Page 1

Veiled
in
Mystery:
The
Holy
Habit
 
 
 If
 there
 were
 a
 purely
 natural
 order
 of
 sacramentals,
 I
 think
 “the
 dress”
 would
eminently
qualify
for
such
a
category.
Let
me
explain…
 
 Growing
 up,
 I,
 like
 so
 many
 little
 girls,
 loved
 clothes.
 Hand
 me
 downs
 were
 exciting
 because
 in
 each
 bag
 of
 goods
 some
 treasure
 would
 inevitably
 be
 found
 which,
no
matter
how
big
or
small,
just
had
to
be
worn.
One
of
the
best
times
with
 girlfriends
 was
 trying
 on
 our
 mothers’
 shoes
 or
 old
 dresses.
 Shopping?
 Always
 a
 thrill.
 Simply
 looking
 at
 all
 those
 outfits
 was
 exhilarating.
 And
 even
 better
 was
 buying
something
and
bringing
it
home.
 
 But
of
all
apparel,
I
have
to
say,
there
was
something
extra
special
about
“the
 dress”.
 There
 comes
 a
 moment
 in
 every
 female’s
 life
 when
 this
 particular
 garment
 wields
 a
 power
 far
 beyond
 that
 of
 the
 colored
 threads
 of
 which
 it
 is
 woven.
 The
 mystic
 moment
 may
 occur
 early,
 while
 yet
 a
 little
 miss
 hopping
 about
 in
 Easter
 finest
or
at
a
first
Holy
Communion
veiled
in
angelic
white.
It
may
come
later,
at
a
 dance,
on
a
date,
during
a
holiday,
or
simply
on
a
warm
and
breezy
day.
Whatever
 the
occasion
something
extraordinary
happens.
She
knows
it,
and
so
does
everyone
 else.
A
transformation
takes
place
and
a
glimpse
into
a
reality
beyond
the
ordinary
 is
 seen.
 A
 certain
 glow
 rests
 on
 the
 young
 lady
 or
 woman.
 And
 deep
 within,
 she
 perceives
and
radiates
the
incredible
truth
–
that
to
be
a
female
–is
to
be
a
queen.
 She
is
springtime
and
summer,
lilies
and
roses,
sunshine
and
moonlight
all
at
once.
 Such
is
the
power
of
a
dress.
 
 Is
 this
 a
 supernatural
 power
 like
 that
 of
 the
 sacraments?
 Certainly
 not.
 But
 like
sacraments
and
sacramentals,
a
mere
material
substance
is
used
to
lift
the
spirit
 to
 the
 awesome
 awareness
 of
 God’s
 work
 in
 creation.
 In
 this
 case,
 God’s
 crowning
 piece,
woman.
 
 This
article
seeks
to
explore
the
meaning
of
one
very
special
dress,
namely,
 the
holy
habit.
While
ordinary
dresses
possess
a
natural
power
to
inspire,
the
habit,
 which
 actually
 is
 a
 sacramental
 and
 one
 particularly
 bound
 up
 in
 the
 mysteries
 of
 the
faith,
expresses
the
mystery
of
femininity
on
levels
beyond
imagination.
 The
Bride
of
the
Lamb
 While
 clothing
 may
 often
 be
 thought
 of
 as
 something
 worldly,
 in
 God’s
 scheme
of
things
it
holds
a
very
noble
position.
Scriptures
reveal
that
clothing
has
a
 religiously
 symbolic
 function.
 It
 can
 represent
 restored
 dignity
 (as
 in
 the
 animal
 skins
 in
 which
 God
 dressed
 Adam
 and
 Eve),
 adherence
 to
 the
 covenant
 (prayer
 shawls
 and
 head
 covering),
 consecration
 to
 God
 (elaborate
 priestly
 vestments),
 authority
over
God’s
people,
(resplendent
royal
robes),
etc.
Clothing
in
the
scriptural
 context,
therefore,
serves
to
exhibit
externally
some
inner
reality
of
God’s
work
 
 The
 holy
 habit
 also
 functions
 in
 this
 way.
 It
 physically
 manifests
 some
 very
 important
 spiritual
 realities.
 So,
 in
 order
 to
 really
 understand
 the
 habit,
 the
 inner
 meaning
it
represents
must
first
be
established.
 
