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Liturgical Press

A Different Touch

A Study of Vows in Religious Life

Judith A. Merkle, SNDdeN

A Different Touch
A Different Touch

ISBN: 9780814624654, 2465

Details: 304 pgs, 5 3/8 x 8 1/4
Publication Date: 04/01/1998

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A Different Touch speaks of the challenges of religious life today where the essentials of Christian living and union with God are still sought via a "different touch."

Reflecting on the history of religious life since the nineteenth century, Sr. Judith Merkle, SNDdeN, asks such questions as: What makes this different touch? How do vows shape the ongoing adult development of a religious? What relevance and witness do vows have in our world today? She then examines core theological understandings which underlie vows and uses recent studies in ecology, evolutionary thought, and psychology to address questions in religious life in the broader paradigm of Church and culture. She suggests directions for the future, yet also encourages religious to articulate their way of life in society and the Church.

A Different Touch looks at the relationship of Christian lifestyle and the place of religious life in the matrix of Christian living, and then comments individually on the traditional vows of religious life to show how they shape the development of a religious. A section on "New Times" for poverty, obedience, and celibacy relates each vow to current cultural and socio-political issues.

A Different Touch will be helpful to formation programs and to religious orders with programs in theological renewal and study of vows. It can be used as a university textbook on courses in Christian life or religious life. Individuals will find it stimulating for personal reflection or ongoing formation.

Religious life is a different touch, a distinctive lifestyle in the Church. It is also a "way" on the common road of conversion undertaken by the entire people of God. A Different Touch invites readers on a journey of understanding along this way.

Part I is "Cultural Questions." Chapters are "Lifestyle Issues," "Which Way Is Ahead?" "Beyond Progress: Ecological Wisdom," and "Toward a New Vision." Part II is "Theological Foundations." Chapters are "Freeing Freedom," "Getting Direction From Heaven or the Human Heart?" and "The Reach of Salvation." Part III is "Foundations of the Vows." Chapters are "A Different Touch," "Touched by God," and "A Framework for Loving." Part IV is "History." Chapters are "Hearts for a New Age," "New Forms of Energy," and "Towards a New Synthesis." Part V is "The Vows." Chapters are "Poverty: The Transformation of Desires," "Poverty: Beyond Isolation," "New Times for Poverty," "Obedience: An Affair of the Heart," "Obedience as Affective Bonding," "Obedience: A Path of Becoming," "New Times for Obedience," "Celibacy: From Ambiguity to Integrity," "Faces of Sexual Integration," "From Cost to Consolation," and "New Times for Celibacy." Judith A. Merkle, SNDdeN, PhD, teaches religious studies at Niagara University, New York. A graduate of the University of St. Michael's College, Toronto, Canada, she is a frequent lecturer to religious congregations and writes on religious life. Among her writings is Committed by Choice: Religious Life Today, also published by The Liturgical Press.


. . . challenges us to the faith and honesty needed to recognize the light and hope of God's Spirit in this confusing and difficult time for religious life. Her honesty avoids no tough issues and yet helps us to answer a resounding yes to the crucial question: will we preserve religious life for the next generation?
George Aschenbrenner, SJ, Jesuit Spiritual Center, Wernersville, PA

In exploring the Different Touch of religious life, Judith Merkle herself brings a different touch through her exploration of the vows in the light of faith, ecology, history and human development. . . . Beyond simple relevances, Merkle presents a strong case for religious life as an option in today's world. She challenges religious to live lives of committed love so that religious life may truly live on.
Miriam D. Ukertis CSJ

Author Judith Merkle blends scholarship and personal insight to good effect in her searching account of religious life today. This book is a welcome addition to the small but growing number of significant studies of a dimension of the Church's life which has undergone unprecedented change. The author has read widely and reflected wisely. She offers a valuable conceptual framework for those committed to developing the future of religious life. Highly recommended!
Sr. Doris Gottemoeller, RSM, President, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas