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16.11.2016 02:03:54 16489x read.





1. From the first centuries of Christianity, consecrated life has been composed predominantly of lay members, an expression of the yearning of men and women to live the Gospel with the radicalism proposed to all followers of Jesus. Even today lay members of the consecrated life - men and women – form the great majority.

“Brother” is the name traditionally given to the male lay religious1 in the Church since the beginning of consecrated life. The title does not belong to him exclusively, of course, but it represents a significant way of being in the ecclesial community in which he is the prophetic memory of Jesus-Brother, who told his followers: "And you are all brothers” (Mt 23:8)2.

This saying of Jesus is passed on to us by Matthew in a context in which Jesus speaks out against the hypocrisy of those who used religion to gain privileges and glory in the eyes of others. But the value of this logion goes beyond the immediate context. The title of brother/sister underlines the common dignity and fundamental equality of all believers. Brothers are sons in the Son of the same heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), called upon to form a universal brotherhood in Christ, the firstborn of many brothers (cf. Rom 8:29).

Although in this Instruction we speak directly of the life and mission of the Religious Brother, we have in mind that many of the issues discussed here, such as participation in the mystery of communion, ecclesial fraternity or the prophetic role of witness and service, are applicable to both the life and mission of Religious Brothers as well as that of consecrated women.

The Religious Brother and Sister, by participating in the saving mystery of Christ and the Church, are permanent reminders for all Christian people of the importance of the total gift of self to God and a reminder that the mission of the Church, respecting the various vocations and ministries within it, is one and is shared by all. However, we recognise that the vocation of the Religious Brother and Sister is not always well understood and appreciated within the Church.

This reflection aspires to contribute to the appreciation of the richness of the different vocations, especially within male consecrated life, and seeks to shed light on the identity of the Religious Brother and the value and necessity of this vocation. 


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