Power of the Apostles

I cried this weekend.

I wasn’t bawling or anything, I just got really teary eyed, and couldn’t help myself.  I was just too affected.

This weekend, we had a Mass for a congregation of sisters. It was their 100th year Jubilee, and so was a very big deal. It was amazing to see so many women who have given up their lives to serve Christ, and Him alone. It was truly an awesome experience. To be honest though, I am a sensual being, and while I was intellectually touched by their service and commitment, their lack of habits did not pull at my heart strings.

I’m not saying I don’t honor and respect them, I do, and very much so. I’m just saying that fifty or sixty sisters in normal clothing honestly just look like the rest of the congregation, and so it did not have an emotional impact on me. In that way, it just felt normal. Had they been in habits that made their vows obvious to me, I might have felt differently, I’m not sure. I spent most of the time trying to figure out who was a sister, and who was not. I felt rather silly about it to be honest.

This was a big celebration however, and so our bishop took it upon himself to drive the five hours to our parish to preside.

Dangit, I cry every time the bishop comes. I’ve started remembering to bring a handkerchief.

It’s not so much that our bishop is a swell guy, though he is. It’s not because he holds a similar ideology to me either, which he does. I am the same way any time I get to go to an episcopal Mass, I just can’t help it. It’s not the man that so deeply effects me, it is his office.

The power of the apostles overwhelms me. When I stand in a Mass where the bishop is presiding, I feel so deeply connected that I cannot bear it. I cannot help but see the unbroken chain back to Christ Himself. As he proceeds into the sanctuary, crosier in hand, I can feel his shepherding power. As he blesses the altar, that connection is so tight in my mind, that it is simply overwhelming for me.

I know I should feel this way at every Eucharist, and I know that the fact that I don’t means I have work to do on my faith. But for now, I am content to stand next to my apostle. I admit it, I’m a cheesy guy. But I’m not alone.

“In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him” (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110])

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10 thoughts on “Power of the Apostles”

  1. At this 100th Jubilee Celebration, I also felt this way regarding the lack of habits among the sisters. I certainly was joyful and feeling in awe at their loving service and lifelong commitment to Christ, and I respect these nuns, but it would be even better if they still wore the habits–for multiple reasons. The habit itself is a sign that a woman is a nun, when we might not know otherwise. It is a sign of consecration. When a nun happens to be walking amidst the rest of society, ordinary people seeing her habit can inspire people to think of God. The habit can also help awaking vocations in young women, when they can easily identify a nun and then, in some cases, wonder about this path for themselves.

    1. P.S. A sister once told me that the reason they removed the habit was to be able to better relate to lay people. I personally believe that true relations with others don’t depend on tangible things like clothing, rather, they depend on often elements such as love, kindness, compassion, generosity, good listening, humor, trust, etc. That is the heart of human connection. We all come from different walks of life, different cultures and styles, but we are all human, and if we act in a humane way towards each other, we can be sure to successfully relate with others.

      No sister should feel that their habit is contrary to their vocation.

      1. I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but I think there is room in the world for women who want to be sisters, and not wear the habit. I am not closed to the idea that the habit is not for all sisters. You are right however, it is a powerful sign for the laity, and I too believe it does not get in the way of their service to wear it. For me personally, the lack of habit is a distraction. I think it’s funny that they often choose not to wear it because it’s a distraction, and yet I have a hard time getting over it!

  2. Dance,

    Get it together will you….. 🙂 at your ordination, your bishop is going to lay his hands on YOU. Those hands(and office/authority) that come directly from the apostles are going to be personally/tangibly touching YOU. And as you know, the apostles walked/talked/ate/watched JESUS. They didn’t read about it, they LIVED IT! I don’t know how ANYONE could not be tearing up when you think of that connection particularly on that special day.

    I can only assume “normal” people would be tremendously moved. Guys like you and me tear up – it’s what we do on these times – just embrace it. and embrace all you are now and all you are becoming – His hands and heart right here in your little corner of the world.

    I can’t wait to read all about your continued journey.

    As for my journey – I await a decision from my bishop on acceptance into Aspirancy. Probably should know within 3-4 more weeks………


    1. Oh great, now you are scaring the heck out of me. I suppose all you say is true, but I just don’t think I can accept that thought, or I don’t think I could continue to go through with this. I know it is not about worthiness, but that is still a deep factor in my own heart.

      You’ll have to let me know when you find out!

      1. Remember – God doesn’t call the qualified…….

        He qualifies the called!

        All He wants is an open heart and a trusting faith.

        Kinda sounds like YOU!

  3. I agree, Dance. Once again I agree!! We are all called to different states in life and we should be proud of the vocation we are called to!! Some times the religious who “hide” almost appear as though they are afraid to show their faith and vocation. I want to see zeal!!!

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I awarded you the versatile blogger award!
    http://www.crafolic.com/2012/07/award-and-7-things-about-me.html I don’t know if you buy-into all the award passing, but I just love your blog!!
    God Bless!

    1. Thanks for the award Jennifer! No, I normally don’t do the award thing, but I will respond to this one, just because it’s from you. 🙂

      I think we need to be careful not to be too harsh with sisters that don’t wear habits. Yes, I admit it makes me a bit uncomfortable, but if a sister joins an order and gives her life to Christ, that is a great blessing whether or not there is a habit for that order. Don’t forget that this is a macro issue, not a micro one. In other words, this is an issue with an entire congregation, not with individual sisters. I imagine many sisters in these religious institutions would be quite comfortable in a habit, but that is simply not what their orders do. Their obedience to their order is commendable and good. Just something to think about!

      1. Hi Dance,
        Harshness? No, I have no harshness toward them. I think you misunderstood me. That’s one reason I hate typing instead of talking, you can change the feelings on words!
        Well, anyway, I have only respect for these women, but I feel that when possible they need to “show-off” who they are, not for themselves, but for others. I feel children especially need to see that there is something special about these women. All religious need to speak of God even when they aren’t speaking. Their habits do just that! If you walk past a nun wearing a habit, you can’t help but think of God! They represent holiness and they show that God is important -important enough to give your life for. And that’s true no matter who you are and what your vocation is. Kids really need to see a true sacrificial devotion. Our society has no idea how to sacrifice anymore!
        Being a nun/religious is such an awesome thing!! I realize that not all orders have habits anymore, but I hope and pray that one day it will be common for our children/grandchildren to see a nun showing her love for God simply by wearing a habit!

        As for the award: I truly appreciate your kindness but if you don’t normally post about them I’m not offended if you don’t post about this one! I was just happy to add your wonderful blog to my list!! 🙂 I hope it brought you a little more traffic!
        God Bless you and your family, Dance! Take care of yourself!

        1. Oh no, I didn’t mean to infer that I thought you were being harsh. I merely wanted to point out that this is a “religious order” issue, and not necessarily an issue with any individual sister. So often I hear folks saddened by the loss of the habit, and they seem to think each sister is making their own choice about the matter. They usually do not have that choice. At the same time, one does have a tendency to join the order that one feels the most connection to, and that is one of the reasons that I think the orders that have retained their habits have such better recruitment rates. Once one has professed their vows to an order though, it’s not so easy to just change ones mind, and put the habit on!

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