What is a Religious Vocation?
A vocation to the religious life is gift from God the Father to the individual, a call to be totally conformed to Christ through the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the service of the Church. It is the total consecration of self for the love and service of Jesus Christ.The religious stands as a prophetic sign of the supreme good and destiny that all will find in God alone, a reminder to the world that human life finds its finality in God.
Throughout history God has raised up those who desire to live their baptismal consecration in a more radical way in imitation of Christ who was chaste, poor and obedient. Thus the consecrated life ‘constitutes… an abiding re-enactment in the Church’ of Christ’s own way of life.
(Vita Consecrata 22., quoting Lumen Gentium 44.)
Stages of Discernment & Formation
“…the formation of religious has for its primary end to initiate candidates into religious life and help them become aware of their identity as persons consecrated through their profession of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience in a religious institute.”
(Directives on Formation in Religious Institutes, 110)
The initial stage of formation is known as ‘postulancy’. In our Congregation this lasts one year. Postulants live within the cloister as part of the community. It is a time of learning about our life and Dominican practices, customs, and liturgy. Initial formation is also given in the spiritual life, the reading and assiduous study of Sacred Scripture, and in the history and theology of the Order.
Typically, two years of novitiate follow postulancy. The first or ‘canonical’ year is a special time in which the novice is given more time for personal prayer and spiritual reading; it is a period in which the active apostolate is set aside to enable the novice to grow ever deeper in her relationship with Jesus Christ and with the community in her discernment. During the second year, the novice enters once again into the active apostolate of preaching and teaching with the community. In addition, there is continued theological and personal formation under the guidance of the novice mistress as she prepares for her First Profession at the conclusion of her second novitiate year.
The period of ‘temporary profession’ lasts three years at the end of which permanent vows are made. “By our profession we dedicate ourselves to God, following Christ and leading the gospel life in the Order, so that our Baptismal consecration may achieve its effect more completely. […] While embracing the self-emptying of Christ, we participate at the same time in His life in the Spirit. In this way, if we are faithful we become clearer witnesses in the Church to the good things of the heavenly kingdom” (Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of St. Joseph, Ch. IV).
“Continuing formation… is an intrinsic requirement of religious consecration… [and] is not limited to the initial phase. Due to human limitations, the consecrated person can never claim to have completely brought to life the “new creature” who, in every circumstance of life, reflects the very mind of Christ. Initial formation, then, should be closely connected with continuing formation, thereby creating a readiness on everyone’s part to let themselves be formed every day of their lives… None are exempt from the obligation to grow humanly and as Religious; by the same token, no one can be over-confident and live in self-sufficient isolation. At no stage of life can people feel so secure and committed that they do not need to give careful attention to ensuring perseverance in faithfulness; just as there is no age at which a person has completely achieved maturity.” (Vita Consecrata, 69)
Prayer for Dominican Vocations
Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father.
As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth.
Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”
- Fundamental Constitution of the Order of Preachers
- The Rule of St Augustine
- The Nine Ways of Prayer of St Dominic
- The Libellus of Bl. Jordan of Saxony
- Dominican Spirituality: Principles and Practices – William Hinnebusch, OP
- The Contemplative Dimension of Dominican Spirituality – Jordan Aumann, OP
- The Dominican Soul – M. M. Philipon, OP
- Timeline of the Life of St Dominic
- Lives of the Brethren