A vow is a public sacred promise made to God with the approval of the Church. Through it, a religious man or woman responds with his/her whole life to God’s invitation to love Him completely and without reserve. Living these vows enables the religious to focus his/her entire being on God and His people. Contrary to what our culture values, the evangelical counsels stand in stark contrast, reminding all Christians of the true meaning of Gospel witness.
Poverty does not mean the religious is destitute. It is a radical call to live simply and share all goods in common. For example, a religious does not individually own a house or car. They are provided for shared use. Unencumbered by the accumulation of wealth and material things, the religious is free to focus on service, being available for mission in a spirit of trust and abandonment like Jesus.
Chastity is a call to love God and all God’s people, rather than to love one person exclusively in marriage. Promising chastity is a lot more than “giving up marriage.” The religious chooses to make Jesus the primary relationship in his/her life. In addition to a deepening prayer life, the religious depends upon the love and support of his/her religious community to live a warm and nurturing celibate lifestyle.
Obedience calls the religious to live a life of listening and responding to God’s will in his/her life. This allows the religious to be open to how the Lord and the community believe their gifts and talents can best be used for the common good of the community and the advancement of the Kingdom. The vow of obedience is not a call to simply do whatever he/she is told. Through a deep prayer life, together with the community, the religious listens actively and unselfishly to what the Lord is saying.