STAGES OF FORMATION
A Religious Vocation is a special call to serve God and the Church in a particular way. In Carmel it is a radical response to God’s call to a hidden life of intimate friendship with Him and unceasing prayer for the Church and the world as envisioned by Saint Teresa of Jesus and Saint John of the Cross, reformers of the Order. Essentially, the vocation to Carmel is a call to love and to let oneself be loved by God in return. It is our hope that the fruit of our loving intimacy with Christ, our prayers and sacrifices made in the secret recesses of our heart, will draw down many graces for souls.
~ Aspirancy ~
An aspirant is a young woman who is discerning the call to the religious life and who makes contact with the Carmelite sisters. The aspirancy period, considered as a first knowledge of the monastery by the candidate and the candidate by the Carmelite community, involves a series of contacts and times of community experience, even prolonged. This knowledge will also be useful to fill any gaps on the path of human and religious formation at this stage and will provide the candidate with a better understanding of the vocation of a Carmelite nun ~ Cf. Cor Orans Nos. 262-267
"Come, bride of Christ, receive the crown which the Lord has prepared for you for all eternity... And you will enter into the Paradise among the angels. Come, O you my chosen one, and I will set my throne within you: so shall the King have pleasure in your beauty."
~ Veni Sponsa Christi ~
~ Postulancy ~
Postulancy is a necessary stage for proper preparation for the novitiate, during which the candidate confirms her determination to be converted through a progressive passage from secular life to contemplative, monastic and Carmelite life. This stage offers a more direct and concrete experience of community life according to the charism of the Discalced Carmelite nuns, since it is lived entirely within the enclosure of the monastery with the community. The postulant will be entrusted to the novice mistress who will help her to look within herself and will gradually introduce her to the fundamental elements of our life: prayer, silence, solitude, work, liturgy and community life. During this time, the postulant will be especially dedicated to her human and spiritual formation and endeavour to deepen her baptismal commitment ~ Cf. Cor Orans Nos. 269-276
~ Novitiate ~
After the year of postulancy, the sister enters the next phase of her religious formation, the novitiate. At the beginning of the novitiate, the sister receives the Carmelite habit with a white veil and her new religious name. The novitiate lasts for a period of two years, the second being the canonical year. The novitiate is the time when the novice begins her life in Carmel; her vocational discernment continues, as well as the deepening of her own decision to follow Jesus Christ in the Church and in today’s world, according to the Carmelite charism. It is also a time of trial, and its objective is to lead the candidate to become more fully aware of the vocation of a Carmelite Nun, verifying the real and concrete ability to live it with joy and generosity, particularly in reference to fraternal life in community ~ Cf. Cor Orans Nos. 277-284
~ Temporary Profession ~
At the completion of the novitiate, the sister then makes her temporary profession for three years, receiving her profession crucifix, which is worn under the scapular and promising to persevere in the holy vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. She then renews her vows annually for another two years, to make a total of five years of temporary profession. In this stage, insertion into the life of the community is full, so the goal is to experience the capacity of the temporary professed to find a proper balance between the various dimensions of contemplative monastic life, succeeding in creating their own personal synthesis of the charism and incarnating it in the various situations of daily life. The temporary professed sister continues her spiritual, doctrinal, and practical formation, according to the Carmelite charism and the Rule and Constitutions of the Order ~ Cf. Cor Orans No. 286
~ Solemn Profession ~
Once the sister has completed the period of temporary profession, she then may be admitted to solemn profession of vows, whereby she receives the black veil in a solemn public ceremony and becomes a full member of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns. From this point, ongoing formation begins, which is a process of continuous conversion of the heart, "an intrinsic requirement of religious consecration", and the need for creative fidelity to one's own vocation. It leads to configuration to His Majesty and the assimilation of His feelings in His total oblation to the Father. Ongoing formation cultivates the spiritual, doctrinal and practical capacities of the sisters, and the maturation of the contemplative, so that she can carry out her service to the monastery, to the Church and to the world in an ever more appropriate manner, according to the Discalced Carmelite charism ~ Cf. Cor Orans Nos. 231, 236