The Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, a Congregation that has been in existence for almost 500 years and is responsible for everything concerning the government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges of these societies issued a document in 1983 that clearly listed and examined the essential elements of authentic consecrated life. This document, titled Essential Elements in the Church's Teaching on Religious Life as Applied to Institutes Dedicated to Works of the Apostolate, states that:
The Church regards certain elements as essential to religious life: the call of God and consecration to him through profession of the evangelical counsels by public vows; a stable form of community life: for institutes dedicated to apostolic works, a sharing in Christ's mission by a corporate apostolate faithful to a specific founding gift and sound tradition; personal and community prayer; asceticism; public witness; a specific relation to the Church; a life-long formation; and a form of government calling for religious authority based on faith. Historical and cultural changes bring about evolution in the lived reality, but the forms and direction that the evolution takes are determined by the essential elements without which religious life loses its identity (EE 4).
Father Dubay ends his reflection by considering the necessary ability to live the consecrated life. "The final sign is capability. When God gives the celibate gift, he also gives the physical, mental, and moral health necessary to actualize it in a specific lifestyle. Necessary health need not mean absolute perfection, but it does mean a basic sufficiency. Each institute determines the minimal capabilities required for its life and work." Each of these four signs is a necessary component of that call of God of which the soul's response is the profession of public vows.