Formation



HOW DOES SOMEONE BECOME A NUN?


There is a long training period of at least 7 years.  After visits to the monastery, eventually someone becomes an observer.  This means she lives inside the monastery for a period of time.  It varies with the individual.  It could be a month or so or quite a few months.  Norwegian language classes might be incorporated after this first period is over or a bit later.

If after the observership is over, both the young person and the community believe that God calls her to this type of life, she is then officially admitted to the monastery for a time of postulancy which can last up to a year or so.  During this time she continues to wear regular clothes.



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When a person seems ready to begin to commit her life to God through this community, she asks to receive the religious habit. She becomes a novice dressed in white.  This happens in a simple ceremony in the Chapter room. During this next two year novitiate period (that could be extended for six months more) the new Sister seriously studies and tries to begin to live the monastic life with guidance and the help of those who are trained to help her.  She is still free to leave at any time during this period.

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As the novitiate period comes to an end, and a person discerns with the help of the community that God truly calls her to live the Cistercian life, she asks to make her first vows.  There is a ceremony of first profession in the Chapter room when she receives the black scapular and belt, the sign of a professed Sister.  She makes the 3 Cistercian vows for a period of one year and then renews these vows yearly from 3 to 5 or 6 years.  It is understood that she would commit herself to living in the monastery through each of these years...until she is ready to take on the full responsibility of monastic life forever.

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When the young Sister and the community feel that God calls her to live permanently in this way of life, and she is ready to make the three vows:  Obedience, Stability, and Conversion, then the Sister makes Solemn Vows in an important ceremony in the Church.  This is always a big and happy occasion for the community, for the Sister herself, and her own family.  The Sister receives the black veil and the Cistercian cowl (long white choir robe).  She will one day be buried in this cowl.  The cowl is a beautiful, one piece, seamless garment, practical only for prayer!



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While Solemn Profession is a day never to be forgotten in the life of a nun, it is really only a beginning of a life long fidelity to God lived in the context of the community and the Church.



The days ahead may seem less dramatic but much can be happening interiorly in a person.  Community life continues its ebb and flow.  Although there are no longer formal studies such as there had been in the period of Initial Formation, we now speak of on-going formation.  There may be some courses given at the monastery now and then,  but the real formation process is about the person herself and how she lives every day life...how she deepens her search for Christ and lives out His life. The Sister learns to appreciate God's gift of nature.  She finds joy in ordinary things.  She learns how less can be more.  Her life simplifies and she discovers beauty all around her.  This process continues until the day of her death.


    The Cistercian life is a life of marvellous                 simplicity and joy.  (Thomas Merton, ocso)