Becoming a Monk
Being a monk is a vocation. It is God who calls men to monastic life: we do not give our vocation to ourselves.
But how do we know if we have a monastic vocation? First and foremost, it is discerned by our heart's desire. God alone enters deep into our heart and sows the seed of a desire to follow him in a life of closer friendship with him. When a man feels drawn to monastic life, he needs to discern whether this desire is truly a call from God. He must ask God to enlighten him in prayer and talk to a few experienced people who know him well. If the desire persists, he may contact the novice master, i.e. the monk responsible for receiving and forming future monks.
There is a long probation period between a candidate arriving at the monastery and joining the community for life. This probation takes place in the novitiate, under the direction of the novice master. It is also a formation period, when a novice studies the Rule of St Benedict and monastic tradition. Above all, it is a time when he continues his vocational discernment started before entering the monastery. The sign that a novice really has a vocation is that he is happy in the monastery.
This period is punctuated by high points: clothing, when the candidate receives the monastic habit, and simple profession, when he makes his monastic vows for three years. It is only after spending at least six years in the monastery that the candidate definitively commits himself to being a monk by his solemn profession.