What is Religious life?
- Living as a member of a community, according to the gospel of Christ.
- Prayer as a regular part of daily life.
- Varied ministries, serving those in need.
The types of community are many. Some concentrate on particular work, such as with the homeless, or helping in parishes, or with the sick. Some live together with an emphasis on a rich routine of prayer, including silence.
Some give the opportunity of a life-long commitment but only after several years of training and discernment. Some have schemes for people to live as ‘alongsiders’ for a set period, whether that leads to testing a vocation in the community or whether it might be a path entirely separate from discerning a call to the Religious life itself.
In most communities, promises are taken or vows made. They are made in community before God and the church and are made usually, but not always, for life.
In recent years, some people inspired by aspects of monasticism have created their own distinctive form of communities. These are sometimes known as ‘new monasticism’. Some ‘new’ communities live in their own homes, working in a variety of jobs, yet come together regularly to support each other. Some live as ‘virtual communities’ linked by bonds of shared times of prayer, common values and mission. Some take promises or seasonal vows. Many have both male and female members, married or single.
What unites all types of community is the commitment to Christ and to one another. It is a life of Christian prayer and discipleship. For anyone looking to serve the Church and the world, it is a life with many possibilities and opportunities to explore.