Appeared in Summer 1991, Vol. XVII, No. 2

In this his first essay for Faith & Reason, Fr. Ihnatowicz demonstrates clearly how confusion concerning the significance of the profession of the evangelical counsels has led to an even greater confusion within the Church. He makes use of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council to show how the consecrated life is a special charism (in the Pauline sense) through which God calls and consecrates certain members of the faithful to a special form of life for the entire Church.

Confusion about the nature and role in the Church of the consecrated life, i.e., life based on the profession of the evangelical counsels, affects more than religious themselves. It influences the laity’s attitude to religious life, and thus often becomes a negative element in the contemporary crisis of vocations: parents will not encourage their children to embrace religious life, they will even make every attempt to dissuade them from such a decision.

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