"Clare, the delicate eighteen year old, fleeing home on the night of Palm Sunday 1212, set off without hesitation on the adventure of a new experience, believing in the Gospel as Francis showed her, and in nothing else."
—St. John Paul II
Becoming a Poor Clare
The stages of initial formation prepare us for a life of vowed consecration to God as a Poor Clare nun. This period of growth and transformation takes place gradually within the unfolding days and seasons of the liturgical and Franciscan atmosphere that shapes our life. A key element to all the stages of initial formation is spiritual accompaniment. A sister is assigned to accompany those who have embarked on the journey to become a Poor Clare sister. Frequent conversations in a spirit of seeking the Lord's will helps to clarify how the Lord is working in our lives. The aim of initial formation and spiritual accompaniment is to progress on the journey of becoming what God wants us to be in order that we may fully and freely give ourselves to Him in religious profession.
Step One: Postulancy
The first stage of postulancy is really an introduction to our daily schedule, our customs and the history and spirituality of our Order. It's a settling-in period which gives space for continued discernment so that a postulant can gradually adjust to life in the monastery.
Step Two: Noviciate
The stage of Novitiate begins at a private ceremony with the reception of the holy habit and religious name. These years are a time for the novice to intensify her love for Christ and to grow in her understanding of Gospel living as she studies our Rule and the vows and experiences the challenges and joys of living in Community.
Step Three: Juniorate
After professing vows for three years, the junior professed sister begins to enter more fully into the life of the community in a variety of ways and receives more responsibilities in her areas of work, whether in the kitchen, sewing, gardening, study or anywhere else obedience may call her.
Step Four: Solemn Profession
At the Mass of solemn profession the sister vows to live as a Poor Clare for “the whole time of her life,” and receives a silver ring and a crown of thorns, symbolic of her union with Christ Crucified. This commitment makes her a witness of Christ’s redemptive love for the world.
Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that he might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything.