American-Cassinese Congregation

The Constitutions and the Directory

 

Part I: Matters Pertaining to the Individual Monasteries

Chapter III: The Growth and Formation of the Monastic Community

Article 1: The Novitiate and the Formation of Novices

C 36. Each independent monastery may have its own novitiate, which shall observe the established norms of universal law and the proper law of the Congregation. The abbot of the founding monastery, with the consent of the monastic chapter, may establish a novitiate in a dependent priory.

D 36.1. If a monastery of the Congregation chooses to have a period of formation prior to the novitiate, the norms established in the proper law of the Congregation are to be observed.

D 36.2. 1. When a suitable candidate seeks admission to the monastery, the abbot, after consulting the council of seniors or other appropriate body, may admit him to the postulancy. The length of the postulancy and its circumstances are to be decided by the abbot.

D 36.2. 2. The purpose of the postulancy is to ensure that the candidate has reached a degree of human and spiritual maturity that will enable him to enter the novitiate profitably.

D 36.2. 3. The postulant is to be under the care of the master of novices or another capitular of the monastery deputed by the abbot.

D 36.2. 4. According to the custom of the local monastery, a postulant wears either ordinary secular clothes or distinctive garb, which must be different from that of the monks.

D 36.2. 5. Before beginning postulancy, the candidate may be asked to sign an agreement not to demand pay for any work done. This agreement is to be drawn up in such a way as to conform to civil law (see Appendix 2).

D 36.2. 6. The postulant is free to leave the postulancy at any time and may be asked to do so.

C 37. The abbot of a monastery in which, for serious reason, novices cannot be properly formed may, with the consent of the chapter, send a novice to the novitiate of any monastery of the Congregation.

C 38. 1. The abbot, with the consent of the monastic chapter, may admit a suitable candidate to the novitiate.

C 38. 2. No candidate shall be admitted to the novitiate who does not possess the requisites for valid and licit admission as determined in universal law (CIC 643).

D 38.1. The prescriptions of CIC 644 and 645 are to be observed. No additional impediments to or conditions for admission have been established in the proper law of the Congregation.

D 38.2. The candidate is to be received according to the Rite for the Reception of Novices approved by the Congregation.

D 38.3. The custom of the local monastery determines the appropriate garb for novices, which is to be different from that of the professed.

D 38.4. Before beginning the novitiate, the candidate is to sign an agreement not to demand pay for any work done. This agreement is to be drawn up in such a way that it is binding in civil law (see Appendix 2).

C 39.1. After consulting with the council of seniors, the abbot appoints a solemnly-professed monk of the monastery as master of novices.

C 39.2. The master of novices is to have full responsibility for the administration of the novitiate and the program of formation, always under the abbot’s direction.

D 39.1. Since it is the responsibility of the master of novices to provide for the monastic formation of the novices and to assist them in the discernment of their vocation, he must be free enough from other responsibilities to serve in this position.

D 39.2. No one except the abbot and master of novices and those specifically designated by them may impose tasks on the novices (cf. also C 56).

C 40. During the novitiate the novices are to be assisted in developing human and Christian virtues. They are to receive a thorough formation in the elements of the monastic life, instruction on the history of monastic life, on the Rule of Saint Benedict and the proper law of the Congregation, on the obligations of monastic profession, and the traditions and works of their own monastery. Also, they are to be introduced to the common life as lived in their own monastery. Their entire formation is to be animated by the Scriptures and the liturgical life of the Church.

D 40. Approximately six months after the beginning of the novitiate the master of novices is to present a report on each of the novices to the chapter.

C 41. A novice may freely leave the monastery at any time; he may also be dismissed by the abbot.

C 42. The novitiate is to last twelve months. Absence from the monastery that lasts more than three months, continuous or interrupted, renders the novitiate invalid. An absence of more than fifteen days must be made up. The abbot may allow first profession to be anticipated, but not by more than fifteen days.

C 43.1. Prior to the end of the novitiate the master of novices is to present a report to the chapter on each of the novices.

C 43.2. The abbot, with the consent of the monastic chapter, may admit a novice who has completed the novitiate to first profession. If a novice is judged suitable by the monastic chapter and by the abbot, he is to be admitted to first profession in accordance with the proper law of the Congregation.

C 43.3. If a doubt exists concerning the novice’s suitability for profession, the period of probation may be prolonged by the abbot, after consultation with the council of seniors, but not for longer than six months. Otherwise the novice is to be dismissed.


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