W1-11-1 Mrs. Scott (October 30) 1 could not agree more that nuns' traditional habits are far more attractive. But has she ever tried doing housework, in high summer, clad from head to foot in starched linen and heavy serge?
In most uommunities these days, everyone has to take a turn with the chores, and doubtless modern standards of health and hygiene are considered when the new habits are designed. The purple and white of the Assumption Order is admittedly attractive, so are crinolines if you like that sort of thing, but material and special dyes are expensive these days, and most orders, running on reduced numbers and incomes are compelled to think of this also.
Our nuns, bless them, are practical people who work hard to be a relevant force in the world today. They must therefore move with the times and not remain museum pieces.
Angela Bourne (Mrs.) Shifnal, Shropshire.
HAVING read Mrs. Scott's letter in last week's CATHOLIC HERALD, a few Cornmeats from a nun might be appropriate.
In the Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life. the Vatican Council states: -The religious habit, as a symbol of consecration, must be simple and modest, at once poor and becoming. In addition, it must be in keeping with the requirements of health and it must be suited to the circumstances of time and place and to the needs of the apostolate. The habits, both of men and of women, which are not in conformity with those norms ought to be changed." (par. 17.)
Many original religious habits do not comply with these norms. Certainly, they are a symbol of consecration and modest, but they are rarely simple or becoming. They ate expensive to make in material and time, and are usually not suited to the circumstances of time, place, the apostolate, good health nor hygiene.
Most nuns prefer to keep the religious habit, not only as a sign of their consecration. hut also because the habit breaks down barriers and establishes easy communication. Religious Sisters are ecclesial women and should listen to the opinions of the Clergy and laity, but it is to be hoped that these do not wish to confine us to thc garb of former times which might have been suitable for a French widow in the 19th century, but which arc hardly suitable for a teacher or nurse in 1970.
Perhaps Mrs. Scott does nOt realise that Benedictine. Franciscan and Dominican monks have always been able to wear the dress of secular priests when necessary.
Finally. an adapted habit is usually the sign that there have been other far more important changes within the religious community. It may truly be 'the outward sign of inward grace': the sign of religious renewal.
(Sr.) Regina Shepherd, P.C.].