What are the different types of brothers?
Brothers that are members of contemplative religious communities are called monks. They live in a monastery, and do not ordinarily leave the monastery’s grounds. They adopt a highly regular pattern of life, which includes a great deal of common prayer. They eat their meals together, often in silence. When not in prayer and study, monks perform duties that provide sustenance or maintain the monastery. This life of austerity and penance allows the brothers to grow in deep communion with God; through prayer and sacrifice, they powerfully intercede for the Church and the world.
Active communities of brothers, often called frairs, live and pray together, just like monks, but during the day they enter the world to directly advance the kingdom of God. Religious priests often serve in sacramental roles similar to diocesan priests, while religious brothers take on many apostolates outside of parish life: chaplains, teachers, counselors, evangelists, and minsters of the poor. While active brothers still pray frequently, they understand their mission as an important part of their prayer.
Lay communities are composed almost exclusively of brothers. That is, the brothers are not usually ordained to the priesthood or diaconate. Because of their lay consecration, brothers are typically freer to serve the church outside of the church. They often work as chaplains, teachers, evangelists, and as ministers to the poor. In contemplative communities they often undertake manual work such as farming or craftsmanship.
Clerical communities are composed almost exclusively of religious who are ordained to the priesthood or diaconate. The ministries of religious priests are more sacramental, hence they are often more closely tied to parish life—Masses, confessions, baptisms, marriages, funerals. They also often preach missions or teach in schools or universities.
Mixed communities are made up of both lay and ordained religious. In these communities, the religious priests often serve in sacramental roles, while the lay brothers serve a broader apostolate. Contemplative monks are often mixed communities; priest monks serve the sacramental needs of their brothers, while lay monks serve as sacristans, craftsmen, porters, groundskeepers, and more.