Religious life is the most common form of special consecration.
There are many different types of religious life,
for both men and women.
People entering religious life today have the same basic motivation as the hundreds of thousands of religious men and women who have lived this life throughout the history of the Church. Religious life has undergone great changes in recent decades but the call remains the same: to follow Christ as closely as possible and to do so according to the way of life of a particular religious order.
One of the first things that anyone discerning a vocation to religious life will become aware of is the great variety of forms of religious life. The main distinction is between monks and nuns who live in an enclosed convent or monastery and religious who work outside the cloister, for example in education, health-care or evangelization.
Click here to read more about different religious orders
Religious make vows which help them to be free to follow Christ with an undivided heart. The three vows that most religious make are of life-long celibacy, poverty and obedience. These are also known as the ‘evangelical counsels’.
Click here to read more about religious vows
Religious usually live in a community, where they support each other, in prayer, in ministry and in providing for the daily needs of each one. Within religious communities joys, sorrows and the challenges of life are shared. Just like life in a family, community life has its struggles, but in seeking to live charitably with one another, people of different ages, backgrounds and temperaments witness to Christian communion and to the fact that the love of Christ is stronger than anything which may divide them.
Each religious congregation is a public witness to one particular way of following Christ. Some religious wear a distinctive clothing or habit which speaks of their dedication as a religious, 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.
Click here to watch an enlightening short film called ‘Consecrated Life: Religious Men and Women tell their Story’.