Consecrated Life: a life totally offered to God in response to His call of love, through the radical living of one's baptism by the profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience in a stable state of life recognized by the Church.
Men and women in religious life are called to consecrate themselves through the public and permanent profession of the evangelical counsels, participate in stable community life and prayer, and be witnesses of the spousal union of Christ with the Church. “Thus, the Church can both show forth Christ and acknowledge herself to be the Savior's bride." (Catechism, 925-927)
Apostolic Religious Orders include all religious priests, religious brothers, and religious sisters whose lives give witness to the apostolic and missionary work of the Church through their communal lives of prayer and service particular to their order's charisms. Monastic Orders and Cloistered Contemplative Orders include all monks and nuns, whose hidden communal lives of prayer and penance contribute to the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church's mission.
Men and women in secular institutes are called to consecrate their lives through profession of the evangelical counsels and foster among their members fitting communion and fellowship according to their particular secular state. They share in the Church's mission of evangelization as their lives witness the “Christian faithful living in the world, striving for the perfection of charity, and working for the sanctification of the world especially from within…. where their presence acts as leaven in the world." (Catechism, 929)
A Consecrated Virgin is a woman who is called to life of perpetual virginity consecrated to the Lord by the local diocesan bishop. Through her mystical espousal to Christ, she is a living image of the Bride, the Church, and shares in His redemptive mission in the world by offering prayer, penance, charitable service, and apostolic activities according to her capacities and gifts. She lives alone in the world, but may form associations with other consecrated virgins.(Catechism, 921-923)
Hermits are men and women are called to separate themselves from the world, dedicate their lives to prayer, penance, and silence for the glory of God, the service of the Church, and the salvation of others. Their lives radically witness “personal intimacy with Christ" as they denounce everything in order to follow Christ alone. “It is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.” (Catechism, 921)
Societies of Apostolic Life
Men and women in societies of apostolic life are called, primarily without taking religious vows (although some do), to follow their particular society's way of life and apostolic mission. Their lives witness the communion of the Church as they live as “brothers or sisters in common according to a particular manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions." (Catechism, 930)