50 | VISION 2019 | VocationNetwork.org
From ancient desert monasticism to contemporary forms of religious life,
a small band of Christian men and women in every generation choose to
consecrate their lives to God with unique vows of love and service that
give radical witness to the gospel.
SINCE the call of the first disciples, some followers of Jesus have sought a different way to live their faith. In the early church
groups of widows gathered to dedicate themselves to prayer and good works. Others craved
solitary prayer, so they fled to the desert to commune with God and guide others in the pursuit
of holiness. Monasteries, cloisters, and religious
houses eventually came into being, and religious
life as we know it began to take shape.
Consecrated life—in its diverse expres-
sions around the globe—is a gift to the church
and world. Its prayer lifts the entire church.
Likewise, good works and the pursuit of justice
Consecrated life through the ages
shape society to more closely resemble the reign
of God. A life of chastity, poverty, and obedience
gives powerful witness to faith in Jesus without
a word being uttered.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, religious com-
munities of men and women rise up, serve a
purpose, thrive, and live on or come to an end.
This ebb and flow has occurred for 2,000 years
and will continue for millennia to come as new
members around the world take vows and join
their lives to communities to live out the gospel
in radical ways.
What follows is a timeline of the major events
in the history of consecrated life through the ages.