In her Rule, Our Holy Mother Clare identifies a number of signs and requirements for a vocation in her Order. First of all, anyone desiring to embrace this life must be prompted by the Holy Spirit. Secondly, the individual must be a faithful and practicing Catholic. Thirdly, the aspirant must be free of impediments (debts, ill-health, mental or emotional instability, or canonical impediments such as marriage bond). And fourth, she must be suitable and have good will.
Pope St. John Paul the Great also attributed a vocational calling primarily to the work of the Holy Spirit. He said: “The Holy Spirit of God writes in the heart and life of every baptized person a project of love and grace, which is the only way to give full meaning to existence, opening the way to the freedom of the children of God and enabling the offering of one’s personal and irreplaceable contribution to the progress of humanity on the path of justice and truth.”
Pope Francis writes in his March 25th, 2018 Address to the youth of the world that vocation “is a call from above.” In other words, it is God who initiates and invites the individual to a closer following of Christ.
The joyful poverty and simplicity characteristic of the charism of St. Clare still holds appeal today. Hearing in their hearts this divine call, women of the 21st century continue to knock at the door of our monastery, eight hundred years after the Order was founded. Inspired by the same high ideals, these souls desire to kindle anew the living flame of St. Clare in our present world. Click here for a prayer to know one’s vocation through the intercession of St. Clare of Assisi.
We do not require a dowry.
Upon entrance to the monastery women begin a process of initial formation into our Franciscan enclosed contemplative life that lasts between 9 to 12 years. During this time, new members are led personally through the stages of candidacy, postulancy, novitiate and first vows. Attention is given to the formation of the whole human person in accordance with the requirements of the Church and of the Order. “Probation is both a continuous examination of the capacity to lead our life faithfully and forever, and a sustained effort to strengthen personal dedication to that life.” (Constitutions)
The candidacy is a period of pre-postulancy that can vary according to individuals and circumstances. It serves as an introduction to our particular way of life and as a time to distance oneself from so much that is familiar and taken for granted. A willingness to learn and a spirit of openness will stand candidates in good stead.
The next formal stage in the monastic culture is the postulancy. This is “the period of monastic orientation during which ‘the tenor of our life is thoroughly explained,’ and the postulant is ‘lovingly guided to adjust positively and intelligently to all that is essential and conducive to a profoundly contemplative life’ while seeking to discern whether or not she is truly called to a wholehearted commitment to God’s service in our community.”
Membership in the monastic family begins at the reception of the postulant. In this ceremony she is clothed in the habit of our Order and given her religious name, thus becoming a novice. During the novitiate, “the novice strives to intensify her personal fidelity to Christ, to deepen her understanding of our form of Gospel living, and to grow in maturity of judgment and all aspects of womanliness. The Novice should gradually learn detachment from everything not connected with the Kingdom of God, the practice of obedience, poverty, prayer, habitual union with God in availability to the Holy Spirit, and charity.” (Constitutions)
“When the novitiate is completed, those novices who give positive signs of a divine vocation and are judged suitable” are admitted to first profession of vows. This is the final stage of initial formation, normally lasting three years, “which prepares the young religious for solemn of perpetual profession” in our Order.