A life of service, community and prayer
A brother is.....
one who strives to live a life that affirms the reality that we are all members of the family of God- sisters and brothers to one another, called to be supportive of each other.
The brother strives to witness Christ's presence as our brother through his efforts to be a living reminder that the Gospel message still is and will always be relevant in today's world. The route chosen by the brothers is the living out of the evangelical councils- chastity, obedience and poverty- in the context of community and service to the Church and the modern world through the apostolate he is called to.
Community is the key as a brother attempts to affirm and support others. He stands in need of similar support from others who have also made a commitment to the fraternity of communal living and service to God's people. An important aspect of being a brother today is not what he does but how he approaches what he does. The brother strives to be like Christ, who was vulnerable, loving, challenging, inspiring, and most of all, human.
A brother gets involved.....
by being aware of his own talents, skills and abilities and then discerning which religious community will enable him an opportunity to use these gifts in a specific way. Some communities are very precise in their apostolates- education, the medical field, working with the poor, and service to youth. These have been traditional areas in which brothers have excelled. Other groups are open to a variety of opportunities based on the needs of those they serve.
Today's brother is moving into many new areas, such as pastoral work, missions, social justice and professional services. Brothers continue to be involved in the field of adult education. They develop multimedia programs, they are food service managers, they are carpenters, farmers and mechanics. The key is to realize that the needs are great and the areas of service extensive, based on individual inclination and the apostolates of one's chosen religious community.
It is important to remember that the essence of brotherhood is not determined just by the work a brother may do, but also by the lifestyle he lives in community. As a brother seeks to share Christ with others, it is important that he has the chance to spend time with God so as to determine His will. The brother, as does any religious, takes quality time for prayer, reading and personal reflection. There is also time for interaction with others in community.
A brother needs to be a man who enjoys life and lives it to the fullest by being part of the lives of those he ministers to and shares community with while allowing them to have a positive impact on his life too.
The reality of different brothers.....
It is important to realize that some communities include both brothers and priests while others are composed entirely of brothers. A good way to learn about the many religious communities is to contact the Vocation Office of the Diocese of Norwich.
Every community has requirements.....
Related to its religious lifestyle and ministry. You should be in good physical and emotional health, free from debt, of good character and single. Professional requirements may vary. In a teaching community, a university degree and a teaching certificate are necessary. In a nursing community, medical training would be required. Some communities offer full or partial education grants, while others prefer that you complete your educational training before entering. Together with a vocation director, you can find out if there are any other special requirements for a community that you might be interested in.
Vow of Poverty
The vow of poverty calls a brother to live a lifestyle that challenges the emphasis on consumerism found in modern society. A brother is often a sign that the accumulation of material things does not define the worth of an individual.
Vow of Chastity
Chastity is a commitment to total love of all God's people. It is not a denial of sexuality but in freedom, allows a brother to be responsive to the needs of the church, wherever and whenever he is called upon to respond.
Vow of Obedience
Obedience is a listening vow, reminding a brother to be open to and aware of the changes in the world and church. Through his vow of obedience, a brother is continually called to discover, through prayerful listening with his community, what God is calling him to and how he can respond.
How do I know?
We know if a vocation is right by listening to God's gentle call as He speaks within our hearts. The call to serve Him and His people as a religious brother is a unique and personal call. Prayerful listening and an openness to His will can help one find the path that the Lord is asking you to walk as you reflect on some basic questions:
Do you want to deepen your spiritual life? Without the spiritual dimension, a man will find little purpose in religious life.
Have you reflected on what qualities and strengths you can bring to community living? Do you have a personality which allows you to be open to others you would be living with and does that openness carry with it a willingness to accept the differences others will bring to the community?
Do you have the desire, willingness and basic ability to participate in the apostolates of a particular religious community? It is important to realize that your talents are needed and will be put to use because a brother is a "Do-er".
Have you thought about what the celibate lifestyle requires and can you live with it? It is not a denial of love but a call to give generously of yourself and to have the openness to be loved and supported by those you meet, work and live with as you commit yourself to being present to them as a brother in Christ.