Consecrated life, in the canon law of the Catholic Church, is a stable form of Christian living by those faithful who are called to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way recognized by the Church. It "is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church". The Code of Canon Law defines it as "a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to his honour, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory."
What makes the consecrated life a more exacting way of Christian living is the public religious vows or other sacred bonds whereby the consecrated persons commit themselves, for the love of God, to observe as binding the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience from the Gospel, or at least, in the case of consecrated virgins and widows/widowers, a vow of total chastity. The Benedictine vow as laid down in the Rule of Saint Benedict, ch. 58:17, is analogous to the more usual vow of religious institutes. Consecrated persons are not part of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, unless they are also ordained bishops, priests or deacons.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church comments: "From the very beginning of the Church there were men and women who set out to follow Christ with greater liberty, and to imitate him more closely, by practising the evangelical counsels. They led lives dedicated to God, each in his own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, became hermits or founded religious families. Thus the Church, by virtue of her authority, gladly accepted and approved them."
Consecrated life may be lived either in institutes or individually. While those living it are either clergy (if ordained) or lay people, the state of consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay by nature.
Besides institutes of consecrated life, the Catholic Church recognizes:
Societies of apostolic life are dedicated to pursuit of an apostolic purpose, such as educational or missionary work. They "resemble institutes of consecrated life" but are distinct from them. The members do not take religious vows, but live in common, striving for perfection through observing the "constitutions" of the society to which they belong. Some societies of apostolic life, but not all of them, define in their constitutions "bonds" of a certain permanence whereby their members embrace the evangelical counsels. The Code of Canon Law gives for societies of apostolic life regulations much less detailed than for institutes of consecrated life, in many instances simply referring to the constitutions of the individual societies. Although societies of apostolic life may in externals resemble religious life, a major distinction is that they are not themselves consecrated and their state of life does not change (i.e. they remain secular clerics or laypersons).
Examples of societies of apostolic life are the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, and the Society of the Priests of Saint Sulpice, and societies such as the Missionary Society of St. Columban.
Each major development in religious life, particularly in the Latin West, can be seen as a response of the very devout to a particular crisis in the Church of their day.
When Constantine the Great was legalizing Christianity in the Roman Empire in the early 4th century, and the Christian faith became the favoured religion, it lost the self-sacrificing character that had profoundly marked it in the age of Roman persecution. In response to the loss of martyrdom for the sake of the Kingdom of God, some of the very devout men and women left the cities for the testings of the life in the desert that was meant to lead the individual back into a more intimate relationship with God, just like the wandering of the Israelites in the Wilderness of Sin. The Greek word for desert, eremos, gave this form of religious living the name eremitic (or eremitical) life, and the person leading it the name hermit. Anthony the Great and other early leaders provided guidance to less experienced hermits, and there were soon a large number of Christian hermits, particularly in the desert of Egypt and in parts of Syria.
Though the eremitic life would eventually be overshadowed by the far more numerous vocations to the cenobitic life, it did survive. The Middle Ages saw the emergence of a variant of the hermit, the anchorite; and life in Carthusian and Camaldolese monasteries has an eremitic emphasis. The Greek Orthodox and the Russian Orthodox Churches have their own eremitic traditions, of which Mount Athos is perhaps the most widely heard of today.
In modern times, in the Roman Catholic Church the Code of Canon Law 1983 recognises hermits who - without being members of a religious institute - publicly profess the three evangelical counsels, confirmed by vow or other sacred bond in the hands of their respective diocesan bishop, as Christian faithful that live the consecrated life (cf. canon 603, see also below).
The eremitic life was apparently healthy for some, but led to imbalance in others. Pachomius the Great, a near-contemporary of Anthony the Great, recognized that some monks needed the guidance and rhythm of a community (cenobium). He is generally credited with founding, in Egypt, the first community of monks, thus launching Cenobitic monasticism.
Basil of Caesarea in the East in the 4th century, and Benedict of Nursia in the West in the 6th century, authored the most influential "rules" for religious living in their areas of the Christian world ("rule" in this sense refers to a collection of precepts, compiled as guidelines for how to follow the spiritual life). They organized a common life with a daily schedule of prayer, work, spiritual reading and rest.
