The following video shows a wide variety of religious garb and clerical attire on display in Rome.
What is the purpose of a religious habit? Religious life is not hidden, neither is it occasional. To enter the priesthood or religious is to publicly accept the consecration of one’s whole self to the service of God and neighbor. That is why the most traditional religious garb covers the whole body. It is more than a tee-shirt, a hat or an emblem of some sort. It is a covering of the whole body to indicate the entirety of the consecration.
Further, each habit is distinctive since each religious community has a particular charism or gift by which they collectively serve the Church. Religious and priests do not merely consecrate themselves for their own agenda. Rather they join others with a similar and proven charisms in communities recognized by the Church.
The word “Habit” also suggests that religious life and priesthood are not an occasional activity, or even a 9 to 5 job. The are the habitual identity and life of the one who receives the call. That is also why the habit is usually worn at all times.
The widespread disappearance of clerical garb and religious habits back in the 1970s was a disturbing trend. Many religious and priests no longer saw themselves as set apart, as distinctive. Many wanted to blend in and also lost a sense of the charism of their order. Many also preferred anonymity since it made them less busy and they no longer had to live as “public” people.
It is good to see from this video that religious garb is still on display in Rome. Many orders have returned to distinctive clothing. Other, newer orders have also replaced the older dying ones. These younger orders almost always and consistently wear religious habits and garb.
Not all religious communities are diminishing and dying. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, commonly known as the Nashville Dominicans, continue to expand into new territory with a message of hope that the springtime of the New Evangelization is indeed in bloom. For almost 150 years, in the heart of the Bible Belt in Tennessee, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia have embraced God’s love in the living of their vows and apostolic vocation in the field of education. Now, with a median age of 36, the 235 Dominican Sisters of this congregation bring generations of young people the message of Christ in over 30 schools, throughout the United States and Australia.
Like the virgin martyr Cecilia, Nashville Dominicans promise their hearts to Christ. The Lords voice fills their ears and secures their promise to be Christs alone. Nashville Dominicans show the world a love that is different and unique. It is a love that is eternal. Nashville Dominicans are indeed beloved by God, as you will witness in this documentary. You will be taken inside a religious congregation that continues to offer the world and the Church a compelling model of religious life that is beautiful, hopeful, joyful and alive.
It seems to me that all the basic ingredients of a solid religious community are present here: Common life, a focused apostolate, common prayer, fidelity to Church teaching, love of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, love of our Lady, the wearing of the habit and joy.
There is a Website: http://religious-vocation.com/ which assists those discerning a call to the Consecrated life and also to the Monastic life. In short order this website details the differences between contemplative and active orders. It also names those communities and supplies to links to other websites that discuss more of each order. There are practical steps for discernment along with many pictures and videos. Take time to visit the site.
What is daily Monastic life like? The site helps answer this question by noting that the schedules of religious communities share basic similarities. A typical daily schedule (horarium) may look something like the following;
Here is a short vocational video on traditional monastic life, available at the site which shows scenes from the Abbey of Notre Dame de Fontgombault, and featuring the singing of “Alleluia Vir Dei Benedictus omni”.