Within religious life there is a huge diversity of lifestyles and charisms. There is no single way to be a nun or sister or monk or brother. Such diversity is a good thing for the Church and world for it allows the different gifts of the Spirit to be manifest and used in response to the needs of the world. I am reminded of Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where he talks about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Read on, and as you do, consider how different communities have different gifts.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be?

1 Corinthians 12:4-19

When looking at religious life and particular religious communities, I believe this is a good framework to use. The Church and world would be poorer if all religious had to look the same, dress the same, minister the same, or pray the same.