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Paulist Press


The end of this volume is also the end of a project which has taken almost twelve years to complete, namely, an examination, interdisciplinary analysis, and spirituality oriented theological interpretation of Catholic Religious Life as it has emerged and is continuing to develop from the renewal of Vatican II, and is now manifesting itself with ever-increasing confidence as a renewed and transformed reality in the Church. This renewing lifeform is both deeply continuous with its two-thousand-year history and startlingly different from anything anyone alive today knew as Religious Life until close to the last quarter of the twentieth century. The conciliar renewal has transformed Religious Life which is, in turn, transforming the conciliar renewal from a dream of the heart to an incarnation of hope, not only in Religious Life itself but in the Church as a whole.

When I entitled the work Religious Life in a New Millennium I had no idea it would be more than one volume in length and never suspected it would take more than the first decade of the new millennium to complete. But as this final volume goes to press I discern the breath of the Spirit of God in what has often seemed me rely interminable human impediments to finishing the project. If the work had not been able (indeed forced) to take account of the developments of the last decade it would be far less adequate as a treatment of con temporary Religious Life and probably much less usable for the immediate future. The last few years in particular have seen a weaving together, partly under adverse ecclesiastical pressure on American women Religious,1 but mainly through the increasingly confident appropriation by Religious of what they have been living and becoming since the Council, of many experimental strands into a strong fabric whose pattern is increasingly clear and hopeful. There is today a new sense among many Religious of identity, solidarity, and enthusiasm for the future that feels like the "end of the beginning" of renewal and the beginning of a transformed maturity in the history of this life. This writing project began at the turn of the millennium with the publication of the first volume in 2000 and it will be completed, fittingly enough, with the publication of this third volume in 2013, during the golden jubilee of the Second Vatican Council.

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Buying the Field: Catholic Religious Life in Mission to the World


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