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Home » Share Life With Us » Frequently Asked Questions / Glossary

Frequently Asked Questions / Glossary

Frequently Asked Questions / Glossary

We realize you may have lots of questions about religious life. You’re not alone. To get you started, take a look at our most frequently asked questions. If you have others, use the form below to send them directly to our vocation director, Lori Benge.

Glossary of Religious Terms

We know that religious life often uses a different language. There are lots of words and phrases that may be new to you. Don’t worry, we’re here to help with a glossary of our frequently used terms. If you can’t find the word you’re looking for, send Lori an email.


In the context of consecrated religious life, apostolic religious communities, such as the Adorers, are engaged for the most part in active ministries. While prayer and community life are important to them, their members serve in a variety of ways: teaching, parish ministry, health care, social work, care for the elderly, work with young people, service to the poor, and many others.


Assembly is a yearly gathering of Adorers from all over the country to make decisions about policy and leadership, further the ASC mission, and discuss the direction of the community. It is also an important and enjoyable time for sisters, sojourners, associates, and co-workers to connect with each other.


Associates are lay persons who participate in the spiritual life and share the charism and mission of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. Their membership spans the U.S. and also the world. Associates participate in monthly meetings in their local geographic area and are invited to other ASC community gatherings.


Since the time of early Christianity, Baptism has been the rite of initiation into the Christian community of the Church. In Baptism, the “one Spirit” makes us members of the Body of Christ and of “one another.” 

Our Baptismal Call is how as baptized Christians we live our life and share our gifts by following God’s will.


A candidate is a woman who has officially been accepted to discern a vocation with the Adorers. This stage allows discerning women to live within the community to better understand themselves and religious life.


The Adorers of the Blood of Christ United States Region was formed when three provinces joined together in 2000. What we call “centers” are the former motherhouses of each province and still serve as the center of life and prayer in the local Adorer communities. Our three centers are located in Ruma, Illinois; Wichita, Kansas; and Columbia, Pennsylvania.

Mission Center

The Mission Center is located in St. Louis, Missouri, and serves as the U.S. Regional offices for community leadership, vocation ministry, communication, human resources, finance, maintenance and other areas of our operation.


A charism is a religious community’s particular spirit, way of life, and focus, which grows out of its history, traditions, and founder. From the Greek word charisma, “gift.”


Contemplative religious communities are often cloistered or partially cloistered— that is, they live separated from the rest of the world to be more focused on prayer, including prayer for the needs of the world. As cloistered religious, they rarely leave their monasteries, and all or most of their work is done within the monastery itself, depending on the degree to which they are cloistered.

Consecrated Life

A life set apart specially to serve God fully. Characterized by making public vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Often used interchangeably with “religious life.”


Members of contemplative religious communities focus on prayer, especially the Mass, praying daily together the Liturgy of the Hours, and individual prayer such as lectio divina, the prayerful reading of scripture. They tend to live in greater solitude than apostolic communities so that they can better direct their prayer and work toward contemplation, though some communities that consider themselves contemplative are also engaged in some active apostolic ministries.


A covenant is a sacred and binding agreement made in love between persons or between persons and God.


Discernment is a process of prayerful reflection and praying about how to respond to God’s call. It can apply to an individual or a community who wishes to understand God’s call at a given time or in a particular circumstance of life. It involves listening to God in all the ways God communicates with us: in prayer, in the scriptures, through the Church and the world, in personal experience, and in other people.


The Eucharist is another name for Holy Communion. The term comes from the Greek by way of Latin, and it means “thanksgiving.” It is used in three ways: first, it refers to the Real Presence of Christ; second, it refers to Christ’s continuing action as High Priest (He “gave thanks” at the Last Supper, which began the consecration of the bread and wine); and third, it refers to the Sacrament of Holy Communion itself.


Formation is the beginning of the process of education and spiritual development that takes place over a lifetime.

Lay person

A lay person is a non-ordained member of the Church.


Ministry is the use of a person’s gifts and talents, time and energy in the service of others or a cause. It may involve the exercise of roles designated by the Church to fulfill its mission in different works of service, such as in worship, teaching, leadership, the sacraments and stewardship. More broadly, ministry is an individual’s service to others.


Mission means being sent. The mission of the Church is to proclaim and witness to the Kingdom of God, as Jesus did. The mission of religious communities refers to the purpose for which they exist within the Church especially as this finds expression in living the charism of the community and its founder.

