Formation of our Way of Life
"One thing I ask of the Lord, this I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord, to contemplate in His holy Temple" (Psalm 27).
Formation and development into our way of life requires time, perseverance and discernment from both the candidate and community perspectives. Each phase of Formation includes an intentional focus for spiritual development, process of deepening one’s sense of vocation, and evaluation for suitability to progress further.
Postulancy is a one to two-year period of initiation beginning from the day on which the candidate is admitted into the community. From then on, she is considered a member of the community both in what pertains to life and work and also in what pertains to this stage of her formation. In an atmosphere of faith, prayer, and service, the young woman should reach personal maturity. She must observe common discipline, with prompt obedience and joyful renunciation of herself in virtue of her abandonment to the Lord.
The goal of the postulancy is to prepare the candidate for entrance into the novitiate; it helps her to gradually attain the spiritual and psychological disposition for living the gospel life as a contemplative. At the same time, she is given the opportunity to define her vocation by means of the real experience of our life.
The novitiate begins with a plain and simple Rite in the presence of the community and lasts for two years. Cutting her hair and setting aside secular dress, the novices will wear the “habit of probation” from that moment on. As a novice, life in our Order begins.
In order to achieve an open and serene community formation, the novice lives in the community under the direction of the novice director who is her primary guide in the discernment and fulfillment of her vocation. Moreover, she is instructed in contemplation and in the reading of and meditating on the Sacred Scriptures.
At the same time, the novice is introduced to the real and practical knowledge of the Franciscan spirit by studying the life and thought of Saint Francis and Saint Clare regarding the observance of the Rule, as well as the history and the sound tradition of our Order.
Having completed the novitiate, if the community judges her to be suitable, the novice will be admitted to temporary profession of vows.
Profession of Temporary Vows
The 5-year period of temporary vows is intended to consolidate the already-begun experience of gospel life and achieving unity between an intense interior life and daily activities, while at the same time arriving at human maturity. During this time, Sisters in temporary vows will be included in all parts of community life in an atmosphere of fraternity and responsible collaboration under obedience. Moreover, the Sister will dedicate herself to community work, which is particular to our life. As a means of formation and of integration into the community, this should be done in such a way so as to not impede on or make difficult her religious formation or adversely affect her spiritual life.At the end of the period of temporary profession, if the sister requests it freely and is considered suitable, she is admitted to the perpetual profession.Both for the temporary profession and for the perpetual profession, the sisters will prepare themselves with a spiritual retreat.
Object of Each of the Vows
By the vow of Chastity, we are bound to keep perfect continence in celibacy.
By the vow of Poverty, we are bound to a poor life in fact and in spirit, involving dependence upon the abbess, in the use and disposition of property, and after a perpetual profession in our Order, also the voluntary renunciation of the ability to acquire and possess.
By the vow of Obedience, we are bound to the submission of our will for the love of God to the canonically elected abbess when they commanded according to our Constitutions, provided there is nothing contrary to our conscience or Rule.
The goal of these three bonds is union with Christ in His virginal, poor, and obedient life, freeing our heart for the Kingdom of Heaven. Through the charity to which these bonds lead, we are joined in a special way with the Church and its mystery and by means of our communal life, we gather as a family in Christ.
The instruction received during the time of formation (Postulancy through Temporary Vows) continues and is ongoing throughout the life of a Capuchin Poor Clare sister. As such, each sister advances her desire to delve deeper into the Christian life and the depth of her vocation, as well as the need to discover and explore the urgings of Holy Spirit in prayerful contemplation.