A listener wonders how he can obtain samples of the rosaries Sisters used to wear on their habits, but the Nuns wonder if there are other ways to show the charism of a community.
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This question comes in from Dave in Alaska. And Dave's question was referred to us by one of our nun friends. And Dave writes, "I'm putting together a display about various religious communities with a write-up of their history and mission today. With each display, I hope to have a rosary for each community that they used to wear on their habits as a visual. This project is personal and nobody in my diocese has directed me to do it. The project will be for religious education classes in the diocese, and what I'm trying to do is to do my part in helping to foster and inspire the spark in as many people who may be called." And Dave goes on to say, "Now, I'm not trying to glorify the pre-Vatican II church. I simply feel this would be an important display for promoting vocations and making sure the newly catechized and the converts know of the importance that women religious have had in building the Church throughout the world." I have to say, I do like the idea of using images to help in an educational thing. I think there's a lot of value to that. What I am not so sure of is why the habit rosary instead of another image. And Dave doesn't say why in this. And I find it interesting as to how he will translate that symbol into what religious life is today. And he says he's going to, with each display, have the history and mission. But I guess I would wonder, why the rosary?
Yeah, that was a question that came to my mind too, and specifically, his choice to use a rosary from a traditional habit. So they're larger, and they're not worn anymore. And perhaps that's a reference to the historical experience of what religious life used to look like. And I would encourage him to use, alongside of the habit rosary, maybe a rosary of today, a ring from a congregation, or a medallion or a symbol. And I would add one more thing that I think is much more essential in our lives. And that is a reference somehow to the Constitutions or the rules that we live by as religious consecrated women. We each congregation have our own constitution. We call ours in the Sylvania Franciscan community, Our Covenant with the Lord Jesus. And within that, it describes our way of life. This is so important and so essential to us, that when we devised the Constitution -- I would say back, around the year 2003 we had a review, and a renewal of our Constitution. It was sent to Rome, and it needed to be approved in Rome, and sent back to us. And so it's that important and sacred to us.
And, as you say, all congregations of women religious have constitutions. And in places like Catholic Theological Union, in their library, you can actually find examples of some of the congregations and what the Constitutions look like.
What goes along with the form of constitution in my congregation is what we call the Directory. In the old days, we would have called that the Custom Book. And it described more of the external experiences of religious life and the prayers that we said daily, the office that we said, the clothes that we wore, the fact that we would offer prayers for our sisters when they passed away, just all of those customs that sort of directed the day to day in our lives. So we still have that Directory. And it is a part of our Constitution in that the way that we live out each dimension of the Constitution, in the practical, is described for us.
And you mentioned having revised your constitution, and I think it's important for people to understand that when you revise your constitution, you look at the world and you look at your life today. How do these things work together -- your life in this world, this holy world? And it's not uncommon for congregations to revise their constitutions.
I think, David, there's a way to convey that that's why religious life, and the tradition of religious life, is a living tradition. So it's going to change and grow with the times.
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This transcript has been lightly edited for readability.