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!