Not Done Breaking It In

Today marks the six year anniversary of entering the friars as a postulant.

Wow. Six years ago my parents and I drove up from North Carolina to Wilmington, DE to drop me off at the friary. There are moments of that year, now so long ago, that I can remember as if they were yesterday.

I remember the joy and freedom I felt once it finally began, arriving where I had wanted to be for over a year, starting my new life. The first night I sat in my room—a room left barren with so few possession to fill the big empty space—and smiled with excitement. I was really doing it. No more thoughts. No more discernment. No more “in the future.” I was on my way to becoming a friar.

I remember the awkwardness of meeting my new classmates, working through the social dynamics to figure each other out. For the two weeks, I don’t think anyone talked with each other outside of our meetings and meal times. People did what they were supposed to then shyly retreated to their rooms.

I remember the frustration of dealing with housemates with different values than my own, of having a director place rules on me for the first time since I was probably 12. I felt trapped at times, stuck in a world that was completely foreign to me and bore little resemblance to the life I wanted to join.

I remember the almost daily occurrence of new insights, moments of growth, and challenges that would shape me for the rest of my life. In some ways, it is so difficult to think back six years and remember who I was, what I thought about, what I didn’t know, what I failed to do, and what I still needed to learn. If only postulant me could see almost-solemnly-professed me…

I’ve said multiple times before that I decided to become a friar in July of 2010, a year before I actually entered the Order. I knew at that moment that I was in it for life, and could very well have taken solemn vows right then and there. Even looking back, I believe I could have. My conviction for this life has not changed, and there has never been a moment in these seven years that I have legitimately considered anything else.

And yet, as grueling and frustrating as this preparation has been, knowing the whole time that I didn’t actually need time to make the decision, I can’t even begin to think about what type of friar I would be right now without it. These six years of memories—

  • Almost burning down the postulant house when someone put a pizza box in the oven
  • Going through three rounds of evaluations in novitiate in which I had to present all of my strengths and weaknesses to a panel of four team members
  • Staying up late at night to discuss religion, politics, philosophy, and the need in the world today, “Making plans to change the world, While the world is changing us,” (to quote the great pot-smoking mystic Dave Matthews)
  • Mourning as classmates decided to leave the Order for another life
  • The amazingly supportive people I have interacted with, at ministry sights, within religious life, and even here online
  • Fighting with the brothers over things that can only be fought over when people are under-stimulated and see each other too much
  • Nervously stepping into the role of Church leader for the first time, struggling to do things that I can do without a moment of preparation today

—yes, this six years of friar life could fill a book with all I’ve reflected on and learned along the way, how I have maintained the same conviction with the same values, and yet become a person I would have never imagined. What a ride it’s been.

Come Saturday—yes, this Saturday, no longer any needed a qualifier or explanation because it was so far in the future, but the very Saturday that is next on the calendar—I will make my solemn profession before my Provincial Minister, the friars gathered, my friends, my family, and anyone else who wants to join, to live as a Franciscan for as long as I live.

Walking with my classmates, six years ago, to the solemn profession of two brothers. Quite surreal to know that I will be on the other side of this picture soon.

And I find myself at the crossroads I imagined from the beginning.

Five years ago, I wondered about the future of Breaking In The Habit. As a name, it fit perfectly for what I was doing; “Reflections of a friar in training” was the original tagline. Once I was solemnly professed, would I continue with the blog? Would I keep the name? Now, crossing the proverbial bridge we knew we would come to, the answer is obvious to me: of course I will keep going. Besides the practical business side of maintaining a brand, the fact of the matter is that I’m not done breaking in this habit. Despite the fact that I am done with formation and am ready to live the rest of my life as a Franciscan Friar, my life is not over! Come Sunday, friar life will not all of the sudden become magically easy; the challenges to Gospel living I face Friday will not disappear by Sunday; my flaws today will still be my flaws next week! No, “breaking in the habit,” learning to live this life, is not something that one can complete and move on from. It is a life-long process.

And I can’t wait.

I want to thank all of you who have followed me from the beginning, those who have supported me along the way, and those who will support me in the future I continue to break in the habit of a very strange life. My last six years has not been lived in a vacuum, and what I said in the original “why blog” tab that was on the old site: I wanted to blog not just to share my life with others, but so that others could take part in my reflections, forming and challenging me along the way. So many of you have done just that, and so I want to thank you, but also exhort you: just as my work of breaking in this way of life is not done, neither is your effort in doing it with me. If I am going to be anything close to what God wants me to be for the people of God, you all are going to have to keep it up as well. And I’m sure you will.

Peace and good to all.

