Brother (Christian)

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A religious brother is a member of a Christian religious institute or religious order who commits himself to following Christ in consecrated life of the Church, usually by the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He is a layman, in the sense of not being ordained as a deacon or priest, and usually lives in a religious community and works in a ministry appropriate to his capabilities. A brother might practice any secular occupation. The term "brother" is used as he is expected to be as a brother to others. Brothers are members of a variety of religious communities, which may be contemplative, monastic, or apostolic in character. Some religious institutes are composed only of brothers; others are so-called "mixed" communities that are made up of brothers and clerics (priests or ministers, and seminarians).

A religious institute is a type of institute of consecrated life in the Catholic Church where its members take religious vows and lead a life in community with fellow members. Religious institutes are one of the two types of institutes of consecrated life; the other is that of the secular institute, where its members are "living in the world".

A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of laypeople and, in some orders, clergy. Religious orders exist in many of the world's religions.

Consecrated life is a state of life in the Catholic Church lived by believers who wish to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it "is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church". The Code of Canon Law defines it as "a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to his honour, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory."

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It is also common in many Christian groups to refer to other members as "brother" or "sister". [1] In particular, the Christian Shakers use the title for all male adult members. [2]

Shakers Christian monastic denomination

The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, more commonly known as the Shakers, is a millenarian nontrinitarian restorationist Christian sect founded around the year 1747 in England and then organized in the United States in the 1780s. They were initially known as "Shaking Quakers" because of their ecstatic behavior during worship services. Espousing egalitarian ideals, women took on spiritual leadership roles alongside men, including founding leaders such as Jane Wardley, Mother Ann Lee, and Mother Lucy Wright. The Shakers emigrated from England in the 1770s and settled in Revolutionary colonial America, with an initial settlement at Watervliet, New York. They practice a celibate and communal lifestyle, pacifism, uniform charismatic worship, and their model of equality of the sexes, which they institutionalized in their society in the 1780s. They are also known for their simple living, architecture, technological innovation, and furniture.

History

As monasticism developed in the early days of Christianity, most monks remained laymen, as ordination to ministry was seen as a hindrance to the monks' vocation to a contemplative life. Guided by the Rule of St. Benedict, the main lifestyle they followed was either agricultural or that of a desert hermit. Various forces and trends through the Middle Ages led to the situation where monks were no longer following this manner of living. Instead, they were focusing primarily on the religious obligations of intercessory prayer, especially for donors to the monasteries. This was encouraged by a spiritual reliance among the general membership of the Catholic Church upon the prayers of monastics to achieve salvation.

Monasticism religious way of life

Monasticism or monkhood is a religious way of life in which one renounces worldly pursuits to devote oneself fully to spiritual work. Monastic life plays an important role in many Christian churches, especially in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Similar forms of religious life also exist in other faiths, most notably in Buddhism, but also in Hinduism and Jainism, although the expressions differ considerably. By contrast, in other religions monasticism is criticized and not practiced, as in Islam and Zoroastrianism, or plays a marginal role, as in Judaism.

In Christianity, ministry is an activity carried out by Christians to express or spread their faith, the prototype being the Great Commission. The Encyclopedia of Christianity defines it as "carrying forth Christ's mission in the world", indicating that it is "conferred on each Christian in baptism." It is performed by all Christians. This is distinguished from the "office of minister", to which specific individuals who feel a certain vocation. It can signify this activity as a whole, or specific activities, or organizations within a church dedicated to specific activities. Some ministries are identified formally as such, and some are not; some ministry is directed towards members of the church, and some towards non-members. See also Apostolates.

A vocation is an occupation to which a person is specially drawn or for which they are suited, trained, or qualified. Though now often used in non-religious contexts, the meanings of the term originated in Christianity.

One practical consequence of this situation was that the bulk of the physical work which needed to be done for the simple survival of the monastic community came to be done by men who volunteered their services on a full-time basis, and who followed a less severe regimen of prayer. Called donates or oblati, they were not considered to be monks, but they were nonetheless gradually accepted as members of the monastic community.

A church, a monk with lay brother & a praying man (from an illustrated medieval manuscript) A church, a monk with lay brother & a praying man Wellcome L0029355.jpg
A church, a monk with lay brother & a praying man (from an illustrated medieval manuscript)

In other communities, a separate labor force of "lay brothers" or conversi was cultivated in order to handle the temporal business of the abbey. These men were professed members of the community but were restricted to ancillary roles of manual labor. A rigid class system emerged from this arrangement in which the clerics (priests and seminarians) exercised complete control over the lay brothers. In some cases, lay brothers received little or no formal education, could neither hold office nor vote within their communities, and were forbidden from passing from the lay to the clerical state. In its worst form, this class system resulted in a master-slave relationship between clerics and lay brothers.[ citation needed ] This inequality between two groups of vowed religious men was not addressed by the institutional leadership of the Catholic Church until the Second Vatican Council.[ citation needed ]

In the 17th century, education of the poorer classes began to be seen as a means of providing charity, which had always been a mandate of Christianity. A leading figure of this approach was St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle, a canon of Reims cathedral, who began to help the poor children of the city. As he was gradually drawn into education as a means for this purpose, he established a new congregation of men for this work, who were called the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. De la Salle had initially intended the Institute to be composed of both ordained and lay members, but the death of the candidates he sent to Rome for ordination while en route convinced him to keep the Institute composed only of laymen. Thus the establishment of a recognized status of "brother" as other than an agricultural laborer came to emerge in the Church.

