In August 2011, I began the 6-7 year formation process required of the Holy Name Province as a way to humble me in the ways of St. Francis, and to prepare me for a life of service. During this time, I will be asked to look more deeply at my relationship with Christ through work and prayer, become a better brother to both neighbor and fellow friar, and study in a way that prepares me to respond to a complex world with equally nuanced answers. I imagine that the next few years will be filled with both joy and sadness, growth and setbacks, deep contemplation and foolishness, all the while challenging me to constantly seek to love in a more profound way.
It is my hope that reflecting in a blog form such as this will aid in my development process through the years. Unlike other mediums of self reflection, this one has the opportunity to step out of the “personal” reflection realm into a more communal one. Not only will there be a sense of accountability to a community of readers (or, if nothing else, the imagined community of readers) to post frequently, there is the more meaningful possibility of engaging with others about the most important aspects of my life.
Finally, a word about my title. Certainly I wanted something catchy and creative, which I hope I’ve accomplished. But there’s more to it than that. To “break in” something, as in a glove or shoe, is to begin using something that is unfamiliar or even uncomfortable, shaping it gradually over time, until it conforms to an individual way to the user. It is a process, and it takes a lot of work. In this sense, I will go through a similar process of receiving and wearing a habit over many years, transitioning it from a bulky, uncomfortable sack cloth to a familiar, comfortable sign of my identity. Symbolically, I will need to actively shape my communities and ministries in a way that fits who I am, adding to the diverse life of the friars. The name goes much deeper than that, however. Though I may be able to break in a glove or a shoe to perfection without changing the size of my hand or foot, the habit is not this way. In order for it to fit, physically and symbolically, it will need to break me in just as much as I break it in. I will need to be shaped spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and socially, in a way that assents to its ideals, and conforms to a life that is meaningful and worthwhile. This is the essence of ”Breaking In The Habit.” This blog is an attempt to capture the mutual breaking in of two entities, in hopes that they will fit together over time.