Consecrated Life is like a tree with many branches.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about the vocation to the Consecrated Life:

“The state of consecrated life is thus one way of experiencing a “more intimate” consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ’s faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.” (CCC 916)

On the Feast of the Annunciation in 1996, Pope John Paul II issued an Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata (The Consecrated Life).  In this beautiful document, he introduces the vocation to the Consecrated Life in this way.

The Consecrated Life, deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ the Lord, is a gift of God the Father to His Church through the Holy Spirit.  By the profession of the evangelical counsels the characteristic features of Jesus – the chaste, poor, and obedient one – are made constantly “visible” in the midst of the world and the eyes of the faithful are directed towards the mystery of the Kingdom of God already at work in history, even as it awaits its full realization in heaven.

In every age there have been men and women who, obedient to the Father’s call and to the prompting of the Spirit, have chosen this special way of following Christ, in order to devote themselves to him with an “undivided” heart (cf. 1 Cor 7:34).  Like the Apostles, they too have left everything behind in order to be with Christ and to put themselves, as he did, at the service of God and their brothers and sisters.  In this way, through the many charisms of spiritual and apostolic life bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit, they have helped to make the mystery and mission of the Church shine forth, and in doing so have contributed to the renewal of society. (VC 1)

The word “vocation” comes from the Latin “vocare” which means to be called.  Each of us are created by God, to love Him, and return to Him in Heaven.  The vocation God has created and planned for each of us is a gift, but different from the material gifts we receive on occasions such as our birthday or Christmas.  This gift must be opened through prayer.  Only God knows what is inside and He can show you the beautiful surprise inside.

The word “consecrated” means “to be set apart.”  Therefore, consecrated persons are “set apart” to love and live for God and His Church.

Since the early First Century, men and women have given their lives to Christ.  We read this in Sacred Scripture in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles as we learn about the call of the Apostles and the witness of the martyrs.

The following is a overview of the forms of Consecrated Life.

The Consecrated Life

Consecrated Virgins —
Eremitical Life —
Religious Life —
Secular Institutes —

Societies of
Apostolic Life —
Apostolic Community —
Contemplative Community —

Active Priests, Brothers, Sisters, Monks and Nuns