 We
 turn
 again
 to
 the
 scriptures.
 Revelations
 21
 provides
 a
 passage
 which
 perhaps
 better
than
 any
 other
 encapsulates
 the
sublime
mystery
 behind
 the
 habit.
 Though
short,
this
passage
is
rich
with
meaning.
It
reads:
 
 
 



Then
 came
 one
 of
 the
 seven
 angels…
 and
 spoke
 to
 me
 saying,
 “Come
 I
 will
 show
 you
 the
 Bride,
 the
 wife
 of
 the
 Lamb.”
 And
 in
 the
 Spirit,
 he
 carried
 me
 away
 to
 a
 great,
 high
 mountain,
 and
 showed
 me
 the
 holy
 city
 Jerusalem
 coming
 down
 out
 of
 heaven
 from
 God,
 having
 the
 glory
 of
 God,
 its
 radiance
 like
a
most
rare
jewel…”
(Rev
21:9‐11)
 
 
 Here
 we
 have
 the
 Lamb,
 His
 Bride
 and
 the
 glory
 that
 adorns
 her.
 An
 extraordinary
exchange,
an
exchange
of
garments
so
to
speak
takes
place.
Christ
the
 Son
of
God,
moved
with
love
for
humanity,
clothes
Himself
in
her
shame
and
in
her
 very
flesh
to
become
her
sacrifice.
He
appears
then,
not
in
His
divine
glory,
but
as
a
 Lamb.
In
consequence,
humanity,
made
clean
by
His
pure
blood,
is
able
to
shed
her
 robes
of
frailty
and
guilt.
Sanctified
humanity
becomes
His
chaste
Bride
and
appears
 resplendent
 in
 the
 garments
 of
 Christ’s
 Divine
 holiness.
 She
 is
 the
 most
 radiant,
 most
 pure,
 most
 exquisite,
 and
 absolutely
 perfect
 dwelling
 for
 the
 Lamb
 who
 illuminates
her
from
within.
 
 This
 outstanding
 mystery,
 the
 mystery
 of
 Christ
 and
 His
 Bride,
 is
 the
 inner
 reality
 behind
 the
 habit.
 The
 Bride
 in
 the
 passage
 above
 represents
 the
 Church
 corporately
but
also
every
soul
individually,
for
redeemed
by
Christ
all
are
called
to
 this
 most
 intimate
 communion
 of
 love
 imaginable.
 But
 the
 nun
 and
 all
 religious
 whether
male
or
female
participate
in
this
communion
in
a
special
way.
These
souls,
 with
the
hearts
of
true
lovers,
want
to
share
everything,
possessions,
affection
and
 will,
 with
 the
 Beloved.
 And
 so
 they
 assume
 lives
 of
 radical
 gift
 beyond
 what
 is
 necessary
for
salvation
through
vows
of
poverty,
chastity
and
obedience.
Thus
they
 become
powerful
representations
of
the
relationship
all
are
called
to
with
Christ.
 
 A
woman
religious,
however,
is
able
to
symbolize
even
more
completely
this
 union
for
though
her
feminine
nature
she
more
fully
represents
the
soul
as
bride.
In
 God’s
order
of
things
a
woman
is
one
who
receives
love
in
order
to
bring
forth
life.
 She
 is,
 as
 Alice
 VonHildebrand
 says,
 “The
 one
 created
 to
 be
 loved.”
 By
 embracing
 religious
life
then,
she
realizes
the
feminine
design
far
beyond
what
she
could
on
the
 natural
level.
For
she
is
queen,
bride,
mother,
sunshine
and
joy
to
no
mere
man,
but
 to
 Jesus
 Christ,
 perfect
 man
 and
 Son
 of
 God.
 And
 thus
 she
 becomes
 the
 image
 par
 excellence
 of
 the
 soul
 as
 bride
 of
 Christ,
 revealing
 just
 how
 tremendously
 loved
 every
soul
is.
The
habit
she
wears
then
is
the
outward
manifestation
of
this
love.
It
is
 a
visible
reminder
of
the
radiant
garment,
Christ’s
own
glory,
with
which
he
clothes
 those
wedded
to
Him
in
faithfulness.
 The
Holy
Habit
 
