Vocations and Their Formation Today: Formation in the Religious Life: Call, Discernment, Adaptation

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-10-01
  • Publisher: Alba House Society of St. Paul
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Formation in religious life is a very complex matter. Indeed, it has become even more so since we live in a time of doubt and uncertainty when religious houses are closing and more than a few religious communities are facing the possibility of extinction for lack of vocations. Yet, while it is neither popular, nor easy to speak positively of religious life, and much less of formation for religious life, we must find the courage to do so! The formation plan has to be clear, yet, in its clarity, it must not become too rigid. The author sets out a number of priorities and responsibilities in which the first person responsible for discernment and growth is the candidate himself. Without devoting special chapters to each group, he considers the differences between monasteries and apostolic congregations focusing a remark here and there, for example, on the difficulties met in contemplative monasteries where those in formation are few and formation can last 6 to 8 years without a change of spiritual guide. This book is extremely valuable for the way in which it draws our attention to details frequently assumed (and thus often forgotten), reminding us that the young candidate to religious life is truly representative of his or her generation. The work also points out a number of snares into which formation communities may fall, e.g., harshly critiquing the candidate or using those in formation as household servants. These pitfalls are easily and best avoided! In short, this is a solid, straightforward and faithful book that avoids indulging in illusions as it outlines conditions for a positive journey along the path of formation in religious communities today. Book jacket.

Author Biography

Friar Guy Lespinay, OP, born in Canada, spent many years in France as the Formation Director of the Dominican students there. This has afforded him the rare opportunity to compare and consider the different situations in formation existing both in his native land and abroad. As he mentions in the book, at age 46 he was a latecomer to the Dominican Order. He was ordained in 1984, became chaplain at the University of Montreal and founded the Benoit-Lacroix Center of Studies for pastoral service. He continues to be engaged in formation work today.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Forewordp. xv
The “How” or the “Why” of Religious Lifep. xvi
Discernment in the Face of Positive and Negative Experiencesp. xix
Are Aptitudes Signs?p. xxiv
Attitudes of Those Responsible for Formationp. xxv
Certainty and Religious Lifep. xxvi
Acknowledgmentsp. xxix
The Call to Religious Lifep. 1
From Whom Does the Call Come?p. 1
The Mysterious Character of the Callp. 2
God Calls by Means of the Events of One's Lifep. 4
The Basis of our Choicesp. 5
The Birth of a Desirep. 7
Time for Thinking Things Overp. 8
How to Discover the Call via Aspirationsp. 9
The Desire To Meet God and Set Out; an Exodus Spiritualityp. 10
The Signs Accompanying the Choice of Religious Lifep. 19
What is Discernment?p. 19
Who is to Discern?p. 20
Choosing on the Basis of Desires and Motivationsp. 21
The Desire to Encounter God A God Who Makes Sense of My Lifep. 22
The Desire to Live in a Groupp. 25
The Desire for a Change in Life, Conversionp. 30
The Desire to Follow Jesusp. 34
Trust in the Futurep. 35
Renunciationp. 37
The Taste for Knowing and Learningp. 38
Generosityp. 39
The Quest for an Institutional Form of Lifep. 40
Conclusionp. 42
Who Are the Young Today?p. 43
A First Statementp. 43
The Universe of the Youngp. 44
Values That Can Favor a Call to Religious Lifep. 47
What Are Young People Expecting from Us?p. 49
Their Apprehensionsp. 52
The Fear of Commitmentp. 54
The Fear of Rulesp. 56
Some Reference Points for Formationp. 57
Accompanying Vocationsp. 61
Motivationsp. 61
Elitism in Religious Lifep. 63
The Exercise of Compassion: Truth or Ideologyp. 65
The Candidate's Personal Backgroundp. 69
Vital Strengths of the Individualp. 70
Purity of Intentions and Commitmentsp. 73
Pre-Formationp. 75
To Be Successful: A Gradual Enteringp. 75
The Family Backgroundp. 77
Pastoral Aptitudes or Psychotherapyp. 78
The Pre-formation Stepsp. 81
Adaptation to Religious Lifep. 89
A New Phase: The Formation Itselfp. 89
Entry into Religious Lifep. 91
First Challengesp. 98
Emotional life and sexualityp. 121
Conclusionp. 127
Persons in Charge of Formation and of the Community of Formationp. 129
Introductionp. 129
The ideal communityp. 130
A shared responsibilityp. 132
Who has to adapt?p. 133
The person in charge of formationp. 136
The relation between the person in charge of formation and the person in formationp. 140
Religious culturep. 142
Psychological accompanimentp. 143
Training those in charge of formationp. 143
Hopes and fearsp. 144
Conclusionp. 147
Evaluationp. 149
Introductionp. 149
Some general considerationsp. 149
The candidate in formationp. 151
The evaluation report to the community and the councilp. 154
An evaluation of the programsp. 157
Pastoral Work with Vocationsp. 159
The Mysterious Choices of God Exerted on Menp. 159
Developing a Positive Attitude towards our Way of Lifep. 161
A visible communityp. 163
An open communityp. 165
Praying Communitiesp. 167
Take time to livep. 168
Conclusionp. 169
Bibliographyp. 171
Endnotesp. 173
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