Q. What does it take to become a religious brother in the Church?
Editor’s note: The Register posed this question to the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, religious brothers serving the diocese of Lincoln. This response was written by Fr. Solanus Marie, KHE.
A. Once a man has a deep love for the Lord, he must come to understand the vocation. Vocation in the Catholic sense is more than just work, states the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ““Christ, . . . in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man fully manifest to himself and brings to light his exalted vocation. It is in Christ, “the image of the invisible God”, that man was created “in the image and likeness” of the Creator. It is in Christ, Redeemer and Saviour, that the divine image, disfigured in man by the first sin, has been restored to its original beauty and ennobled by the grace of God.
The vocation becomes not a job, but rather a participation of man in the life of the Trinity. This participation is then transformed into a unique mirror image of the very life and person of Jesus Christ.
Vocation is that personal call that Jesus wants us to live. God calls each of us especially to live our lives in a unique and special way as a witness to all that he puts into our lives to share his love and mercy with his creation. This deep call that everyone has if they listen. This is the first step to becoming a religious man.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:4-5) is combined for a religious with “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lvl 19:18). Now that Jesus has descended and fully revealed that God first loved us, it is no longer a command but a response to the gift of love where God comes to meet us.
Once a man has come to see a possible call from our Lord to religious life, it is important to then discern how God specifically calls him. It is important from this stage to have a spiritual director to help the process of discernment. Discernment can be strengthened through community visits and retreats.
As a young man progresses in his interior life, he comes to discover what a religious brother really is. To be a religious brother is also to be a mediator of the love of the Son, the Mediator par excellence, who “loved them to the end” (Jn 13:1) and asked us to love one another. how he loved us (Jn 13:34). In this world that God loves so much, the religious brother cannot hide. On the contrary, he feels the impulse to go out to meet and embrace God. By contemplating the salvific work of God, the religious brother discovers an instrument that God wants to use to make God’s covenant, love and concern for the weakest more visible.
Once a community is chosen, canon law takes up the succinct guidelines instituted by Holy Mother Church in her tradition and wisdom.
The first step for many communities is an application period. At this stage, an individual spends time with the community on a more permanent basis, but can still work in the world while participating in aspects of community life.
Mother Angelica, the founder of EWTN, had this to say about discernment: “If you’re not ready to do the ridiculous, God won’t do the miraculous. When you have God, you don’t have to know everything about it. Just do it. A candidate must learn to see the world in a whole new light – Jesus Christ – and have full confidence that he will guide man where he needs to go. Mother Angelica also said, “Faith is one foot on the ground, one foot in the air, and a sick feeling in the stomach. As a candidate, it is learning to trust your brother, your Lord and your God Jesus Christ. The application is not subject to any particular deadline.
Postulancy is the first formal step in formation in a community, although it is not required by canon law. The postulancy generally lasts between six months and a year. In my community, the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, we have a 1-2 year program for a postulant. The postulant continues his transition from secular life to consecrated life. He begins his formation in the particular spirituality of the community and receives the instruction and help he needs to make a prayerful and mature choice about his vocation.
After postulancy, the community formally accepts a person into its formation program called the novitiate. As a novice, a man will usually put on a simple version of the habit, or for some communities the communal habit. The person receives formal training to live and learn to be part of the community at this stage.
According to canon law, the novitiate can last up to two years, but no longer. The novitiate is the main phase of formation as the novice enters more fully into the community. Under the guidance and care of the vocations director or novice master, the novice learns the responsibilities of community life; practices the gospel counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience; and grows in the knowledge of his divine vocation – whatever it is – and of the community.
The next stage is when a novice will be accepted into simple vows. At this point, the habit usually changes slightly in many communities. When you are dedicated, you are integrated in a conventional way with God and the community. An individual will usually take simple vows until age five or six.
The juniorate, as we call it as Knights of the Holy Eucharist, is a period of formation that lasts throughout private vows. During this time, man affirms his voluntary commitment to God. Through human, spiritual, religious and apostolic formation, he prepares himself to better serve the Church as a dedicated religious. At the same time, he strives to reach the personal maturity necessary to make his perpetual profession if such is the will of God.
When the time for private vows is over and the religious is entirely devoted to his mission and sufficiently understands what he is about to undertake, he makes his final profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, committing himself to stay in the community. for life. He strives more and more to live his vocation and to grow in holiness.
But that’s really just the beginning, not the end. The religious man has resolutely decided to exchange the finite goods of this world for the eternal goods which God offers him, a commitment which extends beyond earthly life into eternity. It is a glimpse of what a man should expect when considering religious life in the Catholic Church.
Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to change. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are encouraged to direct them to the nearest Catholic priest.