Thoughts on Nuns and Sisters and Perpetual Indulgence by Marie Cartier

helen prejean
Marie and Sister Helen Prejean

The word “nun” can conjure images from traditional to irreverent in terms of gender. The gender of those who call themselves nuns can range from feminine to masculine, from a woman who looks like a woman dressed as a woman, a contemporary sister or “nun,” who does not wear the traditional black habit, but contemporary female clothing and perhaps a short veil or “wimple” and a cross around her neck; to a man dressed as nun in extremely sexual female garb, a “drag queen” nun; to the traditionally dressed nun, whose habit is a full-length black gown, and full veil covering everything but her face and hands, who means to conceal gender and become something else – a “nun.”

The physical space of “nun” then has opened the realm of gender for women, and recently men, since the creation of the category “nun” was established with the first order of female religious. Cloistered orders of women began in the fifth century, with the more liberated orders of “sisters” forming in the sixteenth century. The Encyclopedia of Catholicism lists approximately twelve Roman Catholic religious orders of sisters, or as they are commonly called, “nuns.” However, this terminology should be amended to allow for the difference between “sisters”- non-cloistered orders, and “nuns”- cloistered orders. Most traditionally the word nun officially refers to Roman Catholic nuns – those who take solemn vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and live cloistered lives of silence, and prayerful meditation. Choir nuns, such as that of the famous convent headed by Hildegard de Bingen, (1098-1179), German nun, mystic and composer, chant the Liturgy of the Hours daily – consisting of a set order of readings and prayers, including Morning, Evening, Daytime and Night Prayers. Continue reading “Thoughts on Nuns and Sisters and Perpetual Indulgence by Marie Cartier”

Presumed Guilty by the Sin of Silence: U.S. Nuns, Network, and The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Cynthia Garrity-Bond

In 1965, the Council document Perfectae Caritatis, Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, encouraged women religious to situate themselves and their vocations in the social milieu to which they belonged.  Each religious community adjusted rules and customs to accommodate the needs and demands of particular ministerial vocations. For those communities that embraced Perfectae Caritatis entered into a complete paradigm shift in thinking that changed forever how they understood themselves and their chosen vocations. I recall vividly the morning, when, in 1968, Sister Mary DePatzie entered our classroom clad in a shorter habit and dress revealing the startling fact she 1) indeed had brilliant, beautiful red hair; and 2) rather shapely legs even in her sensible shoes.  Continue reading “Presumed Guilty by the Sin of Silence: U.S. Nuns, Network, and The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”

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