Almost all monasteries in the Eastern Catholic Churches and in the Eastern Orthodox Church today follow the Rule of St Basil. The Rule of St Benedict is followed by a variety of orders of monastics in the West, including the Order of Saint Benedict, Cistercians, Trappists, and Camaldolese, and is an important influence in Carthusian life.
Canons regular are members of certain bodies of priests living in community under the Augustinian Rule (regula in Latin), and sharing their property in common. Distinct from monks, who live a cloistered, contemplative life and sometimes engage in ministry to those from outside the monastery, canons devote themselves to public ministry of liturgy and sacraments for those who visit their churches.
Around the 13th century during the rise of the medieval towns and cities the mendicant orders developed. While the monastic foundations were rural institutions marked by a retreat from secular society, the mendicants were urban foundations organized to engage secular city life and to meet some of its needs such as education and service to the poor. The five primary mendicant religious Order of the 13th century are the Order of Friars Preachers (the Dominicans), Order of Friars Minor (the Franciscans), Order of the Servants of Mary (Servite Order), Order of St. Augustine or the (Augustinians) and the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (the Carmelites). Unlike the monks and nuns of the earlier orders, the members of the latter orders called their houses convents, rather than monasteries (in English, Dominican convents for men may also be called priories, and Fransciscan and Carmelite convents friaries).
Until the 16th century recognition was granted only to institutes with solemn vows. Institutes with simple vows arose in the 16th century and increased in number. After at first being merely tolerated, they afterwards obtained approval. They provided specific services or ministries for the Church and society, building schools, hospitals and new missionary enterprises around the world. The period of their greatest growth was in the wake of the French Revolution in early 19th century France and Belgium. Only in 1900 did they obtain full recognition as religious.
The Society of Jesus is an example of an institute that obtained recognition as an "order" with solemn vows, although the members were divided into the professed with solemn vows (a minority) and the "coadjutors" with simple vows. It was founded in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, introducing several innovations designed to meet the demands of the 16th century crisis. Its members were freed from the commitments of common life, especially the common prayer, which allowed them to minister individually in distant places. Their unusually long formation, typically thirteen years, prepared them to represent the intellectual tradition of the Church even in isolation.
By the constitution Inter cetera of 20 January 1521, Pope Leo X appointed a rule for tertiaries with simple vows. Under this rule, enclosure was optional, enabling non-enclosed followers of the rule to engage in various works of charity not allowed to enclosed religious. In 1566 and 1568, Pope Pius V rejected this class of institute, but they continued to exist and even increased in number. After at first being merely tolerated, they afterwards obtained approval, finally gaining on 8 December 1900 recognition as religious. Their lives were oriented not to the ancient monastic way of life, but more to social service and to evangelization, both in Europe and in mission areas. The number of these "congregations" (not "orders") increased further in the upheavals brought by the French Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic invasions of other Catholic countries, depriving thousands of monks and nuns of the income that their communities held because of inheritances and forcing them to find a new way of living their religious life
Secular institutes have their modern beginnings in 18th century France. During the French Revolution, the government attempted to dechristianise France. The French government had required all priests and bishops to swear an oath of fidelity to the new order or face dismissal from the Church, and had forbidden any form of religious life. Fr Pierre-Joseph Picot de Clorivière, a Jesuit, founded a new society of diocesan priests, the Institute of the Heart of Jesus. He also founded the Daughters of the Heart of Mary (French: Société des Filles du Coeur de Marie). While living a life of perfection, they did not take vows, remaining a secular institute to avoid being considered a religious society by the government. They would eventually receive pontifical institute status in 1952. The Daughters of the Heart of Mary, though resembling a secular institute in some ways, were recognized as an institute of religious life. On 2 February 1947 Pope Pius XII issued the apostolic constitution Provida Mater Ecclesia recognizing secular institutes as "a new category of the state of perfection" Latin: nova categoria status perfectionis. The 1983 Code of Canon Law recognizes secular institutes as a form of consecrated life. They differ from religious institutes in that their members live their lives in the ordinary conditions of the world, either alone, in their families or in fraternal groups. They include, among others, Caritas Christi, The Grail, and the Servite Secular Institute.
