“The Franciscans have been wearing the same thing for 800 years, and in no way is it out of style. From the latin word habitus meaning “to put on a new way of life,” the habit is an outward symbol of an inward commitment. I will not receive one until my second year, and will not have the three knots until I take my initial vows the following year.” Sound familiar? It should! It’s been on the right side of the screen under the brown habit since I launched this blog!
I think it’s a great idea on the part of the order to a have a preparatory year such as this in which we do not receive the habit because it allows us to discern our own inward commitments a bit more before we show the world in such a physical way. This, however, doesn’t mean that we as postulants can’t begin “to put on a new way of life,” expressing the beginnings of our inward commitment by adopting personal “habits” so to speak. Here are a few of the lifestyle changes that I’ve made so far this year that I feel are both a representation of my commitment and an aid to strengthen it.
Early to bed, early to rise: It’s been a very difficult discipline, but I’ve been in bed by 11:00 almost every single night, and up by 7:00 every single morning. For those who don’t think that’s hard, remember that I’m 22, and just 6 months ago I was on the 1:30am-9:30am sleep cycle. The first week of transitioning was awful, but I’ve been okay with it since.
No more dryer for me: In an attempt to lower my carbon footprint and better respect God’s creation, I’ve decided to air-dry all of my clothes. It takes about ten extra minutes of work to hang all of them on a drying rack than than to throw them in dryer, but there is absolutely no energy used in the process. It also means that my clothes, in theory, will last longer, requiring me to buy new things less often.
Praying multiple times a day, every day: As a community, we pray in the morning at 7:30, in the evening at 5:15, and at night at 9:00. Though this isn’t exactly an optional habit to get into, it still requires an appropriate mindset for each: I could simply show up to each, or I could take a few minutes before and after the set times to prepare and reflect. I’m certainly working towards the latter, and it’s one of the best habits I’ve adopted.
Reading the Bible everyday: As a typical Catholic growing up, I didn’t read the Bible often, and the extent of my knowledge came from the readings at mass. Given that it has a couple thousand pages, it would be easy enough to label it an overwhelming task and never read any of it. But if I commit to reading a chapter or two every day, 3-6 pages a day turns into more than a thousand pages in a year. I can commit to three pages a day! So far I’ve read the Gospel of Luke, most of John, and the commentaries for both.
Clean and simple room: For those of you who know me well, this may be the most shocking habit I’m attempting to adopt. I have made my bed every day, I fold and put away clothes immediately, and I’ve put papers and books back where they go rather than letting them stack up. As I said in A Rush To Slow Down, my room is my sacred space, and part of keeping it sacred is keeping it clean. So far so good, but we’ll have to see once the year starts getting a little busier!
Obviously there are a lot more things that have changed in my life since last year, but I thought that these were the most significant. I hope that adopting these new habits with great joy will help me discern my commitment to following St. Francis’ way of following Jesus.
I won’t be able to post again until Tuesday night at the earliest as we’re heading off to the beach for a community retreat. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll check back Tuesday or Wednesday!