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Ask the Register: What is a religious brother?

Q. I know many wonderful priests, who have greatly enhanced my spiritual life. I also know many religious sisters, especially from the religious communities in the Diocese of Lincoln. But until recently, I had never met a religious brother. What is a religious brother, and what does he do?

A. God calls some men to serve through the Church as sacred priests— teachers of the Gospel, and ministers of the sacramental life of the Church. He calls some men to marriage—serving the Kingdom through family life, and witness and proclamation of the Gospel in the world. He also calls some men to consecrated life—to lives of poverty, chastity, and obedience, as brothers of religious communities. A religious brother serves the Church and the world— serves God himself—by living the grace and call of his baptism through prayer, work, and witness of God’s grace and mercy. 

The Church says that “Rooting his life deeply in God, the [religious] brother consecrates all creation, recognizing the presence of God and the Spirit’s action in creation, in cultures and in daily events.” The work and life of religious brothers varies, depending upon the particular mission and charism of his religious community, but all brothers share a witness to the truth that  “Jesus Christ became brother, shared our flesh and blood and was in solidarity with the sufferings of his brothers and sisters.”  

God calls brothers to do many things. A religious brother serves as the head of the Vatican’s Planetary Observatory.  Brothers serve as professors, as doctors and nurses, as laborers, and as teachers. But above all, religious brothers witness to the grace of baptism, and to the brotherhood of Christ himself. God calls many men to enter religious life, and serve as consecrated brothers. This vocation is ancient—dating back to the first “desert monks” of the early Church, and remains a beautiful and fulfilling way to live the Gospel, and serve the Lord. Pray for religious brothers, and pray that God will continue to call men to serve him in the beautiful vocation of consecrated religious brotherhood.

Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.

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