From the earliest days of the Church, men and women have consecrated their lives to Christ through the vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. Jesus’ earthly life was marked by a detachment from possessions, a chaste love for all who approached Him, and obedience to the will of the Father. The vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience lay out a path of discipleship wherein one’s life is closely conformed to the life of Christ.
These vows, known as the evangelical counsels, are also a sign to the world which continues to struggle with obsessions with wealth, sex, and power. They are a sign of contradiction pointing to the reality that our true joy comes not from the material world but from the Lord. The evangelical counsels also serve as a witness to the Heavenly Kingdom of God where we hope to live with the full love of the Father as our sole possession.
In Holy Cross we commit our lives to the Lord, to the Church, and to one another through our vows. By our vow of celibacy we commit ourselves to a loving relationship with God and to a life of loyalty, companionship, and affection to our confreres in Holy Cross. By our vow of poverty we witness to a reliance on the Lord through a commitment of our goods to the common use of the community. By our vow of obedience we commit the entirety of our life in Holy Cross to a faithful adherence to the decisions of the community and the authority of Church Magisterium. We intend our fidelity to our vows to be a witness and encouragement to all disciples of Christ.
While the primary witness to the world of any religious is in their fidelity to their vows and their service to the Body of Christ, consecrated religious often wear a habit or symbol to bear public witness to their consecration and commitment. The habit for the Congregation of Holy Cross is made up of a black cassock worn with a Roman collar at the neck and a chord tied around the midsection. A Holy Cross brother will also wear a medal of St. Joseph as a sign of his final profession of the vows. A Holy Cross priest will also wear a cape around his shoulders and a crucifix given at final profession worn around the neck. Currently the habit is used at select occasions. More often we wear the Congregational symbol of the Cross and Anchors around our necks as a symbol of our religious profession.