Religious Life is a form of consecration to God, characterised by the public profession of vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The specific contribution of consecrated men and women is first of all the witness of a life given totally to God and to their brothers and sisters, in imitation of Christ, who made himself a servant out of love for humanity. Consecrated persons make visible the loving and saving presence of Christ.
In his Encyclical Vita Consecrata, Pope John Paul II says, "[The Church has] great esteem for the kind of consecrated life in which religious brothers provide valuable services of various kinds, inside or outside the community, participating in this way in the mission of proclaiming the Gospel and bearing witness to it with charity in everyday life. Indeed, some of these services can be considered ecclesial ministries, granted by legitimate authority. This requires an appropriate and integral formation: human, spiritual, theological, pastoral and professional.
…the term "brother" suggests a rich spirituality. "These Religious are called to be brothers of Christ, deeply united with him, 'the firstborn among many brothers' (Rom 8:29); brothers to one another, in mutual love and working together in the Church in the same service of what is good; brothers to everyone, in their witness to Christ's love for all, especially the lowliest, the neediest; brothers for a greater brotherhood in the Church".By living in a special way this aspect of Christian and consecrated life, Religious Brothers are an effective reminder to Religious Priests themselves of the fundamental dimension of brotherhood in Christ, to be lived among themselves and with every man and woman, and they proclaim to all the Lord's words: "And you are all brothers" (Mt 23:8).
Discernment as with all vocations, is the first step in entering the religious life, and continues throughout the period of 'initial formation.' This period normally includes the time of postulancy (or pre-novitiate) followed by the novitiate (an intense period of discernment of at least one year in preparation for profession of vows) and years in temporary (or simple) profession. Finally, after a number of years, a man who has properly discerned his vocation and undergone the necessary training will take final (or perpetual) vows for life. Some religious men remain as brothers and others become priests. Read the testimonies of some religious priests and brothers.