Our Vocation as a Brother
To be a religious brother is to be a disciple of Christ who intensifies his baptismal commitment by professing the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. As a lay consecrated man, he lives with his brothers in community, sharing prayer and witnessing individually and collectively to Jesus’ presence by his service and love, especially among young people.
The term "brother" expresses in a very rich way, our Marist style of relating. A brother is one who is approachable, unassuming, authentic, attentive and respectful. Irrespective of where we live our mission or with whom, being a “brother” means that our relationships are consistently simple, welcoming, and encouraging through compassion, joy and kindness. We are brothers of those we meet along life’s journey. This is how we live out our Marist Apostolic Spirituality and give flesh to our mission.
The term brother, then, not only expresses our vocation within the Church but also our way of relating, especially with young people in need.
Our Way of Being a Brother
Our Marist way of living Brotherhood has three significant components:
Why the Habit?
When religious communities were founded it was customary to adopt a common form of dress known as a religious habit. The habit of the Marist Brothers given to us by Marcellin Champagnat is a soutane, cord, and for perpetually professed Brothers, the crucifix.
Up to Vatican II the Brothers traditionally wore the black soutane with white rabat which was suitable for the colder climates of the northern hemisphere. However, in warm climate regions such as Australia, the lighter white soutane has become more usual.
Brothers continue to wear the habit in Marist schools or at religious functions such as professions and jubilees. However, in other places of ministry, Brothers find it more appropriate to wear the Marist Cross as the sign of our consecration and common identity.
The habit is a sign of our consecration to the Lord and a witness to poverty and Marist simplicity. Upon his entry into the novitiate, the novice receives the habit. The cord contains three knots representing the three vows or promises of poverty, chastity and obedience, which each Brother makes at first profession. The crucifix is given to a Brother who has professed his perpetual vows in the Institute.
The Marist Cross
In recent years a newly fashioned cross was created for each Marist Brother to wear as a symbol of our common identity around the world. The cross marks our foundation in France by using the inscription of our original French title, Petits Frères de Marie (Little Brothers of Mary). In the centre of the cross is a simple “M” for Mary, patroness of our community. The M is unique because is mimics a young person’s handwriting, reminding us of our mission with youth. On the back are six small nail heads, highlighting the efforts of our first Brothers who had to fabricate nails to sustain the original community.