Every person has a vocation, a career or employment that may involve partnership, marriage and family or might be lived single, as a solitary or in religious community. At some point in our life, we look to the meaning of our existence and how we may express that meaning through the work and relationships we choose. For women and men religious that work and relationship begins and ends with God. Our life and the details therein are given over to the love, worship and glory of God, and our being and acts are transformed by our partnership with God’s divinity.
Women and men religious are often called to such a vocation or after a process of discernment elect to live the monastic life.
Discernment is an essential part of monastic process and can take many years. It requires effort, evokes trepidation and/or excitement, meets challenge and can be painful at times in the space between life known surrendering to the new. Finally, a sense of knowing ourselves happens, and knowing our place emerges.
To assist individuals in their discernment of a monastic vocation, St Enoch and St Elijah – SEASEM – has a formal process of preparation for monastic commitment.
A person drawn to SEASEM will have the beginning of some of the elements below:
- A desire to love and serve God with their whole being through a contemplative life-style based on the cultivation of their Father fusion, Divine Office and prayer
- A desire to have direction in their life through the observance of the Monastic Rule
- A desire and maturity to give up their own will in submission to God and to those with authority in the monastic community
- A desire to serve others and the world through prayer
- A desire for brotherly and sisterly sharing in a consecrated life
- You will be single, without dependants or debt, aged between 25-55 years and of sound physical and mental health.
How to discern a monastic vocation?
- A deep ‘Listening with the ear of the heart’ through prayer and spiritual reading, reception of the Sacraments and in the events of daily life
- Seeking the help of an understanding priest, spiritual director or a monastic to whom one may have access and with whom one can be fully open and receptive
- Read about the Order of St Benedict and commentaries on the Rule; it is one close to SEASEM’s heart
- Visit the community and take part in the Office and prayer, experience the silence and practice listening for God
- Speak with community member responsible for novices
- Remember, discernment takes time and may lead one in a direction not considered
- It may be that one’s path in life is in another direction, but each step one takes can be part of the discernment process
- Discernment before entering a community is only the beginning of a life-long process. There is a long period of mutual discernment between entry and any vows.
Stages of Initial Formation
A person seeking entrance to monastic life embarks on a number of stages through which the individual and the community can discern the vocation. These stages are to assist the newcomer in responding to their life-long call, be it in the community or along another path.
Initially, the individual aspiring to this life will come as a guest for times of reflection. They may share in the prayer and after a number of visits, perhaps the work of SEASEM. This may be followed by a stay within the monastery enclosure as an Aspirant. The community member looking after the Aspirant can be approached to answer questions and help discernment in this early stage.
The next stage is that of Postulancy. This time (3-6 months) is spent within the monastic enclosure, living the life among the community. The postulant is under the care of the monk or nun responsible for newcomers and may attend classes and have a share in the community work.
If the community and postulant discern a genuine zeal for God and the monastic life then the postulant may request admission to the novitiate. This is marked by the bestowal of the monastic habit and beginning of formal novitiate training (minimum two years). Monastic life is a school of the Lord’s service. At first the way may seem restrictive, but as love grows so life blossoms into fullness in the joy of response to God.
After the discernment of the novitiate, the novice monk or nun may make a commitment by promise (three years minimum) and so commit themselves to seeking God in the way of the Rule within this community
When, after the period of simple commitment, the genuineness of the vocation is clear to the individual and the community, then Solemn Profession may be made. This is the binding of oneself to God in the monastic life, within this community, for life. The vows of Obedience, Conversion of Life, and Stability are made.
The Vows of SEASEM Monastic
In seeking to follow the way of the Father Fusion of Jesus, Obedience sets us free from our own will to do the will of God.
Conversion of Life
This vow encompasses the very roots of monastic life-style and includes celibacy, simplicity, and generosity in our love and service of God and others
This binds us to God who is ever faithful, and to our Brothers and Sisters in the community as we live and grow together.
If the love of God is upon you, and you are called to a monastic life in the Father fusion of Jesus at St Enoch and St Elijah Monastery, we welcome you to contact the Guestmasterf