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John Doe wrote:


I am a candidate for a religious order. My question revolves around my obligations in the order. Although I do a lot of activities with the order and spend a lot of time with them, I do not live with them and find it hard to be faithful with all the rules which are part of their spirituality.

It is nothing intrinsically sinful but I feel as if I may be sinning since it might constitute a sin against disobedience. I am not sure if I am even technically a member of the order. I do have a tendency to be scrupulous so it may have something to do with that. Although I haven't taken any vows, I thought it might be sinful because I am not being faithful to the vocation God has called me to.

Please help me if you can.

Thanks in advance!


  { What obligation does a candidate for an order have and have I sinned if I'm not faithful to the call? }

Mike replied:

Hi, John —

Thanks for the question and sorry it took awhile to get back to you.

To my knowledge, until you take vows with any religious order you are under no obligation.

I think there are two types of vows, one being solemn or life-long.

Within the Benedictine order, and other Catholic religious orders, if you are a candidate,
you are just testing the waters to see if you can make a life-long commitment as a Catholic religious.

It's a period of discernment for you and for the order you will be joining. There is a key family element involved here. That said if, over time, you discern that this is not your vocational calling you should not equate this discernment with any feelings with sinning in any way. Rather just continue to pray, live the sacramental life, and ask the Lord to show you what your vocation is.

Catholic religious take three vows:

  1. poverty
  2. chastity, and
  3. obedience

If you are only a candidate, you are under none of these obligations, though you should have the willingness and capability to take these vows to the best of your ability, if you indeed feel called to the religious life.

I would highly suggest you talk to the vocation's director or abbot at the religious order for which you are considering joining.

He would be able to best advise you.

Hope this helps,


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