Charles Maung Bo (Burmese: ချားလ်မောင်ဘို [t͡ɕʰál màʊɴ bò]; born 29 October 1948) is the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Yangon. He was installed there on 7 June 2003. He has been a cardinal since 2015.Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (Latin: Congregatio pro Institutis Vitae Consecratae et Societatibus Vitae Apostolicae) is the congregation of the Roman Curia with competency over everything which concerns Institutes of Consecrated Life (orders and religious congregations, both of men and of women, as well as secular institutes) and Societies of Apostolic Life, regarding their government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges.Congregation of diocesan right
A Congregation of diocesan right (or Institute of diocesan right) is a type of religious congregation codified by the laws of the Catholic church, wherein the congregation is under the authority of a particular local bishop, rather than that of the pope. A congregation responsible directly to the pope is a congregation of pontifical right. Most of the major religious orders are congregations of pontifical right.The major types of religious associations recognized by canon law are:
1. Public Association of the Faithful2. Institutes of Consecrated Life
a. Institute of diocesan right
b. Institute of pontifical rightConsecration
Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word consecration literally means "association with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups. The origin of the word comes from the Latin word consecrat, which means dedicated, devoted, and sacred. A synonym for to consecrate is to sanctify; a distinct antonym is to desecrate.Decretum laudis
The decretum laudis, Latin for “decree of praise”, is the official measure with which the Holy See grants to institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life the recognition of ecclesiastical institution of pontifical right. When the decree of praise is issued in the form of an apostolic brief, it is just short of the decretum laudis.Eduardo Martínez Somalo
Eduardo Martínez Somalo (born 31 March 1927) is a Spanish Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church.Evangelical counsels
The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity are chastity, poverty (or perfect charity), and obedience. As Jesus of Nazareth stated in the Canonical gospels, they are counsels for those who desire to become "perfect" (τελειος, cf. Matthew 19:21, see also Strong's G5046 and Imitatio dei). The Catholic Church interprets this to mean that they are not binding upon all and hence not necessary conditions to attain eternal life (heaven). Rather they are "acts of supererogation" that exceed the minimum stipulated in the Commandments in the Bible. Catholics that have made a public profession to order their life by the evangelical counsels, and confirmed this by a public religious vow before their competent church authority (the act of religious commitment called "profession"), are recognised as members of the consecrated life.Franc Rode
Franc Rode (or Rodé; born 23 September 1934) is a Slovenian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, having served as prefect from 2004 to 2011. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2006.He was inducted into the rank of Cardinal-Priest on 20 June 2016 by Pope Francis while retaining his diaconate.Hermit
A hermit (adjectival form: eremitic or hermitic) is a person who lives in seclusion from society, usually for religious reasons. Hermits are a part of several sections of Christianity, and the concept is found in other religions as well.Indult
This article refers to an Indult according to church law. For other uses of the word, see Pardon.An indult in Catholic canon law is a permission, or privilege, granted by the competent church authority – the Holy See or the diocesan bishop, as the case may be – for an exception from a particular norm of church law in an individual case, for example, members of the consecrated life seeking to be dispensed from their religious vows, or of priests and deacons who voluntarily seek to return to the lay state (usually to marry). An apostolic indult is needed from the local ordinary for presbyteral or diaconal ordinations done within a year before the normal date; if the ordination is done more than one year in advance of the normal date then a papal apostolic indult from the Holy See (through the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Congregation for the Clergy, or the Congregation for Religious in the Roman Curia) is also needed.The best-known indult among lay Catholics in recent times was the one granted by Pope John Paul II in 1984 authorising the world's bishops to permit celebrations of the Tridentine Mass liturgy in their dioceses. This indult gave rise to the term "indult Catholics", referring to Catholics who attended such celebrations. This indult was superseded in 2007 by new legislation introduced by Pope Benedict XVI in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.Institute of consecrated life
An institute of consecrated life is an association of faithful in the Catholic Church erected by canon law whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds. They are defined in the Code of Canon Law under canons 573–730.
