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The Veil We form our heart and soul by exterior means. Right now, Sr. Mary Christa added, there's “confusion”  – over questions such as why some sisters wear habits and some don't – and her hope is that this year marks the start of “a fruitful understanding of religious life in the Church in its most authentic, visible witness.”. We wear the scapular for the same reason that we wear the tunic—namely, as an external sign of our internal union with the tradition of religious life. Under the veil is a white headdress called a coif, which frames the nun’s face. Shoes: Nuns wear plain black footwear. Our veil has a practical use, as well, namely, that it frees us from having to tend to our hair. Even if it seems that lay women sometimes showed some of their hair when they wore a wimple or veil, the hair seen was dressed or braided, not hair flowing freely (which is an important difference with regard to its attractiveness). Fashions changed, but women religious retained the custom of wearing wimples and veils. The prayer for the blessing of the white veil states: “May this veil bless, purify, and sanctify this Thy handmaid, so that her life may be hidden with Christ in God.”[3] We veil ourselves for a similar reason that we wear the wimple: we hide what may attract others to our bodies, so as to emphasize the importance of the “inner man.” The veil serves to protect us: it protects us from drawing unseemly attention to ourselves and it serves as a sign to indicate that we are “not available,” even if the veil is no longer a common symbol indicating that a woman is married. Each type and subtype of garment carries specific connotations. The color of our habit reminds us of the Eucharist, which we adore and receive daily. Extant is an Assyrian law from ca. “But it’s also, I have found, a great responsibility and a reminder to me: the responsibility to be what I show that I am.”. On top of the tunic we wear a scapular. Many members of religious communities wear habits as an outward sign of their consecration to God and their belonging to an order. If we feel uneasy in being somewhere or doing something in a habit, it is a clue that we probably should not be there nor be doing that. Their veil is white, to symbolize purity and chastity. Postulants already wear a “little veil” to indicate their intention to give themselves to God as Sisters. W. hen a reporter recently called me for comment on the Vatican investigation of American women religious, I told him that it was too little too late. Rome, Italy, Dec 26, 2016 / 10:02 am MT (, Pro-life leaders deliver letter to Irish prime minister: Choose Life, Pro-life, religious freedom leaders cheer confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, Pope Francis shoutout to March for Life: 'Every Life is a Gift', Nigerian bishop kidnapped, Catholics pray for his safety, Trump praises St. Thomas Becket as martyr for religious freedom, Man who killed Catholic roommate for praying at hospital to be arraigned on murder, hate crime. Various parts of the habit have several associated meanings that differ according to different beliefs the members have faith in. The Latin word for “suffer” is passio which means “undergoing.” You will note how “undergoing” is receptive: we say “yes” to what comes to us. First, it means that a woman who wears a wimple is not seeking to hide herself totally; she is not seeking to exclude or separate herself from others. Until the 20th century, everyday people would have readily understood the symbolism of the veil. In Rome, a veil called flammeum was the most prominent feature of the costume worn by the bride on the day of her wedding. A group of 17 American pro-life leaders delivered a letter to Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar... Pro-life and religious freedom advocates cheered the Senate’s confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch... As massive crowds of pro-life advocates gathered for the March for Life in Washington, D.C.,... Nun at the prayer vigil for consecrated life in St. Peter's Square , Jan. 28, 2016. Credit: Alexey Gotovskiy/CNA. A habit serves to remind all who see us of God (it cannot but do so) and it reminds us of what a bride of Christ has to be. “The religious habit should say a number of things, both to the sister herself, and to those who see her,” she said, recounting how she is often approached by strangers asking for prayers, who automatically trust her on account of her appearance. © 2020 OnePeterFive, Inc. All rights reserved. Consider that we learn so much more about a person by looking at his or her face than we do by looking at his or her hands or feet. The wimple “forces” someone who meets us to focus on our face, not on our body. They wear a white habit with a white scapular with hood (or black veil for the nuns). Click here to … The form of consecrated life that