• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 07

Sister Veronica’s Habit

'I'm puzzled. Why do you want to give up wearing a habit Sister Veronica?' Father Pavic studied this itinerant sister. 'I'm more accessible to people when I'm out and about. People won't be put off by what I'm wearing,' Veronica’s discomfiture was obvious. Father Pavic sighed and leaned forward.
'But Sister, you're forgetting that you are not the same as other people; you gave up your life to be married to Christ...' he implored.
'Yes - but Christ's work is more important surely?' Veronica retorted with a hint of anger. Father Pavic threw his hands in the air.
'When you took your vows you became a new creature - to be not of this world...'
'Yet we have to deal with this world everyday. People come to me all the time asking for advice and prayers...' 'Yes - but you cannot help everyone - and you have your duties as directed by your Mother Superior,' Father Pavic commented, feeling defeated. 'Obedience is obedience Sister surely!'
A sparrow flew onto the windowsill, children could be heard shouting from the Parish Hall. Father Pavic cupped his hands together and tried to think of another way to discourage her.
'Our Parish relies on strength such as yours Sister, there are so few dedicated nuns joining Holy Orders these days. You are a great example of one who practices faith in action,' he sincerely exclaimed. Sister Veronica felt stifled and longed to strip off her white coif and itch her head. Some days she was desperate to run in the field barefoot, and show the world she was not a stuffy, prudish woman. She felt anxious that young people were put off by her religious garb - who wants to talk to a nun about sexual problems? No-one knew that she came late to the religious life; was once married and has two grown-up children; but Sister Veronica was impenetrably stubborn.

Sister Veronica’s Habit

'I'm sorry Father, it's my final decision. Thank-you for your patience. Look - I'll still be in the Parish, nothing will change - in fact - I think things will improve.'
Father Pavic knew he’d lost the battle as soon as she walked through the door; he was old-school (pre-Vatican II) - everything was changing so fast and without wisdom.

Sister Veronica embraced her new Order with vigor and excitement. She enjoyed the freedom of wearing her own clothes, and visiting troubled areas she might not have dared while wearing the habit. What she didn't notice were the subtle changes; she found herself discussing banalities with the women in the Order and even with the women of the Parish. Where she once wore a habit and was treated with kindness and respect; she was now hustled and crammed into a corner on the tram the same as any other person. Nobody spontaneously asked for religious counsel. Her thoughts often turned to men, and she inevitably struggled with her identity.
Sister Veronica forgot the important lesson from her previous Mother Superior: ‘Rules were the only key to true freedom.’