Reading 37: On Welcoming Novices and Making Profession
One newly coming to the canonical rule is not to be easily admitted, unless he is of such well known personality, that concerning the uprightness of his behavior and his education it is agreed that he clearly may bring benefit for the church, and unless he has reached his twentieth year. The person to be accepted must be examined until it is made known what sort of man and how suitable he is. Meanwhile the difficult and rough things [of the profession] are mentioned, and how much reward there is in the observance of this profession, and how grave is the sin in the transgression of it, and he shall read the rule. If it seems right to him to be accepted, after the reservation of some time, the abbot shall assign a day for the taking up of the habit. There should be the greatest caution, however, that he not be accepted, unless he has faith and it is likely that he aspires towards religion mainly because of God. Nor should we attach ourselves to someone, unless he likewise attaches himself to us. But when the day of acceptance has arrived, he is led before the chapter at the order of the lord abbot, and immediately prostrate before the abbot he begs humbly to be let into the brotherhood. Then the abbot, according to the custom of the church, receives him for a year of probation.
Once the year has passed, however, he shall come again in the chapter, as it was said, prostrate before the feet of the abbot, begging humbly and devotedly that he be taken into the profession, and then he promises other things as well. He promises his obedience at the hands of the abbot, and to live according to the rule of the blessed Augustine, and according to the principles and good customs of the church. Then he kisses the abbot and each of the brothers, and the abbot assigns him an honest and religious teacher who could instruct him in the ordo and communal life, and assigns him a place in the chapter and the choir, and for a year he shall not be sent out to stay for a long time unless for a obviously urgent reason, but instead he should concentrate on learning the service of the church. He may dress himself immediately after giving obedience, if he can; if not, he is to be dressed by the vestarer. But if at this point he has to do some secular business, a date shall be assigned to him for taking up the monastic habit, which date he should not presume to pass. Once accepted and dressed he shall obey the abbot in all matters, and shall be focused on his duty for the church, and the precepts and instructions of the rule.