Did brothers/friars change lose their "habits" too?

Just wondering…
When the sisters and nuns dropped their habits in the late 60s, did the brothers and friars as well? I have seen Carmelite monks and Capuchins in their habits but it was always on TV (i.e., Fr. Benedict Groeschel, et al).
Like I said, just wondering… :confused:

Carmelites are friars not monks.

In some orders habits fell out of use but where never gotten rid of. The priests within these orders started to wear clerics or normal clothing.

The habit is coming back into use in some of these. In fact I am wearing mine right now.

I personally know several Franciscan brothers and priest who wear the habit only when they are celebrating Mass.

Out here even the pretty liberal friars still wear the habit.

I believe it depends on the particular order whether they wear a habit or not. Bro. JR (JReducation) has a wonderful post about this somewhere (he’s Franciscan). You can search his posts (all his posts are worth reading, IMHO).

:blush: Please forgive my ignorance. :shrug:

A few details . . . as Brother David has pointed out, friars are not monks. The confusion is a natural one. The Franciscan, Carmelites, Dominicans, Augustinians and Trinitarians are among the earliest communities to use the term “fratres” or “brothers”. The singular is “frater”. When they first went outside of Italy, the word was mispronounced and it became “friar”. But it’s actually, brother.

The reason that the friars and the monks were easily confused is because the friars took monastic life outside of the monastery. In simple English they prayed the Liturgy of the Hours round the clock, like the monks. They lived in brotherhoods, as did the monks. Their houses had enclosures, just like the monastery. As the orders of friars grew, many took on intellectual pursuits, just like the monks, especially the Franciscans and the Dominicans.

What makes us different? We are mendicants. In other words, we’re beggers. Whereas monks are industrious often owning large farms, factories and producing something to support themselves, friars lived from donations and from the work that they did on a daily basis. We don’t own these large complexes. Also, we are not attached to a single house. Monks are attached to the house where they make final vows.

Friars or Brothers, can be priests. In fact, most friars are priests. Orders such as the Dominican Friars and the Carmelite Friars are called Clerical Institutes. They are governed by the friars who are priests. The primary work of the order is priestly work. Those friars who are “lay” support the work of the friars who are priests and work alongside them in ministry. Not every order of friars is clerical. Franciscans are not clerical institutes, with few exceptions. I believe only three are. We have over 25 branches of the one Franciscan order. There are too many of us to be united under one superior general. Therefore, we have over 25 superiors general who govern over 1.7 million Franciscan friars around the world. Each branch of the Franciscan family follows the same rule, but we have different ministries and we have variations in those things where St. Francis allowed for flexibility. In those matters that he laid down as absolute, we are all the same.

As to the habit, I can’t speak for every order of friars. I can only speak for the Franciscan family. The friars never did away with the habit as did many community of sisters. In fact, in the Franciscan family, it is the consensus of all the general superiors and the constitutions of all the branches that the habit must be preserved and must be worn, not just for liturgy. Several things happened and they were wrong. Vatican II commanded us to return to the roots. In the rule, St. Francis and St. Clare allowed for the friars and sisters to wear other clothing according to culture, climate and work. They built in certain flexibility.

Human beings, altered by original sin, abused this flexibility that Vatican II had asked us to recover. Among Franciscans, we had allowed so many men to be ordained priests that we did not know what to do with them. We began to assign them to parishes. They were exposed to diocesan clergy, who are secular men. Gradually, many of these friars started to adopt the life and dress of the diocesan clergy. They began by adopting the Roman collar in place of the habit. Then they shifted to secular dress. This is part of what I call the “clericalization of the Franciscan life.” By 1975 we looked like an order of priests. We dressed like diocesan priests. We reduced our life in community to the minimum and increased the number of hours that we spent serving the laity. Other things began to happen, very quickly, that divided the friars. We had the “lay brothers” who wore habits and remained inside the house doing manual labor and the priests who looked like diocesan priests and were outside doing priestly ministry.

By the 1990s we realized that this was a big mistake. We were sabotaging ourselves. Our communities were divided. We had created two classes of friars, priests and brothers. We were killing the brotherhood made up of many men: priests, preachers, nurses, gardeners, cooks, carpenters, spiritual directors and more. We had taken the young ordained friars and turned them into secular priests, when in fact, they had joined the Franciscan order to be friars, not parish priests. God called many of them to be both, friars and priests, but he did not call them to live like diocesan priests. Their priestly ministry was to be exercised within the boundaries of brotherhood and it always came second to life as a brother or friar. We had made a mess of things.

The Franciscan renewal began with this realization that we needed to get back to Vatican II. Vatican II called us to recover the charism and the spirit of our founders. The habit was part of that charism. Our habit was our sign of brotherhood. When we put it on, it reminds us that we are the Sons of St. Francis of Assisi. We’re not priests, teachers, counselors, chaplains, spiritual directors, bishops or popes, we are the Sons of St. Francis and because we have a common father and a family history that goes back 800 years, we are brothers to each other. Our habit identifies us as members of the family.

Like all extended families, there are nuclear families within it. Therefore, there are different variations of the Franciscan habit. But you will find that we have one external thing in common, the tunic with a chord around the waste. This was written into the rule by St. Francis. The color varies from one branch to another. The size and shape of the hood does too, but that tunic with a chord is the flag that shouts FRANCISCAN. It’s like your family with all of your uncles and cousins, etc. You have different last names, but you share a common heritage and something identifies you. It may be the Smith nose or the Johnson’s red hair, etc. For us, it’s the tunic with chord. Today, every branch of the family has recalled the friars back to the habit, because it is important to us not to be confused with the priest in the parish, the teacher in the high school, the social worker on the street. We may be priests, teachers, social workers, gardeners, cooks, etc, but we are the Sons of St. Francis and brothers to each other. Everything else, whether you are a priest or a teacher or a cook, is additional. The habit is our family gene.

The laity can be very helpful if they not demand that those friars who are priests serve them 24/7. This is not the mission of a friar. A friar in a habit, who is more attached to the parishioners than to his brothers is just a man in a costume. To do this, the man must live like a brother. He must be free to drop everything, evne confessions and mass, to pray, recreate, eat and work with his brothers. The habit must shout, BROTHER.

Friars as brothers


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

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