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Why Habits?

The months of January and February seem to be especially heavy times for Catholic Schools to focus on Vocations. Perhaps the Day of Consecrated Life that is celebrated often on the Feast of the Presentation, February 2, has something to do with it. As I student teach this semester and move away from the college setting and into the classroom, the opportunity to reach out into the community and participate in vocation awareness has presented itself.

An old classmate from college called me up to come talk to her second graders about what it’s like to be a sister. They were especially cute. One of the last three “questions” that I received was “This is really cool!” I agree it sounds more like a statement than an actual question, but with second graders what can you expect. (I especially enjoyed the stack of homemade cards that came pouring my way as a result of that particular vocation talk. One student even went so far to give me her phone number to call when I wasn’t doing anything. I don’t think I explained what a day in the life of a sister was like!) One of the most powerful questions that I received with the second graders and later when talking to high school students, however, was about the habit.

Why? Why wear a habit? What is it for? Some students ask me outright, and some students and adults try to finagle the answer through back door questions, but to most people in today’s world the idea remains a foreign mystery to be solved. In my high school student teaching experience I have received a chance to share a lot about religious life with the faculty and staff. I am the only religious sister of my community at this school, joined by one other sister in her eighties from a different community. That raises a lot of questions, right there, about who exactly the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George are. Perhaps being a 24 year old sister and being the youngest faculty member on staff has something to do with it too. It has raised questions in the inquiring minds of my students as well. I am obviously doing something radical and or extremely strange in their eyes.

“Why do you where a habit?” Because I am a Bride of Christ. I was amazed at the ready acceptance from my students with this simple yet profound reason. My class of sophomore and junior girls exclaimed with understanding as it hit them full force. “That’s why you wear a veil, just like a bride!” one student in particular explained. Yes, that’s why I wear a veil and simple garment, because I am a bride of the poor, chaste, obedient one, Jesus Christ. It makes so much sense now! That’s why I wear it everyday, because there is not a moment or time when I cease to be that Bride of Christ. It serves as a constant reminder to me and my students of the purpose of my life. I am to be a bride. Thanks to vocation days, many other people now understand why I wear my habit as well.

- submitted by Sister Mary George Brown


Anonymous said…
My former babysitter(current Sister of Life) tells non-Catholics that her habit is a public reminder to herself of the commitment she has made.

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