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CHAPTER LVIII.

Of the manner of receiving Brothers to Religion.

Let not an easy entrance be granted to one who cometh newly to Religious life, but, as the Apostle saith: “Try the Spirits if they be of God.”191191I Joan. iv. 1. If, therefore, the newcomer persevere knocking, and continue for four or five days patiently to endure both the injuries offered to him and the difficulty made about his entrance, and persist in his petition; leave to enter shall be granted him, and he shall be in the guest Hall for a few days. Afterwards he shall be in the Novitiate, where he shall meditate, and eat, and sleep.

Let a Senior who has the address of winning souls, be appointed to watch over him narrowly and carefully, to discover whether he truly seeks God, and is eager for the Work of God, for obedience and for humiliation. Let all the rigour and austerity by which we tend towards God be laid before him. And if he promise stability and perseverance, at the end of two months, let the whole Rule be read to him, with the addition of these words: “Behold the law under which thou desirest to fight; if thou canst observe it, enter in; if thou canst not, freely depart.” If he shall still persevere, let him then be brought back to the aforesaid cell of the Novices, and be again tried in all patience. After the lapse of six months, let the Rule be read to him again, that he may know unto what he has come. If he still persevere, after four months, let the same Rule be read to him once more. If he shall then promise, after due deliberation, to observe all things and to do everything commanded him, let him be received into the Community, knowing that he is from that time forward under the law of the Rule, so that he can neither leave the Monastery nor shake off the yoke of the Rule, which, after so long a deliberation, he might have accepted or refused.

And when they admit him to profession, he shall, in the presence of all, make a promise before God and His saints, of stability, amendment of manners, and obedience, in order that if at any time he shall act contrariwise he may know that he shall be condemned by Him Whom he mocketh. He shall draw up the form of this promise in the name of the Saints whose relics are on the Altar, and of the Abbot there present. With his own hand shall he write it, or if he knoweth not how, another at his request shall write it for him, and the Novice shall put his mark to it, and lay it with his own hand upon the Altar.

After doing this, let him presently begin the verse: “Uphold me O lord according to Thy Word, and I shall live, and let me not be confounded in my expectation.”192192Ps. cxviii. 116. Let the whole Community repeat this three times, adding at the end, “Glory be to the Father.” Then let the new Brother cast himself at the feet of all, that they may pray for him, and from that hour he shall be counted as one of the Community. If he hath any property, he shall either first bestow it upon the poor, or by a formal gift, hand it over to the Monastery, without any reserve for himself; because for the future he must know that he hath not so much as power over his own body. Let him therefore presently, in the Oratory, be stripped of his own garments and be clothed in those of the Monastery. But the garments of which he is divested shall be kept in the wardrobe, that if (which God forbid) he should consent, by the persuasion of the devil, to leave the Monastery, he may be stripped of his habit and expelled. But he shall not have again the writing of his profession which the Abbot received from him at the Altar; that shall be kept in the Monastery.


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