Sunday, 7 August 2016

Old Habits die hard

Habits get a bad name: leaving the toilet seat up, speaking with your mouth full or flicking through Twitter while someone is talking to you, are just some examples. We all have our own.
In medieval times for something to be virtuous it needed to components: 'habitus' and 'actus'. Habitus was the state of mind or intention that we put on and actus the behaviour that came from the intention or, in other words, how we made known to the world our inner state of mind and motivation. Just to be clear, vices operated along the same lines! All sounds very philosophical, I know but bear with me.
As someone who has the privilege of wearing a Capuchin habit everyday, this medieval approach has sparked my imagination. It has called me to ask myself to what extent am I aware of WHAT I am putting on when I put on my habit? To what extent is it an automatic process for me? To what extent am I tuned into how this outward symbol projects my inner motivations?

Behavioural habits can be good or not so good, depending on what they are. We often do things and say things 'out of habit' and don't give them a second thought. Today's Gospel (19th Sunday, Year C) calls us to awareness and vigilance. It calls us to be people who are awake and attentive to the sound of God operating in and around us, ready to respond when our surprising God allows His Presence to be felt.

Our Capuchin habit is an outward sign of our inner motivations, values and desires as Brothers of St Francis and Brothers of the People. It lets others know who we are and lets us know who we are too. It is a visible sign that there is more to the story. A sign that we are part of an immense mystery far beyond our comprehension and a sign that there is another way; the way of peace, of reconciliation and of hope. The way of Jesus Christ.

I always get a great sense of purpose and joy when I pull my habit over my head. For a couple of seconds I am plunged into the dark space that this action creates only to emerge once again into the light. In doing so I am reminded of my Baptism and of my religious profession. I am reminded of the opportunity and responsibility that comes with wearing this habit and I am reminded that I am not alone. I am part of a brotherhood dedicated to preaching the Gospel and serving the poor as 'Brothers of the People'. I thank God for it and pray that more men and women will be attentive to the sound of our surprising God, the God that brings us from darkness into light, together.

Brother Martin
(Provincial Vocation Promoter)

If you would like to share your story and hear some more of ours, please contact Br Martin on 085 1188468 or email

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