Our Franciscan habit is brown, the color of earth and soil. For us this color is always the invitation to cultivate the humble heart. “Humus” is the Latin word for “ground.” “Humility” comes from that word. The Friars Minor are the “lesser brother,” the men who try to live out a down-to-earth opinion of themselves in the reality of truth. All the friars wear the same cut of robe praying that they will soon acquire the habit of Christian truth and humility.
Shaped in the form of the Cross, the Franciscan garb is a powerful sign of dedication and a wonderful reminder of the friar’s commitment to Christ and His Church and to the Kingdom of God. They wear their habit in all kinds of weather to all points around the world, via satellite too. Traveling even in aircraft they are a Christian witness in brown. The habit is always a blessing, even though its inconvenience at times may be experienced as a cross.
The message of the cross-shaped habit is reinforced by the crucifix worn by the friar on his rosary hanging from his white cord. Jesus Crucified is the full focus of the friar. He loves. His Crucified Lord, naked, clothed only in His own blood. What else is there in this world for the friar? No wonder he accepts the yoke of the cowl attached to the habit upon making his vows. The sign of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience is symbolized in the three knots of his cord. These vows keep the friar nailed to the Cross for a lifetime.
The friar has help in his trials from the Blessed Virgin Mary whose rosary he carries and prays every day. He enjoys the inspiration of St. Francis and St. Clare with their medal attached to his rosary. But the biggest help in time of need comes from the Holy Eucharist. The friars carry the image of the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance on their chest, close to their heart, front and center. Jesus on the altar and in the friar’s heart makes the yoke easy, the cross bearable, and the vows livable with joy.
The words of Consecration still contain the solution for all the problems of the world including our own. Not even God could have given us any more! Living almost under the same roof with His Eucharistic King, praying four hours a day in the Presence of the Risen Lord, in company with the Virgin Mother of God whose name each friar carries as his own – all this devotion and piety nourishes him to extend himself for the glory of God and love of his neighbor.
Can there possibly be a more fulfilling life in this world with faith and the nervous system to support it? For those who believe no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe no explanation is possible. Without faith the Franciscan, Catholic, Christian vocation is sheer non-sense. With faith, is there any calling more beautiful or praiseworthy in the history of the world? And, it’s all yours, O Franciscan Missionary of the Eternal Word!