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according to the canonical gospels
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The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity are chastity, poverty (or perfect charity), and obedience.As Jesus stated in the canonical gospels, they are counsels for those who desire to become "perfect" (τελειος, cf. Matthew 19:21, see also Strong's G5046 and Imitatio dei). The Catholic Church interprets this to mean that they are not binding upon all and hence not necessary conditions to attain eternal life (heaven). Rather they are "acts of supererogation" that exceed the minimum stipulated in the Commandments in the Bible. Catholics that have made a public profession to order their life by the evangelical counsels, and confirmed this by a public religious vow before their competent church authority (the act of religious commitment called "profession"), are recognised as members of the consecrated life.
There are early forms of religious vows in the Christian monastic traditions. The Rule of Saint Benedict (ch. 58.17) stipulates for its adherents what has come to be known as the "Benedictine vow", which to this day is made by the candidates joining Benedictine communities, promising "stability, conversion of manners and obedience". Religious vows in the form of the three evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience were first made in the twelfth century by Francis of Assisi and his followers, the first of the mendicant orders. These vows are made now by the members of all Roman Catholic religious institutes founded subsequently (cf. 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 573) and constitute the basis of their other regulations of their life and conduct.[ citation needed ]
Members of religious institutes confirm their intention to observe the evangelical counsels by making a "public" vow,that is, a vow that the superior of the religious institute accepts in the name of the Church. Outside the consecrated life Christians are free to make a private vow to observe one or more of the evangelical counsels; but a "private" vow does not have the same binding and other effects in church law as a "public" vow and does not bestow the spiritual benefits that spiritual teachers such as Dom Columba Marmion (cf. Christ the Ideal of the Monk, ch. VI) attribute to the religious "profession".
A young man in the Gospel asked what he should do to obtain eternal life, and Jesus told him to "keep the commandments", but when the young man pressed further, Christ told him: "If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor". (It is from this passage that the term "counsel of perfection" comes.) Again in the Gospels, Jesus speaks of "eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven", and added "He that can receive it, let him receive it". St. Paul presses home the duty incumbent on all Christians of keeping free from all sins of the flesh, and of fulfilling the obligations of the married state, if they have taken those obligations upon themselves, but also gives his "counsel" in favor of the unmarried state and of perfect chastity (Celibacy), on the ground that it is thus more possible to serve God with an undivided allegiance.
Indeed, the danger in the Early Church, even in Apostolic times, was not that the "counsels" would be neglected or denied, but that they should be exalted into commands of universal obligation, "forbidding to marry" (1 Timothy 4:3), and imposing poverty as a duty on all.
These counsels have been analyzed as a way to keep the world from distracting the soul, on the grounds that the principal good things of this world easily divide themselves into three classes. There are the riches which make life easy and pleasant, there are the pleasures of the flesh which appeal to the appetites, and, lastly, there are honors and positions of authority which delight the self-love of the individual. These three matters, in themselves often innocent and not forbidden to the devout Christian, may yet, even when no kind of sin is involved, hold back the soul from its true aim and vocation, and delay it from becoming entirely conformed to the will of God. It is, therefore, the object of the three counsels of perfection to free the soul from these hindrances. The love of riches is opposed by the counsel of poverty, the pleasures of the flesh (even the lawful pleasures of holy matrimony) are excluded by the counsel of chastity, while the desire for worldly power and honor is met by the counsel of holy obedience. Abstinence from unlawful indulgence in any of these directions is expected of all Christians as a matter of precept. The further voluntary abstinence from what is in itself lawful is the subject of the counsels, and such abstinence is not in itself meritorious, but only becomes so when it is done for the sake of Christ, and in order to be more free to serve him.
The Catholic Encyclopedia article ends with the following summary:
To sum up: it is possible to be rich, and married, and held in honour by all men, and yet keep the Commandments and to enter heaven. Christ's advice is, if we would make sure of everlasting life and desire to conform ourselves perfectly to the Divine will, that we should sell our possessions and give the proceeds to others who are in need, that we should live a life of chastity for the Gospel's sake, and, finally, should not seek honours or commands, but place ourselves under obedience. These are the Evangelical Counsels, and the things which are counselled are not set forward so much as good in themselves, as in the light of means to an end and as the surest and quickest way of obtaining everlasting life.
In a 1523 essay, Martin Luther criticized the Church for its doctrine that the evangelical counsels were supererogatory, arguing that the two-tiered system was a sophistic corruption of the teaching of Christ, intended to accommodate the vices of the aristocracy:
You are perturbed over Christ's injunction in Matthew 5, "Do not resist evil, but make friends with your accuser; and if any one should take your coat, let him have your cloak as well." ... The sophists in the universities have also been perplexed by these texts. ... In order not to make heathen of the princes, they taught that Christ did not demand these things but merely offered them as advice or counsel to those who would be perfect. So Christ had to become a liar and be in error in order that the princes might come off with honor, for they could not exalt the princes without degrading Christ—wretched blind sophists that they are. And their poisonous error has spread thus to the whole world until everyone regards these teachings of Christ not as precepts binding on all Christians alike but as mere counsels for the perfect.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer argues that the interpretation of the evangelical counsels as supererogatory acquiesces in what he calls "cheap grace", lowering the standard of Christian teaching:
The difference between ourselves and the rich young man is that he was not allowed to solace his regrets by saying: "Never mind what Jesus says, I can still hold on to my riches, but in a spirit of inner detachment. Despite my inadequacy I can take comfort in the thought that God has forgiven me my sins and can have fellowship with Christ in faith." But no, he went away sorrowful. Because he would not obey, he could not believe. In this the young man was quite honest. He went away from Jesus and indeed this honesty had more promise than any apparent communion with Jesus based on disobedience.
