The postulancy is followed by the reception of the Dominican habit and the beginning of the novitiate. "The novitiate is a time of probation and is ordered to this: that the novice should come to know more intimately her call from God, and also her Dominican vocation; that she experience the way of life of our Order, and be formed in mind and heart in the Dominican spirit; and that her motivation and suitability become evident to the nuns." (From the Constitutions of the Nuns of the Order of Preachers) The novitiate lasts for two years.
If both the community and the candidate believe that God is calling her to enter here, she requests to enter as a postulant. The one year postulancy constitutes the first phase of formation. It is primarily a time of transition from secular life to religious life. The postulant is gradually introduced into a way of life that is radically different from life "in the world." Through classes and personal dialogue the candidate is assisted in her desire to understand her vocation as a contemplative, the fundamental importance of the Word of God, the principles of monastic life, and the distinctive characteristics of Dominican contemplative life.
The period of simple vows, symbolized by the reception of a black veil, is a new phase of formation which builds upon the previous phases and benefits from the stability derived from profession. As a prolonged preparation for Solemn Profession, it aims at strengthening the fidelity of the newly professed, encourages her ongoing assimilation and integration of the various elements of our way of life. Temporary vows are made for three years and are followed by a renewal of vows in order to allow for a fuller preparation for the total consecration of Solemn Vows. According to Cor Orans, the new directives of the Holy See, the period of temporary vows must last at least five years.
This period begins when a candidate first contacts us and is invited to visit and to familiarize herself with Dominican contemplative life. When there is positive indication of a genuine vocation to monastic life as it is lived in our monastery a candidate may request to enter the cloister for a live in experience. This is a period of about a month in which she lives within the enclosure and shares to some extent in the common life of the monastery and novitiate. This time gives the candidate some practical experience of daily life in the monastery and tests her aptitude for it before she makes the personal arrangements necessary before entering the postulancy. The aspirancy period as a whole lasts one year.
"We belong to God, and we feel the joy of belonging to Him. The uplifting to a higher life necessarily has a joy of its own."
Fr. Humbert Clerissac, OP (1864-1914)
By Solemn Profession a woman is totally consecrated to God in the Order of Preachers until death. Her black veil is now blessed and she receives a ring as a symbol of this total consecration. "Receive this ring, for you are betrothed to the eternal King; keep true faith with your spouse, so that you may come to the wedding feast of eternal joy." (From the Rite of Profession)
at the heart of the Order of Preachers
Our Lady of Grace Monastery
11 Race Hill Rd.
North Guilford, CT, 06437
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