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Reflections: Priests & Voctns. Sctn. (Rel.Life/Inst.)

St. John Vianney, the Curé D'Ars (patron saint of priests)

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Religious / Religious Life / Religious Institutes



Religious / Religious Life / Religious Institutes

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"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.'" (Mt. 16:24-25)

"[Jesus] said to them, 'Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.' (His) disciples said to him, 'If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.' He answered, 'Not all can accept (this) word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.'" (Mt. 19:8-12)

"Jesus said to him, 'If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.'" (Mt. 19:21)

"Such then is the end of that austere life, an eternity of glory!" (St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church) 

"The purpose of the religious life is to help the members follow Christ and be united to God through the profession of the evangelical counsels." (Second Vatican Council)

"Can. 625 §1The supreme Moderator of the institute is to be designated by canonical election, in accordance with the constitutions." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 671 Religious are not to undertake tasks and offices outside their own institute without the permission of the lawful Superior." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Since the ultimate norm of the religious life is the following of Christ set forth in the Gospels, let this be held by all institutes as the highest rule." (Second Vatican Council)

"Can. 673 The apostolate of all religious consists primarily in the witness of their consecrated life, which they are bound to foster through prayer and penance." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 728 When an indult to leave the institute has been lawfully granted, all bonds, rights and obligations deriving from incorporation cease." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 670 The institute must supply the members with everything that, in accordance with the constitutions, is necessary to fulfil the purpose of their vocation." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[A] religious does not violate his profession if he be not perfect, but only if he despises to tend to perfection." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[H]e who enters the religious state subjects himself to others for the sake of a spiritual profit" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 662 Religious are to find their supreme rule of life in the following of Christ as proposed in the Gospel and as expressed in the constitutions of their own institute." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 655 Temporary profession is to be made for the period defined by the institute's own law. This period may not be less than three years nor longer than six years." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 621 A grouping of several houses which constitutes an immediate part of the same institute under the same superior and has been canonically erected by legitimate authority is called a province." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"We admonish religious superiors of their solemn duty never to allow anything to be published by any of their subjects without permission from themselves and from the Ordinary." (Pope St. Pius X, "Pascendi Dominici Gregis", 1907 A.D.)

"Can. 584 The suppression of an institute pertains only to the Apostolic See; a decision regarding the temporal goods of the institute is also reserved to the Apostolic See." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 664 Religious are earnestly to strive for the conversion of soul to God. They are to examine their consciences daily, and to approach the sacrament of penance frequently." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 661 Through their entire life, religious are to continue diligently their spiritual, doctrinal, and practical formation. Superiors, moreover, are to provide them with the resources and time for this." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 622 The supreme Moderator has authority over all provinces, houses and members of the institute, to be exercised in accordance with the institute's own law. Other Superiors have authority within the limits of their office." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 710 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 seek to contribute to the sanctification of the world, especially from within." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 632 The institute's own law is to determine in greater detail matters concerning other chapters and other similar assemblies of the institute, that is, concerning their nature, authority, composition, procedure and time of celebration." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 711 Without prejudice to the provisions of the law concerning institutes of consecrated life, consecration as a member of a secular institute does not change the member's canonical status among the [faithful], be it lay or clerical." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 487 The religious state is a stable manner of living in common, by which the faithful take up, besides common precepts, also the evangelical counsels of observing by vow obedience, chastity, and poverty, [and it] must be held in honor by all." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 720 The right of admission into the institute, either for probation or for the assumption of sacred bonds, whether temporary or perpetual or definitive, belongs to the major moderators with their council, in accordance with the constitutions." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 654 By religious profession members make a public vow to observe the three evangelical counsels. Through the ministry of the Church they are consecrated to God, and are incorporated into the institute, with the rights and duties defined by law." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 702 § Third Order seculars are those in the world, under the moderation of a certain Order, according to its spirit, working to attain Christian perfection in a secular way of life according to the rules approved for them by the Apostolic See." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 705 A religious raised to the episcopate remains a member of his institute but is subject only to the Roman Pontiff by virtue of the vow of obedience and is not bound by obligations which he himself prudently judges cannot be reconciled with his condition." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 623 To be validly appointed or elected to the office of Superior, members must have been perpetually or definitively professed for an appropriate period of time, to be determined by their own law or, for major Superiors, by the constitutions." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 716 §1 All members are to take an active part in the life of the institute, in accordance with the institute's own law. §2 Members of the same institute are to preserve a rapport with one another, carefully fostering a unity of spirit and a genuine fraternity." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 597 §1 Any Catholic endowed with a right intention who has the qualities required by universal and proper law and who is not prevented by any impediment can be admitted into an institute of consecrated life. §2 No one can be admitted without suitable preparation." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Religious communities have the right to possess whatever is required for their temporal life and work, unless this is forbidden by their rules and constitutions. Nevertheless, they should avoid every appearance of luxury, excessive wealth and the accumulation of goods." (Second Vatican Council)

"And they too, who live the contemplative life, precisely because they not only offer to God prayer and supplication but immolate themselves for the salvation of others, accomplish much for the good of the Church" (Pope Pius XII, "Sacra Virginitas", 1954 A.D.) 

"Can. 692 Unless it has been rejected by the member in the act of notification, an indult of departure granted legitimately and made known to the member entails by the law itself dispensation from the vows and from all the obligations arising from profession." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 609 §1 A house of a religious institute is established, with the prior written consent of the diocesan Bishop, by the authority competent according to the constitutions. §2 For the establishment of a monastery of cloistered nuns, the permission of the Apostolic See is also required." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 730 For a member to transfer from one secular institute to another, the provisions of can. 684 §§1, 2, 4 and 685, are to be observed. A transfer to or from another kind of institute of consecrated life requires the permission of the Apostolic See, whose instructions must be followed." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 608 A religious community is to live in a lawfully constituted house, under the authority of a Superior designated according to the norms of law. Each house is to have at least an oratory, in which the Eucharist is celebrated and reserved, so that it may truly be the centre of the community." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"He who enters religion does not make profession to be perfect, but he professes to endeavor to attain perfection; even as he who enters the schools does not profess to have knowledge, but to study in order to acquire knowledge." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church") 

"It redounds to the good of the Church that institutes have their own particular characteristics and work. Therefore let their founders' spirit and special aims they set before them as well as their sound traditions - all of which make up the patrimony of each institute - be faithfully held in honor." (Second Vatican Council)

