By Br. Abraham Joseph, OFM
The novices at the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate of the United States OFM provinces received their habits during the rite of investiture ceremony celebrated last month. In the reflection below, Holy Name Province’s student friar Br. Abraham Joseph, OFM, describes what the habit means to him.
“They left everything and followed Him” (Lk 5, 11). This spiritual ‘big bang’ started near the Galilean Sea more than two millennia ago, and has steadily expanded in time and space.
Women and men of different locations and generations have left all to follow Jesus. In the beginning of the 13th century, Francis and Clare of Assisi were moved by the same spirit.
During the summer of 2013, a group of men from different races, tongues, and cultures, arrived in Burlington, Wis. Their only desire was to follow Jesus in the footprints of Francis and Clare.
[The Franciscan habit] is a reminder that we have been called to take up the cross daily and follow Jesus.
Our initiation to this form of life is a long multi-step process that will unfold over several years. We were received into the Franciscan Interprovincial Novitiate in August.
In September, we divested ourselves of possessions that would distract us from the presence of Christ. In October, we received the rule and constitutions of the Order of Friars Minor.
On Nov. 17, we were invested with the habit, a sign of a change of lifestyle. Several friars from the provinces of the United States came to support us. Some traveled from as far as California.
Each step of our initial formation is very important. Nonetheless, the investiture had a special effect on us. We feel very transformed by it.
Our formator explained to us that “the habit (composed of tunic, cowl, and cord) is in the shape of a Tau cross. It is a powerful symbol of the paschal mystery. Each time we put it on can be a reminder that we have been called to take up the cross daily and follow Jesus.”
For me, every time I see it on me or my brothers, it builds up my awareness of the everlasting presence of Christ in us.
Our cord for now doesn’t have the usual three knots. They will be added next August during a further step of initiation, when we profess the vows (of poverty, chastity and obedience) they symbolize.
But now, we are all very happy to wear this new sign of our choice to answer the call of God.
Br. Abraham Joseph, OFM, a native of Haiti, is a novice of Holy Name Province. For further information about Br. Abraham, visit the Meet Our Student Friars page of the Franciscan Vocation Ministry website.
This article originally appeared in the Dec. 4, 2013, issue of HNP Today, the Province’s bi-weekly e-newsletter.