Missionary communities focus their lives on spreading the Gospel to other countries or areas of their own country in need of evangelization. These communities serve in many different places in a variety of ministries such as preaching, teaching, service, and other forms of witness among the people with whom they live.


Monastic communities fall somewhere between apostolic and cloistered. Monastic men and women place a high value on prayer and living in community, but many are also engaged in active ministries. Monasticism centers on community life, work, common and individual prayer.


A novice is a man or woman in the initial stage of entering a religious community. The novice is typically involved in discernment, preparation, and formation activities, including study of the order’s charism, history, constitution, and way of life. This period usually lasts from 12 to 24 months and is called the novitiate. At its end, the novice can go on to take temporary vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.


Although people use the terms nun and sister interchangeably, technically a nun belongs to a contemplative order, lives in a monastery, and devotes the majority of her time to prayer for the good of the world.


All baptized persons are called to listen to God so as to know God’s call and God’s will in their lives. Men and women who vow or promise obedience commit themselves to listening to God’s call as it is heard through their leaders and communities, and to responding faithfully to this call.


A postulant is a man or woman requesting and still discerning membership in a religious community before becoming a novice. The period of postulancy usually lasts six months to two years. The Adorers use the term “Candidate” to describe someone who goes through a Candidacy process.


All baptized persons are called to a reverent appreciation of the resources available to them. Women and men who vow poverty commit themselves to living simply, to sharing all things in common and not exercising ownership over things, for the good of their religious community and its mission in the Church.

Precious Blood Spirituality

The spirituality of the Blood of Christ calls us to be a reconciling and hope-filled presence in the world today. It calls us to be wholly consecrated to the adoring and redeeming love of Jesus Christ, who shed his blood to free us from sin and reconcile us in love. Therefore we are called to be a reconciling presence to others through love and charity; “charity toward God and toward our dear neighbor.” (St. Maria De Mattias)


Profession is the religious rite in which a person formally enters a religious community by taking vows. Profession follows a formation program of discernment, education, and spiritual development.

Religious Life

Religious or consecrated life refers to the vocation of men and women who choose to dedicate themselves to God through profession in a religious community. Religious life usually involves these women or men joining a religious community and sharing in a common life of prayer and service, according to the spirit and charism of their founder and mission in the Church.


The Catholic Church recognize seven religious rites or sacraments: Baptism, the Eucharist, Confirmation, Penance (now often called the sacrament of reconciliation), Matrimony, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick. The sacraments are signs instituted and given to the Church by Christ. In the sacraments, we meet Christ, and he gives us sanctifying grace, a free gift of God.


A sister is a woman who belongs to an apostolic religious community, that is, a community that is involved in active ministry, such as education, justice, healthcare, parish work, advocacy, and social service.


Sojourners are a regional community of lay persons who commit to a Gospel lifestyle and take promises of simplicity, unconditional love, and covenant. As an expression of the primary commitment, they are called to live out and deepen the ASC charism and Precious Blood spirituality as the Sojourners Community within the larger ASC Community.

Spiritual Direction

Spiritual direction is a process of periodic meetings with a spiritual director who offers advice and encouragement for deepening and strengthening directees’ relationship with God and discerning where God may be leading them.

Temporary Professed

Temporary professed is a step in the formation process following novice. Women have temporarily taken vows in order to live fully as a sister in preparation for final vows.


In baptism, each person is called by God to follow Jesus in a life of holiness and service. This call may be lived out in different vocations such as single life, marriage, or as a sister, brother or priest.

Vocation Director 

A vocation director is designated by a religious institute to promote vowed membership, to help others discern their vocation, and to oversee the application process of new members entering the community as a candidate. They assist those who are considering the possibility of religious life by providing support, discernment counseling, and information. The Adorers’ Vocation Director is Lori Benge. She is a great resource for all questions you have and is always available for a no-pressure conversation. 


A vow is a free and deliberate commitment and an act of devotion made by a person to God. As members of religious communities, sisters, brothers and priests take vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. Many communities add a fourth or fifth vow related to their charism.

Start the Conversation

Discernment can feel daunting, but you’re never alone. We are here to walk this journey with you. No question is too small and we’d love to hear from you! Call or email anytime, or use the form below to get in touch.

Lori Benge
Vocations Director