A guided tour through the fascinating history of Catholic religious orders From their monastic prehistory in the Egyptian desert through their political heyday in Medieval and Renaissance Europe to their present-day work of education, human care, and the pursuit of social justice, the Catholic religious orders have been a driving force in Western civilization. In The Lord as Their Portion Elizabeth Rapley paints a broad portrait of the full spectrum of religious orders spanning the vast canvas of their history. Rapley shows how religious orders led the way in learning and inventiveness throughout the early periods of Western civilization. She explores how religious orders contributed to Western politics and the global spread of Christianity. She examines the ways in which religious orders have championed the poor, marginalized, and disenfranchised throughout history and gives attention the ongoing work of religious orders today. More than simply highlighting the sweeping progress of monasticism's past and present, however, Rapley also takes time to share, in a clear and engaging fashion, the fascinating stories of many of the men and women who chose to take the Lord as their portion and whose piety, devotion, and energetic pursuit of a holy life profoundly shaped the course of history."