Tue, 21 Jun 2011 7:40:35 am
I notice under author it says you are a female friar. Since friar means brother, don't you think that choice of titles is a bit silly?
The comment above appeared this morning under a post from April 23. Because it's so far back in the blog, I didn't want the conversation to get lost so I'm putting it up and will also answer here rather than back under the April posting.
Here's the answer:
Yes, the etymology of "friar" is brother (from the Old French and Latin). The term is generally used to refer to a member of one of the mendicant orders (Dominican, Franciscan, Carmelite, and Augustinian).
The Augustinians of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have both female and male professed within one community so our custom is to use one term to signify our membership within the order and our bond to each other. So yes, female friar in this case. You can read about this more on our website.
In our daily interactions the precise term that people address us by varies according to whatever the person interacting with us is most comfortable using. So sometimes people will use "Sister" or "Friar" or just my first name---any of those is fine.
The more important issue has less to do with the title used, but with what it means to be a professed religious and the place of outward signs (habit, title, etc) in religious life.
One of the best comments I've seen on this comes from our Prior in a discussion we had with a novice:
"Remember that any outward sign, should point to the inner reality of our life and commitment. The outward signs we should strive to "wear" are open hearts aflame with God's love for all, especially those on the margins and each other in community(chastity), a love for God's WORD and sacraments (poverty), and loving imitation of our sister, Mary, in following God's will no matter how hard (obedience).
Without these inner realities, our habits and medals [and here I would add the word 'titles'] (as important as they can be) become nothing more that drag wear and bling-bling."
The heart of religious life is less about the specific title used (or what we wear), but is ultimately centered on how we live our vocation in relation to God and each other.