In this article, we shall understand what is the difference between a Religious Order and a Religious Congregation. Before we dig on the details between Religious Order and Congregation, it is better to understand what a religious vow is.
What is the difference between a Religious Order and a Religious Congregation?
The members of a Religious Order make solemn vows, while the members of a Religious Congregation make simple vows. From the point of view of juridical effects of vows, there lies a difference between the simple and solemn vows.
The present Code of Canon Law describes the only distinction between solemn vow and simple vow in the following manner: «A vow is solemn if the Church has recognized it as such; otherwise, it is simple» (can. 1192 §2). Members whether they solemn vow or simple, continue to remain as religious with no difference in their state of life.
What is the difference between a temporal and permanent vow?
There is no any difference with regard to the juridical effects they entail. The only difference is that the temporal vows are indefinitive, i.e., they have their binding force over the members only to a definitive period of time in the Institute. Once the defined period of time is over, the members of the Institute are no longer bound by the rights and obligations of the institute. On the other hand, permanent vows bind the members of the Institute for the entire life without any expiry.
How do we understand a vow?
A vow is a sacred promise made to God; and the intention must be permanent at the time of making the religious profession both from the part of the religious himself of herself as well as from the part of the Institute, otherwise the vow will be invalid. It is that difference made by vow which is inexplainable at least from the theological point of view. It is God who consecrates the person, and this consecration happens from the moment of making the first vows itself.
As regards the time, the consecration happens at the moment of making the first vow itself with which the state of life of a person pronouncing the vow changes and also changes one’s relationship with the Institute. It means that the persons truly and actually become the members of the religious Institute and acquire the right and duty in accordance with the constitution of the Institute.
In the past, the members of the Religious Order took the solemn vows. While the members of the Religious Congregation took the simple vows. For more information on the Solemn and Simple vows, please read the following link.