About the Barefoot Friar

I am a liturgy geek. Anything that has to do with liturgy and worship makes my eyes light up. I get excited when I find a stash of old mass settings. Vestments excite me. Chant and incense and anything to do with traditional worship grabs my interest like nothing else can.

I am working toward ordination. In the meantime, I am using every opportunity I can to participate in worship planning and leading. I also like to teach about worship and liturgy. Seeing the look in someone's eyes when he or she begins to understand something deep about worship is an utterly amazing thing. I want nothing more than to show people that there is more to worship than the shallow, "bless me" stuff we get at most churches.

A friar is a little different from a monk. Where a monk lives in a monastery, cloistered away from the rest of the world to lead a life of asceticism and devotion, a friar is called to live in service to a community, supported by donations or other charitable support. A monk is connected to a certain place and certain community, made up of other monks. A friar is connected to a much larger geographical area and the people who live there. While a friar does have the community of the rest of his order, he is more focused on those who live outside the monastery walls instead of those who live inside it.

The word "friar" comes from the French "frère", which means "brother". This is an old title for members of the Christian community, dating back to the first century.

There are four major orders of friars recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. The first is the Dominicans (or black friars, because of their black habits), begun by St. Dominic around 1216. They are officially known as the Order of Preachers. The second is the Franciscans (or grey friars), begun by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209. They are also known as the "Friars Minor" because of their vows of poverty. The third is the Carmelites (or white friars), begun as a contemplative order of monks in 1155. In 1245 they became mendicants (a member of an order forbidden to own property). The fourth is the Augustinians (or Austin friars), begun in 1244. They are based on the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo.

All of these orders hold in common that they are called to the greater community around them and that they have taken a vow of poverty. Hence the term "barefoot".

I have taken the name Barefoot Friar for myself. While I have not taken a vow of poverty, I do recognize that our stuff gets in the way as we try to follow Jesus. Just take a look at the story of the rich, young ruler. Jesus expects us to put aside all that we have, including our lives, to follow him. Deitrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." (The Cost of Discipleship, pg. 99). We should all be ready to put aside everything, to become barefoot, when Jesus calls.

A friar is called to minister to the community outside the monastery. While I am an introvert, I recognize that Christ has called me to a life of service to those around me. Until the summer of 2012 my ministry was limited to working at Upper Sand Mountain Parish, and writing the daily prayer guide.  Since then, however, I have been serving a small United Methodist congregation in Houston, Alabama (in Winston County).  I have greatly enjoyed my time here, and am looking forward to the coming months as we discover together what God has in store for us.  Meanwhile, I am continuing to write the prayer guide and continuing to teach others about worship and the sacraments.

Finally, a friar is a member of a religious order and lives under a rule. I am a member of the Order of Saint Luke, which is "dedicated to sacramental and liturgical scholarship, education, and practice. As a religious order, we are a dispersed community of women and men, lay and clergy, from many different denominations, seeking to live the sacramental life. The Order is Wesleyan and Lukan in its spirituality, Methodist in its origins, sacramental in its practice, and ecumenical in its outlook." (OSL home page). While we are not considered to be friars under the strict definition, we do covenant with each other to follow the rule of the order, to live the sacramental life, to pray the daily office, and to teach others about worship and the sacraments.

--Joshua