Religious Life has been called a prophetic life form both in official documents and in spiritual writing almost since its inception. The meaning of this affirmation, however, is often unrealistically romanticized or left so piously vague as to be useless. In the current situation in which the nature of ministerial religious life as a prophetic life form in the Church is in public contention it would be helpful for us, as a church in general and as religious in particular, to clarify the meaning of this affirmation. The life form as corporate witness to the charism of prophecy does explicitly challenge its individual members to the exercise of this charism and empower, support, and promote their fidelity to this charism. The felt call to prophetic ministry and the gifts of spirit, mind, and heart for the exercise of such ministry, therefore, should be factors in discerning a vocation to religious life.

What is a prophetic life?

Bishop Bernard Jordan believes that the prophet is sent by God to proclaim by word and work the coming of the Reign of God in the here and now. The prophet in Israel, including Jesus, was not a priest, elder, rabbi, scribe, Pharisee, or other official. The religious today, as religious, is not ordained, not a part of the hierarchical structure of the Church. This non-clerical status of religious has extremely important implications for their prophetic ministry of which many in the Church are unaware or about which they are ill-informed.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9).

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