MONASTIC LIFE VOCATION AT
OUR LADY OF THE PHILIPPINES

What, dear brothers, is more delightful than this voice of the Lord calling to us?
See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.

Prologue - Rule of St. Benedict


Monastic life at Our Lady of the Philippines is open to men ranging in age from early twenties to mid forties (25-45). Candidates to our community must be practicing Roman Catholics in good standing, in good mental, emotional and physical health. They need to be free of all family and financial obligations and able to give themselves fully to the demands of cloistered community life.

The genuine call to take up one's cross each day according to the evangelical councils and in monastic stability and conversion of life comes only from God. It may surprise some to learn that although the practice of poverty and chastity are essential to monastic life they are not explicitly mentioned in the monastic formula for profession of vows. Since the time of St. Benedict the words stability, conversion of life, and obedience have been adopted as very apt terms to designate the responsibilities assumed by the monk on the day of his profession. In monastic circles the vows of poverty and chastity are contained within that of conversion of life. The traditional formula of monastic profession, used during the last eight centuries is as follows:

I, Brother (N), promise my stability, my conversion of life and my obedience until death in accordance with the Rule of St. Benedict, Abbot. I do this before God and all his saints, in this monastery of (N), of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance, constructed in honor of the Blessed and ever Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and in the presence of Dom (N), abbot of this monastery.

The primary responsibility of the newly professed monk is to love with all his heart. The vows presuppose this love and express it exteriorly by incorporating him into a state of life which has no other reason for existence than the love of Christ and all that implies. The monk is a lover, not interiorly and spiritually, but also exteriorly and juridically.

The usual procedures for applying to our community include: Initial Contacts, Observership, Interim, Postulancy, Novitiate, Juniorate.

INITIAL CONTACTS

The discernment process begins with the initial contact between the inquirer or applicant and the vocation director by means of correspondence and/or phone conversations. If these develop positively they will be followed by a personal visit of the applicant to the monastery. During his visit he will meet with the vocation director and together they will try to discern whether or not God seems to be calling the candidate to monastic life at OLP. The applicant will be invited to fill out a preliminary questionnaire before the visit.

If the initial discernment is positive the candidate will meet the abbot and the other member of the Admissions Board for verification and approval. When everyone concerned is in agreement the candidate will be considered for a 3-month observership in the community.

OBSERVERSHIP

Before entering the observership the candidate will write a brief autobiography, sign a statement of truth and freedom and provide testimonial letters. When these are all in order he will be invited to live in the novitiate as an observer, following the novitiate schedule. The observership is the candidate's introduction to monastic living and his first stage of formation. It is also a time for further discerning and testing whether or not God is calling him to monastic life in this community. During the course of it the decision whether or not the candidate should proceed to the postulancy will be made.

INTERIM

After his observership the candidate usually returns home for a month or so or as long as required to complete the process before final approval for postulancy. During this time he will assemble the documents required by the church and the community. He will also take medical and dental exams and psychological evaluations. After all the results are in he will be informed whether or not his application is approved. If it is approved he will settle all his 'worldly' affairs before entering the community as a postulant. The vocation director is available for guidance and direction at all times during the process.

POSTULANCY

Normally the postulancy lasts for one year but can be extended, usually for no more than another six months. It is a time for adjustment to monastic life, continuing formation and further discernment and testing one's call with emphasis on preparing oneself for entering the novitiate. At the end of the postulancy, if everything is in order, the candidate will receive the monastic habit of a Cistercian novice and become a member of the community.

NOVITIATE

Though discernment continues during the novitiate the emphasis is more focused on preparation and training for taking monastic vows. It lasts for two years but, for good reason, can be extended six months. When his novitiate is complete, and the novice master recommends him for first profession and the abbot with his council and the vote of the conventual chapter approves, the candidate may take first vows and enter upon the juniorate program of monastic formation.

A religious transferring from another Order will spend two years on probation in the novitiate beginning with the arrival of his transitus. All this while the candidate is under the direction of the abbot and the novice master. During these stages the candidate is free to leave of his own accord or he can be dismissed if that seems indicated.

JUNIORATE

Upon making his first vows the candidate will leave the novitiate and take up the life of the junior professed. The juniorate is three years with annual renewal of vows. When there are adequate reasons it can be extended up to six years more. A religious already in final vows normally spends one year in the juniorate program; three years if in temporary vows.

During this time the candidate lives the monastic life steeping himself further in the monastic tradition and spirituality while preparing for final profession. He will be under the direction of the abbot and junior director during this time. Final vows are for life.

If you feel God may be calling you to a monastic way of life (which is really a monastic way to life) here at OLP and would like to begin a process of discernment with us, you are invited to contact the vocation director. He will gladly assist you in the discernment process in any way he can.

You may write to the vocation director with any questions you may have or to tell him of your interest:

VOCATION DIRECTOR OUR LADY OF THE PHILIPPINES TRAPPIST ABBEY
5045 JORDAN, GUIMARAS, PHILIPPINES
PHONE: [63] (928) 502-4756


To their fellow monks they show the pure love of brothers; to God, loving fear; to their abbot, unfeigned and humble love. Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.

Chapter 72 - Rule of St. Benedict

The information on this page was written by Br. Anthony Weber of Genesee Abbey.
Additional information given by Fr. Agileo Sibayan, Vocation Director OLP.

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