Beyond habits and no habits: a reflection on the identity of religious women in the US

by Sophia Park


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One day, I had a conversation with a psychologist friend. We talked about what we hear from our clients. When I said, "I try to listen to clients attentively, including to their nonverbal cues," he responded, "Actually, I pay more attention to what is unsaid because that could have a deeper meaning." His statement reminded me of a Koan of Zen masters, which states that "music is created not by sound, but by the space between music codes," which emphasizes the power of not.

Furthermore, my friend's comment raised questions about my understanding of the invisibility of women religious in the United States. Often, people say that since most religious sisters do not wear habits, they are not visible. Some even say that because of the loss of the visible sign of the habits, there is a decrease in religious vocations or even a loss of sisters' identities in relation to the habit. But can we really say that sisters have lost their sign in the world just because they do not wear habits? And if so, is there also a sign of not wearing habits, of their invisibility? What, then, is the sign of this invisible but strong presence of women religious?

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.

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