Speaking as a layperson who has never had the opportunity to wear one, I offer my humble perspective on the habit. Which is: I personally find it to be a striking witness.
It seems an
thing, and of course it is. But a habit speaks volumes to the world
around. "I have found God to be worth the gift of my whole life," it tells me. "Nothing on earth is as important as He."
What does a habit mean to the person who actually wears one? For that perspective, I turn to people who are privileged to do so. The following are only tiny excerpts; I strongly encourage you to click on the links to read these very fine articles in their entirety.
From "The Holy Habit" (Carmelite Monks)
"The Carmelite monk, like a soldier, is clothed in the armor of the habit as he bravely does battle for God and for souls...." (see the full page by clicking here)
From "Living the Life Part II," by Sister M. Emmanuel VHM
"I believe I can say without exaggeration, that whenever any one of us
Sisters goes out into the 'world,' someone will inevitably comment on
our habit.... The lovingness of the Sisters is perceivable to even a casual
observer. But the Sisters are not this way because they wear a habit.
They wear a habit (an outward sign of simplicity and consecration and a
reminder of their vows of poverty and chastity) because they
are this way. They are this way because they are trying with all
sincerity to follow Christ in their vocations as Visitandines.... When someone shows us
deference in some way, we know that is not towards us... No, they honor
something else, something greater.... ' (see the full article by clicking here)
From "The Habit" (Dominican Sisters)
"My religious habit is an indelible sign of an inward consecration and makes of me a public witness, to all the world, of values transcending time." (Mother Marie William MacGregor) (see the full article by clicking here)
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