When someone wanted to join the Oblates, the first step was a time of postulancy followed by a time of intense formation, called a novitiate. It was the crucial period of the formation process of the future Oblate.
We have a very strict novitiate. If men are judged unfit for religious virtues, they are simply sent away. Thus it is an established fact that the small number who persevere are really called.
Letter to Bishop Miollis of Digne, 10 March 1828, EO XIII n 65
The aim of the novitiate was to help the person to be transformed into a true missionary.
A novitiate which is truly a novitiate, where the subjects are fashioned with a master’s hand, where care is taken to coach in them all that goes to form a true missionary, from which they will emerge full of virtue, accustomed to obedience and filled with attachment and respect for the Rules and all they prescribe.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 26 November 1825, EO VI n. 208
Today our Rule of Life continues to stress its importance: “The novitiate is the candidate’s time of initiation into Oblate religious life and leads to his public commitment in the Congregation.… Under the guidance of the Novice Master, the novice comes to grasp the meaning of religious consecration. He can thus discern the Lord’s call and, in prayer, make himself ready to respond.” CCRR, Constitution 55
A novitiate,. in the broader sense of the word, applies to all of us in an ongoing way. To be disciples is not a static state of life, but a dynamic following of Jesus. All of us need to constantly discern the Lord’s call and, in prayer, make ourselves ready to respond on a daily basis.
“Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.” Og Mandino