Discernment of a vocation
Each person’s vocation story is unique. The call of God to consecrated life comes to a particular individual in a particular way. However, there are some common features.
The call to Religious Life is not a call to a career or a particular lifestyle choice. A call to become a Benedictine nun is a call to love and involves a response of love.
It requires a person to let go of their own vision for life and like the Blessed Virgin Mary, to say yes to God, embracing what God offers in the beautiful and challenging following of Our Lord in the Religious Life.
If you feel the stirrings of the Holy Spirit’s call to you to enter the Religious Life you need
- to pray!
- to talk – preferably with a good spiritual director or someone who has personal experience of Religious Life
- to visit – one or more communities to explore more clearly what Religious Life entails. Start with a community you know and find attractive. It may be the very place that God is drawing you to. A community will be able to advise you of other communities which might be a ‘better fit’ if you are searching for a particular ethos or charism.
Candidates for admission to SBVM
The Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a monastery of Nuns following the Rule of St Benedict within the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
What do we look for?
Although each person’s individual circumstances are considered we usually look for
- A Catholic woman aged between 21 and 45 (usually) and with no dependants
- A sincere desire to live the monastic life
- Sufficient physical and emotional health and maturity
- A spirit of sacrifice – able to give up worldly riches for spiritual ones
- Signs of an ability to live monastic life in community with others of different temperaments and backgrounds
If you wish to explore a possible vocation to the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary (SBVM) you should contact us. We would invite you, as an Aspirant, to visit us, to see how we live and to join us in praying the Divine Office. We would encourage a mutual ‘getting to know you’ which would take place through visits and conversations. The Aspirant would then make a formal application to join us. If accepted, a time for entrance is arranged.
The Aspirant enters the monastery and begins her new life in her new religious family. She will receive support from the Novice Mistress who has particular responsibility to ensure that Aspirants are given a thorough founding in the Benedictine way of life and receive adequate intellectual, moral and spiritual formation. The Novice Mistress guides her in acquiring the virtues and attributes needed to live the Religious Life.
Formation in Religious Life is a lifelong journey involving conversion of life but the first years in the monastery prepare the Aspirant for her profession of monastic vows for life of stability, conversion of life and obedience.
The Aspirant lives alongside the community, wears her own clothes, attends the Divine Office, shares our work and learns basic monastic customs. The Aspirancy has a minimum duration of one month.
After living in the monastery as an Aspirant, the candidate is received as a Postulant in a simple ceremony during which she receives a grey veil which is worn with her own clothes.
Postulancy, which lasts a minimum six months, is a time of learning to deepen your prayer life, of getting to know the community and our daily life.
The Postulant learns about the Benedictine Congregation, the basics of Benedictine spirituality, our Marian charism and the particular history of our community. She studies the Rule of St Benedict, Sacred Scripture, Church History and develops her spiritual reading as part of lectio divina. The Postulant is free to leave at any point.
At the end of the period of Postulancy, the Postulant receives the Benedictine Novice’s Habit with a white veil and her name in religion during a formal clothing ceremony.
The Novice Sister begins a period of spiritual formation which lasts two years (the second twelve months of which count as the Canonical novitiate required by Church law) includes fostering a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and includes theological study. The formation process is preparation for a life of unconditional dedication to God; consecrating to Him the present and future.
At the end of this period, the Novice Sister makes her first (temporary) profession of ’simple’ vows for an initial period of three years.
The newly First Professed Sister receives a black veil. For the most part, she lives as a Sister but continues to receive pastoral oversight from the Novice Mistress.
The First Professed Sister continues her formation in the monastic life particularly seeking to grow in love of God, prayer, and love of neighbour. In simple vows the First Professed Sister partakes more intimately in the decision making and work of the community.
After three years the First Professed Sister may make her Life Profession.
Life Profession (Solemn Monastic Vows and Consecration)
The Sister makes her Profession of Solemn Monastic Vows “…that I will live for the rest of my life in stability, conversion of life and obedience according to the Rule of St Benedict and the Constitutions and Customary of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
The profession of Solemn Vows for life consecrate a woman for life in service to the Church as a Nun. She receives the full Benedictine Habit including a gold ring and cowl and from this day forward possesses the full rights of a Nun in the community.
The newly professed Nun will continue for the rest of her life in this world the process of ongoing formation. She is seeking the general orientation of her soul to love God ever more deeply and to serve Him in participation of His praise through the liturgy and her other work.