Canon Law on Novitiate

THE ADMISSION OF CANDIDATES AND THE FORMATION OF MEMBERS

Art. 1. ADMISSION TO THE NOVITIATE

Can. 641 The right to admit candidates to the novitiate belongs to major superiors according to the norm of proper law.

Can. 642 With vigilant care, superiors are only to admit those who, besides the required age, have the health, suitable character, and sufficient qualities of maturity to embrace the proper life of the institute. This health, character, and maturity are to be verified even by using experts, if necessary, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 220.

 Can. 643 §1. The following are admitted to the novitiate invalidly:

1/ one who has not yet completed seventeen years of age;

2/ a spouse, while the marriage continues to exist;

3/ one who is currently bound by a sacred bond to some institute of consecrated life or is incorporated in some society of apostolic life, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 684;

4/ one who enters the institute induced by force, grave fear, or malice, or the one whom a superior, induced in the same way, has received;

5/ one who has concealed his or her incorporation in some institute of consecrated life or in some society of apostolic life.

§2. Proper law can establish other impediments even for validity of admission or can attach conditions.

Can. 644 Superiors are not to admit to the novitiate secular clerics without consulting their proper ordinary nor those who, burdened by debts, cannot repay them.

Can. 645 §1. Before candidates are admitted to the novitiate, they must show proof of baptism, confirmation, and free status.

§2. If it concerns the admission of clerics or those who had been admitted in another institute of consecrated life, in a society of apostolic life, or in a seminary, there is additionally required the testimony of, respectively, the local ordinary, the major superior of the institute or society, or the rector of the seminary.

§3. Proper law can require other proof about the requisite suitability of candidates and freedom from impediments.

§4. Superiors can also seek other information, even under secrecy, if it seems necessary to them.

Art. 2. THE NOVITIATE AND FORMATION OF NOVICES

Can. 646 The novitiate, through which life in an institute is begun, is arranged so that the novices better understand their divine vocation, and indeed one which is proper to the institute, experience the manner of living of the institute, and form their mind and heart in its spirit, and so that their intention and suitability are tested.

Can. 647 §1. The erection, transfer, and suppression of a novitiate house are to be done through written decree of the supreme moderator of the institute with the consent of the council.

§2. To be valid, a novitiate must be made in a house properly designated for this purpose. In particular cases and as an exception, by grant of the supreme moderator with the consent of the council, a candidate can make the novitiate in another house of the institute under the direction of some approved religious who acts in the place of the director of novices.

§3. A major superior can permit a group of novices to reside for a certain period of time in another house of the institute designated by the superior.

Can. 648 §1. To be valid, a novitiate must include twelve months spent in the community itself of the novitiate, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 647, §3.

§2. To complete the formation of novices, in addition to the period mentioned in §1, the constitutions can establish one or more periods of apostolic exercises to be spent outside the community of the novitiate.

§3. The novitiate is not to last longer than two years.

Can. 649 §1. Without prejudice to the prescripts of can. 647, §3 and can. 648, §2, an absence from the novitiate house which lasts more than three months, either continuous or interrupted, renders the novitiate invalid. An absence which lasts more than fifteen days must be made up.

§2. With the permission of the competent major superior, first profession can be anticipated, but not by more than fifteen days.

Can. 650 §1. The scope of the novitiate demands that novices be formed under the guidance of a director according to the program of formation defined in proper law.

§2. Governance of the novices is reserved to one director under the authority of the major superiors.

Can. 651 §1. The director of novices is to be a member of the institute who has professed perpetual vows and has been legitimately designated.

§2. If necessary, the director can be given assistants who are subject to the director in regard to the supervision of the novices and the program of formation.

§3. Members who are carefully prepared and who, not impeded by other duties, can carry out this function fruitfully and in a stable manner are to be placed in charge of the formation of novices.

Can. 652 §1. It is for the director and assistants to discern and test the vocation of the novices and to form them gradually to lead correctly the life of perfection proper to the institute.

§2. Novices are to be led to cultivate human and Christian virtues; through prayer and self-denial they are to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection; they are to be taught to contemplate the mystery of salvation and to read and meditate on the sacred scriptures; they are to be prepared to cultivate the worship of God in the sacred liturgy; they are to learn a manner of leading a life consecrated to God and humanity in Christ through the evangelical counsels; they are to be instructed regarding the character and spirit, the purpose and discipline, the history and life of the institute; and they are to be imbued with love for the Church and its sacred pastors.

§3. Conscious of their own responsibility, the novices are to collaborate actively with their director in such a way that they faithfully respond to the grace of a divine vocation.

§4. Members of the institute are to take care that they cooperate for their part in the work of formation of the novices through example of life and prayer.

§5. The time of the novitiate mentioned in can. 648, §1 is to be devoted solely to the task of formation and consequently novices are not to be occupied with studies and functions which do not directly serve this formation.

Can. 653 §1. A novice can freely leave an institute; moreover, the competent authority of the institute can dismiss a novice.

§2. At the end of the novitiate, if judged suitable, a novice is to be admitted to temporary profession; otherwise the novice is to be dismissed. If there is doubt about the suitability of a novice, the major superior can extend the time of probation according to the norm of proper law, but not beyond six months.

Art. 3. RELIGIOUS PROFESSION

Can. 654 By religious profession, members assume the observance of the three evangelical counsels by public vow, are consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church, and are incorporated into the institute with the rights and duties defined by law.

Can. 655 Temporary profession is to be made for a period defined in proper law; it is not to be less than three years nor longer than six.

Can. 656 For the validity of temporary profession it is required that:

1/ the person who is to make it has completed at least eighteen years of age;

2/ the novitiate has been validly completed;

3/ admission has been given freely by the competent superior with the vote of the council according to the norm of law;

4/ the profession is expressed and made without force, grave fear, or malice;

5/ the profession is received by a legitimate superior personally or through another.

Can. 657 §1. When the period for which profession was made has elapsed, a religious who freely petitions and is judged suitable is to be admitted to renewal of profession or to perpetual profession; otherwise, the religious is to depart.

§2. If it seems opportune, however, the competent superior can extend the period of temporary profession according to proper law, but in such a way that the total period in which the member is bound by temporary vows does not exceed nine years.

§3. Perpetual profession can be anticipated for a just cause, but not by more than three months.

Can. 658 In addition to the conditions mentioned in can. 656, nn. 3, 4, and 5 and others imposed by proper law, the following are required for the validity of perpetual profession:

1/ the completion of at least twenty-one years of age;

2/ previous temporary profession of at least three years, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 657, §3.

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