by Jenna Legg
I realize that I often talk about Precious Blood Spirituality, but I'm not sure I ever quite defined spirituality. Many religious communities have charisms or apostolates, but even those are different than spiritualities. So, here's a crash course on what a spirituality is, at least when I speak out it!
Spirituality - Spirituality is often thought of as a lens in which we view and live our faith; for instance, a person may have a Franciscan, Jesuit or Precious Blood spirituality. Each is a different personality of the same Catholic faith. They may focus on different aspects of our faith, but all are Catholic.
Charism - Charisms are gifts from the Holy Spirit, given to build up the Church. In terms of religious life, charisms are the particular gift or reason that inspired the founder(s) of a community to begin. Within a spirituality, there can be multiple charisms but usually they're very similar.
Apostolate - Work, ministry or service that is directed as serving and/or evangelizing the world, based on our call to be disciples of Christ; Some religious communities have a certain apostolate that all members participate in, such as education or health care.
If you are confused, it's okay. Each of these concepts are intrinsically linked; there will always be some overlap. Perhaps an example will help.
When we talk about Precious Blood Spirituality, we are talking about a particular way of living our faith, a faith personality. We emphasize the paschal mystery, the suffering and the love-gift wrapped up in cross, urging reconciliation. Within that spirituality, many charisms can surface. For instance, one Precious Blood community has a focus on Eucharistic Adoration; another promotes the Sacrament of reconciliation; and another evangelizes through focusing on the Precious Blood.
Within the charisms, apostolates may arise. While not as common in the United States anymore, some religious communities invite all members to become teachers or nurses. In some sense, we each have our own apostolate, our own ministry that we are called to undertake for the good of the Church and the world.
The Sisters of the Precious Blood are somewhat unique in that we don't necessarily have charism or apostolate. We simply invite women to live Precious Blood Spirituality under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. If a woman feels called to frequent Eucharistic Adoration, she is able to pray in that way. If a woman is a particularly drawn to justice efforts of racial reconciliation, she is free to minister in that way. And another woman may be called to teach and proclaim God's reconciling love in her ministry as a teacher.
This may be freeing to women who are exploring religious life, but others may be overwhelmed at the choices available to them. It's important to know yourself and what will guide you and your ministry.