Celibacy is the state of voluntarily being unmarried, sexually abstinent, or both, usually for religious reasons. It is often in association with the role of a religious official or devotee. In its narrow sense, the term celibacy is applied only to those for whom the unmarried state is the result of a sacred vow, act of renunciation, or religious conviction. In a wider sense, it is commonly understood to only mean abstinence from sexual activity.
Chastity is a virtue related to temperance. Someone who is chaste refrains either from sexual activity considered immoral or any sexual activity, according to their state of life. In some contexts, for example when making a vow of chastity, chastity would mean the same as celibacy.
Perfectæ caritatis, subtitled as the Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, is the document issued by the Second Vatican Council which deals specifically with institutes of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church. One of the shorter documents of the council, the decree was approved by a vote of 2,321 to 4 of the assembled bishops, and promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 28 October 1965. As is customary for Roman Catholic ecclesiastical documents, the title is taken from the first words (incipit) of the decree: "of Perfect Charity" in Latin.
Sanctification is the act or process of acquiring sanctity, of being made or becoming holy.
In the Catholic Church, a religious order is a community of consecrated life with members that profess solemn vows. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law, they are classed as a type of religious institute.
In the Catholic Church, a religious profession is the solemn admission of men or women into consecrated life by means of the pronouncement of religious vows, typically the evangelical counsels.
Religious vows are the public vows made by the members of religious communities pertaining to their conduct, practices, and views.
The Articles of Religion are an official doctrinal statement of Methodism. John Wesley abridged the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, removing the Calvinistic parts among others, reflecting Wesley's Arminian theology.
A religious is, in the terminology of many Western Christian denominations, such as the Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion, what in common language one would call a "monk" or "nun", as opposed to an ordained "priest". A religious may also be a priest if he has undergone ordination, but in general he is not.
In the Catholic Church, the vow of obedience is one of the vows of professing to live according to the evangelical counsels. It forms part of the religious vows made both by the members of religious communities and hermits.
Consecrated life is a state of life in the Catholic Church lived by those faithful who are called to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it "is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church". The Code of Canon Law defines it as "a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that, having been dedicated by a new and special title to his honour, to the building up of the Church, and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and, having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory."
The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are a missionary congregation in the Catholic Church. It was founded in 1854 by Servant of God Jules Chevalier (1824–1907) at Issoudun, France, in the Diocese of Bourges.
Heroic virtue is a phrase coined by Augustine of Hippo to describe the virtue of early Christian martyrs and used by the Catholic Church. The Greek pagan term hero described a person with possibly superhuman abilities and great goodness, and "it connotes a degree of bravery, fame, and distinction which places a man high above his fellows". The term was later applied to other highly virtuous persons who do extraordinary good works.
An institute of consecrated life is an association of faithful in the Catholic Church erected by canon law whose members profess the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience by vows or other sacred bonds. They are defined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law under canons 573–730.
The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are a religious congregation of priests and brothers in the Latin Church, one of the 23 sui iuris churches which make up the Catholic Church which is led by the Bishop of Rome. They are named after the apparition of Our Lady of La Salette in France. There is also a parallel religious community of sisters called the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette. A lay fraternal group of associates also works in cooperation with the vowed religious. The Missionaries are dedicated to making known the message of Our Lady of La Salette, a call to healing of inner brokenness and personal reconciliation with God, especially as found in the first three commandments. The missionaries are popularly known as "the La Salettes."
Biblical law refers to the legal aspects of the Bible, the holy scriptures of Judaism and Christianity.
The Mosaic covenant or Law of Moses – which Christians generally call the "Old Covenant" – has played an important role in the origins of Christianity and has occasioned serious dispute and controversy since the beginnings of Christianity: note for example Jesus' teaching of the Law during his Sermon on the Mount and the circumcision controversy in early Christianity.
The Missionaries of the Company of Mary is a missionary religious congregation within the Catholic Church. The community was founded by Saint Louis de Montfort in 1705 with the recruitment of his first missionary disciple, Mathurin Rangeard. The congregation is made up of priests and brothers who serve both in the native lands and in other countries. The Montfortian Family comprises three groups: the Company of Mary, the Daughters of Wisdom and the Brothers of Saint Gabriel.
A religious institute is a type of institute of consecrated life in the Catholic Church where its members take religious vows and lead a life in community with fellow members. Religious institutes are one of the two types of institutes of consecrated life; the other is that of the secular institute, where its members are "living in the world".
Holy Obedience is a dogma in the Catholic Church that means two things: 1) Jesus' obedience unto death that makes atonement and reparation for mankind's disobedience (sins) and 2) Christian obedience to Jesus and to the Catholic Church in imitation of and share in Jesus' obedience.