"Can. 702 §1 Those who depart from a religious institute legitimately or have been dismissed from it legitimately can request nothing from the institute for any work done in it. §2 Nevertheless, the institute is to observe equity and the charity of the gospel toward a member who is separated from it." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 612 The consent of the diocesan Bishop is required if a religious house is to be used for apostolic works other than those for which it was established. This permission is not required for a change which, while observing the laws of the foundation, concerns only internal governance and discipline." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 589 An institute of consecrated life is said to be of pontifical right if the Apostolic See has erected it or approved it through a formal decree. It is said to be of diocesan right, however, if it has been erected by a diocesan bishop but has not obtained a decree of approval from the Apostolic See." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The unitive way is possible in every state of life; only, there must be one condition observed, and that is, the soul must be detached from every tie that could keep her from going to God. The religious breaks these ties by his three vows, which are in direct opposition to the triple concupiscence of fallen nature" (Liturgical Year)

"Can. 680 Organised cooperation is to be fostered among different institutes, and between them and the secular clergy. Under the direction of the Bishop, there is to be a coordination of all apostolic works and actions, with due respect for the character and purpose of each institute and the laws of its foundation." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 673 § 1 A society, whether of men or of women, in which the members live in common imitating a religious rule under the government of a Superior according to an approved constitution, yet not obligated by the three usual public vows is not properly religious, nor are its members properly designated by the term religious." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 724 §1 After the first acceptance of the sacred bonds, formation is to continue without interruption in accordance with the constitutions. §2 Members are to be formed simultaneously in matters human and divine. The Moderators of the institute are to have a serious concern for the continued spiritual formation of the members." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 586 §1 A true autonomy of life, especially of governance, is recognized for each institute. This autonomy means that each institute has its own discipline in the Church and can preserve whole and entire the patrimony described in can. 578. §2 Local Ordinaries have the responsibility of preserving and safeguarding this autonomy." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 590 §1 Institutes of consecrated life, since they are dedicated in a special way to the service of God and of the whole Church, are in a particular manner subject to its supreme authority. §2 The individual members are bound to obey the Supreme Pontiff as their highest Superior, by reason also of their sacred bond of obedience." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 727 §1 A perpetually incorporated member who wishes to leave the institute must, after seriously weighing the matter before the Lord, petition the Apostolic See through the supreme Moderator, if the institute is of pontifical right; otherwise, the indult can also be obtained from the diocesan Bishop, as determined in the constitutions." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 658 In addition to the conditions mentioned in can. 656, nn. 3, 4, and 5 and others imposed by proper law, the following are required for the validity of perpetual profession: 1° the completion of at least twenty-one years of age; 2° previous temporary profession of at least three years, without prejudice to the prescript of can. 657, §3." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 642 Superiors are to exercise a vigilant care to admit only those who, besides being of required age, are healthy, have a suitable disposition, and have sufficient maturity to undertake the life which is proper to the institute. If necessary, the health, disposition and maturity are to be established by experts, without prejudice to can. 220." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 634 §1 Since they are by virtue of the law juridical persons, institutes, provinces and houses have the capacity to acquire, possess, administer and alienate temporal goods, unless this capacity is excluded or limited in the constitutions. §2 Nevertheless, they are to avoid any appearance of excess, immoderate wealth, and accumulation of goods." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Three stages have to be passed in order to reach perfect friendship with God. External goods have to be renounced. Carnal thoughts have to be left behind. Life has to be given up, either by suffering death for Christ or by denying one's own will. Whoever binds his whole life by vow to these works of perfection assumes the status of perfection. Such is the religious life" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 660 §1 Formation is to be systematic, adapted to the capacity of the members, spiritual and apostolic, both doctrinal and practical. Suitable ecclesiastical and civil degrees are to be obtained as opportunity offers. §2 During the period of formation members are not to be given offices and undertakings which hinder their formation." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 591 In order to provide better for the good of institutes and the needs of the apostolate, the Supreme Pontiff, by reason of his primacy in the universal Church and with a view to common advantage, can exempt institutes of consecrated life from the governance of local ordinaries and subject them to himself alone or to another ecclesiastical authority." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The religious state was instituted chiefly that we might obtain perfection by means of certain exercises, whereby the obstacles to perfect charity are removed. By the removal of the obstacles of perfect charity, much more are the occasions of sin cut off, for sin destroys charity altogether." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 620 Major Superiors are those who govern an entire institute, or a province or a part equivalent to a province, or an autonomous house; the vicars of the above are also major Superiors. To these are added the Abbot Primate and the Superior of a monastic congregation, though these do not have all the authority which the universal law gives to major Superiors." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[H]oly orders prerequire holiness, whereas the religious state is a school for the attainment of holiness. Hence the burden of orders should be laid on the walls when these are already seasoned with holiness, whereas the burden of religion seasons the walls, i.e. men, by drawing out the damp of vice." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 729 A member is dismissed from the institute in accordance with the norms of cann. 694 and 695. The constitutions are also to determine other reasons for dismissal, provided they are proportionately grave, external, imputable and juridically proven. The procedure established in cann. 697-700 is to be observed, and the provisions of can. 701 apply to the person who is dismissed." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 646 The purpose of the novitiate, by which life in an institute begins, is to give the novices a greater understanding of their divine vocation, and of their vocation to that institute. During the novitiate the novices are to experience the manner of life of the institute and form their minds and hearts in its spirit. At the same time their resolution and suitability are to be tested." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"All religious Orders have one spirit common to them all, and each has a spirit peculiar to itself. The common spirit is the design they all have or aspiring after the perfection of charity; but the peculiar spirit of each is the means of arriving at that perfection of charity - that is to say, at the union of our souls with God, and with our neighbor through the love of God." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"Can. 694 §1 A member is to be considered automatically dismissed if he or she: 1° has notoriously defected from the Catholic faith; 2° has contracted marriage or attempted to do so, even civilly. §2 In these cases the major Superior with his or her council must, after collecting the evidence, without delay make a declaration of the fact, so that the dismissal is juridically established." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 610 §1 In establishing religious houses, the welfare of the Church and of the institute are to be kept in mind, and care must be taken to safeguard everything that is necessary for the members to lead their religious life in accordance with the purposes and spirit proper to the institute. §2 No house is to be established unless it is prudently foreseen that the needs of the members can be suitably provided for." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 576 It is the prerogative of the competent authority in the Church to interpret the evangelical counsels, to legislate for their practice and, by canonical approval, to constitute the stable forms of living which arise from them. The same authority has the responsibility to do what is in its power to ensure that institutes grow and flourish according to the spirit of their founders and to their sound traditions." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 726 §1 When the period of temporary incorporation has elapsed, a member is able to leave the institute freely or the major moderator, after having heard the council, can exclude a member for a just cause from the renewal of the sacred bonds. §2 For a grave cause, a temporarily incorporated member who freely petitions it is able to obtain an indult of departure from the supreme moderator with the consent of the council." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 598 §1 Each institute, attentive to its own character and purposes, is to define in its constitutions the manner in which the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience are to be observed in its way of life. §2 All members must not only observe the evangelical counsels faithfully and fully but also direct their lives according to the institute's own law, and thereby strive for the perfection of their state." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 574 §1 The state of those persons who profess the evangelical counsels in these institutes belongs to the life and holiness of the Church and must be fostered and promoted by all in the Church. §2 Certain of the Christian faithful are specially called by God to this state so that they benefit from a special gift in the life of the Church and contribute to its salvific mission, according to the purpose and spirit of each institute." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"It is better to enter religion with the purpose of making a trial than not to enter at all, because by so doing one disposes oneself to remain always. Nor is a person accounted to turn or to look back, save when he omits to do that which he engaged to do: else whoever does a good work for a time, would be unfit for the kingdom of God, unless he did it always, which is evidently false." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 653 §1 A novice may freely leave the institute. The competent authority of the institute may also dismiss a novice. §2 On the completion of the novitiate, a novice, if judged suitable, is to be admitted to temporary profession; otherwise the novice is to be dismissed. If a doubt exists concerning suitability, the time of probation may be prolonged by the major Superior, in accordance with the institute's own law, but for a period not exceeding six months." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 731 §1 Societies of apostolic life resemble institutes of consecrated life. Their members, without taking religious vows, pursue the apostolic purpose proper to each society. Living a fraternal life in common in their own special manner, they strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions. §2 Among these societies are some in which the members, through a bond defined in the constitutions, undertake to live the evangelical counsels." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The religious vow is twofold. One is the solemn vow which makes a man a monk or a brother in some other religious order. This is called the profession, and such a vow should be preceded by a year's probation... The other is the simple vow which does not make a man a monk or a religious, but only binds him to enter religion, and such a vow need not be preceded by a year's probation." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Nor should any difference of praise be made between those who follow the active state of life and those others who, charmed with solitude, give themselves to prayer and bodily mortification. And how much, indeed, of good report these have merited, and do merit, is known surely to all who do not forget that the 'continual prayer of the just man' avails to placate and to bring down the blessings of heaven when to such prayers bodily mortification is added." (Pope Leo XIII, "Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae", 1903 A.D.)

