The Title

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 the one wearing it. It is a process that takes time and is never fully completed. Such is the process of becoming a Franciscan friar. When we enter the Order, we are given a “habit,” a brown sackcloth and white rope meant to be an outward sign and inward reminder of the life we have put on. At first, it can be bulky, unfamiliar, and even uncomfortable. What we bring to this life and what this life asks of us in return do not always fit perfectly. Like breaking in a glove or shoe, it requires attention, hard word, personal growth, patience, and most of all, the grace of God to make it our own. But what is being broken in, and who is doing the breaking? Unlike inanimate objects,the process of following the Gospel in the way of St. Francis of Assisi is not a one-directional process in which one side completely conforms to another. Joining religious life is a mutual processes of conversion. On the one had, every one of us is asked to bear the gifts God has given us to shape and uphold the life of the Order, to give it life and to drive it beyond where it has been. On the other hand, the Order has shown in its great 800-year history to be an institution of grace and wisdom, and must be responsible for calling each of its friars to constant conversion.

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