More on the Polyester Watch

Thanks for the commentary on yesterday’s post skewering the skewers of religious sisters. Elaborating a bit more on the situation without quite as much snark …

1. Many Catholics do not realize the distinction between women religious who are cloistered and those who live in the world and give witness there. For centuries, women have filled both roles. The distinction is due to the varied apostolates given by founders and later updated by new generations of women. The proper governance of any of these is not by men, but by duly discerned and elected women superiors.

2. Women active in the world have always been the object of doubt, antagonism, ridicule, and even excommunication by men who did not understand. Put them back in cloisters, habits, and pious behavior, say many critics. Said critics often don’t get it. It’s not about them and their expectations.

3. I get a laugh over St Blog’s constant Polyester Watch. Women wear economical, if not cheap clothing, and they are criticized. Women wear comfortable and modest clothing for recreation, and I’ll openly wonder: the critics are just aroused because they didn’t get their polyester fix.

4. It’s a fact: women religious do not exist to please men. Some St Blog’s commentators laugh at a woman walking on a rope. I confess a could let loose a few snickers when I read about birdwatching, whisky-guzzling, cigar-smoking clergy. Like slacklining, none of these are my hobbies, but to each their own.

4a. I noticed a comment linking the poster woman’s hair to a same-sex orientation. Honestly, haven’t these guys ever watched or read A Nun’s Story? There’s dressing to please men, and then there’s outright ignorance. That last bit is funny.

5. Advertising for vocations awareness may or may not be effective. Is it my business? Is it the critics’? Vocation posters aren’t manufactured to get the Republican seal of approval. They are meant to start–only start a conversation, a discernment.

6. Some religious orders have declining numbers. See #5 for the questions: is it my business? Is it the critics’? Religious orders come and go all the time. Do Catholics not know their history? Apostolates are developed under founding leadership. They thrive or survive, and after a generation or two some fade and dissolve. I’m not surprised that some orders of women religious have declining numbers. Lay people by the tens of thousands are serving the church today as teachers, music directors, and other pastoral ministers as religious sisters did in former decades. The apostolates themselves aren’t dying; the baton is being passed to other lay women and men. I consider it an honor to serve the Church in a role (parish liturgist) once inhabited by women religious and young priests. My question is: why don’t self-styled “faithful” Catholics feel the same way? It might do y’all some good to put on a thinking cap instead of a dunce hat. Ridicule or not: that’s your choice. And your right, you might say. As a faithful Catholic, where does your responsibility lie?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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7 Responses to More on the Polyester Watch

  1. Brigid Rauch says:

    Thank you.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Thank you!

  2. Chase Becker says:

    Excellent! Thank you!

  3. John Drake says:

    Re item #1 – Part of the “witness” by those sisters working in the world should be their habit. What more dramatic and obvious sign is there?

    You may be surprised that the following blog post was penned by a woman…

    http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Cheating-the-Habit-of-Being-The-Habit-of-Witness-Elizabeth-Scalia.html

  4. David D. says:

    Someone who could fairly be described as “whisky-guzzling” probably has some sort of drinking problem. Maybe “whisky-sipping” or even “whisky-drinking” would have been a better choice of words.

  5. Mollie says:

    I am always astonished by the nasty things that people who claim to love the Church will say about religious sisters — and by the underlying assumptions that they know better than the sisters what sisters’ lives and work should be. The lack of respect, and the enjoyment people take in being disrespectful, to women who have given their lives in service to Christ and the Church — I just can’t fathom it. One of the ugliest fronts of the intra-Church culture wars for sure.

  6. Mike says:

    Nicely said, Mollie.

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