Charity (practice) voluntary giving help to those who need it

The practice of charity means the voluntary giving of help to those in need, as a humanitarian act. There are a number of philosophies about charity, often associated with religion. Effective altruism is the use of evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Canon (priest) Ecclesiastical position

A canon is a member of certain bodies subject to an ecclesiastical rule.

The social devastations of the 18th and 19th centuries saw the gradual emergence of other similar congregations of men, dedicated primarily to education. Other examples of such congregations are the Marist Brothers, the Brothers of Holy Cross, the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (also known as the De La Salle Brothers), Brothers of Christian Instruction of St Gabriel (Gabrielites) and the Congregation of Christian Brothers.

A teaching order is a Catholic religious institute whose particular charism is education. Many orders and societies sponsor educational programs and institutions, and teaching orders participate in other charitable and spiritual activities; a teaching order is distinguished in that education is a primary mission.

Marist Brothers Catholic religious institute of brothers and affiliated lay people

The Marist Brothers of the Schools, commonly known as simply the Marist Brothers, is an international community of Catholic Religious Institute of Brothers. In 1817, St. Marcellin Champagnat, a priest from France, founded the Marist Brothers, with the goal of educating young people, especially those most neglected. While most of the Brothers minister in school settings, others work with young people in parishes, religious retreats and spiritual accompaniment, at-risk youth settings, young adult ministry and overseas missions.

Congregation of Christian Brothers male religious congregation of the Catholic Church

The Congregation of Christian Brothers is a worldwide religious community within the Catholic Church, founded by Edmund Rice. The Christian Brothers, as they are commonly known, chiefly work for the evangelisation and education of youth, but are involved in many ministries, especially with the poor. Their first school was opened in Waterford, Ireland, in 1802. At the time of its foundation, though much relieved from the harshest of the Penal Laws by the Irish Parliament's Relief Acts, much discrimination against Catholics remained throughout the newly created United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland pending full Catholic Emancipation in 1829.

Anglicanism

In the Anglican Communion, the term "brother" is also used to refer to non-ordained members of a religious order, such as the Little Brothers of Francis. [3]

Catholicism

Religious brothers today

Since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) many brothers have moved toward professional and academic occupations, especially in the areas of nursing, education, peace, and justice. Brothers in communities with priests and seminarians often undertake advanced studies and enjoy equal standing with ordained members. Today, most brothers in the United States serve in some type of professional, technical, or academic ministry. Many serve as chaplains or teachers/faculty members at schools and universities run by their respective orders. In addition, most brothers undertake some studies in spirituality, religious studies, and theology.

Today there are more opportunities than ever for brothers in the Church. Brothers can be members of congregations that are made up only of brothers or they may belong to so-called "mixed" communities that include seminarians and priests. These congregations may be primarily contemplative or apostolic in nature; many try to balance both aspects of religious life. Brothers in the United States and elsewhere have access to an advanced education that is suited to their interests and talents. In mixed communities, brothers may collaborate with seminarians and priests or may minister independently of them. Brothers share equal status and rights with seminarians and priests in their communities with the exception that canon law currently requires that mixed communities elect an ordained minister as provincial; however, some dispensations to this rule have been granted. Brothers may be elected to provincial councils and other leadership positions.

The most acceptable term currently for the brother's vocation is "religious brother", and the vocational title is "Brother," sometimes abbreviated as "Bro." or "Br." The generic use of the term "brother" to describe fraternal or spiritual relationships between men in communities can sometimes lead to confusion about what it means to be a "brother" (religious). According to canon law, brothers are neither "lay nor clerical" [4] but instead belong to the religious state of life. Hence, the vocational title "brother" is generally not used by seminarians (other than in monastic or mendicant Orders) in order to avoid the impression that being a brother is a developmental phase of clerical formation. However, as equal members of the same community, both priests and brothers would consider themselves brothers in the fraternal, communal sense of the term.

The term "lay brother" is considered offensive by some brothers since the word "lay" was once interpreted in this context to mean "illiterate" or "uneducated".[ citation needed ] However, in canon law it simply means "not clerical" or "not ordained".

Religious brothers who have been proclaimed saints

Religious brothers who have been canonized as saints include:

Religious brothers who have been beatified

Lutheran

In Lutheran Churches, brothers are monastics or members of religious orders. [6]

Methodism

In the Methodist Church, those who are called "Brothers" (Br.) are male monastics (e.g. votarists of Saint Brigid of Kildare Methodist-Benedictine Monastery) or members of a Methodist religious order (e.g. Order of Saint Luke).

Shakerism

All male adult members of the Shakers use the title of "brother." [2] In the past, male Shakers in leadership positions of communities used the title "father."

