A vocation to the religious life is a special calling from God. Mother Angelica stated, “The religious life is an encounter with the living God. Sometimes that encounter is preceded by a kind of soul searching agony that tries desperately not to hear, runs in the opposite direction and frantically tries to reason itself out of answering the invitation. This is so because the world has conditioned our minds to believe only what we see and never to venture into the unknown unless success is guaranteed.” (Mother Angelica, Come Follow Me: Essence of Religious Life, p.1)
Our Blessed Lord said “You did not choose me, no, I chose you” (John 15:16) On August 2, 2014, our postulant Paul Rahn will respond to that invitation to follow our Blessed Lord more intimately and will be invested with the religious habit and given a religious name as he enters into the novitiate year.
According to Can. 646 “the novitiate, through which life in an institute is begun, is arranged so that the novices better understand their divine vocation, and indeed one which is proper to the institute, experience the manner of living of the institute, and form their mind and heart in its spirit, and so that their intention and suitability are tested.” (Code of Canon Law, Latin-English Edition: New English Translation, c. 646)
The novitiate is a minimum of a 12 months period. It is during this time that a novice master guides and prepares the novice to profess the three evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity, and obedience according to the constitutions of the religious institute. It is also during this time in which the novice further develops and strengthens his or her prayer life and the practice of virtue to become more intimately united to Christ.
The formation during the novitiate year may be summarized as “an initiation into the consecrated life in an institute to be done in a systematic and practical way through knowledge and experience so as to test a vocation and gradually prepare one for the life of perfection proper to the institute, developing and maturing a true religious personality that will be the interior principle and driving force for this form of life.” (Elio Gambari, Religious Life according to Vatican II and the New Code of Canon Law, p. 242)
After the novice has completed the novitiate year, he professes the three evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity, and obedience and vow for one year to live accordingly to the rule and constitutions of the religious institute. On August 2, Br. Paul, Br. James, and Br. John Therese will be renewing their vows.
“The period of temporary vows (begun with first profession) is intended to consolidate and perfect the formation begun in the novitiate, and to complete the candidate’s and the Community’s experience of each other.” (Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, Constitutions, p. 85) “Temporary vows, by their nature, are already oriented toward perpetual profession, for which it must be, as it were, an apprenticeship and a preparation.” (Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, Constitutions, p. 87; Renovationis Causam, no. 7)
To conclude with a final thought by Mother Angelica: “A vocation is a gift from beginning to end – a call to rise above the things of this world and prove by a living witness that there is something more and better to come. Those who have been called to this witnessing role are not deprived of love, comfort or joy. They merely find these gifts on a more spiritual and lasting level. Their personalities are not destroyed in some sacrificial act of piety, but developed and made beautiful by the grace of God constantly being poured into their emptying vessels.” (Mother Angelica, Come Follow Me: Essence of Religious Life, p.2)