Breaking In The (real) Habit

Because pictures were not allowed tonight, you'll just have to imagine for a little longer...

Up until now, the theme of this blog, a play on words of the attire for a religious, has been nothing more than symbolic, and at times, speculative in nature. The reality is that I cannot break in a physical habit (or be broken in by one) until I actually receive one in December of this year. Or so I thought…

Tonight, we were fitted for what will be our habits during the novitiate year. Because we’ll only be temporary members next year called “novices,” being “fitted” for a habit meant searching through a closet filled with old and worn habits of deceased friars (hoping we could find one even remotely close to our height and with as few rips and stains as possible), instead of being sized for a new, custom made one. It’s a great sign of humility, and for the sake of puns, excellent that I’ll be receiving an already broken in habit. What more could I ask for?

At this point, I’m practically no closer to being a friar than I was two hours ago; the only difference is that I have a ripped, slightly stained habit hanging in my closet waiting to be tailored. But there was something very significant in putting one on, getting to know what it felt like, and seeing what I looked like, all for the first time. Honestly I didn’t want to do any of it yet! Even knowing that it wasn’t real, that it was more like a game of dress-up than anything else, it was still a pretty powerful moment to see myself as a friar.

But for now, it’s back to the normal jeans and a t-shirt, khakis and a button-up for ministry. Come December, though, I might look a little different. The important thing to remember is that my life is being oriented toward the Latin habitus, “putting on a new way of life.” Each day I’m focused on repentance and loving God, no matter what it is I’m wearing throughout my life as a friar, I’ll actually be breaking in the (real) habit and letting it break me into the Kingdom that I seek. Seriously, what more could one ask of this life?

9 Comments on “Breaking In The (real) Habit

  1. I’m surprised they would give you a used habit. I think it would be psychologically beneficial to be given a new habit. That;s a very small expenditure compared to the amount of money the province is currently investing in you postulants for road trips to various functions throughout the eastern third of the U.S. Save the used habits for everyday habits later on, not for your Sunday best or your one and only. Of course, you no longer need to wear your habit for housekeeping and gardening chores. Nonetheless, I don’t agree with this kind of humility.

  2. Emil,
    I thank you for your comment and constant support. You’re absolutely right that compared to some of the other things we do, a newly made habit would be barely a blip on the balance sheet. But the reason we do it this way is not because of money. I would actually argue that it’s BETTER psychologically this way. There’s something to be said about the significance of having a habit that is designed perfectly for you and that is distinctly your own. This might actually be too much to handle for someone still discerning the vows, and is a very substantial “gift” from the order upon taking our first formal commitment, even if it doesn’t cost much.

  3. It was great seeing you and the other postulants last weekend at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days, Casey.

    I have to tell you that my novice (used) habit was by far my best habit. I wore it for years until we had a new novice in Lima, Peru, who needed a habit and so I volunteered to pass mine along since I had new ones that I had received for first and then solemn vows. Neither of the new ones ever fit as well, washed as well or were as comfortable as that used habit that I first received. Many times, I have wished that I had volunteered one of my new habits and kept that old one. 🙂


    • Jim, this is a very touching story. Thanks for posting it.

  4. Casey,
    With all the hand-me-downs you grew up with you should feel right at home in someone else’s habit. Looking forward to seeing you in it.
    Love, Mom

  5. Pingback: A Call to Sacramental Ministry « Breaking In The Habit

  6. I remember my first Habit, I had it made, sort of tailor fitted, a brown colour, and started wearing it here and their. I soon found a newish one hanging up at the back of the friary, I love wearing it, yet what seems to happen is those around me love me wearing it, I am still amazed at how many wonderful comments I get. It just goes to show that people love seeing one on a spiritual journey, that people still love the goodness that surrounds such a simple garment. That people still can identify that it is Franciscan and that it is a wee bit special.

  7. Pingback: Why I Wear My Habit | Breaking In The Habit

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