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).
The beginning of the postulancy is a period of initiation beginning from the day on which the candidate is admitted into the community. From then on, she must be considered a member of the community both in what pertains to life and work and also in what pertains to the formation. During that time, her formation is arranged harmoniously upon a solid human and Christian base. In an atmosphere of faith, prayer, and fraternal 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 postulancy will last from one to two years, depending on the candidate and the community. 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. For this, a certain level of human and spiritual formation is required. The postulants will dress according to the custom of the monastery.
The novitiate begins with a plain and simple rite in the presence of the community only. Cutting her hair off round and setting aside secular dress, the novices will wear the habit of probation from that moment on. She prepares herself for this step with a spiritual retreat. The novitiate should last two years.
With the novitiate, life in our Order begins. In order to achieve an open and serene community formation, the novice lives in a fraternal atmosphere under the direction of the novice director. In this way, she feels fully integrated into the religious family.
The novice is guided and assisted in the discernment and fulfillment of her vocation, being herself the principal agent of her formation. Moreover, she is instructed in the contemplation of the mystery of salvation and in the reading of and meditating on the Sacred Scriptures; she must be prepared to live the worship experienced in the Sacred Liturgy, especially by fervent participation in the Eucharistic mystery, under the maternal guidance of Mary Immaculate.
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 the temporal profession for five years. The entire period of temporary vows should have a formation character and be dedicated to consolidating 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, the temporary professed will be included in all parts of community life in an atmosphere of fraternity and responsible collaboration under obedience. Moreover, the novice 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.
Formula for Profession
"I, Sister____________________, since the Lord has granted me this grace, for the glory of God, with a firm resolution to live more perfectly the Gospel of Christ, before the sisters here present, vow unto your hands, Mother ____________________, to live for my whole life in obedience, without property, and in chastity, according to the Rule of the Poor Sisters of Saint Clare, confirmed by Pope Innocent IV, and according to the Constitutions of the Order of Capuchin Poor Clares approved by the Apostolic See, observing the enclosure established by the Church in conformity with the same Constitutions. I, therefore surrender myself with all my heart to this religious family, so that, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with that of our Father Saint Francis, our Mother Saint Clare, and all the Saints, with the help of the sisters, I may perfect my consecration to the service of God and the Church."
At the end of the profession, the Abbess, remaining seated, says:
"And I, in the name of the Church and our community, receive your vows. On the part of the Almighty God, if you observe these things, I promise you life everlasting. Amen."
Object of Each of the Vows
By the vow of chastity, we are bound to keep perfect continence in celibacy. Marriage attempted by those who are bound by a public perpetual vow of chastity in a religious institute is invalid.
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 command according to our Constitutions, provided there is nothing contrary to our conscience or Rule.
The goal, however, of these three bonds is none other than 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 fraternal life in common, we gather as a family in Christ.
The instruction received during the time of formation is continued throughout life. The desire to delve ever further into the Christian life and into the tenor of our vocation, as well as the desire to be up to date on the urgings which the Holy Spirit communicates to the Church.
In the manner which complies with our enclosed life and under the norms of ecclesiastical authority, measures will be taken to have conferences and workshops, or to participate in those which are organized for this purpose, whenever possible in our monastery or other monastery of the federation.
In the spirit of Saint Francis, we honor with special worship and devotion the mysteries of the life of Christ, which speak to us of His love, His poverty and humility, and especially His holy passion. We profess filial love toward the Immaculate Virgin, joined with Christ in poverty and in His passion, model, and support of every consecrated life.
We practice the devotion of the way of the cross and faithful adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. All of our devotional practice are arranged, keeping in mind the liturgical season, being sure they are in accordance with the Sacred Liturgy, in such a way they are derived from it and lead to it. The community activities are not overload with devotional practices so that more time and energy may be available for personal contemplative prayer.