What is a religious brother?
A Radical calling
The vocation of religious life is perhaps the most radical calling in the Church. Jesus expressed great esteem for those “who have renounced marriage for the kingdom of heaven,” and the Church offers religious life to men who want to live for God alone. Not all men are called to this adventure, but “whoever can accept this ought to accept it” (Mt 19:12).
To Live for God Alone
This radical calling involves taking on the three evangelical counsels, that is, professing vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. By chastity, a religious brother vows himself to lifelong celibacy so that God can be his first and only love. By poverty, a brother gives up all personal possessions: everything he has is owned in common with the community. By obedience, a brother submits to his community’s rule of life and takes on whatever mission his superior directs. The Church has long understood the sacrifice of the evangelical counsels to be an extraordinary means of spiritual growth, because it freely adheres to the way of life Jesus himself adopted.
Whatever his particular apostolate, a religious brother begins and ends his day in prayer with the other members of his community. Since its origins, community life has been the constitutive element of religious life: brothers are a means to one another’s holiness. Brothers see themselves as part of a brotherhood which advances God’s kingdom, rather than as isolated missionaries. A religious community is a spiritual family: religious brothers live together, work together, and die together.