What it Looks Like
The call to enter a monastery is Christ's invitation to seek him in a particular community, place and manner of life. Entering a Cistercian monastery involves a long process of discernment, both on the part of the individual and of the community.
Generally a woman begins corresponding with the vocation director and comes to visit the abbey (ideally this would be for several visits). If this seems to be the direction God is leading her, then she returns as an observer, living and working inside the cloister with the community for several months.
Monastic life is real life, but structured according to a special rhythm of prayer, work and spiritual reading (lectio divina). This life continually calls us to conversion, charity, self-knowledge and mindfulness of God. In this milieu, real transformation can occur.
Good health, ability to get along well with others, and some college or work experience are required.
Our age limit is 39.
Stages of Our Life
A young woman requests information about our life, visits, is interviewed by our vocation director and team.
Duration: a year or more.
If both we and the applicant sense Mississippi Abbey may be the place God is calling her, she comes to live in our community to test her vocation.
Duration: a month or more.
After an observer has returned home, she may apply to enter our community. If accepted, she gives up her job, distributes her material possessions, and enters the novitiate, where she receives the guidance of the novice director and participates in the instructions given to the novices.
Clothing: plain secular dress.
Duration: 5-10 months.
When the postulant, novice director and abbess believe she is ready, the postulant receives the Cistercian habit in the presence of the community. The novitiate is a period of intense spiritual and monastic formation under the guidance of the novice director.
Clothing: white habit, veil and scapular; a cloak in church.
Duration: 2 years.
With the consent of the conventual chapter of the monastery, the abbess may admit a novice to temporary vows. Juniors pursue studies, receive pastoral guidance from the director of juniors, and begin to take on major responsibilities in the community.
Clothing: white habit, white veil, black scapular; cloak in church.
Duration: 3-9 years.
The chapter again votes to admit a sister to solemn vows. The vows are the same as for temporary profession, but now they are made in church in a public ceremony, and are for life. The sister legally renounces all her property and ability to inherit, and becomes a member of the conventual chapter.
Clothing: white habit; black scapular and veil; cowl in church.
Duration: until death.
Look through our Vocation Booklet
to learn more!
Keep to the end of your life the poverty and humility of Christ of which you have just made profession.
- John Cassian, 4th Century Monk
May you be clothed with Christ and always bear his name with love and fidelity... United in the Father's mercy, may we share all things in love, our joys and sorrows, our weaknesses and strengths, our spiritual and material gifts. May we grow in our desire to give glory to God and seek his face. And may he bring us all together into his kingdom. Amen.
- Rite of Solemn Profession