When I was discerning a life with the Franciscans, one of the friars told me a joke: “Once you’ve met one Jesuit, you’ve met the Jesuits. Once you’ve met one Franciscan, you’ve met one Franciscan.” A quip both sides actually like to tell (James Martin, S.J., the Jesuit writer of for America Magazine mentions it in his book, The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything), once could say that it’s more than just playful sibling rivalry: there’s actually some truth to it. As this friar (and James Martin) described it, Ignatian Spirituality and its subsequent formation program for new Jesuits is very organized, regimented, and clearly defined, producing men that all seem to have similar ideas about various topics. Even the slightest whiff of a reform is squashed immediately. The Franciscan charism, as many of you will remember from my video Why Are There So Many Different Franciscans? is slightly less defined… and is almost built on constant reform. As a result, I have heard Jesuits and Franciscans tell the same followup joke: “If you ask 100 Jesuits from around the world the same question, you will get the same one answer. If you ask 100 Franciscans around the world the same question, you might get 100—or more—different answers.”
It is within that context that I present the newest web series to Breaking In The Habit, “A Friar Life.” For years I have gotten requests to share what a normal day is like for a friar, and for years I’ve wanted to show it. But who could capture what it means to be a Franciscan for us all? What one single day could epitomize the rest? Surely, for us friars, one does not exist. Luckily, one doesn’t have to. For the next five (hopefully six… maybe seven) Fridays, I will present a glimpse into the life of a different friar. Sometimes shot in a single day, other times highlighting a variety of tasks over a series of days, no one video is meant to capture every aspect of each friar’s life as if each were complete, stand-alone records of each friar’s life. Rather, just as we come together to build a fraternity that is greater than any one individual, these videos are intended to be taken together, each as a piece of the wider, ongoing, and growing puzzle of what it means to live as a Franciscan.