Jehovah's Witnesses

All baptized members of Jehovah's Witnesses refer to other members in good standing as "brothers" and "sisters".

See also

Related Research Articles

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Religious order (Catholic) Type of religious community in the Roman Catholic Church characterised by its members professing solemn vows

In the Catholic Church, a religious order is a type of religious community characterised by its members professing solemn vows. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, they are classed as a type of religious institute.

Religious vows promises made by members of religious communities

Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices, and views.

The term "Third Order" signifies, in general, lay members of religious orders, who do not necessarily live in community and yet can claim to wear the habit and participate in the good works of some great order. Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism all recognize Third Orders. They were a twelfth century adaptation of the medieval monastic confraternities.

A religious is, in the terminology of many Western Christian denominations, such as the Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion, what in common language one would call a "monk" or "nun", as opposed to an ordained "priest". A religious may also be a priest if he has undergone ordination, but in general he is not.

The term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or members of a religious institute. A diocesan priest is a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Orthodox priest who commits himself or herself to a certain geographical area and is ordained into the service of the citizens of a diocese, a church administrative region. That includes serving the everyday needs of the people in parishes, but their activities are not limited to that of their parish.

Society of apostolic life Group of Catholic devotees who live together

A society of apostolic life is a group of men or women within the Catholic Church who have come together for a specific purpose and live fraternally. There are a number of apostolic societies, such as the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who make vows or other bonds defined in their constitutions to undertake to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. However, unlike members of an institute of consecrated life, members of apostolic societies do not make religious vows—that is, "public vows."

An institute of consecrated life is an association of faithful in the Catholic Church erected by canon law whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds. They are defined in the Code of Canon Law under canons 573–730.

A religious congregation is a type of religious institute in the Catholic Church. They are legally distinguished from religious orders — the other major type of religious institute — in that members take simple vows, whereas members of religious orders take solemn vows.

Clerics regular are priests (clerics) who are members of a religious order under a rule of life (regular). Clerics regular differ from canons regular in that they devote themselves more to pastoral care, in place of an obligation to the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours in common, and have fewer observances in their rule of life.

The Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception are members of an institute of consecrated life founded in France in 1871, which follows the Augustinian Rule, and is part of the Order of Canons Regular of St. Augustine. They use the postnominal initials of C.R.I.C.

The Clerics Regular of Our Savior were the members of a Roman Catholic religious congregation of Catholic priests founded in France in the mid-19th century dedicated to the education of the poor. The congregation disbanded in 1919.

Priesthood in the Catholic Church One of the three ordained holy orders of the Catholic Church

The priesthood is one of the three holy orders of the Catholic Church, comprising the ordained priests or presbyters. The other two orders are the bishops and the deacons. Only men are allowed to receive holy orders, and the church does not allow any transgender people to do so. Church doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised Catholics as the "common priesthood".

Vocational discernment is the process in which men or women in the Catholic Church discern, or recognize, their vocation in the church. The vocations are the life as layman in the world, either married or single, the ordained life and the consecrated life.

Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit organization

The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit, known also simply as Pauline Fathers, is a monastic order of the Roman Catholic Church, founded in Hungary during the 13th century. Its post-nominal letters are O.S.P.P.E.

Order of precedence in the Catholic Church

Precedence signifies the right to enjoy a prerogative of honor before other persons; for example, to have the most distinguished place in a procession, a ceremony, or an assembly, to have the right to express an opinion, cast a vote, or append a signature before others, to perform the most honorable offices.

This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.

References

  1. Lawless, Elaine J. (1988). God's Peculiar People. University Press of Kentucky. Pentecostals, like some other Christians, call each other Brother and Sister, but for Pentecostals this tradition has special meaning. Because they do feel they are literally a family, these terms are not mere titles but are imbued with a greater intensity of meaning: “The Pentecostal church as a whole is a very, is kind of a familial feel. We call each other brothers and sisters and we are brothers and sisters. There is definitely a feeling of kinship among each other.”
  2. 1 2 Paterwic, Stephen J. (2009-09-28). The A to Z of the Shakers. Scarecrow Press. ISBN   9780810870567.
  3. "Religion Stylebook". Religion Newswriters Association. 1999. Retrieved 18 April 2016. brother: A man who has taken vows in a Christian religious, particularly Catholic or Anglican, order but is not ordained. Also, a monk or friar who is in seminary preparing for priesthood is called brother if he has taken his vows. In many traditions, especially evangelical, brother is used as a generic, friendly title.
  4. Code of Canon Law, canon 588 § 1
  5. Wooden, Cindy (September 14, 2018). "Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8". Catholic News Service. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  6. "Frequently Asked Questions". Order of Lutheran Franciscans. 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2016. For more information about how to become a brother or sister in the Order of Lutheran Franciscans, please visit our Vocations page. Following the General Rule, all sisters and brothers of this Order: make vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, pray the Daily Office, are active in their congregations, have a spiritual director, receive Holy Communion weekly, make individual confession twice a year, attend annual Chapter and regional convocations whenever possible, and financially support the life and ministry of the Order.

Further reading