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Religious habits..good or bad habit

Updated: Apr 22

On Religious habits, Levi jeans and cassocks

The way we dress says a lot about who we are or rather what we think we are. As teenagers we can become obsessed about our appearance and try to create a style. When I was a teenager, my style was to dress in clothes that would have been the norm in the 1930’s. That was my style at the time. I never wore jeans!

In the time of the renaissance people dressed according to their profession and there were actually rules of dress and colour. Thus, a tailor could not dress like a merchant or a professor. A doctor could not dress like a printer and so forth. There were even penalties for violating the code. This was in part to present an order in society.

I attend a traditional Roman Catholic FSSP parish. The priests wear cassocks. It is interesting that when I speak with them, I know who they are and who they represent namely Christ. While I have a good foundation in theology and philosophy speaking with them engenders in me deference and respect. Their dress is a clear reminder to me of their vocation and calling.  The same is true when I speak to a religious who wears a habit. Whether they are monks, or nuns I know who they are and who they represent.

When I go to church, I do not wear Levi jeans or sweatpants. I know why I am there and whose house it is. In a small way, what I wear represents who I am but more importantly the God whom I worship.

What we wear, how we dress and behave advertises to those around whom we serve. I believe priests should wear cassocks; nuns should wear a habit. It is a clear sign, a witness and a testimony to their calling.

There has been a sad trend recently where priests do not wear clerics or cassocks while in public. Nuns have given up the habit and wear polyester pant suits. Why? Are they ashamed of Christ? Are they ashamed or embarrassed of a reaction they will receive? Our Lord admonishes us not to be ashamed of Him. I am not saying that a religious habit needs to have an LED sign saying ‘come here and be saved’ but a simple cassock, or habit sets them apart from the rest of us, with good reason.


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