Everyone is called to contemplation and a life of holiness. God has a special place for each one. If a person feels drawn by God to offer herself to Him in a life of prayer and contemplation in a religious community it would be well to explore the question of which order she feels drawn to.
Saint Clare of Assisi, who was inspired by St. Francis, committed herself to the Crucified Christ, especially in His poverty and she found herself followed by others, thus becoming the Foundress of the Poor Clares.
From the Rule of Saint Clare “if by Divine Inspiration anyone should come to us with the desire to embrace this life… let the tenor of our life be clearly explained to her”.
A contemplative vocation is a gift from God for the benefit of the Church.
- She should be a Catholic, over the age of 18 years.
- She should have completed Secondary Education, with some further training or work experience for a few years.
- She must be free of other commitments, such as marriage bonds or dependent children or parents, or debts.
- She should be in good health.
Should someone desire to embrace our way of life, she should contact the Mother Abbess so that a visit to the Monastery can be arranged. This will enable her to get to know the community, and they her. A discernment of vocation is in process.
If she has found what she is looking for, and the Abbess agrees, she would be invited for a “Live-In”. She would come to share the life of the community for up to one month, in order that she may gain first-hand experience of the life.
“Formation” for the Poor Clare life:
If she is still interested and the community considers that she may indeed be called to our way of life, she makes a formal request in writing to join the community.
Then begins the postulancy stage: This lasts for one year, or longer if necessary. During this time she wears her own clothes and lives alongside the Sisters, watching and learning from them and also following certain studies, including Catechism and Bible Studies, which will help to deepen her spiritual life.
At the end of the postulancy the Abbess, with the consent of the community, may receive her into the Novitiate. She is given the Habit and a Religious name.
This lasts for two years during which time she receives education in Franciscan Spirituality and prayer, scripture and doctrine. On completion of the novitiate the novice can be admitted to profession of temporary Vows with the consent of the Abbess and the community if she has shown positive signs of having been called by God.
She will make the vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience and the fourth vow of enclosure for 3 years. The vow of enclosure means that she promises to remain within the confines of the monastery except for certain specific purposes. She is now “simply professed”, not yet a full member of the community. Formation continues.
On completion of the three years she asks to be admitted to full membership of the community. With the consent of the Abbess and the community she makes vows for the rest of her life, committing herself to God within our Order.
Formation continues throughout the life. We keep growing and learning until our dying day.