Wishing to follow Christ more freely, we tend toward holiness by a narrower path. The consecrated life is the fruition of the baptismal grace. The consecrated virgin is set apart for the Lord. The voluntary gift of self by which we devote ourselves to God and strengthen our brethren becomes the source of tranquil peace. By our consecrated life we teach the way to holiness and joy. (Constitutions of the Congregation)
During the Mass of Religious Profession, we profess by public vow the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Though all baptized persons are called to live these counsels according to their particular state in life, consecrated persons are called to live them in a more radical way. As religious, we are invited by God to live out our baptismal consecration more fully, dedicating ourselves wholly to God. Certainly material possessions, marital love and personal freedom are wonderful goods, given by God; but He calls some persons, for the sake of the whole Church, to surrender these goods to Him in an act of worship so that we may love and serve Him alone.
This gift of self is made possible only because God has given first. We dedicate ourselves to Him through the vows because He has first consecrated us; that is, He has set us apart to be wholly His. This consecration begins in the Sacrament of Baptism, in which we are given, along with sanctifying grace, the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Through our religious profession of the three vows, we return to God each of these gifts given to us in Baptism.