Benedictine Secular Order of the Missionaries of Charity
Ordem Secular dos Beneditinos Missiónarios da Caridade
The Benedictine Confederation
The Benedictine Secular Order of the Missionaries of Charity is a union of monastic orders which, despite this, maintained their internal autonomy, as established by Pope Leo XIII in "Summum semper" (July 12, 1893), later approved by his successors. Pius XII explicitly ordered that this union be regulated by a "lex propria", which was later revised by the Second Vatican Council.
The Monastic Habit:
Habit is a type of religious garment worn by members of some congregations or orders, unlike the cassock worn by diocesan presbyters. Similarly to other congregations, the habit used in the Benedictine Abbey of the Missionaries of Charity is the sign of the consecration of the religious to God.
It is common for people to say that "The habit does not make the monk." In spite of such talk it is a folly and a fallacy, when it comes to the monastic habit, it deserves a reflection on it. Undoubtedly, the monk, with his life, his practices and his example, is much greater than a simple robe, and it is impossible to say anything to the contrary. It is unquestionable that habit is not the foundation of monastic life, of its faith, hope, and charity, just as the cassock is not for the priest. The monk will no longer be a monk because he is in the habit, just as the priest will no longer be a priest if he is in a cassock. But in spite of such truisms, none of this justifies the disuse of habit. As Pope jokingly affirms in his talk on the use of habit and cassock ("The habit does not make the monk ... sanctifies it!"), Just as one must have the conscience in the use of a knife or when driving a car, there must be wisdom and prudence, it is fundamental that the habit and the cassock be used with the same wisdom, prudence and, above all, humility.
The monk must keep in mind the solemn commitment that the habit imposes on him. In clinging to the sacred habit, he must act with prudence, he must measure his words and gestures, he must be careful to sit with formality, to walk with posture, he must not go up or down stairs in any way, that is, when using the habit the monk should think a lot about his attitudes and words. The monk should be an example in acting and speaking. In using the habit, the monk carries with him the responsibility of the whole Fraternity, and not only of his person. Possibly, such importance is the reason why many religious are avoiding the habit and some priests doing the same with their cassocks. "Do not call attention" is a poor excuse to avoid being identified as religious and priests, thus avoiding being "pestered" or recriminated. Certainly, Anglican priests and monks carry out secular professional activities to maintain their livelihoods, and in many cases the use of the habit or cassock in the day-to-day practice of such work practice would not fit. One must, however, understand and distinguish the occasional non-use of habit in the exercise of some professions, and the unwillingness to use it by hiding their religious life behind secular clothing.
The habit is a sign that refers to a deeper, inner, spiritual reality, corresponding to the fact that the person belongs to Christ, an intimate union with Him. For this reason, it is said that those who wear the habit represent and endowment of the self Christ. The religious, in consecrating his life to a deep union with Christ, thus being seen the religious consecration as a second baptism, because it brings to fulfillment the requirements of baptism.
As already said, it is part of the thought of the member of the Fraternity the constant remembrance by the choice of Christ for a poor and humble life, thus seeking an adequate spirit of detachment from temporal goods. In finding his foundation in God, the monk able to detach himself from the things of the world. As Anselm Grün says: "Letting go is the way that allows me to get in touch with my inner source, the way that allows me to discover the true wealth of my soul, that is, God, and it is he who gives me everything I need to live. " Starting from this premise, the habit symbolizes also the liberation of the things and "colors" of the world, dressing with the sign of its surrender to God.
The particular habit of the members of the Fraternity consists of black tunic, black scapular and leather belt. It can be adapted according to local conditions and with the agreement of the Prior. The habit is received from the hands of the Prior of the Fraternity, in a ceremony of its own - a Habit Imposition Ceremony - which in the Church introduces the novice into the monastic life. There is no distinction between the habit used by the novices and the professed.