The Postulancy When one has been accepted by the Abbot into the Community the first months are spent as a Postulant. The aim of this period is to allow the Postulant to test their vocation in the monastic setting under the guidance of the Novice Master. The question is whether one truly seeks God. During the Postulancy the candidate wears his own clothes, and not the monastic habit.
The Novitiate On entering the Novitiate the candidate receives the habit of a Novice of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance. The Novitiate is a two-year period of concentrated spiritual formation. Its purpose is to help the novice to continue discerning the will of God in his life through prayer, instruction, study, spiritual guidance and the lived experience of the Cistercian way of life. He would thus prepare for taking monastic vows.
The Monasticate Upon making his first vows he begins life as a Junior Professed. The Monasticate lasts three years. During this time the brother steeps himself in the Cistercian monastic tradition and spirituality while preparing for final or Solemn Profession. By this he is consecrated to God and joined with the monastic community that receives him, as he binds himself in faithful stability to a sincere conversion of life through ready obedience until death.
Formation to Cistercian life has for its purpose the restoration of the divine likeness in the brothers through the working of the Holy Spirit. Aided by the maternal care of the Mother of God, the brothers so advance in the monastic way of life that they progressively attain the full measure of the stature of Christ. Cistercian Constitutions 45.1