The Symbolic Significance of Religious Life: An Open Question. Since Vatican II, life in a religious order is no longer seen as a way of perfection in contrast to the other Christians. Theologically its character is of symbolic significance for the church. This creates the problem that the ontological comparative attributed to religious life is relocated to a real-symbolic level. This article tries to determine the character of the sign in view of the alterity of God. It is argued, that the understanding of the vita religiosa should not be narrowed down to different Christian estates.