"Can. 674 Institutes which are wholly directed to contemplation always have a distinguished place the mystical Body of Christ. They offer to God an exceptional sacrifice of praise. They embellish the [faithful] with very rich fruits of holiness, move them by their example, and give them increase by a hidden apostolic fruitfulness. Because of this, no matter how urgent the needs of the active apostolate, the members of these institutes cannot be called upon to assist in the various pastoral ministries." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 675 §1 Apostolic action belongs to the very nature of institutes dedicated to works of the apostolate. Accordingly, the whole life of the members is to be imbued with an apostolic spirit; indeed the whole apostolic action is to be informed by a religious spirit. §2 Apostolic action is to proceed always from an intimate union with God and is to confirm and foster this union. §3 Apostolic action exercised in the name of the Church and by its command is to be carried out in the communion of the Church." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 656 The validity of temporary profession requires: 1° that the person making it has completed at least the eighteenth year of age; 2° that the novitiate has been made validly; 3° that admission has been granted, freely and in accordance with the norms of law, by the competent Superior, after a vote of his or her council; 4° that the profession be explicit and made without force, fear or deceit; 5° that the profession be received by the lawful Superior, personally or through another." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[I]t is not necessary for the precepts first of all to be observed without the counsels, and afterwards with the counsels, just as it is not necessary for one to be an ass before being a man, or married before being a virgin. In like manner it is not necessary for a person first of all to keep the commandments in the world before entering religion; especially as the worldly life does not dispose one to religious perfection, but is more an obstacle thereto." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 721 §1 The following are invalidly admitted to initial probation: 1° one who has not yet attained majority; 2° one who is currently bound by a sacred bond in another institute of consecrated life, or incorporated in a society of apostolic life; 3° a spouse, while the marriage lasts [e.g. until the death of the other spouse]. §2 The constitutions can establish other impediments to admission, even for validity, or attach conditions to it. §3 For a person to be received into the institute, that degree of maturity is required which is necessary to live the life of the institute properly." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Moreover it may be reasonably stated that also by entrance into religion a man obtains remission of all his sins. For if by giving alms a man may forthwith satisfy for his sins, according to Daniel 4:24, 'Redeem thou thy sins with alms,' much more does it suffice to satisfy for all his sins that a man devote himself wholly to the divine service by entering religion, for this surpasses all manner of satisfaction, even that of public penance, according to the Decretal (Decretal XXXIII, Q1, cap. Admonere)" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The monastic life, that venerable institution which in the course of a long history has won for itself notable renown in the Church and in human society, should be preserved with care and its authentic spirit permitted to shine forth ever more splendidly both in the East and the West. The principal duty of monks is to offer a service to the divine majesty at once humble and noble within the walls of the monastery, whether they dedicate themselves entirely to divine worship in the contemplative life or have legitimately undertaken some apostolate or work of Christian charity." (Second Vatican Council)

