Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Behold the Dominican nuns pictured above.   We cannot see their faces, but we are instantly attracted to and fascinated by them.  And we all know why.  IT'S THE HABITS.

Nuns wearing habits are beautiful, enchanting and wonderful.  They are a bold rebuke to a corrupt society hypnotized by its own vanity.  They are a mystery.  Those habits are an invitation to God.  They preach to us.  They say, "I have something deeper that gives my life meaning and I don't need or want all that other stuff."

And nuns in habits almost always look happy.  Very happy. 

If you've ever moved to a new parish and been surprised to find that the older woman in the polyester pants suit sitting near the front every week was really Sister Pat, welcome to the club.

Why do nuns need to see hair stylists?  Why must they suffer the indignities of scanning the selections at Lane Bryant and Woman's World?  Does it bespeak their vows of poverty when they have to find just the right earrings or necklaces?  Do nuns really need makeup?  Does it show fidelity to the Church when their clothing is a product of the same modern world that has given us bikinis, breast implants and birth control pills?  

Does it convince the laity that a woman has renounced all personal vanity when she has to look "smart"?  Can the average layperson believe this is a woman "set apart" for God when she looks like everyone else?

Oh, we've all heard the arguments against habits:  

Many of these nuns work in the world, and habits just won't fit in.  Nuns in habits are not "approachable".  We need to make sure that the laity can see that nuns are real people just like you and me.


Of course nuns are real people!  Do you think those are martians in those habits?  There is no more approachable person you will find than a Catholic nun.  And, for the record, nuns are not "just like you and me."  They are ladies set apart, spouses to Our Savior, immersed in love and service.

Are you still not convinced?

All right then.  Here are 10 reasons why nuns should wear habits:


Sister Joan Chittester


Sister Jeanine Gramick


Sister Patricia Cruise


Sister Margaret Mary McBride


Sister Donna Quinn, OP


Sister Camille D'Arienzo


Sister Elizabeth Johnson


Sister Carol Keehan


Sister Barbara Reid, OP


Sister Mary Ann Hinsdale

And for all you "But what about Vatican II?" folks:

"The religious habit, an outward mark of consecration to God, should be simple and modest, poor and at the same becoming. In addition it must meet the requirements of health and be suited to the circumstances of time and place and to the needs of the ministry involved. The habits of both men and women religious which do not conform to these norms must be changed."

-Perfectae Caritatis 
 Vatican II Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life 

The key word here is "changed".  It doesn't say "eliminated".

Do you know of any religious orders without habits that are "renewed"?  

Finally, just in case you've missed the obvious, there's an eleventh reason nuns should wear habits:  They look more feminine.  Definitely.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet choose one of their own for a complete wardrobe update 
and makeover on TLC's 
What Not To Wear 


  1. How absolutely rude of you.

    1. But, it does provide clarity.

    2. The author is only responsible for what he says, not what YOU hear!

    3. Truth hurts, because it brings change and growth.One should never be ashamed to look like a female if Jesus gave you female chromosomes, you should celebrate His will for you and not pout that you were not made a man. If you pray "thy will be done" not "my will be done" Then be the best female you can be no matter how hard it is. Pope John Paul II insisted that habits allow us" to see Jesus working in the streets"...what a beautiful thought! I'm so tired of nuns pointing to a tiny badge and calling that their "habit" what a deceit! On the flip side: The nuns at my high school now wear lipstick...what would their spouse Jesus say? Who are they trying to attract?

  2. What a fantastic post! Hip Hip Hooooray for REAL nuns

  3. I absolutely agree even more than 100%. Either wear the habit or get out which seems to be what they want when they go civilian.

  4. I fail to see anything wrong with the ten nuns you have depicted not wearing traditional habits.What exactly is your point?Are you inferring that somehow those nuns wearing habits are more reverential or sincere?
    Both the nuns wearing traditional habits and those who are not, look equally happy modest and feminine to me.

    1. That's not true, they look like men. God gave them female chromosomes...the Prayer says "thy will be done, not MY will be done...who's will are they representing when they encourage others to go against God's perfect design for them? Nobody said it would be EASY, but Jesus promised it would be WORTH the effort!

