What is "Consecrated Life"?
To be "Consecrated" means to be set apart for a special purpose. It refers to a state to which men and women take public vows to the Evangelical Counsels (poverty, chastity, and obedience), ordinarily within the context of a religious community (such as a monastery, convent, or friary). By taking these vows, religious men and women strive follow the Jesus' counsels in a more perfect way. As Our Lord expressly stated, they are counsels for those who desire to become "perfect" (cf. Matt. 19:10-12, Matt. 19:16-22; Matt. 5:48; Mark 10), because they most closely mirror life in heaven. It is thus that the Church gives "preeminence" to celibacy and religious life, and recognizes it an act of supererogation, that is; exceeding the minimum necessary for salvation. (nb., CCC, p. 914-945). It should also be noted that a diocesan priest, though he is celibate, does not take this tripple vow to the Evangelical Counsels, and is therefore not consecrated in this sense of the word (Though it is interesting to note, Saint Alphonsus De Ligouri demanded an even greater degree of perfection for priests; "For in the religious state, one purifies one's self of one's vices, whilst to receive Holy Orders, it is necessary that one has already led a pure and holy life").