Chapter 5: Stage of Initiation-Novitiate


Stage of Initiation: Novitiate

1.   Point of Departure

 97. The objective of the Novitiate is to see to it that the candidate advances in a process of human-Christian maturation that will allow him, starting from an assiduous reading of the Word, to lay the basis for a life of union with Christ, to assimilate the foundations of the religious life, and to opt consciously and freely for the Claretian life, assuming from the outset the demands that derive from it.[1] The Word, then, should be welcomed and internalized in such a way that it becomes a foundation and dynamism of the missionary life.

98. In the Postulancy, the candidates have already had a first approach to the Word of God and have shown a desire to grow more deeply in it. Even so, the diversity of candidates and of the forms of their postulancy, result in their having varied and unequal levels of preparation. This situation constitutes a challenge to continue the process of initiation in reading the Word of God so as to be open and sensible to its expressions in the events of life.

 2.   Formative Criteria

 99. In the Novitiate, Holy Scripture is the element that articulates all the contents of this stage and the factor that facilitates the integration of all dimensions of the missionary life.

100. There must be a keen awareness and use of a Claretian key in reading and interpreting Holy Scripture, one that highlights the centrality of the Claretian mission in formation.[2]

101. The objectives and means suggested should be put into practice by way of a methodology that includes a balanced combination of individual and group work, of apostolic practice, of personal prayer and community celebration, of personal reading and theoretical exposition.

102. It is very important that the Master accompany the novices both personally and communitarily in their process of assimilating the Word of God and of integrating it into all dimensions of their vocational growth.

103. It is fitting that different written guides be provided for personal and community use to help them read and assimilate biblical texts.

 3.   General Objective

 104. To initiate the novices in the process of union and conformity with Christ the Evangelizer as the unifying center of all their spiritual experience,[3] helped by a reading of the Word of God in a Claretian-vocational key.[4]

 4.   Specific Objectives and Means

 4.1. The Word Listened to and Internalized in Prayer

 4.1.1. Objectives

 105. a)   To grow more deeply in the experience God as Father, starting from the texts of the OT and NT, laying special stress on his providence, on trust in Him[5] and on his liberating action in history.

        b)   To grow deeper, by means of the Word, in the following of the poor, chaste and obedient Christ in the announcement of the Gospel, as the unifying center of all spiritual experience and as the one who makes us always ready to be engaged in the Father’s concerns and to become docile to the Spirit.[6]

        c)   To acquire the habit of welcoming the Word of God as Mary, the model and formatrix of listening and responding, did.[7]

        d)  To be initiated into reading and praying the Word of God in a Claretian key.

        e)   To experientially assimilate the biblical foundations of the religious and Claretian life[8] and of the missionary virtues.

        f)   To cultivate the attitudes proper of a faith-filled reading of the Word of God: silence, listening, faith, obedience, availability, poverty, commitment and love.

        g)   To enhance the capacity for turning to the Word of God in order to illumine different events and to interpret the signs of the times and of places.

 4.1.2. Means

 106. a)   Dedicating a sufficient time daily to reading the Word of God, especially of the texts offered in the liturgy.

        b)   Practicing different methods of reading God’s Word, especially that of Lectio Divina.[9]

        c)   Celebrating the Eucharist as a place for listening, assimilating and dialoguing about the Word.

        d)  Having prayers and celebrations inspired directly on Scripture.

        e)   Paying special attention, through reading and meditation:

–  to biblical accounts of vocation, especially those in which Jesus Christ appears as Master and Lord who calls us to follow him;[10]

–  to the Johannine and Pauline texts that deal with the action of the Spirit in the believer, to evoke docility to His inspirations;[11]

–  to the biblical texts that form the basis of our charism (the experience of Fr. Claret and the Constitutions).

–  to the texts that present Mary to us as the woman who listens to and welcomes the Word of God.[12]

        f)   Personal accompaniment of the novices’ growth regarding the Word in their prayer, in the lectio divina, in studies and in the apostolate.

        g)   Biblical inspiration of traditional Marian prayers, such as the Rosary and others.

 4.2. Understood and Assimilated in Study

 4.2.1. Objectives

 107. a)   Systematically studying the biblical foundations of the diverse dimensions of the Claretian religious life.

        b)   Forming an adequate knowledge of the figure of God the Father in the OT and NT as a way for clarifying the image of God in one’s own life.

        c)   Continuing basic initiation in understanding Sacred Scripture, including elements for an updated and inculturated reading of it.

        d)  Enhancing one’s mastery of oral and written communication in order to announce the Word.

