VISION Vocation Guide

Catholic Religious Life Dictionary

🕔20:28, 29. Jan 2015

Religious life Adapted from an article by Carol Schuck Scheiber for VISION Vocation Guide. Read the complete article at: Religious life has a language all its own. Here's a guide to understanding terms you might hear as you explore a vocation as a Catholic sister, brother, or priest. Apostolic Apostolic religious communities are engaged in active ministries: teaching, parish life, health care, justice, service to the poor, and many others. Charism Charism, from the Greek word charisma meaning "gift," is a religious community's particular spirit, way of life, and mission. Contemplative Contemplative religious communities focus on daily prayer, especially the Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, and individual prayer. Cloistered Cloistered or partially cloistered communities live in seclusion and rarely leave their grounds. Their primary focus is on prayer, including prayer for the needs of the world. Many contemplative communities choose to be cloistered. Discernment Discernment is a process of reflection and prayer to determine God's will and the best way to respond to the call to follow Jesus. Missionary Missionary communities send members throughout the world to be a gospel presence and provide compassionate service. Monastic Monastic men and women place a high value on prayer and communal living but many are also engaged in active ministries within and outside of the monastery. Postulant/Novice/Professed Stages of membership in a religious community: A postulant, or candidate, is discerning membership within a community. A novice has begun the process of entering the community. A professed member has formally entered and taken vows. Spiritual direction Those discerning a religious vocation often receive spiritual direction, a process in which they meet with a spiritual director to strengthen their relationship with God and gain insight into their life choices as they relate to their faith. Vows Professed members of a religious community take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Many communities add a fourth or fifth vow related to their charism. For an expanded glossary of religious life terms, go to:, or read the full artilce online at:

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