Development of Religious Life

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Development of discipline: disciples are called to good order.

Permutations and combinations: evolution happens! "Let's try this. If it works, great. If it doesn't, we'll know what doesn't work."

To be religious is to be connected to God and to other believers.

We are all members of the same Body, but we have different gifts and play different roles in the Body.


Jesus and apostles: peripatetic, homeless.


Evangelical counsels.

Acts: common life (honeymoon of the early Church).

Presbyteroi and diakonoi: servants to the local Church.

Pastoral gifts.

The family is a form of religious life.

Eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom; single for the Lord, like Paul.

Virgins and widows.

Couples living as brother and sister.

"Holy Orders."

Diocesan system.





Orders of monks and nuns.

Never alone. Always surrounded by benefactors, partners, and clients.

Franciscans and Dominicans: mendicants.

Jesuits: contemplatives in action.

Lay saints. Matt Talbot.

Madonna House, Catholic Worker, l'Arche

Covenant communities

Apostolic associations: priests, laity. Oratorians, SOLT.

Personal prelature (Opus Dei)


Third Orders


Canon law on religious life.

Life changes faster than law.

Development of code always outstrips documentation. First people make a discovery, then later it gets codified so that others may use the same type of organization. Both God and His people are highly creative. There is no law that says that "no new way of serving God can be invented." The Church tried to pass that law around the time of the Ignatian innovation, but it got swept away by a torrent of new forms of religious life.


Simple vows.

Solemn vows.