In a recent blog entry, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, a convert from Anglicanism, described his experience at a Krispy Kreme donut shop. It demonstrates how the wearing of a cassock (or habit or Roman collar) can initiate positive conversations on the Faith.
Pope Francis says religious need to give witness not proselytize, and what better way to do that than by wearing something distinctive that says “I am Catholic. Feel free to talk to me!” Proudly proclaim your faith, when necessary use words!
So many conversations are initiated when people see religious or priests. A few years ago, I accompanied a group of 4 sisters to a Holy Hour in our Church which hasn’t had a religious community onsite in 40 years, and many people stopped us afterwards to say how happy they were to see young sisters in habits.
There is a wonderful YouTude video showing religious communities who wear habits. You might be surprised to see how many young nuns/sisters are in habits and to know that most of them are IRL Affiliates.
There is another story in Homiletic & Pastoral Review about sister in a habit and the impact this habit had on a prison.
I am a Minister of Care and bring Communion to the sick in a hospital. When I visit as a civilian, I am invisible. But when I am wearing my name tag that indicates I am a Catholic, I act differently and am treated differently. I have a responsibility to the Church community I represent and to the Lord. I smile at everyone, go out of my way to be helpful, and generally try to live up to what the name tag implies. So many times, a nurse has stopped me to ask to receive Communion for herself or for one of her patients. I feel that I am representing Christ in my own small way to my little flock. For sure, I am bringing Christ to them.
That is what a habit does; it reminds people to Whom they belong and it reminds people “in the world” of the other world of faith we are all called to.