"Can. 691 §1 A perpetually professed religious is not to request an indult of departure from an institute except for the gravest of causes considered before the Lord. The religious is to present a petition to the supreme moderator of the institute who is to transmit it along with a personal opinion and the opinion of the council to the competent authority. §2 In institutes of pontifical right, an indult of this type is reserved to the Apostolic See. In institutes of diocesan right, however, the bishop of the diocese in which the house of assignment is situated can also grant it." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 624 §1 Superiors are to be constituted for a certain and appropriate period of time, according to the nature and needs of the institute unless the constitutions establish otherwise for the supreme Moderator and for Superiors of an autonomous house. §2 An institute's own law is to make suitable provisions so that Superiors constituted for a defined time do not continue in offices of governance for too long a period of time without an interval. §3 During their period in office, however, Superiors may be removed or transferred to another office, for reasons prescribed in the institute's own law." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 657 §1 When the period of time for which the profession was made has been completed, a religious who freely asks, and is judged suitable, is to be admitted to a renewal of profession or to perpetual profession; otherwise, the religious is to leave. §2 If it seems opportune, the period of temporary profession can be extended by the competent Superior in accordance with the institute's own law. The total time during which the member is bound by temporary vows may not, however, extend beyond nine years. §3 Perpetual profession can for a just reason be anticipated, but not by more than three months." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 603 §1 In addition to institutes of consecrated life, the Church recognizes the life of hermits or anchorites, in which Christ's faithful withdraw further from the world and devote their lives to the praise of God and the salvation of the world through the silence of solitude and through constant prayer and penance. §2 Hermits are recognized by law as dedicated to God in consecrated life if, in the hands of the diocesan Bishop, they publicly profess, by a vow or some other sacred bond, the three evangelical counsels, and then lead their particular form of life under the guidance of the diocesan Bishop." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Now religion...is a virtue whereby a man offers something to the service and worship of God. Wherefore those are called religious antonomastically, who give themselves up entirely to the divine service, as offering [themselves as] a holocaust to God. Hence Gregory says (Hom. 20 in Ezech.): 'Some there are who keep nothing for themselves, but sacrifice to almighty God their tongue, their senses, their life, and the property they possess.' Now the perfection of man consists in adhering wholly to God...and in this sense religion denotes the state of perfection." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 588 §1 By its very nature, the state of consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay. §2 That institute is called clerical which, by reason of the purpose or design intended by the founder or by virtue of legitimate tradition, is under the direction of clerics, assumes the exercise of sacred orders, and is recognized as such by the authority of the Church. §3 That institute is called lay which, recognized as such by the authority of the Church, has by virtue of its nature, character, and purpose a proper function defined by the founder or by legitimate tradition, which does not include the exercise of sacred orders." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 652 §2 Novices are to be led to develop human and Christian virtues. Through prayer and self-denial they are to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection. They are to be instructed in contemplating the mystery of salvation, and in reading and meditating on the sacred Scriptures. Their preparation is to enable them to develop their worship of God in the sacred liturgy. They are to learn how to lead a life consecrated to God and their neighbor in Christ through the evangelical counsels. They are to learn about the character and spirit of the institute, its purpose and discipline, its history and life, and be imbued with a love for the Church and its sacred Pastors." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 723 §1 When the time of the initial probation has been completed, a candidate who is judged suitable is either to undertake the three evangelical counsels, sealed with a sacred bond, or to leave the institute. §2 This first incorporation is to be temporary, in accordance with the constitutions, but is to be for not less than five years. §3 When this period of incorporation has been completed, a member who is judged suitable is to be admitted to perpetual, or definitive incorporation, that is, by temporary bonds always to be renewed. §4 Definitive incorporation is equivalent to perpetual incorporation in respect of defined juridical effects, which are to be established in the constitutions." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 722 §1 The initial probation is to be so arranged that the candidates can better recognize their divine vocation and their vocation to that institute, and be trained in the spirit and manner of life of the institute. §2 Candidates are to be properly formed to live a life according to the evangelical counsels. They are to be taught how to translate this life completely into their apostolate, applying those forms of evangelization which best correspond to the purpose, spirit and character of the institute. §3 The constitutions are to define the manner and time of the probation to be made before the first sacred bonds are undertaken in the institute; this time is to be not less than two years." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 619 Superiors are to devote themselves to their office with diligence. Together with the members entrusted to them, they are to strive to build in Christ a fraternal community, in which God is sought and loved above all. They are therefore frequently to nourish their members with the food of God's word and lead them to the celebration of the sacred liturgy. They are to be an example to the members in cultivating virtue and in observing the laws and traditions proper to the institute. They are to give the members opportune assistance in their personal needs. They are to be solicitous in caring for and visiting the sick; they are to correct the restless, console the fainthearted and be patient with all." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Oh how safe is a holy religious! The man lives there in innocence and purity, he seldom falls, he often is the recipient of heavenly blessings, he tastes a sweet tranquility, and when he dies, he breathes out his last sigh full of hope and full of love for his Redeemer. His purgatory is over sooner, and his reward is plentiful. What he leaves behind are but worldly possessions, transitory and of very little value, and those he aspires to are infinite. I say more than this, and what I say is true; he exchanges darkness for light; from a stormy sea, he anchors in a safe harbor; freed from a wretched slavery, he sighs after a happy freedom; and finally, he passes from death to a life of everlasting bliss." (St. Bernard, Doctor of the Church)

"Can. 665 §1 Religious are to reside in their own religious house and observe the common life; they are not to stay elsewhere except with the permission of the Superior. For a lengthy absence from the religious house, the major Superior, for a just reason and with the consent of the council, can authorize a member to live outside a house of the institute; such an absence is not to exceed one year, unless it be for reasons of health, studies or an apostolate to be exercised in the name of the institute. §2 Members who unlawfully absent themselves from a religious house with the intention of withdrawing from the authority of Superiors, are to be carefully sought out and helped to return and to persevere in their vocation." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 607 §1 Religious life, as a consecration of the whole person, manifests in the Church the marvelous marriage established by God as a sign of the world to come. Religious thus consummate a full gift of themselves as a sacrifice offered to God, so that their whole existence becomes a continuous worship of God in charity. §2 A religious institute is a society in which, in accordance with proper law, the members pronounce public vows and live a fraternal life in common. The vows are either perpetual or temporary; if the latter, they are to be renewed when the period of time has elapsed. §3 The public witness which religious are to give to Christ and the Church involves that separation from the world which is proper to the character and purpose of each institute." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Gregory says (Hom. 3 in Ezech.) that 'the contemplative life obtains a certain freedom of mind, for it thinks not of temporal but of eternal things.' And Boethius says (De Consolatione Philosophiae v,2): 'The soul of man must needs be more free while it continues to gaze on the Divine mind, and less so when it stoops to bodily things.' Wherefore it is evident that the active life does not directly command the contemplative life, but prescribes certain works of the active life as dispositions to the contemplative life; which it accordingly serves rather than commands. Gregory refers to this when he says (Hom. 3 in Ezech.) that 'the active life is bondage, whereas the contemplative life is freedom.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"But inasmuch as St. Thomas has been duly proclaimed patron of all Catholic schools because he marvelously combined both forms of wisdom, the rational and the divinely inspired, because he had recourse to prayer and fasting to solve the most difficult problems, because he used the image of Christ crucified in place of all books, let him be a model also for seminarians, so that they may learn how to pursue their studies to the best advantage and with the greatest profit to themselves. Members of religious communities should look upon the life of St. Thomas as upon a mirror; he refused even the highest dignities offered to him in order to live in the practice of the most perfect obedience and to die in the sanctity of his profession." (Pope Pius XI, "Studiorum Ducem", 1923 A.D.)

