Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Habit

Over the years, I've heard numerous discussions about habits.  Speaking as a layperson who has never had the opportunity to wear one, I offer my humble perspective.  Which is:  I personally find a habit to be a striking witness.  

It seems an external thing, and of course it is.  But a habit speaks volumes to the world around.  And I wonder: could it even speak to those who wear it day after day?  After all, we humans are affected by symbols, probably at levels beyond mere words.

What does a habit say to me when I see it?  "I have found God to be worth the gift of my whole life," it tells me. "Nothing on earth is as important as He."

I think back to once when I'd been visiting a convent.  I was escorted to the street by a Sister wearing the same graceful habit her foundress wore in the 1600s.  As I got into my car, a gentleman passed by on the sidewalk and saw Sister across the fence.  He spoke to her, then stopped to talk.  Sister graciously stood to chat with this man (someone she had apparently never met), and as I left I heard the man say he was a former Catholic.  This gentleman seemed to be launching into a particularly important discussion - perhaps one which would affect him long after he walked on. Yet the meeting would have not taken place had this woman not been clearly identifiable as “Sister.” 

As a cloistered heart, I wear - and speak - the language of habits.  We've talked of this before in these pages.  To see our original post on this, click here.

In the meantime, today I'm checking on the condition of my habits.  

Am I in the habit of responding to persons and situations with love, kindness, generosity?  
Am I in the habit of carrying the love of Christ to everyone I meet?  Am I in the habit of spending time with God in prayer?  

May I be clothed, and seen, in the habits of a cloistered heart.  

"You must lay aside your former way of life, and the old self which deteriorates through illusion and desire, and acquire a fresh, spiritual way of thinking. You must put on that new man created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness are born of truth.” (Ephesians 4:22-24).

"Because you are God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with heartfelt mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Bear with one another, forgive whatever grievances you have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.  Over all these virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect."  (Colossians 3:12-14) 

“Do you see how little it takes to become a saint?  All that is necessary is acquiring the habit of wanting to do the will of God at all times.” (St. Vincent de Paul)

“Clothe me, O eternal Truth, clothe me with yourself, that I may run my mortal course with true obedience and the light of holy faith…” (St. Catherine of Siena)

“I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.” (Isaiah 61:10)

"You must put on the armor of God if you are to resist on the evil day; do all that your duty requires, and hold your ground.   Stand fast, with the truth as the belt around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and zeal to propagate the gospel of peace as your footgear.  In all circumstances, hold  faith up before you as your shield, it will help you extinguish the fiery darts of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, the word of God."  (Ephesians 6:13-17)
Painting of nun with roses:  Herbert James Draper, US public domain

Painting of family:  James Tissot, US public domain

This is a re-post from our archives, slightly edited
Text not in quotes is © 2014 Nancy Shuman   thecloisteredheart.org  All Rights Reserved