 The
 symbolism
 of
 the
 habit
 is
 a
 natural
 outgrowth
 of
 its
 inner
 reality.
 Beginning
with
the
veil
we
see
a
powerful
symbol
which
itself
means
“mystery”.
In
 Scriptures
 the
 things
 that
 were
 veiled
 were
 those
 most
 sacred.
 For
 example,
 the
 Holy
of
Holies,
the
most
hallowed
of
all
places
for
the
Jews,
was
separated
from
the
 rest
of
the
temple
and
the
outside
world
by
a
huge
veil.
Only
one
priest
could
enter
 there
 one
 time
 per
 year,
 and
 then
 only
 after
 much
 prayer
 and
 preparation.
 In
 Catholicism
 we
 carry
 on
 this
 symbolism
 by
 veiling
 our
 tabernacles
 and
 sacred
 vessels
which
hold
the
Most
Holy
Body
and
Blood
of
Christ.
 
 So
 the
 veil
 of
 a
 woman
 speaks
 of
 her
 mystery
 and
 intrinsic
 worth.
 She
 is
 a
 “garden
 enclosed”(Song
 Chapter
 4;
 Verse
 12)
 for
 within
 her
 is
 the
 mystery
 of
 life.



This
 understanding
 unfolds
 a
 three‐fold
 character
 common
 to
 all
 women,
 virgin,
 bride
 and
 mother,
 whether
 realized
 physically
 or
 spiritually.
 The
 veil
 of
 a
 nun
 bespeaks
this
feminine
beauty
primarily
through
its
spiritual
realization.
As
virgin,
 she
veils
herself
to
indicate
that
she
has
kept
herself
for
her
Beloved
alone.
As
bride,
 she
is
veiled
to
show
her
belonging
to
the
Beloved.
And
as
mother,
she
is
veiled
to
 symbolize
the
protective
care
she
give
to
the
life
within,
which
is
the
fruit
of
the
love
 between
her
and
her
Beloved.
 
 The
 other
 elements
 relate
 closely
 to
 this.
 A
 knotted
 cord
 and
 wedding
 ring
 indicate
her
bond
to
Christ
through
her
holy
vows.
A
scapular
and
a
rosary
indicate
 her
 association
 with
 the
 Mother
 of
 God
 who
 perfectly
 fulfills
 what
 the
 religious
 strives
after.
A
crucifix
reminds
her
that
she
may
reign
with
Christ
as
His
queen
only
 by
 being
 identified
 with
 Him
 in
 humility,
 poverty,
 renouncement
 of
 the
 world
 and
 self
 and
 sacrifice.
 The
 garment
 is
 of
 ordinary
 wool,
 brown,
 as
 in
 our
 community,
 serves
to
remind
the
nun
that
her
Spouse
chose
the
way
of
lowliness
as
His
path
to
 glory.
A
cloth
band
around
the
forehead
reminds
her
of
the
crowning
virtue
of
her
 Lord,
obedience.
 
 Sometimes
women
get
a
bad
rap
for
their
affection
for
clothes.
The
criticism
 is
not
entirely
unfounded
as
such
an
affection
often
leads
to
materialism,
a
terrible
 sin.
But
as
St.
Thomas
Aquinas
emphasizes,
any
human
pursuit,
even
that
which
is
 disordered,
 always
 involves
 the
 seeking
 of
 some
 real
 good.
 Perhaps
 then,
 women
 are
really
seeking
something
deeper,
something
even
holy,
in
their
love
of
clothing.
 Perhaps
the
“something
deeper”
which
women
seek
is
God,
Who
is
Beauty,
and
the
 full
flowering
of
their
role
as
His
beloved.
And
perhaps
the
habit,
worn
by
women
 who
 faithfully
 live
 all
 it
 represents
 can
 help
 to
 inspire
 this
 truth
 in
 hearts
 everywhere.
For
as
Hans
Urs
Von
Balthasar
said
so
well,
“Every
experience
of
beauty
 points
to
infinity.”

 
 ‐
a
PCPA


veiled-in-mystery  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you