  5. Could I refer you to a good optometrist?

  6. Er, I forgot to answer your question. No, I am not inferring that somehow those nuns wearing habits are more reverential and sincere. I am openly proclaiming it.

  7. Ever here the old saying you can't judge a book by its cover?How on earth can you proclaim that the nuns wearing habits are more reverential and sincere, can you somehow see into their hearts?Can you discern their thoughts?I know I certainly can't so I will leave it up to god our father to judge their sincerity and fidelity to him.

  8. Why do Priests wear black? Because they are apart from ths world. They have died to themselves and dedicated their lives to serve Christ. So for Nuns they too have been set aside by the Lord to serve him and lead those around them to the Lord to help save souls. This orders that wear the habit and live like nuns did before Vatican Council 2 are drawing in many single young ladies to join their order. Those who do not wear the habit and/or typical nuns clothing are all growing old with very few if any new vocations to sustain their order. If an order looks and acts like it is part of day to day society in its dress and mannerisms then it's future appears to be at risk based on current research and observations.

  9. Anon: Yes, let us leave it to God to judge these nuns. And let us leave it to ourselves to discern. Let us use our rational minds to separate the sheep from the wolves. He who has ears, let him hear. Run the names of some of these nuns on the internet. Read about them. What will you find? Dissent from the Magisterium. Clashes with the Vatican. Authorizing abortions at "Catholic" hospitals. Support for health insurance plans that will fund abortions and lead to rationing. "Non-profit" service with big salaries and expense accounts. Skating beyond the fringes of orthodoxy. A persistent misreading of Vatican II as a rupture with Tradition. And more.

    God indeed will judge us all and may He show us mercy. And may we not say to Him that we did not use the common sense He gave us.

  10. Great post! Pure common sense. The best proof for your argument is simply that it works, it fosters vocations. What say you to that Anonymous?

  11. This is so absolutely rude and judgmental. With respect Father and blog author, I would most certainly NOT agree that wearing habits foster vocations. That is your opinion. Your personal preference. Who are you to say to another person as to whether or not their own personal vocation, given to them by God (not you), involves wearing a habit or not? Nobody. We cannot expect to foster vocations when the church is full of hypocritical, hateful, and judgmental people, and I include myself among them. If you are worried about vocations, try starting by noticing the beam in your own eye instead of the splinter in the eye of others. Lord, have mercy.

    1. Amelia,

      I am glad that you have enough integrity to include yourself among all of the "hypocritical, hateful, and judgmental people" in the Church

  12. Dear Amelia:

    I don't expect you to agree that wearing habits fosters vocations, but a cold hard look at the numbers might be more convincing. The habited orders have not suffered anything near the devastation and loss of the orders that have abandoned them, orders that are certainly headed for extinction.

    Who am I to say whether a nun's vocation should involve wearing a habit? I am merely another Catholic, one who looks at the Church through a lens that recognizes we are living in a mere blip on the timeline that stretches more than 2000 years. Until the late 1960's, the very notion of nuns without habits would have been laughable. The Catholic Church does not conform herself to the ages, but is a reflection of God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. What you deem as a mere personal opinion is an observation based on the reality of the decline of women's religious orders and the awareness of Church history.

    Pope John Paul II of venerable memory asked all religious to wear their habits as a sign to the world. To remember his words and connect the dots, it doesn't take a genius to see that one cannot be a sign to the world by trying to blend in with the world.

    Do habits automatically make an order better? I doubt it. However, orders that have the loyalty and courage to wear habits reflect something else that the "nuns" in polyester pant suits do not: A sense of submission to God and His authority on earth, the Catholic Church. Many of the nuns pictured above have records that speak for themselves, a self-destructive obsession with feminism, "rights", sexual "liberation", bureaucratic social services as the only means of "peace and justice" and worse.

