That almost sounds like a line from a Dr Seuss book. How do you know I am who I am?
Today I bought a classic Little Golden Book. Nurse Nancy. Retro story and illustrations, from 1952.
I was buying books for Kumon and I just couldn’t reisist buying this picture book for me.
How do we readers, especially younger readers, of this Little Golden book , know that Nancy is a Nurse?
Because she wears a nurse’s uniform. The uniform makes it clear to others that Nancy is a nurse, one to call on for a particular duty, one wth a special vocation or calling from God.
We know who she is, we know of her vocation.
My wedding ring serves a similar role in my life. When I travel for work, it is not unknown for me to go to the bar with other workers, for drinks after conference sessions . We talk. I meet others. We laugh. We have a good time. And I am free to be friendly with members of the opposite sex, and they are free to be friendly with me, to drink and laugh and talk, without misunderstanding, because my wedding ring says it all. Tells of my vocation to marriage and to motherhood.And thus we avoid any ( far fetched, but possible) misunderstanding.
The ring is a visible sign of who I am, of my vocation.
And so today I met a nun. A nun who, unlike Nurse Nancy , unlike this married homeschooling mother, gave no visible indication of her vocation, of being a nun, a religious sister, of being consecrated, of being set apart and living a chaste life for Our Lord.
In fact, Sister wore more makeup, more hair product, more colour than I.
And , frankly, this is misleading. For a nun is espoused to Our Lord, and the wearing of the habit reminds both religious and lay people alike that there is a Heaven, that we are striving for Heaven, that this person has made a commitment, a commitment to Our Lord, to the Church, to a way of life.
A habit is a reminder of who the religious Sister is…first and foremost a nun. A Sister.
And those of you who have seen Elivs Presley’s A Change of Habit, that fun sixties movie with Mary Tyler Moore, are aware of the dangers of nuns foregoing the wearing of the habit. No visible
reminder of consecration can build familiarity and forgetfulness of one’s role and of one’s vocation.
Dr Seuss was right. Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.
If you are you, if I am I, the we should not be afraid to let the world know our vocation.
In the words of Pope John Paul II… The Church must always seek to make her presence visible in everyday life, especially in contemporary culture, which is often very secularized and yet sensitive to the language of signs. In this regard the Church has a right to expect a significant contribution from consecrated persons, called as they are in every situation to bear clear witness that they belong to Christ.
Since the habit is a sign of consecration, poverty and membership in a particular Religious family, I join the Fathers of the Synod in strongly recommending to men and women religious that they wear their proper habit, suitably adapted to the conditions of time and place.(Vita Consecrata )