"Can. 696 §1 A member can be dismissed for other causes, provided they are grave, external, imputable and juridically proven. Among such causes are: habitual neglect of the obligations of consecrated life; repeated violations of the sacred bonds; obstinate disobedience to the lawful orders of Superiors in grave matters; grave scandal arising from the culpable behavior of the member; obstinate attachment to, or diffusion of, teachings condemned by the magisterium of the Church; public adherence to materialistic or atheistic ideologies; the unlawful absence mentioned in can. 665 §2, if it extends for a period of six months; other reasons of similar gravity which are perhaps defined in the institute's own law. §2 A member in temporary vows can be dismissed even for less grave reasons determined in the institute's own law." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[T]he religious state is directed to the attainment of the perfection of charity, consisting principally in the love of God and secondarily in the love of our neighbor. Consequently that which religious intend chiefly and for its own sake is to give themselves to God. Yet if their neighbor be in need, they should attend to his affairs out of charity, according to Galatians 6:2, 'Bear ye one another's burdens: and so you shall fulfill the law of Christ,' since through serving their neighbor for God's sake, they are obedient to the divine love. Hence it is written (James 1:27): 'Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation,' which means, according to a gloss, to assist the helpless in their time of need." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 663 §1 The first and principal duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of things divine and constant union with God in prayer. §2 Each day the members are to make every effort to participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, receive the most holy Body of Christ and adore the Lord himself present in the Sacrament. §3 They are to devote themselves to reading the sacred Scriptures and to mental prayer. In accordance with the provisions of their own law, they are to celebrate the liturgy of the hours worthily, without prejudice to the obligation of clerics mentioned in can. 276, §2, n.3. They are also to perform other exercises of piety. §4 They are to have a special devotion to the Virgin Mother of God, the example and protectress of all consecrated life, including by way of the rosary. §5 They are faithfully to observe the period of annual retreat." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 713 §1 Members of these institutes express and exercise their special consecration in apostolic activity. Like a leaven, they endeavor to permeate everything with an evangelical spirit for the strengthening and growth of the Body of Christ. §2 Lay members participate in the evangelizing mission of the Church in the world and from within the world. They do this by their witness of Christian life and of fidelity to their consecration, and by the assistance they give in directing temporal affairs to God and in animating the world by the power of the Gospel. They also offer their cooperation to serve the ecclesial community in accordance with the secular manner of life proper to them. §3 Clerical members, by the witness of their consecrated life, especially in the presbyterium, support their colleagues by a distinctive apostolic charity, and in the [faithful] they further the sanctification of the world by their sacred ministry." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 573 §1 Life consecrated through profession of the evangelical counsels is a stable form of living, in which the faithful follow Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, and are totally dedicated to God, who is supremely loved. By a new and special title they are dedicated to seek the perfection of charity in the service of God's Kingdom, for the honor of God, the building up of the Church and the salvation of the world. They are a splendid sign in the Church, as they foretell the heavenly glory. §2 Christ's faithful freely assume this manner of life in institutes of consecrated life which are canonically established by the competent ecclesiastical authority. By vows or by other sacred bonds, in accordance with the laws of their own institutes, they profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. Because of the charity to which these counsels lead, they are linked in a special way to the Church and its mystery." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"A man may be in the world in two ways: in one way by his bodily presence, in another way by the bent of his mind. Hence our Lord said to His disciples (John 15:19): 'I have chosen you out of the world,' and yet speaking of them to His Father He said (John 17:11): 'These are in the world, and I come to Thee.' Although, then, religious who are occupied with the works of the active life are in the world as to the presence of the body, they are not in the world as regards their bent of mind, because they are occupied with external things, not as seeking anything of the world, but merely for the sake of serving God: for 'they... use this world, as if they used it not,' to quote 1 Corinthians 7:31. Hence after it is stated that 'religion clean and undefiled... is... to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation,' it is added, 'and to keep one's self unspotted from this world' (James 1:27), namely to avoid being attached to worldly things." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 630 §1 While safeguarding the discipline of the institute, Superiors are to acknowledge the freedom due to the members concerning the sacrament of penance and the direction of conscience. §2 Superiors are to take care, in accordance with the institute's own law, that the members have suitable confessors available, to whom they may confess frequently. §3 In monasteries of cloistered nuns, in houses of formation, and in large lay communities, there are to be ordinary confessors, approved by the local Ordinary after consultation with the community. There is however, no obligation to approach these confessors. §4 Superiors are not to hear the confessions of their subjects unless the members request it on their own initiative. §5 The members are to approach their superiors with trust and be able to open their minds freely and spontaneously to them. Superiors, however, are forbidden in any way to induce the members to make a manifestation of conscience to themselves." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 667 §1 In accordance with the institute's own law, there is to be in all houses an enclosure appropriate to the character and mission of the institute. Some part of the house is always to be reserved to the members alone. §2 A stricter discipline of enclosure is to be observed in monasteries which are devoted to the contemplative life. §3 Monasteries of cloistered nuns who are wholly devoted to the contemplative life, must observe papal enclosure, that is, in accordance with the norms given by the Apostolic See. Other monasteries of cloistered nuns are to observe an enclosure which is appropriate to their nature and is defined in the constitutions. §4 The diocesan Bishop has the faculty of entering, for a just reason, the enclosure of cloistered nuns whose monasteries are situated in his diocese. For a grave reason and with the assent of the Abbess, he can permit others to be admitted to the enclosure, and permit the nuns to leave the enclosure for whatever time is truly necessary." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 631 §1 In an institute the general chapter has supreme authority in accordance with the constitutions. It is to be composed in such a way that it represents the whole institute and becomes a true sign of its unity in charity. Its principal functions are to protect the patrimony of the institute mentioned in can. 578 and to foster appropriate renewal in accord with that patrimony. It also elects the supreme Moderator, deals with matters of greater importance, and issues norms which all are bound to obey. §2 The composition of the general chapter and the limits of its powers are to be defined in the constitutions. The institute's own law is to determine in further detail the order to be observed...especially regarding elections and the matters to be treated. §3 According to the norms determined in the institute's own law, not only provinces and local communities, but also any individual member may freely submit their wishes and suggestions to the general chapter." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"[T]he highest place in religious orders is held by those which are directed to teaching and preaching, which, moreover, are nearest to the episcopal perfection, even as in other things 'the end of that which is first is in conjunction with the beginning of that which is second,' as Dionysius states (De Divinis Nominibus vii). The second place belongs to those which are directed to contemplation, and the third to those which are occupied with external actions. Moreover, in each of these degrees it may be noted that one religious order excels another through being directed to higher action in the same genus; thus among the works of the active life it is better to ransom captives than to receive guests, and among the works of the contemplative life prayer is better than study. Again one will excel another if it be directed to more of these actions than another, or if it have statutes more adapted to the attainment of the end in view." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he religious state is a spiritual schooling for the attainment of the perfection of charity. This is accomplished through the removal of the obstacles to perfect charity by religious observances; and these obstacles are those things which attach man's affections to earthly things. Now the attachment of man's affections to earthly things is not only an obstacle to the perfection of charity, but sometimes leads to the loss of charity, when through turning inordinately to temporal goods man turns away from the immutable good by sinning mortally. Hence it is evident that the observances of the religious state, while removing the obstacles to perfect charity, remove also the occasions of sin: for instance, it is clear that fasting, watching, obedience, and the like withdraw man from sins of gluttony and lust and all other manner of sins. Consequently it is right that not only those who are practiced in the observance of the commandments should enter religion in order to attain to yet greater perfection, but also those who are not practiced, in order the more easily to avoid sin and attain to perfection." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is said in the Decretal (Decretal XIX, Q2, cap. Duce sunt leges.): 'If a man, while governing the people in his church under the bishop and leading a secular life, is inspired by the Holy Ghost to desire to work out his salvation in a monastery or under some canonical rule, even though his bishop withstand him, we authorize him to go freely.' I answer that...the obligation of a perpetual vow stands before every other obligation. Now it belongs properly to bishops and religious to be bound by perpetual vow to devote themselves to the divine service (Q184,A5), while parish priests and archdeacons are not, as bishops are, bound by a perpetual and solemn vow to retain the cure of souls. Wherefore bishops 'cannot lay aside their bishopric for any pretext whatever, without the authority of the Roman Pontiff' (Extra, De Regular. et Transeunt. ad Relig., cap. Licet.): whereas archdeacons and parish priests are free to renounce in the hands of the bishop the cure entrusted to them, without the Pope's special permission, who alone can dispense from perpetual vows. Therefore it is evident that archdeacons and parish priests may lawfully enter religion." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Can. 684 §1 Perpetually professed members cannot transfer from their own religious institute to another, except by permission of the supreme Moderators of both institutes, given with the consent of their respective councils. §2 On completion of a probationary period of at least three years, the member can be admitted to perpetual profession in the new institute. A member who refuses to make this profession, or is not admitted to do so by the competent Superiors, is to return to the original institute, unless an indult of secularization has been obtained. §3 For a religious to transfer from one autonomous monastery to another monastery of the same institute, federation or confederation, the consent of the major Superior of both monasteries and of the chapter of the receiving monastery is required and is sufficient, unless the institute's own law has established further conditions. A new profession is not required. §4 The institute's own law is to determine the time and manner of the probation which must precede the member's profession in the new institute. §5 To transfer to a secular institute or to a society of apostolic life, or to transfer from these to a religious institute, the permission of the Holy See is required, whose mandates must be observed." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Those who so bind themselves by the vows of religion, far from having suffered a loss of liberty, enjoy that fuller and freer kind, that liberty, namely, by which Christ hath made us free. And this further view of theirs, namely, that the religious life is either entirely useless or of little service to the Church, besides being injurious to the religious orders cannot be the opinion of anyone who has read the annals of the Church. Did not your country, the United States, derive the beginnings both of faith and of culture from the children of these religious families? To one of whom but very lately, a thing greatly to your praise, you have decreed that a statue be publicly erected. And even at the present time wherever the religious families are found, how speedy and yet how fruitful a harvest of good works do they not bring forth! How very many leave home and seek strange lands to impart the truth of the gospel and to widen the bounds of civilization; and this they do with the greatest cheerfulness amid manifold dangers! Out of their number not less, indeed, than from the rest of the clergy, the Christian world finds the preachers of God's word, the directors of conscience, the teachers of youth and the Church itself the examples of all sanctity." (Pope Leo XIII, "Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae", 1902 A.D.)

