The Power of the Religious Habit: A True Story | John H. Ballentine | HPR
Sister Z herself says that her habit is a daily reminder of her vow to God. Since a religious habit is a sacramental, it is an outward sign disposing the wearer (and others who see it) to receive graces.
Sister Mary Brendon Zajac, S.N.D., hails from a clan based in Ohio. I suppose that every Sister of Notre Dame deserves her personal Quasimodo, and for this one, I fit the bill.
Too many people are hesitant to relate to those enrolled in religious orders. True, nuns should be treated with reverence due to their special commitment and vows, and yet, like you and me, they are working out their salvation with fear and trembling. Unlike you and I, though, most of them are making great strides in sanctity because they usually keep Jesus Christ foremost in their minds—and rightly so, considering that eternity is forever, and this present life is short. Most of us are caught up in the distractions of the day.
We seem to be frightened of the idea of holiness. We get itchy and fidgety whenever we get close to it, as if suffering from an allergic reaction. We find it more comfortable to wallow in the muck of our fallen nature. This fright is silly when we stop to think about it, because we are invited by God, and to be as holy as he is. That’s why we call ourselves “Christians.”
I often kid Sister Z by telling her that I won’t put her on a pedestal, no ma’am. In fact, I’m her personal millstone. I plan on holding onto her cloak so tightly that I’ll be dragged along when she is lifted up to heaven. She reminds me that this idea did not work for Elisha, as he watched Elijah riding into heaven, and assures me that she will leave me her cloak. She knows that I, being weak and a great sinner, need at least a double portion.
Like all good brides, Sister Z follows her divine Groom’s instructions, and so she recently visited this social leper in his Virginia prison. Jesus descended into hell to preach to the souls there, after he died on the cross and before he rose from the dead. Sister Z came to this purgatory on earth to speak with me. At her visit, I had a chance to see just how powerful her cloak is. In fact, I was graced to witness one of God’s ordinary little miracles, the kind, you know, that happen all the time if you just keep your eyes open, or maybe I should say, if you look with the eyes of faith and keep an open mind.