Religious Life in General
All Christians are consecrated to God through baptism. However, God calls some to a more definite living out of their baptismal vows through a life marked by prayer and service. This life is usually lived with others also motivated in the same way.
A traditional way in which this more intensely consecrated life has been lived is through taking religious vows expressed in our community as poverty, chastity and obedience.
People with these vows usually live together in community, sharing their life with other similarly vowed religious. Each community (or congregation or Order) has a particular characteristic - its charism - the thing which God has called it to do and equipped it for. Some are mainly contemplative. Their members work mostly within the monastery or convent or and have ministries such as running a guest house or making and selling handcrafts. Others are more active, and more likely to be working in the wider world around them.
All these communities are sustained by regular times of prayer together, forming part of the rhythm of day, and giving shape to the work and other ministries.
In every age there have been new forms of community life which have kept some traditional elements of the life, but have also added new features in response to different needs in the world around them. These days the movement known as "New Monasticism" is one of these new forms. Each community is different but they include commitment to prayer, social justice, evangelism, and to living with each other in community. These communities usually include single people and married couples and perhaps families.
Another form of consecrated life is that of living as a consecrated single person. This is essentially a "hidden life" - without any distinct dress or title