The Habit of Wearing the Habit
by Archbishop +Brian J. Kennedy
I worked my way through College as a salesman for the BIC Pen company selling imprinted pens as a promotional item to business people. The Sales Manager was fond of reminding all the salesman that they must LOOK the part if they want to be taken seriously by other business people. A Salesman sells everyday or is at least preparing for the sale each day.
It is important to remember that where ever the salesman goes, even if he is off duty with his family, there goes the BIC Pen company in the eyes of the business community. He must be a professional at all times. After College, I went to the Seminary. I knew I had a vocation to the Monastic life and the Priesthood. I joined the Monastery and began studies for the Priesthood. In the Seminary, starting from the beginning of my 2 years as a Novice, I heard about the importance of loving the Habit and wearing the Habit.
I was told by the Master of Novices, Father Daniel, the Habit is a billboard advertising the presence of a Monastic, a Priest and reminding people that God and the Church are among them in their midst. The Habit, I was assured, would also draw people to God and Holy Mother Church. I was also assured the Habit would serve as an inspiration to me to avoid evil and do good and live my faith commitment and my Monastic vows of Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Stability. I was young then and did not understand the full importance of what I was being told.
Now that I am old, I understand that this all is true. Wearing the Habit of St. Benedict has prompted me to spiritual fidelity and to being a better Priest and Bishop.
I wear the Habit all the time, in the house, on the streets, in the grocery or where ever I happen to go. It has, most especially in recent years, served as a magnate to the lost, the searching, the spiritually disenfranchised and the lonely. (not to mention to every panhandler !) People are so glad to "see a Priest" they respond from the heart. The Holy Spirit has used the Habit to "keep me in line" but also to inspire others to return to the active practice of their faith, embrace the Church and the saving Word and Sacraments of Christ. I have heard Confessions at the Bus Depot in Pittsburgh while waiting for my bus, in a train station in New York, in a grease pit in the gas station, in more than one back room of more than one commercial retail sales outlet. The Habit is what attracted the people because the Holy Spirit used the Habit to draw people.
We use the ancient Latin Liturgy as we have always done for the last 1600 years the Order has been in existence. It is tradition with us. Tradition is important. Our Liturgy is essentially the Liturgy of Pius V according to the ancient Benedictine Rite. People are drawn to that. Saints have used the Liturgy and have been crowned with spiritual victory because of the graces received through the Latin Liturgy. Through the Latin Liturgy and the wearing of the Habit many a Monk has remained faithful to his vocation and attained Theosis and synergy with God. Many are unaware that the Latin Liturgy was used by the Holy Monks at Mt. Athos in Greece in the early 900's. Our branch of the OSB went from Italy to Mt. Athos in 925 and from there to England and from there to North America. With them, they always brought the Latin Liturgy and the spirit of fraternity which can only come from continuous and faithful wearing of the Habit. There is an old saying, "None shall perish, who remain faithful to the wearing of the Habit". This has been proven true in the life of many a Monk. If a man is going to stray from his vows, he must first remove the Habit. If a man is going to be unfaithful to his Priestly vocation, he must first remove the Habit. A man cannot surrender to the world, the flesh and the devil and still wear the Habit; it can't be done. The Habit will always get in the way.
Mentally bowing to the light of Christ within you, I remain a repentant sinner, worker in the vineyard of Christ and
His Unworthy Priest,
Archbishop +Brian Kennedy, O.S.B.
Ukrainian Orthodox Church/Western Rite Metropolia *
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