The Church reflects on the vocation of Religious Brothers in “The Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church,”* as a gift from God – a gift received, a gift shared, a gift to be given away and we add, ultimately, a gift of transformation:
Brotherhood, the gift we receive
A vocation to be a Religious Brother is a gift from God uniquely given to those He chooses. It is an intensification of the baptismal call to be a member of Christ’s Body on earth. Living out this gift in Community, in a life of consecration, strengthened by the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, the Brother seeks to develop his natural abilities for the good of the Church. Grateful for this God-given gift, Brothers have only to respond with generosity and wonder at having been called.
Brotherhood, the gift we share
“The foundation supporting the religious community is, above all, the gift of fraternity that it has received, which is more essential than the efforts and generosity of its members or the tasks they perform” (par. 21). Community life is at the core of religious life. Sharing in fraternal life together creates strong bonds which center the Community into a corporate body.
Brotherhood, the gift we give away
“A Brother, whose vocation ultimately is identified with the Son of Man, feels compelled to be like him, brother of the least ones. This is how the gift of brotherhood he has received and is living in community now is shared in the mission. It is a gift whose ultimate recipients are the little brothers with whom Christ has identified. The mission is not ‘what he does’ but rather his very life itself made communion with the least. ‘If my gift is not to prove a source of humiliation, I must give to others not just something that is my own, but my very self;I must be personally present in my gift'” (par. 27).
Brotherhood, the gift that transforms
“Many Religious Brothers carry out their mission exercising a secular profession, whether it is in the health service, education, assistance to immigrants, the accompaniment of children and adolescents at risk, etc. They thereby give witness that their commitment to the Kingdom also implies the effort to build, in the here and now, a more human and inhabitable world, and that the love of Christ is linked to love of humanity, especially its weakest and neediest members. Today more than ever, the world needs consecrated persons who, from the heart of secular realities and of human life itself, bear witness to knowing and loving the God of life” (par. 31).