Sr. Le Fer on the habit

On August 16, 1853, Irma le Fer, Sister St. Francis Xavier, SP, sent “word of joy and happiness”: Her sister Elvire had become doubly a sister, joining  the Sisters of Providence as Sister Mary Joseph. “has received the Holy Habit; she has laid aside the garments of the world to clothe herself with the livery of Jesus poor and despised. You would have wept for joy to see her, so modest and pure, at the foot of the altar.” Clementine de la Corbinière, Life and Letters of Sister St. Francis Xavier 346 (1934). 143 years later, as the postconciliar chaos finally began to recede, the Holy Father exhorted religious to be “true signs of Christ in the world,” living in a manner that “presen[s]t itself as a living sign of God and as an eloquent, albeit often silent, proclamation of the Gospel. 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.” And because “the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family,”
he joined “the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit….” Vita consecrata, no. 25 88 AAS 377, 398-99 (JP2, Postsyn. Ap. Ex. 1996) (emphases in original).

What do you suppose that Sr. Le Fer would make of today’s religious who have set aside the livery of Jesus to clothe themselves with the garments of the world?

Comment (1)

  1. Christina wrote::

    Sister St. Francis would know that there are many ways of laying aside the garments of the world, and not all are so literal. In the history of women religious, habits did not begin as a distinction but as a blending-in. Just as wearing the habit can bring humility to sisters who do so, I also find it quite a sign of humility when sisters let their good deeds speak quietly for them without making their presence so visibly known. “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them.”

    Friday, April 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm #