Sunday, May 6, 2012

Novitiate FAQ

You are aware that when I move to California, I will be limited to 90 minutes of Internet usage every week. You may be wondering what other sorts of restrictions I will be living with during the next fourteen months. Well, so are the novices-to-be, their family, and their friends. Accordingly, we have received some advance notices from one of the novice directors in California. I present them here so you may get a sense of what is coming.

Are novices permitted to listen to their own music? May they bring their digital listening devices, compact discs, etc.?

You are free to listen to music, and the novices have CDs (no personal players) that they listen to mostly while traveling to ministry/spiritual direction (van CD players) or exercising (community boombox in the room). Your question made me realize that we should invest in another one to place in one of the gathering spaces. My only concern is the amount you choose to travel with. A large box full of CDs would seem excessive to me. Please do not bring your iTouch with you.

Are novices permitted to have cameras?

Cameras are permitted. Your year with us is worth personally documenting, and we are surrounded by the beauty and grandeur of God’s creation. The present novitiate set up a web photo share site for themselves that can be deeded over to you, although your class may want to create a new one.

Are novices allowed to have visits from family and friends?

More will need to be said about this, but the basic points to make at this time are a) if there will be any visits they are not to happen until after mid-October – this includes those family/friends in the local California area; b) before your family sets a date to visit make certain your Formation Advisor is aware of the plans – they might decide to drop in during a week we are away on retreat; c) plans for a visit should not include a major specific holiday (e.g., “Son, we will join you on Thanksgiving Day/Christmas Day”); d) length of visits should be kept short (more so for friends stopping by) – a couple of days as opposed to a full week or more; e) they should not expect you to be free every moment of their visit to be with them – you have responsibilities to maintain (once given the dates of their time with us, your Formation Advisor will work out the details as to when you would be available).

This brings up a related issue. Are novices given leave to attend weddings, anniversaries, and funerals?

Attendance at weddings, anniversaries and deaths are limited to immediate family. If a friend is asking you to be the best man at his wedding, you most likely will not be available for the occasion. Not only do you need to remain focused on what is happening spiritually to you during novitiate, but also canon law requires a certain number of days in the novitiate which we must not only respect but also abide by. One is always free to make a request; but one never should assume the answer will be yes, especially when it comes to you having a canonically valid novitiate. If your Provincial has already given you permission to attend a particular event, I ask that you hold on to that information until we meet with you in June, and inform us at that time. (Note: the length for any time away is made by the team in consultation with your Provincial; therefore, do not make travel arrangements without first speaking with us.)

This novice director writes, "Thank you for not hesitating to ask questions, which in turn helps us all to understand and clarify the expectations of the novitiate year." Friends and frequent readers, do you have any questions you would like me to ask the novice directors?

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