FAQ: Why wear a habit of mourning?
During Lent, we are sharing some reflections from our nuns on common questions about the Passion of Christ, redemptive suffering and penance, and some aspects of cloistered contemplative life. Read the rest of the FAQs here, here, here, here, & here. We hope these may answer some of your questions, or help you to respond to the questions of others!
Question #6: Why do you wear a black habit as a sign of mourning? Because of the Resurrection of Jesus, shouldn’t you wear a color signifying joy?
In our Passionist tradition, Our Lady of Sorrows appeared to St. Paul of the Cross (the founder of the Passionist Congregation) clothed in the black habit of a Passionist and asked him and his followers to wear the same garment as a sign of mourning and to keep her company at the foot of the Cross. We understand “mourning” as a compassionating love for Jesus Crucified, just as Our Lady had for Him as she stood at the foot of the Cross. One of our vows is to promote devotion to and grateful remembrance of the Passion and Death of Jesus. So, even though black is a color of mourning, it is meant to remind us that we are to compassionate Jesus Crucified and console Him in our daily lives, by a life of love and virtue.
Jesus has been resurrected and He has ascended into Heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father, and so He no longer physically suffers, yet He suffers still in His Mystical Body here on earth. And so, as long as one of His members suffers, we have reason to mourn and do all we can to intercede by our prayers and sacrifices until the final fulfillment when Christ comes again in glory and there will be no more mourning or suffering. And even though as Passionists we wear a black garment of mourning, I can assure you that we are a very joyful group of women!