On Christmas Eve, the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey welcomed eleven new men into the community as novices – the largest class in the history of our community.

On the day marking the traditional birthday of the Norbertine Order, the St. Michael’s community continues to be blessed abundantly by young men willing to lay down their lives for God and His Holy Church.

– Dec. 28 email to donors from Father Peregrine Fletcher, O.Praem, Novice Master
(Included were photos of Fraters Abraham, Aloysius, Austin, Enoch, Francisco, George, Junipero, Lawrence, Leo, Samuel, Xavier.)

From the St. Michael’s Abbey website:
Novitiate (twenty months)
Christmas is a special time for our community, obviously first and foremost because we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and secondarily because St. Norbert founded our Order of Prémontré on Christmas Day in the year 1121.

But it is also a special time because of our annual Christmas Eve vestition ceremony, in which the newest men at our abbey put off the black suit of postulancy and receive the white habit of our Order. The abbot also bestows a religious name upon each of the new novices, which the man will bear for the rest of his Norbertine life.

Compared to the later stages of our canonical formation, the novitiate has a pronounced monastic character to it. The life of a novice is relatively quiet. Free from clerical responsibilities, rigorous academic studies, and distractions from the outside world, the novice is able to focus more on his own inner life. Manual labor is emphasized in this stage, as are penance and prayer.

The novices’ intellectual formation lays the groundwork for more formal studies during the juniorate and beyond. Novitiate classes focus on Catholic doctrine, spirituality, liturgy, Latin, and the essentials of a consecrated religious vocation. These fraters also study our Augustinian canonical life — its identity, charism, and history—along with the particular traditions of our own Order and abbey.

The goal is for these young Norbertines to learn what it means to live out our specific vocation: as Augustinian canons regular, of the Premonstratensian Order, of St. Michael’s Abbey, in the Diocese of Orange.