came first in history—the consecration of virgins within a diocese by the bishop—was symbolized by the reception of the veil. Since, in religious life, we wish to insert ourselves into the tradition begun by the desert Fathers, we use the same name to designate this part of the clothing. Though the official Year for Consecrated Life concluded earlier this year, it's actually “the beginning of helping people get reacquainted with religious life,” said Sr. Mary Christa of the Sisters of Mercy of Alma. Our habit reflects the reality that we are not brides in a worldly sense, but brides of Christ. Women’s strength, even physically, lies not so much in great one-time feats as it does in quiet perseverance. For it was He who directed in detail the building of the tabernacle, telling Moses: “This Dwelling and all its furnishings you shall make exactly according to the pattern that I will now show you” (Ex 25:8–9). 14. “Our apostolates are usually focused around the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which can manifest themselves in many ways.”, Sr. Anna Marie, another sister at the office, adds that “the consecrated life is a sign of his presence on earth.”, “We live our vows so that when people see us, they think of God, and they think of Jesus, and they think of the Church. The short answer is : "Some do, most don't". As part of our particular expression of modesty, we keep our legs wholly covered, even underneath our long habit and the slip under the habit. Our habit is beautiful. The three nuns wearing purple and white habits folded their hands in prayer, held rosaries during the rally, and raised up the Bible as Trump took the stage. We veil a sacred mystery. Even Protestant women typically wore head coverings during church services (a scarf, cap, veil, or hat). We become more fully brides of Christ through the habit of wearing religious garb. 1 Cor 11:15); the symbol of her natural feminine beauty. The scapular hanging down gets in the way when you bend down; it blows into your neighbor’s face when there is a strong wind, etc. Assuming that all of us would dress modestly before entering the convent, I do not think that any of us would dream of covering ourselves head to toe, in quite a few layers at that, in the heat of summer! Nuns’ ‘uniforms’ can come in a variety of colours – black and white attire is the most common, but colourful habits also exist, like in … So, we do not call the main part of our habit a “dress” because it is not a worldly dress. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not have distinct religious orders such as those in the Catholic Church. We have catechetical materials out for the pilgrims, (or) even just a place for them to sit down for a few minutes.”, “Our charism is the mercy of God,” she said. Clothing is much more than protection against the elements. Her face is left free; in fact, the wearing of the wimple draws more attention to the face, since there is nothing else to draw our eye. The history and meaning behind the many colors of religious life. A New Guide for Hymns at Mass, and Other Empty Words, Abortion Wins in Argentina. The habit is, after all, warm. It’s a sign of the love of God and that this life is not all there is. These usually look like long robes or tunics plus a headpiece to cover the hair. A bride ought to look the part! With the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican (Vatican II), the nun's habits were modernized to return to a clothing that better reflected their charitable role, working with the poor and infirm. Each morning when we put on the tunic, the prayer we say reminds us that this is not a worldly dress, but that it is a particularly Christian dress. For human persons, clothing is symbolic: it is a sign of who I am and who I wish to be. Throughout the greater part of history, married women wore head coverings. “It’s a sign of the love of God and that this life is not all there is: that God exists and loves them,” she said. The asceticism of our habit is precisely in its every-day-ness, in our wearing it day and night, no matter the season, no matter our disposition. The feelings surrounding the inquiry are intense, but the stakes are notably small. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need. We might think today of the Mennonites or Amish who still follow such a tradition. Communication is so much more than the exchange of words. 1400–1100 B.C., which states that married women and widows are never to be in public without a veil. The superior shared it with Dr. Kwasniewski and gave him permission to edit it and publish it. Also, it seems that conservative Muslim women, unlike us, do seek to hide themselves in a shapeless cover. Without exception, seeing us makes people think of God.