“Lost Habits” is the story of a cradle Catholic who takes his son to a ‘Catholic’ prep school for an admission test. He spots an Augustinian priest in full habit, and begins to reminisce about how religious orders could be identified by their habits. He describes viewing Norbertines’ habits as ’emblems of purity to which every man ought to aspire’. Sadly, the Augustinian priest proves to be a modern ecumenical when he describes the positive mix of faiths in the classroom, and how he respects them, and promotes the acceptance of them by his students. I loved this portion of the article: ‘So my son lives in a world where there is almost no visible or attractive presence of the consecrated life. What was commonplace to me is unknown to him. I grew up in a Catholic world, surrounded by nuns and priests and religious whose very dress reflected their faith–our faith–the reality of eternity. My son is growing up in a world hostile to all that is Catholic, even within the Church’s own precincts. For me, Catholicism was expressed in all that I saw and heard; I breathed the air of my faith. For my son, Catholicism is an embattled idea that keeps barely a toehold on its own fortifications, pressed by enemies without and within, unable to take at face value a simple profession of loyalty, but forced to test everyone and everything.’
Wow. ‘I breathed the air of my faith.’ I haven’t read anything quite so beautiful in a very long time.