VISION provides answers to your questions about priests, sisters, brothers, vows,sexuality, community life, and more.
THERE’S SO MUCH to learn about the rich experience of religious life. Get up to speedon the areas that most concern youas you consider your calling. Youmay find the answers eye-opening.
1. What do priests, sisters, and
brothers do all day?
Just like most adults, we spend aportion of each day working. Wecall our work ministry because themodel and motivation for what wedo is Jesus, who asked that we followhis way of service. But we don’t justwork. To live in a healthy, balancedway we try to keep a mix of prayer,ministry, and play in our lives so thatwe can be effective ministers andhappy people.
In the area of work or ministry,many priests, brothers, and sistershave one main job, such as teaching, parish ministry, social work, orhospital work—all of which havesomewhat regular hours and predictable demands. Our daily schedulecan look different from the typicaladult’s. Often we have evening meetings, and those of us who are priestsor parish ministers usually workon Saturdays and Sundays and takesome time off during the week.
The unpredictable demands also
lend richness to our lives. These
often center around meeting the
needs of people, be they children
in schools, families preparing to
celebrate the sacraments, or the
sick, elderly, angry, hurt, hungry, or
imprisoned. We try to share our lives
with others and reveal Christ in all
Those of us who are members ofcontemplative communities (communities dedicated to prayer) alsofill our days with a combination ofwork, prayer, and recreation. Thedifference is that we dedicate muchof our time to prayer. Sometimeswe will grow our own food and doincome-producing work, like baking the hosts used for Mass, makingcheese or candy, or designing finearts and handicrafts. Our prayer usually consists of Mass, silent prayer(called contemplation), reading, andpraying the psalm-based Liturgy ofthe Hours (an ancient practice ofpraying psalms together at regularhours throughout the day).
2. How important
is prayer in your life?
Because we’ve chosen a way of life
3. Is prayer
that says God is most important,
prayer is central to our lives. Think
of it as a deep level of communica-
tion with God, similar to the kind
of communication that happens be-
tween any two people who love each
other. Our relationship with God
grows and deepens with prayer.
Since prayer is important, many
priests, sisters, and brothers spend
about two hours a day praying. Part
of that time we pray with others at
Mass. We also pray other formal
prayers like the Liturgy of the Hours
or the Rosary, or spend time with
others less formally reading and
reflecting on readings from the Bible.
Part of the time we also pray alone,
perhaps reading or just being quiet
with God. One of the positive effects
of prayer, whatever shape it takes, is
to keep us aware of God’s activity in
the people, events, and circumstanc-
es of daily life.
always easy for you?
Not always! Even those of us incontemplative life—whose ministryis prayer—go through dry spellswhen our prayer time seems dullor uneventful. As we grow in ourexperience of prayer we learn howto adjust to these changes. We oftendepend on the support of our communities or the help of a spiritualdirector (who serves as a guide) tohelp us keep praying during difficulttimes. Those of us who are parishpriests have our parish communi