There are three major steps following a live-in observership:
1. Postulancy (six months)
As an observer, you learn to follow grace, step by step, patiently. The things that Christ invites us to do for the love of Him "are usually prepared by a gentle and imperceptible providence that seem to come as if of themselves." If this stage results in affirmative progress, you will begin your novitiate.
2. Novitiate (two and a half years)
This stage involves a comprehensive, gradual incorporation into our community life through prayer, interaction with the brothers, spiritual accompaniment by the novice director, solitude, study, and participation in a monastic day.
3. Temporary vows (three to six years on the way to professing solemn vows.)
Monks make three vows: obedience, stability, and 'conversatio morum'.
- Obedience is the first virtue of Christ and involves listening – out of love – to someone else so that what they want seems more important to you than your own will.
- Stability is a promise to persevere in this particular community and is a promise of loyalty.
- 'Conversatio morum' is a vow to a continual change of soul and a daily reshaping of the mind and heart according to God's plan for us.
From this point forward, the monk continues a process in which he experiences Christ as the beginning and the end of his day. Christ is the point, core, and purpose of monastic life, and "it is a love affair without parallel this side of eternity."
Finally, a monk makes his solemn (final) vows, promising to live them out in the monastery until death and heaven.