'RELIGIOUS SHOULD BE MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE ABLE TO WAKE THE WORLD UP.'
Throughout the history of the Church there have been different forms of consecrated life; varied ways of expressing a desire to follow Christ with an ‘undivided heart’ (1 Corinthians 7:34).
Through vows of life-long celibacy and often through vows of poverty and obedience, men and women have sought to follow Christ’s own example as closely as possible.
Religious life is the form of consecrated life with which Catholics are most familiar. There are hundreds of different religious orders or congregations, each of which contributes a particular gift to the life of the Church. Within religious life the main distinction is between monks and nuns who live in an enclosed convent or monastery and religious who work outside, for example in education, health-care or evangelisation.
Religious make vows of life-long celibacy, poverty and obedience (though these are named differently in some congregations). They usually live in a community, where they support each other in prayer, in ministry and in providing for the daily needs of each one.
Each religious congregation is a public witness to one particular way of following Christ. Some religious wear a distinctive clothing or habit, others express their solidarity with those among whom they live and work by wearing ordinary clothes, often with a cross or distinctive symbol of their religious congregation. Many male religious are priests but there is also a strong tradition of religious brothers in the Church.
About Religious Life
About Secular Institutes
Secular institutes are a relatively new form of consecration in the Church. They developed in the 20th century, enabling lay people to live entirely in the secular world of work and society while also promising to live in poverty, chastity and obedience according to the institute. Through this distinctive form of consecration in the world, members of Secular Institutes contribute in a particular way to the Church’s evangelising mission by helping to ensure that the Church has an effective presence in society.
Members of secular institutes express their special consecration in apostolic activity, living either alone, in their families or in fraternal groups. Unlike many religious, they do not have a distinctive habit. The different Secular institutes have distinctive spiritualities. Nourished by the spiritual riches of their Institute, members find strength to live and work in the ordinary conditions of the world and so contribute to the coming of God’s kingdom.