Our Hearts are Restless, Until they Rest in You
We Augustinians take our cues from Saint Augustine of Hippo, the 5th century bishop in North Africa. What was essential to Augustine when he gathered the first members of his community was capturing the spirit of the first Christians found in the Acts of the Apostles: a community that came together and shared all things in common, all the while ministering to God’s People.
Our common life is built on mutual acceptance and respect, kindness and concern, as well as a willingness to listen to others and to open oneself to them.
ROOTED IN AUGUSTINIAN SPIRITUALITY
Augustinian spirituality is a unique lens through which one can discover God. Stemming from Saint Augustine’s own life, his writings and teachings, Augustinian spirituality can largely be summed up as the act of journeying together in search of the truth that is God.
This journey, as Augustine’s own life gives example, was not merely a communal and internal journey toward God, but rather a communal and outward journey. Augustine took scripture as a guide for truth, and specifically followed the example of the first Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. As such, he and the communities in which he lived followed Christ’s outward model of love through service to others.
A LIFE FOR ME?
The theme of the Augustinian Province of England and Scotland focuses on renewal, refreshment, repair and rebuilding; like God pressing the reset button. The reason for the relevance is because the experiences of St Augustine are so close to our own. Like many of us, he was restless, he searched for meaning and often ended up looking for happiness in all the wrong places. Augustine's attitude is "don't do it alone!" Don't rely on your own resources. We are too weak and our human frailties mean we need help from the One (i.e. God) who is beyond us, yet closer to us than we are to ourselves.
Despite your individual differences, can you still work towards a common mission?
Do you want to get closer to the Truth, that is Jesus?
Do you want to love and be loved unconditionally?
STEP 1: DISCERNMENT
A man interested in the Augustinian Order will meet with the Vocation Director to discuss his interest in religious life, perhaps a few times over a period of time, which also involves spending weekends with the community.
Before a man decides he wants to explore a vocation with the Augustinians it is advised he spends time in an Augustinian Parish or ministry to experience the various work and programmes offered by the Order.
STEP 2: PRE-NOVITIATE
After psychological tests and interviews with the Friars, the candidate is officially invited to start the Pre-Novitiate experience, living in one of the communities which will last 12 to 18 months. This will allow him to deepen his familiarity with our charism and spirituality, and to have opportunities to meet with a local community from time to time, for prayer, meals and conversation.
STEP 3: NOVITIATE
One year in the Novitiate is a pivotal step in the formation process. As a novice, the candidate receives a white habit and a black cincture. The candidate continues developing his life of prayer and deepening his relationship with God. Formation as an Augustinian continues as he lives according to the Rule of St Augustine and integrates the values and mission of the Augustinians.
STEP 4: SIMPLE VOWS
At the end of one's Novitiate year, the candidate will profess his first vows in the Augustinian Order. The Novice receives the black habit with a cincture and, as a newly professed religious, is now a friar of the Order: a “Brother”.
These initial vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience are also called simple or temporary vows. They are "temporary" because they are to be renewed annually as the friar continues to discern his vocation along with the community, until he professes his solemn vows.
Friars will study for 5 years, according to the requirements of the community. Those desiring to proceed for priesthood will study philosophy and theology.
STEP 5: PASTORAL EXPERIENCE
To work as an Augustinian in the Church, opportunities for pastoral experience will be provided to the friar to use his gifts or develop them. The pastoral experience is integrated to the formation process.
STEP 6: SOLEMN VOWS
The 'Solemn profession is an unconditional commitment to God, the Church, the Order and to the men and women of our time.' — Plan of Augustinian Formation
Towards the end of his simple profession, the friar can request to be admitted to make a solem or permanent profession of vows. As per the requirement of the Church and the Order, if a friar has reached the age of 24, completed recommended courses or studies and is found to be suitable, then the Provincial and his council will admit him to profess solemn vows.
With solemn profession, a friar commits to the Augustinians Order for the rest of his life.
Major superiors of each province are required to provide friars with a concrete, ongoing formation in which all participate. This serves to revitalise the grace of a friar’s Augustinian vocation to religious life, and where applicable, to priestly life.
If the friar is called to the brotherhood vocation, the initial formation process is complete; he is ready for active ministry.
If the friar is called to the priesthood, he proceeds to the following step below.
STEP 7: ORDINATION TO DIACONATE AND PRIESTHOOD
After solemn vows, a friar may then be ordained to the Transitory or Permanent Diaconate. As deacons, they often begin proclaiming the Gospel and preaching during the Mass, administering the sacrament of Baptism and Marriage, and other activities to help prepare them for ordination to the priesthood.
Only once those persons whose knowledge, conduct, and other qualities required by canon law have been established, the Provincial, with the consent of his council, will present the friar in Transitory Diaconate for his reception of Ordination to the priesthood. The candidate is then ordained a Catholic priest by a bishop.
Formation is a life-long process.
Becoming a solemnly professed Augustinian friar is a lifelong commitment to God, to the Church, and to the Augustinian Order. The formation process is structured to ensure that the Augustinian way of life is suitable for an individual candidate. It is a time to develop both the mind and the heart to better help future Augustinian friars serve God's people.
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WHAT DO FRIARS DO?
Various brothers have various gifts to offer to the community and to the people. They are encouraged to use those gifts in various pastoral activities such as youth, parishes, chaplaincies, retreats,...
We also have a communal routine: we pray four times a day, we eat and recreate together.
IS IT TOO LATE?
If you are between 20 to 45 years, it could be the start a great adventure.
St Augustine was 32 at the time of his conversion.