Friday, March 22, 2013

Religious Life is Alive!

Some say Religious life is dying, I say just the opposite.  Religious Orders and Communities can go extinct but Religious life, because it is the work of the Spirit and part of the holiness of the Church, will continue until Jesus comes back to earth.  It is bold for me to say these words especially in the face of a vocational "crisis" in the Church today.  But my words are backed by studies conducted most recently by CARA (Center For Applied Research in the Apostolate.)
What is more true to say is that the face of Religious life is changing.   Studies show that candidates entering religious life are more well educated, lived a full life of work and voluntary ministries and more tradition- oriented.  They place more emphasis on community life, prayer and spirituality more than they do with work and ministry.  They come seeking for God as lived in the institute's members and their relationship with each other.  They seek for a deeper life of prayer found in the Eucharistic celebrations, praying the liturgy of the hours, Marian devotions and other devotional practices.  These new members look for an authentic living out of the ideals of Religious life which may have been sacrificed in the name of the  apostolate and ministry.  They seek for the joys and good examples of the institute's members.  Though some may argue that religious life is not "all about praying all day," but "works done for God" (kind of like "your work is your prayer" mentality), recent trends show that religious communities exhibiting the basics of religious life (prayer, community, habits, traditional devotions, fidelity to the Magisterium, fraternal love and joy in living) draw more young people to enter.  So, I have high hopes for religious life!  I think the Spirit is very much alive and is reshaping the face of religious vocation in the Church.  I think that after this storm, religious life in the US will come out stronger and more purified, if we listen closely to what the Spirit is saying NOW!

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