"[T]he religious state is a school and exercise for tending to perfection. Now those who are being instructed or exercised in order to attain a certain end must needs follow the direction of someone under whose control they are instructed or exercised so as to attain that end as disciples under a master. Hence religious need to be placed under the instruction and command of someone as regards things pertaining to the religious life; wherefore it is said (Decretal VII, Q1, canon Hoc nequaquam): 'The monastic life denotes subjection and discipleship.' Now one man is subjected to another's command and instruction by obedience: and consequently obedience is requisite for religious perfection... To obey one's superiors in matters that are essential to virtue is not a work of supererogation, but is common to all: whereas to obey in matters pertaining to the practice of perfection belongs properly to religious. This latter obedience is compared to the former as the universal to the particular. For those who live in the world, keep something for themselves, and offer something to God; and in the latter respect they are under obedience to their superiors: whereas those who live in religion give themselves wholly and their possessions to God... Hence their obedience is universal." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he religious state is a training school wherein one aims by practice at the perfection of charity. Now there are various works of charity to which a man may devote himself; and there are also various kinds of exercise. Wherefore religious orders may be differentiated in two ways. First, according to the different things to which they may be directed: thus one may be directed to the lodging of pilgrims, another to visiting or ransoming captives. Secondly, there may be various religious orders according to the diversity of practices; thus in one religious order the body is chastised by abstinence in food, in another by the practice of manual labor, scantiness of clothes, or the like. Since, however, 'the end imports most in every matter' (Aristotle, Topica vi,8), religious orders differ more especially according to their various ends than according to their various practices... The obligation to devote oneself wholly to God's service is common to every religious order; hence religious do not differ in this respect, as though in one religious order a person retained some one thing of his own, and in another order some other thing. But the difference is in respect of the different things wherein one may serve God, and whereby a man may dispose himself to the service of God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The vow of religious profession, for the reason that it binds a man to remain in religion for evermore, has to be preceded by a year of probation; whereas this is not required before the simple vow whereby a man binds himself to enter religion. Therefore it seems that he who vows to enter religion is not for that reason bound to remain there in perpetuity... The obligation of a vow proceeds from the will: because 'to vow is an act of the will' according to Augustine (Gloss of Peter Lombard on Psalm 76:11). Consequently the obligation of a vow extends as far as the will and intention of the person who takes the vow. Accordingly if in vowing he intend to bind himself not only to enter religion, but also to remain there evermore, he is bound to remain in perpetuity. If, on the other hand, he intend to bind himself to enter religion for the purpose of trial, while retaining the freedom to remain or not remain, it is clear that he is not bound to remain. If, however, in vowing he thought merely of entering religion, without thinking of being free to leave, or of remaining in perpetuity, it would seem that he is bound to enter religion according to the form prescribed by common law, which is that those who enter should be given a year's probation. Wherefore he is not bound to remain for ever." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he religious state is an exercise and a school for attaining to the perfection of charity. For this it is necessary that a man wholly withdraw his affections from worldly things; since Augustine says (Confessiones x,29), speaking to God: 'Too little doth he love Thee, who loves anything with Thee, which he loveth not for Thee.' Wherefore he says (QQ 83, Q36) that 'greater charity means less cupidity, perfect charity means no cupidity.' Now the possession of worldly things draws a man's mind to the love of them: hence Augustine says (Ep. 31 ad Paulinam et Theras.) that 'we are more firmly attached to earthly things when we have them than when we desire them: since why did that young man go away sad, save because he had great wealth? For it is one thing not to wish to lay hold of what one has not, and another to renounce what one already has; the former are rejected as foreign to us, the latter are cut off as a limb.' And Chrysostom says (Hom. 63 in Matthaeum) that 'the possession of wealth kindles a greater flame and the desire for it becomes stronger.' Hence it is that in the attainment of the perfection of charity the first foundation is voluntary poverty, whereby a man lives without property of his own, according to the saying of our Lord (Matthew 19:21), 'If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor... and come, follow Me.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is scarcely necessary to add, Venerable Brothers, how much We depend on the regular clergy to aid in the successful execution of the different parts of Our program. You know as well as We what a magnificent contribution they have made to the interior life of the Church and to the spread of the Kingdom of Christ. They are actuated not only by the precepts but by the counsels of Christ. Both in the holy silence of the cloister and in pious works outside convent walls they exhibit the high ideals of Christian perfection by their works of true piety, by their keeping uppermost in the minds of Christian people the pure ideals of Christ, by the example which they give due to their self-sacrificing renunciation of all worldly comforts and material goods, by their acquisition of spiritual treasures. Because of the consecration of their whole being to the common good, they undertake truly miraculous activities which succor every ill - spiritual and bodily, and help all in finding a sure remedy or assistance from the evils which we must encounter. As the history of the Church bears witness, members of the religious orders under the inspiration of God's love, have often gone to such lengths in their work of preaching the Gospel that they have given up their lives for the salvation of souls, thus by their death spreading the unity of the faith and the doctrine of Christian brotherhood and at the same time extending farther and farther the boundaries of the Kingdom of Christ." (Pope Pius XI, "Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio", 1922 A.D.)

