• The first stage is the postulancy. The one seeking entry to the monastery will be a postulant for several months. He retains his secular clothes, but his head is shaved as a sign of his desire to belong to God (in ancient times, a shaven head was the distinctive sign of a slave).
• Having asked the advice of his council, the Abbot clothes the postulant with the habit by which he becomes a novice.
• After two years novitiate, the brother requests admission to the community. Following a successful vote of the chapter, he professes his first vows for a period of three years. But he must already have in his heart the intention of persevering for ever.
• There are three vows :
– by the vow of obedience, the monk is freed from the slavery of his own passions and will. He obeys his superior as he would Christ.
– by the vow of conversion of life the monk strives to be ever more perfect. This vow includes the vows of poverty by which the monk is assured of Christ as his sole riches and chastity by which Christ becomes his only love.
– by the vow of stability, the monk vows to remain permanently in his monastery.
• At the end of these three years, the monk makes his solemn profession. He professes perpetual vows which will keep him united to Christ and his monastery until death.
• Those who are destined to the priesthood receive the minor orders during the three years of temporary profession. Following solemn profession, they generally receive, one year after the others, ordination to the sub-diaconate, diaconate and priesthood.