Candidates to the Order should be persons of prayer who aspire to the perfection of charity and to detachment from the world, so that they may be able to embrace the Discalced Carmelite way of life, in which a deeply solitary communion with God is closely united to sisterly life together in community. (Const. No. 132)
In order to make this task of discerning a vocation easier and to help those who show true signs of having a vocation to the contemplative life to come to a better understanding of our way of life, the Prioress, if she sees fit, with the consent of the chapter, may allow them to live inside the monastery for a period of time not exceeding three months. (Const. No. 134)
After the initial experience of "living in" for 3 months, the aspirant returns home.
If, after prayer and reflection, she wishes to return, she will enter the formation period. This begins with Postulancy, which may last from 6-18 months, after which she receives the Carmelite habit. The Novitiate which follows lasts for 2 years, after which she makes Profession of the vows of Chastity, Obedience and Poverty. This Period ranges from 3-6 years and the renewal of Vows is made each year.
Solemn Profession, and receiving the black veil, mark the definitive life-long consecration as a Carmelite nun which is the crowning point of the initial formation period.
It is generally considered that the best time for entry into religious life is between 20-35 years of age, though slightly earlier and later vocations may be considered in some circumstances.
Throughout the life of the Carmelite nun, this first formation is developed and deepened, by way of ongoing transformation into Christ, whom we are called to follow as our Way and Truth and Life. This is helped by study, dialogue, courses, retreats and Lectio Divina, covering all areas of our calling. This ongoing formation and renewal lasts for the whole of one's life. "Forgetting what lies behind and straining towards what is still to come, I race for the goal for the prize which God has called us upward to receive in Christ Jesus". (Phil. 3:14)
The example of our Holy Mother St. Teresa shows us how this life "hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3), also makes us more sensitive to the needs of the world, and every person living within it, as we pray in the Spirit for God's outpouring of abundant mercy.
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