I’ve been struggling to find topics to right about and also the time to write them, so I’m hoping this blog post will be somewhat interesting and detailed enough. Among the many drafts I’ve started, a few of them are related to the religious life. To be perfectly honest, I don’t have the most clearest idea of where this blog post is headed, but I’m sure it’ll be somewhat interesting anyways!
So, this morning I went to Mass and since our parish is the only one with Mass on Saturday mornings out of six parishes in our city, there’s typically a large crowd reaching almost 150 people. As I was looking around (yes, I get distracted…a lot) I noticed there were three different women religious orders being represented. There was a young Nashville Dominican, four sisters in a blue habit and white veil (I still haven’t figured out their order, but our pastor calls them the “blue sisters”), and several sisters belonging to the Rochester Franciscans. While I was observing these women, I gleefully noticed that the ones in habits were probably half the age of the ones without habits.
Now, to explain why that’s significant to me. For those that do not know, I have been thinking about the religious life since about second grade. After writing about that in an essay, my teacher made me pen-pals with a friend of hers– a Nashville Dominican. This Nashville Dominican’s parents are at the same parish as I am, so every summer I’m able to talk with her while she’s home on a home visit. She was and still is such a vibrant part of my discernment. When I grew a little older, there were several years in which I did not want to take part in any discussion about the religious life. My extended family always liked talking about the religious life and would encourage my cousins and I to discern the religious life or holy orders (for men). So through all that discussion, I did not want to hear them constantly talking about the religious life, and tried to get rid of any thoughts of the religious life.
But, I really couldn’t. I started going to immersion retreats at Mater Redemptoris House of Formation in LaCrosse hosted by Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. For multiple years, I went to the retreats, and every year I left with my heart being a little more open to the religious life. And I do have to say, I admire the FSGM sisters a lot, and think they’re really really awesome.
So now, going back to a more general topic! All the schools I’ve attended have all been influenced by the Rochester Franciscans. As I was recently reflecting on which Sisters had impacted my discernment the most, I realized that I had never once thought about becoming a Rochester Franciscan. Many say that the habit does not make a religious sister, and I would agree…but it is the habit that can be a subtle sign of Christ and His love in the world. Also, I’ve honestly understood why someone wouldn’t want to wear a full habit. I mean, you’re basically proclaiming to the world that you’re married to Christ!! But even if it relates to humility or that’s a reason, there’s something about a religious sister in a habit that makes people revert their thoughts to God, even if just for a small fraction of a second.
On the retreat that I go to with about 10-15 other girls in the summer, one thing we all were looking for in a religious order was that they wore a full habit. As we searched through bins of religious orders, we focused our gaze on those with full habits. In this time and age, it’s harder to outwardly show that you love your faith without the fear of being persecuted. I mean, just a few weeks ago, someone related to me that I could be seen as intimidating to others since I talk about Catholicism and our faith too much. Although at first I thought that made perfect sense, I then realized it didn’t. Why should I be afraid to express my faith? After all, should I deny the wonderful Lord just because I wish to be accepted by everyone? No, because God deserves the best from us and the best does not include being afraid of expressing our faith.
Back to the topic of religious habits, I’ve heard people talk about how LCWR orders are receiving the same amount of vocations as CMSWR orders. But if you take into account that LCWR accounts for about 80% of religious sisters, then the numbers going into each CMSWR order would definitely be higher than those entering LCWR order. There’s got to be a reason why right? One thing for sure, is that the youth of today yearn for the truth. Our world is so filled with lies and innuendos about what happiness really is. It isn’t the material possessions or lustful relationships. That’s why those that realize those things bring about nothing but temporary happiness, try to find the Truth.
So what should anyone take from this entire blog post, mini rant (maybe?) of mine? It’s that young women and girls are thinking of the religious life. But to prevent these people from seeing more “traditional” sisters in their full habits, is something that should never occur. Most people appreciate the full habit because it is such a beautiful sign of a bride of Christ! Also, I don’t mean to be negative of any sort, but to share my experience and perspectives on this. Of course, not all religious sisters in one order or another may share the exact same views.
Also, it was another glimpse at my life and my ongoing discernment process. I would really appreciate all your prayers, and please let me know if I can pray for you! I found out this morning that the parochial vicar at my parish passed away, so prayers would be very helpful once again.