Vowed Life Membership and Formation
“Do not grant newcomers to the monastic life an
easy entry, but as the Apostle says Test the spirits to
see if they are from God. (1 John 4:1).”
RB 58: 1-2
When the aspirant’s application is accepted, a long process of formation and discernment begins before (s)he makes Life Vows. The first step is Postulancy, which lasts a year. Postulancy is an important period of discernment for the new member to see if (s)he is truly being called to Benedictine vowed life. We welcome candidates for Postulancy into our community during our spring convocation, where the candidate is publically welcomed into the community. The ne postulant is supported by a senior who assumes the role of Formation Master. The new postulant begins praying the four services of the Divine Office and Lectio Divina. (S)He begin a study of the Rule of Benedict, our customary, constitution and Benedictine spirituality.
The member petitions to move into the Novitiate at the end of Postulancy. During the ceremony at or spring convocation, (S)he is vested in the Benedictine habit and given his/her religious name. The duration of the Novitiate is two years and it continues and expands the formation process begun as a postulant. For the member, it is still a period of discernment. The Novice completes an intense study of the Rule of Benedict, and reads and reflects upon on readings on prayer and Lectio Divina, Benedictine life and spirituality, the psalms, contemplative prayer and modern monasticism. (S)he continues the discipline of praying the Divine Offices, Lectio Divina and regular reading of the CSL customary and constitution. There is a novice project to be completed towards the end of the Novitiate. The novice continues to be supported by the senior that was appointed by the superior at postulancy. The transition to the Annual Vows is initiated by the novice by petition and with the recommendation of his/her formation master is approved by the Superior.
Annual Vows is the final transitional step in the member’s life with the Companions of St. Luke. A novice moves into Profession in a special ceremony during Mass at a spring convocation. The Benedictine vows of Stability, Conversion of Life, and Obedience are made for the first time. These vows are renewed annually for a period of up to three years; during this time (s)he works on a special self-directed study project that will strengthen and enhance his/her Benedictine life. The junior is supported by a senior member who serves as a mentor. At the end of this period of living in annual vows, the junior petitions to move into Solemn Vows to his/her mentor and the superior. An election is then held by the Solemn professed to determine whether the junior will move on to Solemn Vows.
After ratification and election, the junior member is raised to live in Solemn Vows. The member vows to live under the Benedictine Vows of Stability, Conversion of Life, and Obedience for the rest of his/her life. These vows are made as part of a very special and ancient ceremony during Mass at the Spring Convocation. The Solemn Vowed member has full membership privileges in chapter including the election of a new abbot/abbess. The Solemn professed member is expected to humbly guide and support other members both vowed and Oblate by example and gentle teaching, always remembering that Christ is in each person and ultimately the final judge of his/her life is God.