Franciscan Footprints

Why the Habit? Part 2

The Meaning Behind Our Habit

Our Religious habit is a visible sign and can be an instrument God can use to draw others closer to Himself.  Here is an explanation of the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis' habit.

Tau Cross in the HabitReligious Habit – When we extend our arms horizontally, we present the image of the Tau Cross.  (On our model here, to the right, the sleeves are more fitted than on our actual habit.  Typically, the width of the sleeve is wider, to show the horizontal piece of the cross.  Actually, I think our model has stiff shoulders, too, and really just wants to play airplane!)  The reason for Francis’ devotion to the sign of the “Tau Cross” can be traced to Ezekiel 9:4 where it became the sign of conversion.  The very shape of the letter “T” reminded Francis of his Crucified Lord.  Francis signed himself with the Tau of penance.  “Your Franciscan religious habit is a symbol of the cross of Christ on which He redeemed the world.  As you wear the habit, be attentive to always give witness to the power of His redemptive love to the world.”  As we put the habit on each morning, we pray, “I will clothe myself with the garment of penance and joy for sacrifice is the language of love.”

Read more: Why the Habit? Part 2

Do Religious Sisters Have Fun?

bowls of freshly picked cherriesOf course, we do!  We even add it into our schedule!  Recreation varies from community to community and house to house.  It also depends on the time of year, age of the Sisters and what’s available.

Throughout history, monks, nuns, sisters and priests have found time for recreation.  The activities during recreation have changed over the centuries, certainly, but the purpose is the same: to recharge your body and mind the necessary amount.  We must not forget God’s view of work, and that there is a need for balance in our lives, too. Saint Francis de Sales, in The Introduction to the Devout Life, reminds us:

Read more: Do Religious Sisters Have Fun?

Why the Habit? Part 1

That’s a big question – so let’s get some background out of the way.
There’s a lot said (mostly opinions on blogs) about whether religious (men or women) should wear a habit or not.  You have internet articles like Why Nuns Should Wear HabitsWhat Color is Your Habit?, For These Young Nuns, Habits are the New Radical, and then you get into the history of the habit, like the 2005 book The Habit: A History of Clothing of Catholic Nuns.

In St John Paul II’s, Vita Consecrata he speaks to the matter here:
"… The Church must always seek to make her presence visible in everyday life, especially in contemporary culture, which is often very secularized and yet sensitive to the language of signs. In this regard the Church has a right to expect a significant contribution from consecrated persons, called as they are in every situation to bear clear witness that they belong to Christ.
Since the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family, I join the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit, suitably adapted to the conditions of time and place.

  • Where valid reasons of their apostolate call for it, Religious, in conformity with the norms of their Institute, may also dress in a simple and modest manner, with an appropriate symbol, in such a way that their consecration is recognizable.
  • Institutes which from their origin or by provision of their Constitutions do not have a specific habit should ensure that the dress of their members corresponds in dignity and simplicity to the nature of their vocation."  - Vita consecrata

Why are some communities of Sisters dressed differently than other communities?  As described above, every community chooses their own style of dress – whether they be “habit-wearing” or not.

For the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis of East Peoria, we choose to wear a habit.

1877 Habit style

When the Order was founded in 1877, the Sisters took the common fashion of Franciscan habits of the day with its tightly worn veil.  It includes a Franciscan cord and rosary at the waist.










Over time, the habit changed….

Read more: Why the Habit? Part 1

Super-powers: ACTIVATE!

Holy Spirit Super HeroI believe Pentecost “season” is my new favorite solemnity in the Catholic Church.  This week, anyway.  :-) Because it has helped me understand the Christian virtues to a whole new level.  A grace-filled level.

The Holy Spirit’s gifts are designed to help us be virtuous.  What are the virtues?  According to the Catholic Catechism, virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions. The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God (Catechism 1803.)

The moral or “cardinal” virtues are:
1. Prudence
2. Justice
3. Fortitude
4. Temperance

The theological virtues are:
1. Faith
2. Hope
3. Charity

Read more: Super-powers: ACTIVATE!

Novena to the Holy Spirit

9 Day NovenaAfter Jesus ascended to Heaven, His Apostles, together with Mary and other followers, continued to pray together until the feast of Pentecost.  Then, in accordance with Jesus’ promise, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”  These nine days of prayer, reported in Acts 1:14 and 2: 3-4, remembers the nine days between the Ascension of Our Lord and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost Sunday.  This was the first Novena on which all later Novenas have been based.

In the year 1897, Pope Leo XIII issued an encyclical on the Holy Spirit, DIVINUM ILLUD MUNUS, in which he requests that a novena, along with indulgences, should be said throughout the Church in preparation for the feast of Pentecost.  See section 13 of this encyclical.

Read more: Novena to the Holy Spirit