraphs on this subject, taken from VATICAN COUNCIL II, VOLUME I, Conciliar and Postconciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company, page 621 on the Decree on the up-to-date renewal of Religious lifePerfectae Caritatis, October 28, 1965.
The following is taken from VATICAN COUNCIL II, VOLUME II, More Postconciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company, page 198 on Acts of Special Chapters S.C.R.S.I. Par une lettre, July 10, 1972.
To strengthen Vatican II's resolve not to change anything regarding the habits, we cite the Code of Canon Law below:
During their interventions at the Synod, American Sisters Mary Bernard Nettle, LSP and Mary Waskowiak, RSM provided a clear illustration of the differences that separate their organizations: the newly created Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR) and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) respectively.
Both nuns are attending the Synod as auditors, each as presidents of her organization of women religious.
Sister Waskowiak, from the LCWR, began her intervention by recalling that the organization she heads was created 41 years ago and "comprises 94 precent of the 83,400 women religious in the United States." She called for a more prominent place for women in the ecclesial structure, demanding an "appropriate mechanism to separate jurisdiction from ordination so that the non-ordained, particularly women, may participate in decision-making processes" within Church areas relevant to them. Further embellishing her desire for a diffusion of ecclesial authority, she also suggested the creation of a inter-American organization composed of bishops, religious, and lay people dedicated to "implementing the desires of the Synod."
In her turn, Sister Nettle, head of the CMSWR, representing some 60 women's congregations, highlighted the need for each order to remain faithful to its own charism, and concentrated on describing one of her congregations, the Little Sisters of the Poor. She reminded the assembly that the "elderly must be protected from suicide and euthanasia," and that "accompanying the elderly on their journey towards the kingdom means leading them to pray for themselves and others, affording them the benefits of the Sacraments, and with their families, assisting them in their dying."
Sister Nettle, with her more strongly traditional exposition of the role of religious life, won significantly warmer applause from the assembly of bishops.
According to the Vatican's Congregation for the Religious, the United States is the only country in America with two official women religious organizations. The Pontifical approval of the CMSWR-- a response to the special crisis facing women's religious orders in the United States-- was granted by the Vatican four years ago. Although it now represents about 7 percent of women's religious institutes, the CMSWR is growing rapidly, unlike the LCWR; the congregations belonging to the CMSWR account for about 35 percent of the total of new religious vocations in the US.
Although the many different women religious participating in the Synod represent different currents of religious thought in the Continent and recognized the Holy Father's exhortation to promote the "female gender," none brought up the theme of the possibility of priestly ordination of women. On the contrary, they noted that they themselves must demonstrate by their work the vast field of action that they are called to occupy within the Church.
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 modernistsí 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?
Donít 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 canít 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 canít 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 TVís, 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 toÖlet alone know whoís who!
We bring this up today because in the Daily Synod Synopsis page thereís 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 arenít 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 Godís 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 couldnít 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 theyíre 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 donít realize how much theyíre 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 wouldnít 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!