Canon Text
Canon 641.The right to admit candidates to the novitiate belongs to the major
Superiors, in accordance with the norms of the institute’s own law.
Canon 642.Superiors are to exercise a vigilant care to admit only those who, besides being of required age, are healthy, have a suitable disposition, and have sufficient maturity to undertake the life which is proper to the institute. If necessary, the health, disposition and maturity are to be established by experts, without prejudice to can.
Canon 643.§1 The following are invalidly admitted to the novitiate:

1° One who has not yet completed the seventeenth year of age;

2° a spouse, while the marriage lasts;

3° one who is currently bound by a sacred bond to some institute of consecrated life, or is incorporated in some society of apostolic life, without prejudice to can. 684;

4° one who enters the institute through force, fear or deceit, or whom the Superior accepts under the same influences;

5° one who has concealed his or her incorporation in an institute of consecrated life or society of apostolic life.

§2 An institute’s own law can constitute other impediments even for the validity of admission, or attach other conditions.
Canon 644.Superiors are not to admit secular clerics to the novitiate without consulting their proper Ordinary; nor those who have debts which they are unable to meet.
Canon 645.§1 Before candidates are admitted to the novitiate they must produce proof of baptism and confirmation, and of their free status.

§2 The admission of clerics or others who had been admitted to another institute of consecrated life, to a society of apostolic life, or to a seminary, requires in addition
the testimony of, respectively, the local Ordinary, or the major Superior of the institute or society, or the rector of the seminary.

§3 An institute’s own law can demand further proofs concerning the suitability of candidates and their freedom from any impediment.

§4 The Superiors can seek other information, even under secrecy, if this seems necessary to them.
Canon 646.The purpose of the novitiate, by which life in an institute begins, is to give the novices a greater understanding of their divine vocation, and of their vocation to that institute. During the novitiate the novices are to experience the manner of life of the institute and form their minds and hearts in its spirit. At the same time their resolution and suitability are to be tested.
Canon 647.§1 The establishment, transfer and suppression of a novitiate house are to take place by a written decree of the supreme Moderator of the institute, given with the consent of the council.

§2 To be valid, a novitiate must take place in a house which is duly designated for this purpose. In particular cases and by way of exception and with the permission of the supreme Moderator given with the consent of the council, a candidate can make the novitiate in another house of the institute, under the direction of an approved religious who takes the place of the director of novices.

§3 A major Superior can allow a group of novices to reside, for a certain period of time, in another specified house of the institute.
Canon 648.§1 For validity, the novitiate must comprise twelve months spent in the novitiate community, without prejudice to the provision of can. 647 §3.

§2 To complete the formation of the novices, the constitutions can prescribe, in addition to the time mentioned in §1, one or more periods of apostolic activity, to be performed outside the novitiate community.

§3 The novitiate is not to be extended beyond two years.
Canon 649.§1 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 647 §3, and can. 648 §2, a novitiate is invalidated by an absence from the novitiate house of more than three months, continuous or broken. Any absence of more than fifteen days must be made good.

§2 With the permission of the competent major Superior, first profession may be anticipated, though not by more than fifteen days.
Canon 650.§1 The object of the novitiate demands that novices be formed under the supervision of the director of novices, in a manner of formation to be defined by the institute’s own law.

§2 The governance of the novices is reserved to the director of novices alone, under the authority of the major Superiors.
Canon 651.§1 The director of novices is to be a member of the institute who has taken perpetual vows and has been lawfully designated.

§2 If need be, directors of novices may be given assistants, who are subject to them in regard to the governance of the novitiate and the manner of formation.

§3 Those in charge of the formation of novices are to be members who have been carefully prepared, and who are not burdened with other tasks, so that they may discharge their office fruitfully and in a stable fashion.
Canon 652.§1 It is the responsibility of the directors of novices and their assistants to discern and test the vocation of the novices, and gradually to form them to lead the life of perfection which is proper to the institute.

§2 Novices are to be led to develop human and christian virtues. Through prayer and self-denial they are to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection. They are to be instructed in contemplating the mystery of salvation, and in reading and meditating on the sacred Scriptures. Their preparation is to enable them to develop their worship of God in the sacred liturgy. They are to learn how to lead a life consecrated to God and their neighbour in Christ through the evangelical counsels. They are to learn about the character and spirit of the institute, its purpose and discipline, its history and life, and be imbued with a love for the Church and its sacred Pastors.

§3 Novices, conscious of their own responsibility, are to cooperate actively with the director of novices, so that they may faithfully respond to the grace of their divine vocation.

§4 By the example of their lives and by prayer, the members of the institute are to ensure that they do their part in assisting the work of formation of the novices.

§5 The period of novitiate mentioned in can. 648 §1, is to be set aside exclusively for the work of formation. The novices are therefore not to be engaged in studies or duties which do not directly serve this formation.
Canon 653.§1 A novice may freely leave the institute. The competent authority of the institute may also dismiss a novice.

§2 On the completion of the novitiate, a novice, if judged suitable, is to be admitted to temporary profession; otherwise the novice is to be dismissed. If a doubt exists concerning suitability, the time of probation may be prolonged by the major Superior, in accordance with the institute’s own law, but for a period not exceeding six months.
Canon 654.By religious profession members make a public vow to observe the three evangelical counsels. Through the ministry of the Church they are consecrated to
God, and are incorporated into the institute, with the rights and duties defined by law.
Canon 655.Temporary profession is to be made for the period defined by the institute’s own law. This period may not be less than three years nor longer than six years.
Canon 656.The validity of temporary profession requires:

1° that the person making it has completed at least the eighteenth year of age;

2° that the novitiate has been made validly;

3° that admission has been granted, freely and in accordance with the norms of law, by the competent Superior, after a vote of his or her council;

4° that the profession be explicit and made without force, fear or deceit;

5° that the profession be received by the lawful Superior, personally or through another.
Canon 657.§1 When the period of time for which the profession was made has been completed, a religious who freely asks, and is judged suitable, is to be admitted to a renewal of profession or to perpetual profession; otherwise, the religious is to leave.

§2 If it seems opportune, the period of temporary profession can be extended by the competent Superior in accordance with the institute’s own law. The total time during which the member is bound by temporary vows may not, however, extend beyond nine years.

§3 Perpetual profession can for a just reason be anticipated, but not by more than three months.
Canon 658.Besides the conditions mentioned in can. 656, nn. 3, 4 and 5, and others attached by the institute’s own law, the validity of perpetual profession requires:

1° that the person has completed at least the twenty-first year of age;

2° that there has been previous temporary profession for at least three years, without prejudice to the provision of can. 657 §3.
Canon 659.§1 After first profession, the formation of all members in each institute is to be completed, so that they may lead the life proper to the institute more fully, and fulfil its mission more effectively.

§2 The institute’s own law is, therefore, to define the nature and duration of this formation. In this, the needs of the Church and the conditions of people and times are to be kept in mind, insofar as this is required by the purpose and the character of the institute.

§3 The formation of members who are being prepared for sacred orders is governed by the universal law and the institute’s own program of studies.
Canon 660.§1 Formation is to be systematic, adapted to the capacity of the members, spiritual and apostolic, both doctrinal and practical. Suitable ecclesiastical and civil degrees are to be obtained as opportunity offers.

§2 During the period of formation members are not to be given offices and undertakings which hinder their formation.
Canon 661.Religious are to be diligent in continuing their spiritual, doctrinal and practical formation throughout their lives. Superiors are to ensure that they have the assistance and the time to do this.

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