baptism and religious

The Religious life is way of living the Christian life. It is a particular way of living out the call to be a Christian and for a person to live out their baptismal promises. It is not therefore something exotic. At root this life is a call to prayer and service. God has called many people through the centuries to the life of a ‘Religious’. To those who hear such a call, it is demanding yet joyful, a way to find God and relate to the challenges of our 21st-century society.

What is a vocation?

religious life

Fr Henry Power Bull was Superior General of the Society of St John the Evangelist and the following is from the First Anglo-Catholic Congress:

The Religious Life is that state, or form, of life in which, obediently to the inspiration or call of God, a soul is consecrated to God in Jesus Christ under perpetual vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. There are many forms of this consecration, as there are also many objects with which is it is undertaken; and the Church has need of all. But strictly for the Religious state, as it exists in the Catholic Church, there is required the entire and permanent surrender of self, according to some fixed and recognised rule based upon the Evangelical Counsels, that is, upon the observance of a real spirit of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience.

And about the enclosed life from the Cowley Evangelist:

It is no self-centred idle life, no dream of prayer, or following of self-will. It is a burning desire of love to die to self and to live to God, in great humility, and with an ever increasing intensity of worship and self-oblation.

liminal space?

I have been trying to organise some thoughts around the religious life. And I found this quote:

The liminal space is an invitation to surrender – an invitation to give over to something larger than self and trust that we will be held and supported with whatever we need in order to navigate the uncertainty. The degree to which we are comfortable or uncomfortable has to do with how we choose to be with what is happening. We can choose to fight against the liminal space and struggle, or to flow with it by listening, sensing, and responding.

The Liminal Space – Embracing the Mystery and Power of Transition from What Has Been to What Will Be

Maybe the older mystical writers would call it “the cloud of unknowing”? There is a sense in which the religious life, or Christianity as a whole, is a “what if” life. I think the current Archbishop of Canterbury said that?!

Anglican sisters

The nuns of the Anglican Benedictine Community at St. Mary’s Abbey, West Malling, reflect on their calling and the joys and challenges of their way of life. In this short documentary, directed by Jamie Hughes, the nuns’ voices are complemented by images from the life of the Abbey.


I have been reading Devotio Moderna: Basic Writings by John Van Engen. I have been waiting for it to arrive for over a month. There is a collection of “Resolutions and Intentions” by the founder of the Brethren of the Common life, Geert Groote, in the book. There is a decisive fell that this is not a set of vows or a rule of life but rather a way to live. I like the idea of religious life without vows beyond those of all the baptised. We are all called to “love God and love our neighbour as ourselves”. The religious life is not for the “spiritual elite” so why ask any more of the religious than of all the baptised?

So I thought I would follow that through a little. What does the noun “resolution” mean?

noun: resolution; plural noun: resolutions
1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.
Similar: intention, resolve, decision, intent, aim, aspiration, design, purpose, object, plan, commitment, pledge, promise, undertaking

A resolution is connected to an intention. Both are a decision to set a path and walk it. There is no certainty in the resolution – no end result. But rather it is for the moment. A resolution needs renewing every new moment – it is a way of life rather than a point in time. And there is no room for doubt – I am either going to do it or not.

So vow to love, be resolved to live for Jesus only?


“Contemplata aliis tradere” is a Latin phrase which translates into English as “to hand down to others the fruits of contemplation.”

Contemplata aliis tradere

I am not a great advocate for St Thomas. In fact, the scholastic thing is very foreign to me. But the above has always torn at my heart. In the books about anchorite spirituality and life I have been reading, there is agreement that it is about contemplation. But what then? Just sit in the warm glow of a job well done?

Last night, while driving home, I had a long think about the above. And I came to the conclusion (or should that be resolution) that it is less important what it meant to people of the past than what it means for me today. Yes, I think I have a moral duty to share those fruits of future possible contemplation. And whether that is through a blog like this, a podcast, or some other way, there is a duty to make that available to people.

So a life set apart to pray and read, to think and contemplate, and to share. Not to have the answers but to be present with people and witness to the transforming power of Jesus. Maybe the word “witness” puts it better than share? It is not a treasure I have within me but rather a Person.

Anyway …