A person is formed when he is integrated and open to growth, when he is master of himself and capable of assimilating new experiences and aware of their purpose.
He is truly formed when he is capable of an act of self-governing.
For a disciple the key is to be found in St. Paul - - “Christ be formed in you” (Gal 4:9).
A member must grow by grappling with difficulties, alone.
To repeat a well known parallel : It is not a question of a protective shell which provides better a defense the more complete immobilization it induces, but of an interior skeleton which allows rigorous and rapid movement.
During no part of the formation period is the member removed from his social milieu.
The person admitted to the Institute has to go through a four year period (aspirancy period) which precedes the taking of his first annual vows during which he is helped to discern and deepen his vocation through a personal dialogue with the Director and also through community experience. The growth of the member requires that he embraces with a unitary vision his religious, social and professional culture, and should be in proportion to his natural personal gifts as well as to the characteristics of the environment in which he lives and works.
After having summarily described the ‘new’ life we must point out the difficult aspects. This is not to frighten but to render more serious the reflection of those who seek to discover where God is calling them, and to allow them to make an informed decision in faith. The member of the Institute has neither a convent nor a cell, he is not protected by the aid of the community in the strict sense of the word. He continues to live in his family, or alone in the social milieu. The natural insertion can become a suffering instead of a comfort if the ideal that he is living is drawing him away from those who are near to him. This ideal often imposes renouncements which the world cannot understand and exposes him to the opposition of those who do not understand his vocation. However, this renders the individual capable of being a promoter of community.
The vocation of a secular institute members is not an easy one and whosoever is tied the family and to a materialistic life and considers the one or the other comfort for his solitude is reasoning in too human a manner, not in a supernatural manner.
This way requires certain ruptures, certain separations which take place in the interior of the persons.
The solitude of a secular institute member is also a renouncement, and a difficult one at that, which he must accept consciously. Alone he defends himself against the seductions of the world, alone he accomplishes the tasks which are his responsibility. It is to his initiatives and to his own strengths that his life is confined. His responsibilities are even heavier since he is all alone, more independent. The worries of personal formation and of individual support will therefore also be more intense.
This new form of consecration to God which for a superficial observer can seem easier, is extremely difficult. The road to be followed is filled with obstacles, but the responsibility of the member is to overcome, with the Lord’s help, these difficulties.
A person who wishes to join the aspirancy period must feel first and foremost the Lord’s call and must have the will to respond to him generously,
"Speak Lord for your servant listens… Here I am…." (Sam3: 9,6)