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A Rite of passage takes place at Matola Novitiate


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17/09/2012: Mozambique



Moçambique,Here  postulants took a step in life, that is to say to pass from one status to another status (non-canonical to canonical). These young men are now no longer postulants (Mr.) but novices (Br).  They have done the rite of separation from the previous state, the threshold or liminal period and the rite of incorporation into the new state as novices. From your left you see Br. Misheck, Br. Felix, Br. Ignatius, Br. Boston and Br. Raphael wearing cassocks for the first time and given a constitution.  Novices Godfrey and Steven are in the same line but hidden. These young men have surrendered their old identity and entered a new one. They must be born again in a manner different from the question of Nicodemus. The Marist Brothers Constitution says, a novitiate is a time of initiation into the requirements of Marist religious life. The novice, with the help of the Master and his collaborators, discerns God’s will for him and tests his motivations and aptitudes in the light of the commitment he intends to make. This period of formation prepares the novice for religious profession in response to God’s call. Toward the end of the novitiate, the novice makes a written request of Brother Provincial to be admitted to profession. The novitiate ends with first profession. The constitutions are given so that the novices learn to live according to them all along the two- year period and will continue to live according to them all their life as Brothers.

I am tempted to say that the novitiate ought to be a symbol of life-death-rebirth. A novices has to die to the old life and be reborn to a new life which entails communion, service and faith, in other words to live in a community of hope, of charity and faith. So the novitiate is like a personal battle ground, that a time of fighting against having a god of materialism, fight against the god of pleasure as an absolute and fighting against the god power. In Portuguese we say ( Lutar contra o ‘dues do ter’(materialismo); Lutar contra o ‘deus do prazer’como um absoluto; and Lutar contra o ‘deus do poder’). In fact what I am saying here are the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience which makes a project of consecrated life and will make an individual live his baptism alliance in a radical manner; meaning love of God and neighbour. We need to bear in mind that the vows are necessary means to help us live our baptismal alliance in a radical way.

So a religious dares in hope to live like the poor, chaste and obedient Jesus as an alternative way to love God and neighbour given to a few. We would dare say religious life is to follow Jesus and live like him. Hence the novitiate makes all possible efforts to allow a novice to know Jesus in a personal way. This period helps a novice to be in intimacy with Christ. It is a Christcentrical initiation period so that a newly professed at the end may be able to say like St. Paul, “yet I live no longer I, but Christ lives me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” Gal 2: 20   

Br. Simeon Banda fms, Matola. Mozambique.

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