formation formula

I love my spiritual director. I met with her Tuesday and we had a great chat. Seeing as I was in mini-almost-but-not-quite-freak-out-mode this was a very good thing. We got to talking and I shared my realization, albeit delayed, that I’m entering into something quite big here. And she reminded me that yes, I am, but that I get to benefit from the wisdom of the church in having a snail’s paced formation process with little commitments along the way. We counted how long I’d have till final profession. One year of candidacy + 2 years novitiate + 3 years temporary professed = 6 years. 2011. I’ll be 39 years old! This had the desired result of basically getting me to chill out (which I suppose an iced blended coffee drink may have done as well!).

Then we got slightly off topic wondering, what if other vocations had formation processes. What if couples who wanted to get married had to have a formal prayer, study and discernment process – not just a weekend and standardized test, but a real program. Here’s an idea, what if they took temporary marital vows for a few years before they made the big life long commitment? Might it cut down on divorces? And it would be different than what many in my generation are doing, living together before they get married. Because there would be commitment, just not forever. An interesting thought to be sure…


Steph said...

I know when I was explaining the system to my sister, she (JOKINGLY) said that she would have loved a 5-year trial period with my brother-in-law ...

Makes me think of that Saturn commercial from way-back-when with the tagline of "Don't you wish everything had a 30-day guarantee" as it shows a couple returning a baby after too many rounds of no sleep and stinky diapers.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...


I love my spiritual director also. What would I do without my monthly meetings? The SSJs are a great group - I know many, both full-blown sisters and affiliate members. It would certainly be interesting to have a trial period for marriage (I am thirty years old and have been married 8 years with two children). I don't know though, that first year is usually such an adjustment that I don't know how many people would get through it if they knew they had an easy out. There is something about "to death do us part" that motivates you to stay. Also, with the religious life, if you choose to leave, the only life you are really changing radically is your own. When you are married, chances are by the end of five years there would be a child or two involved, and then the issues resulting would be all the same that currently exist in divorce or cohabitating couples who split up.

Best wishes with your vocation.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur