What is Religious Life?
Religious Life is a form of consecrating oneself to a particular charism (a gift of the Holy Spirit in service of the Church). Recalling that we all first belonged to Christ at our baptism, this vocation is a deeper expression of our baptismal identity. Men and women dedicate their lives as priests, brothers, monks, nuns, sisters or consecrated virgins. There are different expressions of religious life. Some have a contemplative lifestyle, while others have more of a missionary focus. This vocation can be best summed up in three vows: poverty, obedience and chastity.
What are the vows?
Each community’s charism gives the vows a particular flavour. You may want to ask a community how each of the vows impact their life and ministry. Most communities profess vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Some may take an additional or different vow. The vow of poverty allows a brother or sister to live simply, sharing in common all that they have with their community. The vow of obedience is a way of listening to God (from the Latin obidere – to hear) and freely going where He calls you. Finally, the vow of chastity is a promise to love God and the people of God through the service of one’s life.
How do I know?
Jesus is calling people to religious life… even today! Do you think Jesus might be calling you to lay down your whole life in service to the Church? In order to listen to how God might be speaking to your heart, we recommend the following:
- Frequent the Sacraments! Go to Daily Mass when possible and confession regularly.
- Spend time in personal prayer… every day. This might be Adoration in a church near you or time with scripture.
- Talk with a spiritual director. Bring these thoughts and stirrings to light with a wisdom figure.
- Visit religious communities! Check out websites and make a visit to meet in person when possible. Many communities offer Come & See Retreats.
- Be open!
Check out the website of Vocations Ireland. Vocations Ireland is an office made up from members of the many Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests from Congregations, Societies, Contemplative and Missionary communities in Ireland.