    I do not think you are hypocritical, hateful, judgmental. And I certainly am aware that there are some huge beams in my eye. I think perhaps we can all get some of our beams out if we make the effort, like good St. Francis, of rebuilding the Church. Some of the beams in our eyes come from its collapse after Vatican II and the misimplementation of it by some of the "experts" pictured above. You just have some strong opinions and I am glad you have shared them with us.

  13. I love this post.

    Having seen it once, the image of woman in a habit is enough to keep me chaste. Before habits re-appeared I had no consideration for women. The habit pointed to what would be obvious had there not been Original Sin. Every woman is my sister.

    True story.

    1. Wow...I already loved habits, but your post is truly inspiring! God bless your heart for posting this!!!

  14. Thank you for contrasting post-conciliar religious sisters with those of yesteryear. How sorrowful that there are brides of Christ contemptuous of the one true Faith; devoid of any profound sense of the sacred. You're quite right in noting that this scandalous attitude is signified by their mode of dress. Shedding their beautiful and traditional habits for wardress uniforms. Disgraceful! We can take solace, however, in knowing that these rebel lairs are dying out, while traditional communities are thriving. Deo gratias!

  15. Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ, Is it possible that the other "anonymous" is a non-habited sister, or the relative of one? I am a former Anglican nun/sister who wore a very traditional habit. Having become Roman Catholic I am communicating with different orders, to find a new community. I cannot consider a non-habited order. So many times strangers have come up to me in: the grocery store, airport, on the street, in hospitals, libraries, anywhere...requesting prayer. The habit is not worn to imply that I (or any sister) is somehow holier than another relgious in secular clothing. It simply says to people, "I'm open for business. Please come to me if you need encouragement. I'd be happy to talk to you, or listen to you, or give you a hug." Once in an airport a women in the security line asked me for my crucifix. It was the symbol of our order, so I hesitated, but after giving it to her, she wept in gratitude. These are precious, teachable moments. It's difficult to imagine that a businessman with a lap top would talk with me about his dying mother, if I were clad in a skirted suit. And I confess it reminds me to smile even when really fatigued, or to treat a rude comment with gentility. Of course I should do it anyway, but it's great to have to live up to your clothes! After I have been accepted by a new order I'll post again with my real name. blessings - a sister in waiting.

  16. I so miss seeing Nuns in habits. When they'd pass by, the world stopped for a few moments and we were reminded of what truly matters. It was as if God passed by. I miss those lovely times.

    1. Very well put. I miss seeing the nuns in habits. I am episcopalian but would never hesitate to approach a nun in a habit for a prayer. It always gave me a special feeling of peace to just see them and know of their presence. I also think the decay of public behavior would be less of the general public had frequent reminders of faith

  17. I am an Orthodox Nun, (Oriental Orthodox Church). The Eastern Orthodx and Oriental Orthodox do not have orders as is common in the church of Rome. We all wear "habits" or monastic clothings. When I see a Roman Catholic sister in her habit, I feel a kinship to her. However when I see one in a knee length skirt and wearing makeup and jewelry, I do wonder why they call themselves nuns instead of just being a good Christian in their church, helpimg that way. I mean it appears to me that they are not ready to leave the things of the world, and are attempting to serve two masters. For us Orthodox nuns, our monastic clothes are reminders to ourselves and the world of our vows and it is our shield. We would never dream of going without it. It is my second skin. Like the Anonymous nun above, I too am reminded to smile even in unpleasant situations, such as getting a intimate "pat down" by the TSA and in other not nice situations. It is because of my monastic dress, why old ladies in the super market, young people, men and women feel comfortable enough to approach me and tell me their problems and ask for prayers. ~ I do feel pleased when I walk into a place and you can feel the people become at ease and I know that it's not because of my sinful self, but it is because maybe for one moment they're reminded of God and His Love for them. I by myself is nothing, but my monastic clothes is an outward sign of my commitment to leave everything and follow Christ. Please Pray for us and all my brothers and sisters in Christ. God Bless You all.

  18. Thank God for the nuns that wear habits.

  19. Correction:
    The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles are not in Kansas. They are in the Diocese of Kansas City/Saint Joseph - which is in Missouri.
    Great piece!

  20. Thanks for the correction, Father.