Becoming a member of the Order of St. Cyprian is not an arduous or complicated task, however it does take some time, determination, an abundance of study, a great deal of prayer, and perseverance.
The real beginning of the process takes place before one ever contacts us. It begins with the candidate’s own struggle to discern if they received a call to the religious life or not. This can take place over a number of years, and always involves the help of others, especially a confessor or spiritual director.
The dynamic here should be noted: it is a personal call from God to the individual, but the recognition and understanding of that call requires the help of others. This dynamic continues throughout the following, more formal stages of formation: the candidate continues to struggle to understand and give shape to their call under the guidance and direction of others. Nor should it be surprising to us that this is the case. God always enlightens us, teaches us, and sanctifies us through the Body of Christ, the Church. God’s grace for us, in other words, is always ministered to us through others. The grace of a vocation is made incarnate in the service, education, and training that others give in order to bring that vocation to life.
The following is a broad outline of how one moves forward from initial inquiry towards application to profession.
1) Inquiry – An Inquirer shall be any adult who is discerning the call to religious life. During this period, the Inquirer should engage in a regular prayer life and seek the guidance of a Spiritual Director and other trusted members of the Body of Christ to assist them in discerning their calling and the specific path of their life’s journey with God. If the Inquirer prayerfully discerns a call to life as part of this particular religious community, they are strongly encouraged to interact with a diverse group of members of the Order to determine if the charism and mission of the Order of St. Cyprian aligns with their perceived calling.
2) Novitiate – After an individual has gathered sufficient information about the Order of St. Cyprian and talked with its members such that that they have enough information to begin thinking seriously about applying to enter the Novitiate, they must indicate that they wish to become a member of the Order by a formal letter of application. This letter of application shall include a Letter of Intention describing your interest and intention to discern your vocation within the Order of St. Cyprian, and a Spiritual Autobiography.
Inquirers shall be advanced to the Novitiate after successful completion of the above requirements and the affirmation by consensus of all Professed members in meeting at Chapter. By such consensus shall the Order remain of one heart and one mind.
Anyone eager to join the Order and get on with life’s vocation quite naturally desires to make the process unfold as quickly as possible. A sufficient period of Novitiate of not less than one year helps to ensure that haste does not make waste. A hasty entrance into a religious Order often leads to a dissatisfying experience followed by a hasty exit. During the Novitiate, the Novice works with the members to explore where they stand in relation to their own human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral development. Novitiate shall be a time for the individual to learn the basics about prayer, religious life, St. Cyprian, and the charism and Constitutions of the Order of St. Cyprian of Antioch. The novice shall complete a course of study approved by the Order.
The Novitiate is a time of intense prayer and discernment, and deep personal and spiritual growth. While the Novice is instructed in elements of religious life, adapting to and embracing in their core our charism as their own, this period allows the Novice to internalize the Three Pillars of Cyprianite Spirituality within the talents and gifts the Lord has bestowed on them individually.
Progressing in their deepening understanding of the call they have from God, with the help of their sisters and brothers in the Order, the Novice learns how to live as part of this Cyprianite community. At the same time, the Professed members of the community are discerning whether the Novice truly has a call to the Cyprianite religious life. The Novitiate period concludes when the Novice, having completed all necessary requirements and prescribed courses of study, shall prayerfully discern their readiness to profess publically their willingness to live a life of prayer, pursuit of hidden wisdom, benevolent protection and the command of spirits as faithful witnesses to all of the mission and way of life of the Order of St. Cyprian. The readiness of a Novice to make Profession shall be subject to a consensus affirmation by the Professed members at General Chapter.
3) Profession – Having completed the requisite course of study and discerned their readiness to commit to religious life, and having received the affirmation of the Professed members, the Novice is clothed in the habit of the Order and makes profession to the Order of St. Cyprian during the General Chapter. Each member of the Order makes promises annually during the General Chapter. Each member continues to study, learn and grow as a member of the Order, for the benefit of the Order and the People of God.
After being accepted, the new Novice is now considered a postulant. After a brief orientation, the postulant is clothed in the full habit of our Ordery, and thus begins their canonical year of novitiate. During this intense year of prayer and discernment, the novice is instructed in elements of the Cyprianite life.
At the same time, the solemnly professed members of the novitiate community are discerning whether the novice truly has a call to the Cyprianite religious life. The novitiate year concludes with the profession of simple (temporary) vows, usually made for a period of one to three years.