Today, May 1st, is the second annual Religious Brothers Day!
On this day, we celebrate the vocation of the religious brother in the Church. For centuries, groups of men have come together in religious orders/congregations to live, pray, and minister to God's people. Their commitment to this life is made through profession of vows (poverty, chastity, and obedience) and their distinct example of being disciples of Christ.
I am often asked "what exactly is a brother?". Folks tend to lump all male religious together as priests. To be clear, the brothers we celebrate today are not ordained! Priesthood is something different altogether. Today we celebrate those religious who have answered the call to share God's love and compassion by saying YES to BEING BROTHER.
The call to be brother is lived out in many ways and in a variety of settings. To name a few: education, healthcare, missionary work, social work, psychology, coaching, writing, research, community building, counseling, and much more.
St. Marcellin Champagnat had a strong belief in the vocation of brothers. He believed that the lived example of the early brothers was just as important, if not more, than the lessons they planned for students. Also important was the time they dedicated to being present to them. Most important was the prayer that supported the students long after they went home or were out of school.
Each and every vocation in our church is connected. Married people, brothers, sisters, single people, priests, etc, are equals in the eyes of God. What connects us? Our baptism, our common discipleship, and a desire to share the love of God through the example of our lives. We do this through acting in faith, and doing what is needed to meet the needs of our society. That should especially include those on the margins.
To celebrate, consider sending a message of support to a brother or brothers that you know! Or post a photo of you and your favorite bro!
May God and Our Good Mother help us work toward promoting the vocation of brothers!