THE CONSECRATED LIFE
A vocation to the Consecrated Life is a gift from God the Father to the Church, rooted in the example and teaching of Christ, and given through the power of the Holy Spirit
[Vita Consecrata, §1].
The Glossary of The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines consecration as,"The dedication of a thing or person to Divine service by a prayer or blessing."
The 1983 Code of Canon Law writes of this dedication as it applies to consecrated persons in the following way:
"The life consecrated through the profession of the evangelical counsels is 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 honor, 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."
Canon 573 §1
A consecrated person, dedicated to serving God, builds up the Church by assisting all to attain their eternal salvation. As they are perfected by their love of God and neighbor they become a sign of the heavenly kingdom.
In the Church there are the following forms of Institutes of Consecrated Life: Religious brothers, sisters, and priests; hermits/anchorites/virgins; members of Societies of Apostolic Life and Secular Institutes. The Code of Canon Law refers to the distinctness of each type of Consecrated Life in the following manner:
"In the Church there are a great many institutes of consecrated life which have different gifts according to the grace which has been given them: they more closely follow Christ who prays, or announces the kingdom of God, or does good to people, or lives with people in the world, yet who always does the will of the Father."