Vocations

Of the Manner of Admitting Brethren
 
To him that newly cometh to change his life, let not an easy entrance be granted, but, as the Apostle saith, “Try the spirits if they be of God.” If, therefore, he that cometh persevere in knocking, and after four or five days seem patiently to endure the wrongs done to him and the difficulty made about his coming in, and to persist in his petition, let entrance be granted him, and let him be in the guest-house for a few days. Afterwards let him go into the Novitiate, where he is to meditate and study, to take his meals and to sleep. Let a senior, one who is skilled in gaining souls, be appointed over him to watch him with the utmost care, and to see whether he is truly seeking God, and is fervent in the Work of God, in obedience and in humiliations. Let all the hard and rugged paths by which we walk towards God be set before him. And if he promise steadfastly to persevere, after the lapse of two months let this Rule be read through to him, with these words: “Behold the law, under which thou desirest to fight. If thou canst observe it, enter in; if thou canst not, freely depart.” If he still stand firm, let him be taken back to the aforesaid cell of the Novices, and again tried with all patience. And, after a space of six months, let the Rule be again read to him, that he may know unto what he cometh. Should he still persevere, after four months let the same Rule be read to him once more. And if, having well considered within himself, he promise to keep it in all things, and to observe everything that is commanded him, then let him be received into the community, knowing that he is now bound by the law of the Rule, so that from that day forward he cannot depart from the Monastery, nor shake from off his neck the yoke of the Rule, which after such prolonged deliberation he was free either to refuse or to accept.
 
Let him who is to be received make before all, in the Oratory, a promise of STABILITY, CONVERSION OF LIFE, and OBEDIENCE, in the presence of God and of His saints, so that, if he should ever act otherwise, he may know that he will be condemned by Him Whom he mocketh. Let him draw up this promise in writing, in the name of the saints whose relics are in the altar, and of the Abbot there present. And let him write it with his own hand; or at least, if he knoweth not how, let another write it at his request, and let the Novice put his mark to it, and place it with his own hand upon the altar. When he hath done this, let the Novice himself immediately begin this verse: “Uphold me, O Lord, according to Thy Word, and I shall live: and let me not be confounded in my expectation.” And this verse let the whole community thrice repeat, adding thereto Gloria Patri. Then let the newly-received brother cast himself at the feet of all, that they may pray for him, and from that day let him be counted as one of the community. Whatever property he hath let him first bestow upon the poor, or by a solemn deed of gift make over to the Monastery, keeping nothing of it all for himself, as knowing that from that day forward he will have no power even over his own body. Forthwith, therefore, in the Oratory, let him be stripped of his own garments, wherewith he is clad, and be clothed in those of the Monastery. And let the garments that are taken from him be laid by and kept in the wardrobe; so that if ever, by the persuasion of the devil, he consent (which God forbid) to leave the Monastery, he may be stripped of the monastic habit and cast forth. But the form of his profession, which the Abbot took from the altar, shall not be given back to him, but be kept in the Monastery.
 
Holy Rule, CHAPTER 58
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