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Following an inquiry for LCG membership into a local group, an assessment will be made (by that local group) of the suitability for an individual for entrance to that group and charism. If accepted, a candidate will begin a two-year period of discernment and initial formation. A candidate for LCG membership will begin a process of discerning a call to live a contemplative life as a layperson according to the Cistercian charism and of initial formation to become a Lay Cistercian of Gethsemani Abbey. At the completion of the "candidacy" period, acceptance into the LCG community will be determined.
The central question for a candidate for LCG membership is to discern if he or she is invited by the Holy Spirit to live a lay Cistercian life. In other words is the individual receptive to restructuring ones life according to Cistercian values and practices that can be lived authentically as a layperson. One will be challenged during the discernment period to determine what commitments are needed to live a Cistercian lay contemplative life. During the discernment period the individual is expected to make a reasonable effort to begin integrating the spiritual practices of the LCG PLAN OF LIFE into their daily/weekly routine. The Plan is the guide or rule for Lay Cistercians of Gethsemani Abbey.
We desire our association to be a community of persons who take their personal commitment to live the Plan of Life seriously and to deepen their spiritual life as laypersons according to the Cistercian tradition. Individuals are free to disassociate themselves from LCG at any time during the candidacy period or after making a commitment to LCG membership. There are not any canonical or legal obligations of any kind.
As the candidate begins the discernment process, an attempt will be made to assign a mentor to the candidate. The mentor is a LCG member who has been a member of the LCG community for at least one year and is experienced with living the Plan of Life. The mentor will follow established guidelines for providing guidance and support for the candidate during the discernment process. A formation curriculum for beginners will be utilized that provides specific topics for study and reflection. The mentor and candidate will together develop an individual plan of initial formation for the candidate based on the specific needs and previous experiences of the candidate. The candidate will also meet with a local LCG group in his or her location, for additional support and mentoring.
The primary responsibility for initial and ongoing formation in Cistercian spirituality and tradition is with the individual candidate. What is required? Personal commitment to adapting the elements of the Plan of Life, seeking spiritual direction and/or spiritual companioning, and spiritual reading. One is expected to reflect especially on Fr. Michael's paper, "Toward the Formation of LCG Members" (August 2001, revised April 2005). This document supplements the Plan of Life and provides specific suggestions for ongoing formation as Lay Cistercians.
Prior to the completion of the two-year period of discernment and formation, the candidate and mentor will mutually evaluate the candidate's suitability for membership in the community of Lay Cistercian of Gethsemani Abbey. If accepted for membership, the new LCG member will be expected to affirm their commitment to the Lay Cistercian way of life during the annual LCG retreat at Gethsemani. If unable to attend the retreat, alternate arrangements will be made by the mentor and/or state regional coordinator.
The commitment that the new LCG member makes is:
|As a member of the Lay Cistercian Community, I affirm my commitment to live a contemplative lifestyle within my family, my work, and my community. I affirm my commitment to live the Plan of Life to the best of my ability in the spirit of St. Benedict and the Cistercian charism. I will do what I can to support my local LCG group (where available), so as to build up the Church, the Body of Christ. I do this before God and all the Saints, with the support of the LCG community, and the community of the Cistercian Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemni.|