Religious Life

"As a consecration of the whole person, religious life manifests in the Church a wonderful marriage brought about by God, a sign of the future age. Thus the religious brings to perfection a total self-giving as a sacrifice offered to God, through which his or her whole existence becomes a continuous worship of God in charity."

-Can. 607 §1

What is Religious Life?

"The religious state is a public and complete state of consecrated life. As well as the precepts which are to be observed by all, religious observe the three evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience. They bind themselves to observe these by means of vows, which are either perpetual or temporary but renewed when they expire (can. 607.2). These vows are always public vows, i.e. recognized as such by the Church (can. 1192.1). This religious state requires fraternal life in community and also a degree of separation from the world in conformity with the character and purpose of the individual institute (can. 607.2 and 607.3)."

-Lumen Gentium 45

What is the Purpose of Religious Life?

"The purpose of the religious life is to help the members follow Christ and be united to God through the profession of the evangelical counsels."

-Perfectae Caritatis, 2e

Essential Elements of Religious Life

  • The call of God and consecration to him through profession of the evangelical counsels by public vows
  • A stable form of community life
  • For institutes dedicated to apostolic works, a sharing in Christ's mission by a corporate apostolate faithful to a specific founding gift and sound tradition
  • Personal and community prayer
  • Asceticism
  • Public witness
  • A specific relation to the Church
  • A life-long formation
  • A form of government calling for religious authority based on faith

-Essential Elements of the Church's Teaching on Religious Life