Chapter X THE NOVICES AND THE NOVICEMASTER
61. Since the novices are preparing for profession in our Congregation, they should take care to lay the foundations for a missionary life, acquire a knowledge of its main elements and begin to practice the evangelical counsels. For this reason they should cling wholeheartedly to Christ our Lord, especially in the mystery of the Eucharist, since they are planning to share in his life and ministry. Let them take the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first disciple of Christ, as their Mother and Teacher.
62. While our missionaries need all virtues, they must first of all have a lively faith, in order to be able to respond to their own vocation. It was faith that burned in the prophets, the Apostles and the martyrs, and it was faith that led so many preachers of God’s word gladly to accept poverty, self-denial and sacrifice in the cause of spreading Christ’s kingdom. Therefore the novices should be well grounded in faith and really live by faith, especially when they are troubled by doubts about remaining faithful to their vocation.
Therefore, when they feel tempted to lack trust or are worried about their limitations, let them take heart at the thought that it has always been God’s way to choose weak and frail instruments in order to shame the strong.
64. They should safeguard their missionary vocation with Gospel humility remembering that they have nothing except what they have received from God or for which they will not have to render an account.
65. In their search for God’s will, our young missionaries should let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit, co-operating responsibly with their novicemaster and superiors, and accepting their decisions out of faith and love.
66. In everything they do, whether it be studying, eating or simply relaxing, God’s glory should be the aim and wellspring of their action. For this reason, they should cultivate prayer without ceasing or lukewarmness. Thus, by the time they leave their year of probation, they will have made real progress.
67. The novices should highly esteem their missionary vocation and earnestly engage in the process of discerning whether they are truly called to the Congregation. When they discern that they have been called, they should strive to respond gladly and generously to God’s fidelity towards them by their own fidelity toward God.
68. In order to be firmly grounded in missionary life, the novices are entrusted to the guidance of a novicemaster who by word and example will instruct them in the spirit of the Congregation.
The novicemaster is designated by the major superior with his council. He should be a truly spiritual man, filled with love for the Congregation. He should be mature, kindly and prudent, equipped with a sound grasp of the nature and mission of our Congregation in the Church, as well as with suitable apostolic experience.
He should give the novices the kind of direction that will help them develop the maturity of judgment and constancy of purpose best suited to their individual needs, encouraging them to grow in those virtues which are generally admired by people and are most becoming in a disciple of Christ. He should be concerned that the novices acquire that distinctive union of missionary life wherein the spirit of union with God goes hand in hand with apostolic work.
69. A postulant is admitted to the novitiate by the major superior after hearing from his council.
The time of novitiate begins whenever the major superior or his delegate so decides.
In order that the novitiate be valid, it must include twelve months spent in a house duly designated for this purpose. In order to complete the formation of the novices, superiors, in keeping with the norm of our law, can in addition to the time just mentioned, determine one or several periods of apostolic exercises to be spent outside the novitiate community. However, the novitiate is never to extend beyond two years.
With due regard for these prescriptions, an absence from the novitiate house which lasts more than three months, either continuous or interrupted, renders the novitiate invalid. An absence of more than fifteen days must be made up.
70. After showing sufficient proof of a vocation to the Congregation during the time of his novitiate, a candidate, with the prior approval of the major superior with his council, may join our ranks. His incorporation is accomplished, at first temporarily, by a public profession of vows.
When three years of this temporary profession have elapsed, the member who freely requests it and is judged suitable is to be admitted to a renewal of profession even for another three-year period or to perpetual profession; otherwise he is to leave.
If it seems opportune the superior general can extend the period of temporary profession of a member, but in such a way that the entire time of temporary incorporation does not exceed nine years.
71. With the approval of the major superior and his council, a member may be definitively incorporated into the Congregation by perpetual vows. In order to be able to make perpetual vows, a member should have reached a level of personal maturity such that he can see this divine calling as good for his whole person and as a life he can actually live.
Our religious profession consists of taking vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and of making a public act whereby we consecrate ourselves to God and entrust ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the ministry of salvation. By doing so, we more clearly show that we are professing religious life in a Congregation that was founded for the express purpose of performing the ministry of the Word.
Through this act of self-giving, accepted by the Congregation and the Church, each of our members share in our mission among the People of God.