I sit here wearing a sweatshirt that reads: "St. Peter's SAINTS." I proudly wear this shirt often, and I don't mind leaving the house in it. After all, I'm advertising my Big Kids' School, a school I am proud to have them attend. Sometimes people ask me about the school after seeing my shirt and I'm happy to answer.
I have a lawn sign in front of my house with a picture of the school on it. "Keep the Spirit alive at St. Peter's School."
Why, then, am I so hesitant to put on my Tau?
I wear it to church every Sunday but for the rest of the week it sits on my dresser.
The Tau is the distinctive Franciscan sign of the Secular Franciscan Order in the US. It is a T-shaped cross that was seen by St. Francis as a symbol of Christ's cross, a sign of salvation, and used by Francis as his own signature.
I have two of them. One was given to me on the day I became an Inquirer, in October 2000. I received the other one later, from a good friend of mine who is also in the SFO. Both of them are on a cord with the three knots similar to the cord Franciscan priests wear as a cincture.
Why is it that I hold back from wearing the Tau? Why is being a Secular Franciscan my best-kept secret? What am I afraid will happen if I wear it?
If I wear it, people will ask about it. The Tau invites questions because it looks "different." Do I worry about what people will think of me if they find out I am in the SFO?
Why do I care?
People already think I am (choose one or more) different/strange/a religious fanatic because I (choose one or more) send my Big Kids to Catholic school, refuse to do business with companies that support Planned Parenthood (this includes Disney), attend church regularly and participate in religious events/retreats/SFO events.
So, I have earned my reputation. Would wearing a Tau outside of church be any more different/strange/fanatical than I already appear to be anyway?
I no longer have a baby who will pull or teethe on my Tau. My baby is now three, and Little Brother likes to inspect my Tau. "I like your cross. What color is it?" And I can remind him that people who wear a cross (of any kind) do this because they want to be Jesus' friend.
Come to think of it, there may be no better reason to wear my Tau than that. I want to be Jesus' friend. I want my children to want to be Jesus' friend. If I do nothing else but put the idea in my children's head that they CAN be Jesus' friend, then wearing the Tau is certainly worth it.
So next time you see me out and about in my "St. Peter's SAINTS" shirt, you'll probably also see my Tau around my neck.