"Can. 668 §1 Before their first profession, members are to cede the administration of their goods to whomsoever they wish and, unless the constitutions provide otherwise, they are freely to make dispositions concerning the use and enjoyment of these goods. At least before perpetual profession, they are to make a will which is valid also in civil law. §2 To change these dispositions for a just reason, and to take any action concerning temporal goods, there is required the permission of the Superior who is competent in accordance with the institute's own law. §3 Whatever a religious acquires by personal labour, or on behalf of the institute, belongs to the institute. Whatever comes to a religious in any way through pension, grant or insurance also passes to the institute, unless the institute's own law decrees otherwise. §4 When the nature of an institute requires members to renounce their goods totally, this renunciation is to be made before perpetual profession and, as far as possible, in a form that is valid also in civil law; it shall come into effect from the day of profession. The same procedure is to be followed by a perpetually professed religious who, in accordance with the norms of the institute's own law and with the permission of the supreme Moderator, wishes to renounce goods, in whole or in part. §5 Professed religious who, because of the nature of their institute, totally renounce their goods, lose the capacity to acquire and possess goods; actions of theirs contrary to the vow of poverty are therefore invalid. Whatever they acquire after renunciation belongs to the institute, in accordance with the institute's own law." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The religious state requires the removal of whatever hinders man from devoting himself entirely to God's service. Now the use of sexual union hinders the mind from giving itself wholly to the service of God, and this for two reasons. First, on account of its vehement delectation, which by frequent repetition increases concupiscence, as also the Philosopher observes (Ethica Nicomachea iii,12): and hence it is that the use of venery withdraws the mind from that perfect intentness on tending to God. Augustine expresses this when he says (Soliloquia i,10): 'I consider that nothing so casts down the manly mind from its height as the fondling of women, and those bodily contacts which belong to the married state.' Secondly, because it involves man in solicitude for the control of his wife, his children, and his temporalities which serve for their upkeep. Hence the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 7:32,33): 'He that is without a wife is solicitous for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please God: but he that is with a wife is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife.' Therefore perpetual continence, as well as voluntary poverty, is requisite for religious perfection. The perfection not only of poverty but also of continence was introduced by Christ Who said (Matthew 19:12): 'There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs, for the kingdom of heaven,' and then added: 'He that can take, let him take it.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Among the souls whom God has entrusted to the Church's care there are some who are so taken with admiration at hear ceaseless voice of praise, breathing forth all over the world her adoring love of her Spouse's works and mysteries and perfections, that they aspire to do so in like manner, and keep uninterrupted company with their mother, who is ever in search of the Beloved (cf. Cant.); they will do as she does, that is, have but one thought, one occupation, one ambition: divine union and a life of perfection. The mother gives them a hearty welcome; she admits them into her closest intimacy; she gladly and unreservedly imparts to them all her own secrets of how best to please, and how soonest find, their same beautiful Lord. And because they are thus filled with her spirit, the spirit of religion, she distinguishes them from all the rest of her sons and daughters by the grand title of religious. The world cannot understand them. The life they lead is such a puzzle to them that live a life of very different occupations that it creates a habit of irritation against these men and women who thus live religion. The irritation makes them watchful to discover imperfections; or it makes them ingenious in putting forward theories about the religious state which would minimize its excellence; or it will make them pull down monasteries, and disband the monks and nuns who live there wasting (!) their lives in the worship of God, in religion towards Him! All this is quite natural,. But these religious are one of the most unmistakable manifestations of the Church's union with Christ; and, for that very reason, no human power can deprive her of that manifestation. She by being bride of Christ, is one body with Him; that body exists solely for the purpose of being offered in sacrifice of complete homage to the eternal Father; and the Church fulfills all this fully and unreservedly in those whose whole being, by the vows they make and the sublime consecration given to them by the Church, is absorbed into the religion and the perfect oblation of Christ Jesus, the eternal High Priest." (Liturgical Year)

