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to become a monk…
It is now to you that I address myself,
you who renounce your own will and take up powerful and glorious arms of obedience for the Lord Christ, the true King..
Prologue to the Rule of Saint Benedict
As with the birth of love, the perception of the call takes various forms: a thunderbolt or a calm journey, youthful impulse or mature choice . . . everything is possible but a single thing matters: that he truly seeks God.
Perhaps we do not see God clearly, he is even nearly unknown: you don’t have to wait to know him before you seek him.
Several stages mark the period of discernment.
First of all there is the time when you ask yourself no question . . . God is perhaps a stranger, and monasteries are witnesses from a world that is past. And before being monks, we have all been “non-monks,” more or less strangers to the monastic phenomenon. It is then that the question can take form… whoever you are… why not me?
There thus begins a long process of discernment both for the person concerned and for the community he is choosing: what he feels is put to the test of reality, and in the test of this reality, the community can recognize the truth of this call. This process of discernment is marked by several steps, each step crossed over by common agreement between the candidate and the community. The exact proceeding is thus different for each person, yet somehow it follows common paths.
The candidate comes often to visit the community for retreats in the guesthouse; he makes contact with the novice master and asks him his questions. He may eventually share the life inside the community in order to know it better. We systematically ask the observer to return to his “normal” life before continuing on.
The postulant enters the community with the aim to stay. The first months are not different from his previous experiences, but the change of perspective (would it not be forever?) profoundly changes the meaning of the events. Before coming back, the postulant must free himself from ties to his family and his work.
After several months, the postulant can ask to begin a novitiate. He then receives the habit of the Order and we give him a religious name. He receives spiritual formation, and courses specifically related to monastic life. Little by little, he is trained for the regular practices of the house.
We begin by entrusting him with some service tasks without imposing any responsibilities: he remains free to leave from one day to another. During all this period, the master of novices watches over him..
After two years as a novice, the brother can ask the abbot to be accepted for temporary vows. If the abbot judges it suitable, he presents his request to the community. The brothers have seen the newcomer live. They are thus directly able to discern his aptitude for living according to monastic customs. They express their discernment by a vote: it is a mutual commitment. It is a full commitment but for a defined period of time, usually for three years. During this period, the brother participates more in community life, he studies in a deeper way elements of theology that will allow him to strengthen his faith. Therefore he leaves the supervision of the novice master and receives a spiritual father in community.
Could the gift be temporary?
After a minimum of three years, “after having become conscious of the seriousness of what he is getting ready to do,” the brother can ask the abbot to be accepted for his solemn profession. As for the simple profession, when the abbot considers it suitable, he presents the request to the community, which discerns and expresses its consent by a vote. The brother then makes his commitment, in the midst of his brothers and before the whole Church.
“Receive me, O Lord, as you have promised that I may live. Do not disappoint me in my hope.”
(Psalm 118/119, verse traditionally chanted at a solemn profession)
do you wish to discover monastic life?
NWe offer a retreat for young people 18 to 35 years old, called “explorers of happiness.” The retreats take place in the monastery guest house, for a period of six days during which you will experience together:
• discovering liturgical prayer, silent prayer and the personal relationship with Christ and a community of people praying
• being introduced to Lectio Divina where the reading of the Word of God nourishes our faith
• experiencing manual work as a source of balancing relaxation and prayer
• community fraternal life as well as personal interior life.
Also visit the site “vie-monastique.com”where you will find testimonies along with Q&A from our brothers.