My first post was an explanation of the title of this blog, but I also think it necessary to explain my own title. Sooner or later, people to whom I've introduced myself as 'Brother Paul' get a little puzzled when they see me celebrating Mass. "Oh, I'm sorry," they'll say, "I thought you were a brother." Then when I say, "Yes, I am a brother", you can see the puzzlement increasing.
"It's the Capuchin custom", I usually tell people, without going on to quote the relevant passage from the Constitutions of the Order: "in accordance with the Rule [of St. Francis], the Testament [of St. Francis] and the earliest custom of the Capuchins, all of us should be called brothers without distinction." Now, however, I have leisure to explain at greater length the why and wherefore.
Scripture explicitly links the priesthood with brotherhood: "[Jesus] had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest"(Heb 2:17). Likewise the liturgy, based on Scriptural language, has the priest addressing the people as brothers and sisters; e.g. "Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father" (or, for those of you who prefer the Latin, "Orate, fraters..."). Lex orandi, lex credendi – the rule of prayer is the rule of belief – if the liturgy implies that priests are the brothers of the people, they are.