In light of the diminished status of the religious habit since Vatican II, this dissertation explores the development and significance of the religious habit of male institutes of the Western Church. Currently (2015), many older religious believe that consecrated life may be lived more faithfully without a religious habit, while a high percentage of younger religious desire to wear a habit as a visual expression of their consecration. This difference of opinion is a cause of tension within many religious institutes. Despite tremendous change in the use of the religious habit since Vatican II, the habit has received minimal scholarly attention, and practically none written in English.
This dissertation engages the initial legislative texts of numerous religious institutes in an effort to present the historical development of the habit of male religious of the Western Church. It also gives magisterial directives on the habit that have been issued throughout the history of the Church. The dissertation summarizes theological themes that have traditionally been connected to the religious habit, and it engages theological interpretations that have emerged since Vatican II which have contributed to the diminishment of the religious habit.
Research into the development and significance of the habit of male religious of the Western Church affirmed the following ideas. First, distinctive attire has nearly always been an important element of male religious life. Second, magisterial directives have consistently aimed to restore the discipline of the habit when that discipline grew weak and to promote the habit in connection to poverty. Third, the religious habit has traditionally been connected with the notions of consecration, group identity, and rupture with the world. Lastly, the diminishment of the religious habit in the post-Vatican II period has been particularly influenced by the following ideas present in the documents of Vatican II: the “Universal Call to Holiness in the Church,” the Church’s “turn toward the world,” and a renewed emphasis on baptism as the fundamental source of the dignity of every Christian.
Time will reveal if future generations of male religious give the habit a more prominent role than it has been given in the fifty years since Vatican II.
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|Commitee:||O'Donnell, OP, Rev. Gabriel B., Schreiber, OP, Sr. Margaret|
|School:||The Catholic University of America|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Religious history, Theology, Spirituality|
|Keywords:||Consecrated life, Habit, Men, Religious garb, Religious habit, Religious institutes, Religious life|
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