"The religious state may be considered in three ways. First, as being a practice of tending to the perfection of charity: secondly, as quieting the human mind from outward solicitude, according to 1 Corinthians 7:32: 'I would have you to be without solicitude': thirdly, as a holocaust whereby a man offers himself and his possessions wholly to God; and in corresponding manner the religious state is constituted by these three vows. First, as regards the practice of perfection a man is required to remove from himself whatever may hinder his affections from tending wholly to God, for it is in this that the perfection of charity consists. Such hindrances are of three kinds. First, the attachment to external goods, which is removed by the vow of poverty; secondly, the concupiscence of sensible pleasures, chief among which are venereal pleasures, and these are removed by the vow of continence; thirdly, the inordinateness of the human will, and this is removed by the vow of obedience. In like manner the disquiet of worldly solicitude is aroused in man in reference especially to three things. First, as regards the dispensing of external things, and this solicitude is removed from man by the vow of poverty; secondly, as regards the control of wife and children, which is cut away by the vow of continence; thirdly, as regards the disposal of one's own actions, which is eliminated by the vow of obedience, whereby a man commits himself to the disposal of another. Again, 'a holocaust is the offering to God of all that one has,' according to Gregory (Hom. 20 in Ezech.). Now man has a threefold good, according to the Philosopher (Ethica Nicomachea i,8). First, the good of external things, which he wholly offers to God by the vow of voluntary poverty: secondly, the good of his own body, and this good he offers to God especially by the vow of continence, whereby he renounces the greatest bodily pleasures. The third is the good of the soul, which man wholly offers to God by the vow of obedience, whereby he offers God his own will by which he makes use of all the powers and habits of the soul. Therefore the religious state is fittingly constituted by the three vows." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is not commendable to pass from one religious order to another: both because this frequently gives scandal to those who remain; and because, other things being equal, it is easier to make progress in a religious order to which one is accustomed than in one to which one is not habituated. Hence in the Conferences of the Fathers (Collationes xiv,5) Abbot Nesteros says: 'It is best for each one that he should, according to the resolve he has made, hasten with the greatest zeal and care to reach the perfection of the work he has undertaken, and nowise forsake the profession he has chosen.'... Nevertheless one may commendably pass from one religious order to another for three reasons. First, through zeal for a more perfect religious life, which excellence depends... not merely on severity, but chiefly on the end to which a religious order is directed, and secondarily on the discretion whereby the observances are proportionate to the due end. Secondly, on account of a religious order falling away from the perfection it ought to have: for instance, if in a more severe religious order, the religious begin to live less strictly, it is commendable for one to pass even to a less severe religious order if the observance is better. Hence in the Conferences of the Fathers (Collationes xix,3,5,6) Abbot John says of himself that he had passed from the solitary life, in which he was professed, to a less severe life, namely of those who lived in community, because the hermetical life had fallen into decline and laxity. Thirdly, on account of sickness or weakness, the result of which sometimes is that one is unable to keep the ordinances of a more severe religious order, though able to observe those of a less strict [religious order]. There is, however, a difference in these three cases. For in the first case one ought, on account of humility, to seek permission: yet this cannot be denied, provided it be certain that this other [religious order] is more severe. 'And if there be a probable doubt about this, one should ask one's superior to decide' (Extra, De Regular. et Transeunt. ad Relig., cap. Licet.). In like manner the superior's decision should be sought in the second case. In the third case it is also necessary to have a dispensation." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Nothing prevents certain things being more excellent in themselves, whereas they are surpassed by another in some respect. Accordingly we must reply that the contemplative life is simply more excellent than the active: and the Philosopher proves this by eight reasons (Ethica Nicomachea x,7, 8). The first is, because the contemplative life becomes man according to that which is best in him, namely the intellect, and according to its proper objects, namely things intelligible; whereas the active life is occupied with externals. Hence Rachael, by whom the contemplative life is signified, is interpreted 'the vision of the principle,' whereas as Gregory says (Moralium vi,37) the active life is signified by Lia who was blear-eyed. The second reason is because the contemplative life can be more continuous, although not as regards the highest degree of contemplation...wherefore Mary, by whom the contemplative life is signified, is described as 'sitting' all the time 'at the Lord's feet.' Thirdly, because the contemplative life is more delightful than the active; wherefore Augustine says (De Verbis Domini Sermone 103) that 'Martha was troubled, but Mary feasted.' Fourthly, because in the contemplative life man is more self-sufficient, since he needs fewer things for that purpose; wherefore it was said (Luke 10:41): 'Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art troubled about many things.' Fifthly, because the contemplative life is loved more for its own sake, while the active life is directed to something else. Hence it is written (Psalm 37:3): 'One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may see the delight of the Lord.' Sixthly, because the contemplative life consists in leisure and rest, according to Psalm 46:10, 'Be still and see that I am God.' Seventhly, because the contemplative life is according to Divine things, whereas active life is according to human things; wherefore Augustine says (De Verbis Domini Serm. 104): 'In the beginning was the Word: to Him was Mary hearkening: The Word was made flesh: Him was Martha serving.' Eighthly, because the contemplative life is according to that which is most proper to man, namely his intellect; whereas in the works of the active life the lower powers also... Our Lord adds a ninth reason (Luke 10:42) when He says: 'Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her,' which words Augustine (De Verbis Domini Sermone 103) expounds thus: 'Not - Thou hast chosen badly but - She has chosen better. Why better? Listen - because it shall not be taken away from her. But the burden of necessity shall at length be taken from thee: whereas the sweetness of truth is eternal.' Yet in a restricted sense and in a particular case one should prefer the active life on account of the needs of the present life. Thus too the Philosopher says (Topica iii,2): 'It is better to be wise than to be rich, yet for one who is in need, it is better to be rich...'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Also See: The Calling to Religious Life | Fostering Vocations [Pg.] | Vows | Poverty | Celibacy / Chastity | Virgins / Virginity | Obedience | Are You Called to Religious Life? | Religious Institutes For Men | The Religious Life For Women

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