In research
of a path of life and fertility

“And if I were to enter Carmel?…”

…dialogue in the visiting room between Sr Marie Pascale, formator and Axelle, interested.

The spring of the buds

Axelle : And if I entered the Carmel, how would it happen? I would have a training?

Sr. Marie Pascale : Sure ! When we enter Carmel, the desire is there, to follow Christ where he calls us and the heart is wide open... but we arrive with everything that has made our life up to now: our family, our friends, our habits. of life (today, we go to bed late and we rarely get up early!), our artistic tastes, our places of relaxation, our studies, our profession, what do I know? And all that will have to find its place in this new life. One does not become a Carmelite overnight... And then, there is everything to discover about what makes the richness of Carmel: the way of praying, of living on a daily basis, everything that makes up the heritage of our spiritual family, the way to relax alone or together… and so on! It's a whole new field that is revealed to us!

Axelle : And where do we start?

The aspirantate

Sr. Marie Pascale: For a few years now, when a young person has already got to know the community and wants to go further, she asks to enter aspirantate. This is a "mixed" formula that allows the young person over a period of at least one year, sometimes two, to dive in immersion three times, at the Carmel. These are more or less long courses (at least fifteen days) during which she can discover the community, its way of life, its type of work, its liturgy… And the community, for its part, also discovers it. This is a first approach that allows the young person to check her skills on "real life" while maintaining her commitments and relationships (family, friends, work, etc.). This step can not only allow her to get to know us , but also to perfect one's human or religious formation, complete one's studies or honor one's professional responsibilities. This stage assumes that she is committed to the community and is not going to have vocational experiences elsewhere.

Axelle : So it's already a commitment, even if she hasn't entered yet?

Sr. Marie Pascale: Absolutely, and that is part of the formative years proper. At the end of this time, she can end it if she wishes or start the next step.

Axelle : And if it is yes, she enters the monastery?

The postulate

Sr. Marie Pascale : Yes, she then begins her postulator for a period of one year. It's a bit like an airlock between her life before and the one that is opening up to her: time to discover the community over time, the way of life, the rhythm of the year and the liturgy; time also to let decant what preceded her entry into the monastery, to learn how to be accompanied from week to week with the formator to get to know herself better...

Axelle : And there are lessons?

Sr. Marie Pascale: At this stage of training, there are, of course, but few, so as to put more emphasis on what could be called acclimatization to listening: acquiring a disciple's heart and forming dialogue with the trainer. The lessons become more important in the next step…

Axelle : who is ?

The novitiate

Sr. Marie Pascale: … what is called the novitiate. This period of two years is marked by the taking of the habit which brings us into the great family of Carmel. This step is very important; it is marked by a more sustained rhythm of teachings and a more concrete entry into work and community services so that the rhythm of life enters the mind, the heart and... the body which is part of it!

Axelle : Oh good ?

Sr. Marie Pascale : But yes ! Our whole being is called to Carmel and not just our great aspirations!

Axelle : But when you are sure you want to be all His, isn't that enough?

Sr. Marie Pascale : Well, precisely, we are only sure when our whole life (spiritual, psychic and physical life) confirms it to us… and this is verified over time!

Axelle : All the same ! It's long ! … And afterwards, is it good?

The temporary profession

Sr. Marie Pascale : Yes, if our concrete being acquiesces to this form of hidden and loving life in the service of the Church, we can ask to do profession...

 Axelle: For real ?

Pascale : For good … but in a way temporary, for three years…

Axelle : Well, if all the young people who go out together took so long before committing to marriage! …

Sr. Marie Pascale : It would probably make more durable couples, yes! At this stage where one becomes temporarily professed, one enters more into community services, liturgy and one learns to work intellectually more in solitude (even though the teachings at the novitiate last another two or three years)….

Axelle : If I understand correctly, there is a change that still occurs?

Sr. Marie Pascale : I think so ! Before taking a glimpse of the solemn vows and in order to prepare for them more intensely, one “enters into community”. By this rite, the young professed leaves the novitiate and will continue her life of dialogue (which had been started with the formator) with the prioress, at a rhythm which will go gradually and in a flexible way, from one week, to fifteen days. then every month. At the same time, she will devote her study time to deepening what will be her final commitment. It is a very strong time, but also very demanding. She is more in community and can feel less surrounded than in the time of the novitiate. She practices living what Madeleine Delbrel, a great friend of the Carmel, called “the spirituality of cycling”.

Axelle: Sorry ?

Sr. Marie Pascale : the bicycle has two wheels as everyone knows...

Axelle Uh! Yes and so ?

Sr. Marie Pascale : The first is loneliness and the second is community life. For the bike to roll, you need two things: that the chain is in its place and...

Axelle: Pedal!

Sr. Marie Pascale : You have understood everything !

Axelle : And after how long do you know how to pedal?

Sr. Marie Pascale : The training taking place over 9 to 12 years depending on the maturity of the young person, it takes him some time to obtain his license to pedal!

Axelle : How do you get your driver's license?

solemn profession

Sr. Marie Pascale : Yes ! At this stage, if she makes the request and the community deems that the young person is really ready for the final donation, she can his solemn profession. After that, we ride and it is by riding over time that we become able to ride.

Axelle : Good ! But then, if I hear correctly, one is never really Carmelite?

Sr. Marie Pascale : You heard right! We become so “very little by little” as our Father St. John of the Cross says so well and that is why ongoing formation is so important!

Axelle : The formation continues ?

Sr. Marie Pascale : The community continues to form by inviting speakers on a regular basis. She also sends one or the other sister to a session to deepen her formation or perfect her work...

Axelle : Because there are sessions?

Sr. Marie Pascale : Yes, from the novitiate, young people are invited to sessions organized for them by the federation and there are others planned for the solemnly professed in the federation or at the Service of the Nuns

Axelle : This is good !

The formation continues

Sr. Marie Pascale : But we must not forget that the first person interested in her formation is the sister herself! It is therefore up to her to take care of her monthly meetings with her prioress to take stock, and to choose her readings to pick out the great avenues opened up during initial formation...

Axelle: I see, it's up to the youngster to take care of herself somehow!

Sr. Marie Pascale : Yes !

Axelle : Could we meet again?

Don't forget the fruit season