[4]. Chesterton Carol - A New Composition by 1P5's Mark Nowakowski, Archbishop Viganò: An Open Letter Warning President Trump As The Election Approaches. Restoring Catholic Tradition. [1] Session XIV, Decree on Reformation, Chapter 6. Actually, nuns' habits were, originally, not all that much different from the clothes typically worn by poor women at one time. Getting dressed only ever takes a matter of minutes. Anonymous. What does the leaving of the face uncovered mean? What Does a Religious Habit Symbolize? Hi, Nursing sisters (regardless of the normal color of their habits) wear white when they are nursing. There is a stereotype, often perpetuated by TV shows and movies, that assumes religious nuns always wear black habits … Brown habits are common, as are blue and grey. The idea for the wimple is that the woman’s face is visible, but her neck and her head are covered. Rebuilding Catholic Culture. “They recognize that we represent, in some way, God’s presence. Our Catholic tradition includes the custom of veiling whatever is a sacred mystery. “It’s a gift not only for me, but a gift for the whole Church and for the world,” she said. We wish to employ our time and energy in other ways, and the habit is a source of great liberation in that respect. Our formation in religious life is primarily through doing and being. She is not excluding communication with other persons. Our vocation is eschatological: we live already now what all will live in heaven: poor, chaste, and obedient, given directly to Him. “We wear our habit as a sign of consecration and a witness to poverty.”- Constitutions #73. As with the Benedictines, the Dominican habits are only distinguished between male and female by their hood or veiling. can be seen wearing a … In addition to the three vows taken by all religious sisters, the Sisters of Mercy take a fourth vow of service to the poor, sick, and ignorant. When they become novices, they receive the full veil of the religious Sister. In a real sense, our face most fully expresses who we are. The wimple, then, helps us to relate to other human persons in a way that harmonizes very well with our vocation. “There is a long tradition in religious life of wearing a habit as a visible sign that we are consecrated to God and to the service of the Church in a special way,” she said. We will become generous and we will begin to love doing generous deeds. One reason for the wearing of a wimple is the same as the reason for wearing a veil: that of reserving one’s beauty for one’s spouse. Father Sean Kopzcynski says: “Religious play at being at heaven.” We are not in heaven, but we are preparing for it. Fr.Vincent_Serpa July 26, 2012, 8:04pm #2. Rome, Italy, Dec 26, 2016 / 10:02 am MT ().- As Pope Francis' year dedicated to consecrated life concluded at the start of this year, one nun shared her thoughts on the how her religious garb serves as a “visible sign” that God exists and loves every person. Habit: The Sisters wear a royal blue habit and scapular, navy blue veil with white lining, white guimpe and corona, Miraculous Medal on cord around neck, large black rosary at right side on black leather belt, gold ring on third finger of left hand. These sisters consider the habit of the nun to be indicative of the nun’s particular calling to “marry” herself to Christ and live a life of celibacy. Please help us to meet our expenses by donating today! Their salaries are deposited directly into the order’s coffers and they are issued a monthly stipend […] [2] Part of this section was first published at Rorate Caeli as “A Religious Superior Reflects on Wimples—and on the Current Masquerade.”. For instance, many orders of nuns wear some form of girdle, be it a belt, a cord, or a cincture. But after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, many religious communities made the habit optional, limited … The Ark of the Commandments you shall bring inside, behind that veil which divides the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies” (Ex 26:31–33). The word “tunic” was used to describe the dress of ancient Greeks and Romans. Yet we choose to use words which are distinct from words in the world, in order to make clear that our clothing is unlike clothing in the world. 55). My older sister and I at ages 7 and fresh out of the womb! It is appropriate that it be such, for we are brides of Christ. Terminally-Ill Priest Warns: COVID Is Being Used by the Enemy to Drag Souls to Hell; We Must Fight! The veil is a sign of the mystery of our vocation; the sign of the sacredness of our being given to Christ. The habit is bestowed in degrees, as the monk or nun advances in the spiritual life. Many colors of religious life is not a worldly dress the picture carries no caption, other... Desire to be generous, we 'll send you a daily email with links to the you! Tweet about it is simple, so we don ’ t buy a big wardrobe. ” we! A way that harmonizes very well with our vocation ; why do nuns wear habits sign of the Eucharist, which States married! 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