I had a dream last night in which I was discussing the following paragraph from “A Handbook of the Religious Life”:
This autonomous vowed life has been recognised in the Eastern and Western Churches from earliest times as an authentic Christian vocation. Because it is not a life lived in community according to the norms of the Religious Life, it does not come within the normal scope of the Advisory Council; but since it has some similarities to the situation of Religious living under vows, bishops and others have frequently referred cases to the Council.The Advisory Council for Religious Communities [in the Church of England]
The discussion in my dream was about the word “autonomous”. The word is used in the Roman Code of Canon Law in regard to religious life. It is defined (by one website) as:
… having the freedom to govern itself or control its own affairs.
The Roman Code of Canon law defines it in this way:
A just autonomy of life, especially of governance, is acknowledged for individual institutes, by which they possess their own discipline in the Church and are able to preserve their own patrimony intact.Can. 586 §1.
So (to make a very long and complicated dream into a somewhat understandable post), autonomous vowed life includes freedom to govern (set up one’s own rule of life), freedom to set discipline (set up a cycle of prayer etc), and freedom to bring one’s past into the vowed life (preserve patrimony).
The autonomous vowed life is therefore freely lived in communion with one’s bishop.