The more numerous form of these are religious institutes, which are characterized by the public profession of vows, life in common as brothers or sisters, and a degree of separation from the world. They are defined in the Code of Canon Law under canons 607–709. The other form is that of secular institutes, in which the members live in the world, and work for the sanctification of the world from within.Institutes of consecrated life need the written approval of a bishop to operate within his diocese, and a diocesan bishop can erect an institute of consecrated life in his own territory, after consulting the Apostolic See.The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has ecclesial oversight of institutes of consecrated life.
Institutes of consecrated life are canonically erected by competent church authorities to enable men or women who publicly profess the evangelical counsels by religious vows or other sacred bonds "through the charity to which these counsels lead to be joined to the Church and its mystery in a special way" without this making them members of the Church hierarchy.Apart from being a member of an institute, consecrated life may also be lived individually; the Catholic Church recognises, as forms of individual consecrated life that are not members of institutes, namely that of hermits and consecrated virgins.Institute of the Maids of the Poor
The Institute of the Maids of the Poor or Society of the Maids of the Poor (MOP), is a Roman Catholic institute of consecrated life for women. It was founded by Albert Conrad De Vito, O.F.M. Cap., on 6 July 1951 in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, India.Joseph W. Tobin
Joseph William Tobin (born May 3, 1952) is an American Cardinal prelate of the Catholic Church. He has been the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, since his installation on January 6, 2017. He had served as the Archbishop of Indianapolis since 2012 and as secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) from 2010 to 2012. He has been a cardinal since November 19, 2016.João Braz de Aviz
João Braz de Aviz (Brazilian Portuguese: [ʒuˈɐ̃w ˈbɾas dʒi aˈvis], Latin: Ioannes Blasius de Aviz; born 24 April 1947) is a prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He has served as the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life since his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on 4 January 2011.Miles Jesu
Miles Jesu is a Catholic institute of consecrated life founded on January 12, 1964 in Phoenix, Arizona, whose membership comprises lay people and clerics who take religious vows and in addition, since it is structured as an ecclesial family of consecrated life, it also has people in other states of life as members. Miles Jesu is thus a new form of consecrated life in the Church which has been approved by the Holy See in accordance with canon 605 of the Code of Canon Law, which reserves to the Holy See approval of forms of consecrated life other than the traditional forms.Religious (Western Christianity)
A religious (using the word as a noun) is, in the terminology of many Western Christian denominations, such as the Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion, what in common language one would call a "monk" or "nun", as opposed to an ordained "priest". A religious may also be a priest if he has undergone ordination, but in general he is not.
More precisely, a religious is a member of a religious order or religious institute, someone who belongs to "a society in which members...pronounce public vows...and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common".Some classes of religious have also been referred to, though less commonly now than in the past, as regulars, because of living in accordance with a religious rule (regula in Latin) such as the Rule of Saint Benedict.Religious institute
A religious institute is a type of institute of consecrated life in the Catholic Church where its members take religious vows and lead a life in community with fellow members. Religious institutes are one of the two types of institutes of consecrated life; the other is that of the secular institute, where its members are "living in the world".Societies of apostolic life resemble religious institutes in that its members live in community, but differ as their members do not take religious vows. They pursue the apostolic purpose of the society to which they belong, while leading a life in common as brothers or sisters and striving for the perfection of charity through observing the society's constitutions. In some of these societies the members assume the evangelical counsels by a bond other than that of religious vows defined in their constitutions.Secular institute
In the Roman Catholic Church, a secular institute is an organization of individuals who are consecrated persons (professing the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience) and live in the world, unlike members of a religious institute, who live in community. It is one of the forms of consecrated life recognized in Church law (1983 Code of Canon Law, Canons 710–730).
A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful living in the world strive for the perfection of charity and work for the sanctification of the world especially from within.Society of apostolic life
A society of apostolic life is a group of men or women within the Catholic Church who have come together for a specific purpose and live fraternally. There are a number of apostolic societies, such as the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who make vows or other bonds defined in their constitutions to undertake to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. (See Can. 731 §2.) However, unlike members of an institute of consecrated life (religious institute or secular institute), members of apostolic societies do not make religious vows—that is, "public vows."
This type of organization is defined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law under canons 731-746. Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which preceded the current one, this manner of life was referred to as a society of common life.
Consecrated life in the Catholic Church
of the faithful