May 30, 2016

Why I wear the habit – a nun’s reflection on religious life

By Ann Schneible

Rome, Italy, May 6, 2016 / 12:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).

As Pope Francis’ year dedicated to consecrated life comes to a close, one nun shared her thoughts on the how her religious garb serves as a “visible sign” that God exists and loves every person.

Though the official Year for Consecrated Life just concluded, it’s actually “the beginning of helping people get reacquainted with religious life,” said Sr. Mary Christa of the Sisters of Mercy of Alma.

She said that while there are those who have a general idea about religious sisters, there’s still a degree of uncertainty on the part of many about what religious life looks like.

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.”

The Year for Consecrated Life, which began Nov. 30, 2014, concluded Feb. 2 on the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus.

Sr. Mary Christa, who also runs U.S. bishops’ visitor’s office in Rome with several other Sisters of Mercy, called the habit of a religious sister an important part of being a witness.

“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.

“The habit is a visible sign of the love of God,” she said. “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.”

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