 4.2.2. Means

 108. a)   Introductory classes that provide a better grasp of Scripture: the history of the people of Israel, literary forms, milieux, etc.

        b)   Workshops and seminars on:

–  the biblical foundations of vocation, of prayer, of the RL in general and of the vows in particular;[13]

–  the biblical texts which have illumined and called Founders throughout the history of the RL;

–  the biblical texts most characteristic of Claretian tradition, especially those that are the foundation of our charism and are gathered in the Constitutions;[14]

–  the dynamics of reading the Word: looking up parallel texts, resonances, updating and others.[15]

        b)   Workshops and seminars on:

        c)   Practicing languages and techniques for expressing and communicating the Word of God (music, images, dramatization…).

        d)  Audiophonic techniques for hearing and speaking well.

 4.3. Lived and Celebrated in Community

 4.3.1. Objectives

 109. a)   Becoming aware of the fact that they have been called to belong to a community called together by the Word and destined for the service of the Word.

        b)   Giving a living witness of community life as the best evangelical expression of our welcoming and internalizing of the Word of God.

        c)   Assuring that the Word holds a relevant place in community surroundings, life and projects.

        d)  Being specially initiated into reading and meditating on the Psalms as community prayer.

 4.3.2. Means

 110. a)   Surroundings and techniques that enhance deep and evangelical interpersonal communication.

        b)   Giving attention to the celebration of the Eucharist -and particularly to the homily- as a privileged moment for listening to, sharing and living the celebration and announcement of the Word.

        c)   Programming other moments for sharing in community the resonance that the Word awakens in each member: celebrations of the Word, community reflection on the texts of the Sunday Eucharist, etc.

        d)  Preparing the liturgy personally or in small groups, highlighting the biblical texts (Psalms, Readings…).

        e)   Attending to details that favor community appreciation and veneration for the Word (chapel, reading, silence, songs…).

        f)   Referring to the Bible at the beginning of activities and meetings.

 4.4. Announced and Witnessed to in the Apostolate

 4.4.1. Objectives

 111. a)   Discovering by experience that the Claretian apostolate is a transmission of the lived Word.

        b)   Acquiring the capacity to communicate to others one’s personal experience of the Word of God.

        c)   Growing in attitudes proper of our missionary charism: openness to universality and appreciation of cultures.

        d)  Being initiated into reading the Word of God within our own socio-cultural and religious context, becoming aware of the need for inculturation and interreligious dialogue.

        e)   Setting up and living the apostolic actions that we carry out as a missionary service of the Word, laying special emphasis on the use of Scripture in our present historical context.

 4.4.2. Mean

 112. a)   Practices:

–  of pastoral discernment based on the Word of God;

–  of different techniques for communicating the Word.

        b)   Reporting on and evaluating apostolic experiences in community.

        c)   Inculcating on people a great love for Holy Scripture and using the Word of God frequently in meetings, planning sessions, revisions, etc.

        d)  Apostolic activities that especially entail the use and communication of the Word: catecheses, celebrations, etc.

        e)   Apostolic prayer.

 5.   Meaningful Experiences

 113. a)   At the beginning of the novitiate, formulate some type of commitment to reading Scripture and including it in the personal project.

        b)   Experience of the habitual and continued reading of Scripture, especially by way of the lectio divina.

        c)   Let the Spiritual Exercises that precede and prepare for first profession be centered on the following of the chaste, poor and obedient Christ, as based on the Word of God.

        c)   Living our religious profession and the consequent acceptance of the Constitutions as our special way of obeying the Word of God in the Church, which consists precisely of the missionary service of the Word.

[1] Cf. GPF 352-353.

[2] Cf. CPR 6; GPF 56-58.

[3] Cf. GPF 352, 355.

[4] Cf. GPF 357.

[5] Cf. GPF 357.

[6] Cf. Dir 195, 196; GPF 358, 361.

[7] Cf. GPF 355.

[8] Cf. GPF 355.

[9] Cf. Appenix no. 5.

[10] Cf. CC 61; GPF 357.

[11] Cf. CC 65; GPF 357.

[12] Cf. Appendices nos. 3 and 4.

[13] Cf. GPF 360.

[14] Cf. Appendices nos. 3 and 4.

[15] Cf. Appendix no. 5.