In the Habit
Habits ‘Should Mark Us’
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
September 12, 2019
Brother Theodore Haggerty, OSB, is one of the younger monks at Marmion Abbey, scheduled to be ordained to the priesthood next year.
He and Benedictine Father Joel Rippinger talk about the “great witness value” of their habits.
This is the second of an occasional series by Amanda Hudson, news editor, on religious habits. We began with the Poor Clare Colettine nuns at Corpus Christi Monastery in Rockford. (See the Aug. 9 issue.) We now feature the monks of Marmion Abbey in Aurora. Coming: priests’ attire.
Father Joel entered the Benedictine order in 1968, recalling it as a time when habits were being questioned as being “in the way” of the witness of the religious life. For some, he says, habits became “almost a political football.”
The Benedictines are practical about their habits. At times, a monk’s clerical collar can suffice, Father Joel says. He notes that, while wearing the habit is preferred, for physically-active undertakings the religious community takes something of a common sense approach. 
The monks can wear a shorter work habit, with or without a tee-shirt underneath, when they are doing various manual labors — working on ladders or running a rototiller, for example. That simple, pullover garment is lightweight, has pockets, and it is also useful for maintaining an external witness when a monk travels, Father Joel says.
What’s important, he adds, “is maintaining modesty and cleanliness.” 
St. Benedict in his Rule prescribes two habits. He himself had two habits, the one worn was clean and the other was being cleaned.
To read more about the habits of the Benedictine order see the Sept. 13 issue of The Observer.
Also, in the Aug. 9 issue you can gain an understanding of the habits of the Poor Clare Colettine nuns at Corpus Christi Monastery in Rockford.