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The Observer
Rockford, Illinois
March 17, 1961     The Observer
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March 17, 1961
 

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PAGE 10 : :The Observer, Friday, March 17, 1961 be have despised thc world and, as yoursclf with your en- heart, to Jesus Christ, forever; m a y He defend and lead / evil, you to life eternal. Roman Pontifical Formula for the Imposition of the Veil On the following p a ge s are the habits, aims and entrance re- quirements of the religious orders of women working in the Diocese of Rockford. A postulant a n d aspirant spends six months finding out if the sisterhood is actually the way of life for her. At the same time, t h e order she joins is finding out if she is suited to its way of life. The most distinguishing char- acteristic of the postulant's life, obviously, is its "newness." There are new companions with whom she invariably feels a great sense of belonging. They, too, have dreamed the same dreams, fought the same fears, discovered that convef~t life is not really as mystical or strange as they might have be- lieved. New Life . Daily attendance at Mass, re- ception o][ Holy Communion, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, spiritual reading, all combine with work and play to comprise the busiest, most active days she has ever known. She mops, sews, works in the kitchen or in the convent yard, studies more about her Faith and the order she has entered~. She generally finds herself more eager, more enthusiastic than she dreamed possible. Usually, too, she is a little amused that she, Miss Joan Johnson now is "Sister John- son,S = New Habit And she is fascinated that Sister Johnson now is sedately dressed in the postulant's garb. Most likely she is a trifle per- turbed. For as a postulant she begins the serious businesa of "weeding out" and re-aligning her thinking about her faults. The spadework toward per- fection comes during her life as a postulant. She is to learn more about the topic during her novitiate, Among other things, the novi- tiate brings two important re- visions in the outer life of the postulant. ~. New Name One'is the cherished habit (for the postulant has, in com- mon parlance, taken the veil.) The other is her name in reli- gion. Usually this is one of the three submitted by the postulant herself and generally given in light of names submitted by other sisters in the 6rder who may already have taken t h e name. " Novices might be likened to sophomores of the sisterhood. They h a v e outgrown the status of freshmen, postulants. But they are not yet sisters, either. For one thing, the novice can leave 'at ahY time: CBy t h e same token, She can be asked to leave at any time.) She must yet reap the benefits of an in- tensive year, or perhaps two years of study depending on the order she chooses. Canonical Year During this canonical year, she thoroughly examines t h e rule of the order. She learns about the histo:y and tradition of the Church, and of her or- der. She takes classes in moral theology and assimilates t h e meaning of vows she will take at the conclusion of the novi- tiate. With the vow of poverty she will relinquish her possessions. Chastity insures her heart is God's alone. Obedience involves her promise to to God's will as shown by her superiors. A kind of by-product of the novitiate involves some distin- guishing characteristics of sis- ters. For it is during this period that the would-be sister elimi- nates the slouch, the amble, the lope. Inner Serenity It is all part of an awareness that outer dignity aids inner serenity. The companionship, the en- lightenment and thespiritual awareness that the novitiate provides are toppedoff with some encouraging safeguards. One -- an interview with the Bishop or h i s representative, takes place about a month be- fore profession. This interview determines whether or not the novice chooses her life .freely and with sincerity. A second safeguard is an eight-day retreat. It takes place prior to profession day. Temporary Vows Then, she makes her tempo- rary vows. They will be re- newed if she so chooses, within three years, permanently, be- fore the Bishop and the super- ior general of her community. And she receives her ring. Now, at last, she is a bride of Christ. For the dedicated sister, her work has just begun. Ahead are the really fruitful years. Her own training, .her spiritual nourishment, will con- tinue of course. But now it is her happy task to return what has been given her. With some awe, and perhaps a little just pride, she can re- peat the words qf the office of St. Agnes: "I am wedded to Him Whom the ngels serve, and whose beauty the sun and moon won- der."