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25 Comments on “Not Done Breaking It In

  1. Friar Casey,
    I wish you many wonderful blessings on your solemn profession. May God grant you peace, serenity and joy and as your Francis prayed “Lord make me an instrument of your peace” may you continue to be that instrument of peace, hope, compassion and love to others. Amen! May It Be So!
    Peace and all good,
    Roger

  2. What a heartfelt reflection at this point in your Franciscan formation. I am game for the journey with you my Brother. May the Lord give you peace.
    Pax et bonum,
    Louis OFS

  3. I have been following you since Lent 2017. You are going to be such an asset to the Church! Best wishes! If I recall correctly you will be in Chicago studying. I’ll keep an eye out for you, but it’s a big town.

  4. May God bring to fufillment the good work he has begun in you. congratulations Pax et Bonum. Deacon Tony

  5. Best wishes to you on Saturday! I am so proud of your accomplishments. I have learned a great deal from you and your example. Thank you for continuing to share your gifts, thoughts, and reflections with all of us.

  6. Fof us friars minor it is the reaffirmation of our response to God’s tender call to follow His Son OLJC in the manner of the Poverello. May this decision lead you to peace and joy. May you be faithful to following Christ. May you persevere until the end. God bless you and your family! Un abrazo fraterno muy fuerte!

  7. Pax et Bonum, Friar Casey. Thank you for sharing the last six years of your life with us, step by step we walked with you. Now please share the next 60 as we continue to walk with you through your lifetime of ongolng formation.

  8. Congratulations Friar Casey! I’ve been following your blog for about 4 years now and I’ve learned so much about a Friar’s Life. I currently attend Mass at the Wilmington DE Monastery on Prior Road with Father Francis, Father Bill & the gang. Good luck in your vocation, I’m sure you will be a great servant of the people.
    God Bless You.

  9. Congrats on your accomplishment and fulfillment May God Bless you in the years ahead Keep up the good work !

  10. Friar Casey know that you are being prayed for in Aotearoa New Zealand.May the Holy Spirit continue to guide and sustain you in your religious journey.

    Peace and blessings.

  11. Casey….looking forward to making the trip this weekend from St Anthony’s with Fr Pat to be witness to this incredible event. May God continue to bless your journey.

  12. Thank you for putting into words what others feel but are unable to verbalize. The challenges of heeding the call, be it to a religious vocation or living in Christ in the secular career, is easier because of your shared experience. My prayers are with you on your journey. May God’s peace and love remain with you always.

  13. This is so exciting. I so recall your being with us at St. Francis for one of your summer programs. You brought such insight and joy to those you encountered. I have been following your posts since that time and reflected on your words. Prayers have been said for you as you have pursued your vocation. Congratulations on the next step and know prayers will continue as you go forth and spread the Good News.

    Peace, joy and many prayers to you, Jan >

  14. Congratulations Brother Casey! As a layman, I can only guess the reasons for spending six years in preparation for this great day. Saturday will be a wonderful day for you; one you will remember for the rest of your life.
    God Bless you and enjoy your great day.
    Simon

  15. Congratulations “almost Friar” Casey. 😇 Thank you for your reflection on the unfinished nature of “braking in the habit”. As a director of formation for Secular Franciscans, I always teach that we are “becoming Franciscans.” We continually grow through ongoing formation and daily conversion as we follow in the footsteps of our seraphic Father Francis. Be assured that you are specifically are in my daily prayers.

  16. Congratulations, Br. Casey, as you take this next crucial step in your spiritual journey. I wish you all the best and am glad to hear that you are continuing your excellent blog.

  17. Dear Br. Casey, I remember you as a summer intern at St. Anthony of Padua. I have followed your journey to the priesthood and it is with so much joy that I will be able to witness your ordination with the group from St. Anthony. May our Lord give you the energy and strength you will need to accomplish deeds that will lead others to God and help to bring about his Kingdom.

  18. Prayers of congratulations and support and you continue on your journey

  19. Dear Casey
    Wishing you the best as you approach this special day. Congratulations and blessings to you! I’m very glad you will continue to blog and I will continue to read your wonderful writings!
    Peace and love your way!
    Bonnie Carfolite

  20. Congratulations on you solemn profession!!! I have been a follower of your blog since you began andkept you in my daily prayers. You will be such a great asset to our Holy Church. Keep Francis alive for us!! And never lose your vision of wearing the symbol of his order, the habit.

    Peace!

  21. Congrats on your great achievement. Please know the good work you do touches many lives and that in itself is such a special thing.. I am open to support you as well. Keep up all your good work

  22. Congratulations, Brother Casey! When you posted this I was at work (on a ship on the Great Lakes), so I missed the news. I’m a grandmother, and can vouch that we don’t stop changing (hopefully growing) throughout life. I don’t spend too much time wishing I knew then what I know now. God is such a sweetheart that every time that thought crops up, it’s met with a counter-thought: He makes all things work to His glory. I only regret what I’ve done to offend Him. I could go all “grandmotherly” and tell you a thing or two, but be aware that I’m not above learning from you. You have taught me a thing or two, and I thank you. May God bless you and draw you ever nearer!

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