Jacques Maritain Center : Catechism of the Summa Theologica


What is the essence of the virtue of patience?

The essence of patience consists in supporting, for the sake of the future life, all the troubles that come to us unceasingly in the present life, whether they be caused by life's own whims or by the actions of others in their dealings with us (CXXXVI. 1).

Is patience the same as longanimity and constancy?

No; for although all three help us to bear the miseries of this life, patience helps us to bear especially the troubles which come about daily in our dealings with others; whereas longanimity bears us up against those troubles which arise from the delay of the realization of something for which we have to wait; and constancy buoys us up against the troubles which we encounter in the struggle to do good (CXXXVI. 5).


What relation has perseverance to the virtues aforementioned?

Perseverance does not refer to the bearing up under troubles; it refers rather to the fatigue occasioned by the sustained effort of practising a virtuous life (CXXXVII. 1-3).

Are there any sins opposed to this virtue?

Yes, they are the lack of resistance or effeminacy, which makes one give way to the least difficulty or to the least fatigue; and obstinacy, which makes one persist in not giving way when it is reasonable to do so. (CXXXVIII. 1,2).


Is there a gift of fortitude which corresponds to the virtue of fortitude?

Yes, it is the gift which bears the same name and is called the gift of fortitude (CXXXIX.).

In what precisely does the gift of fortitude differ from the virtue of fortitude?

In a few words it differs in this wise: Like the virtue, the gift has to do with fear and in some sort with courage. But whilst fear and courage, which the virtue of fortitude regulates, only refer to dangers which it is in the power of man to overcome, fear and courage, which the gift of fortitude excites, refer to perils or evils which it is absolutely impossible for man to overcome; death separates us from all the goods of the present life without it itself being able to give the only one good superior to all and, indeed, such as is infinitely above them all, carrying with it all good to the exclusion of all evil, viz., the actual possession of eternal life. This substitution of eternal life for all the miseries of the present life, in spite of all its difficulties and dangers and even of death itself, which is the complement of them all, is exclusively due to the action of the Holy Spirit Himself. This is the reason why it belongs to Him only to move the soul of man effectively towards this supreme acquisition, in such way that a strong and unfailing confidence takes hold of man, making him steadfast in the presence of the greatest fear and even to approach death itself fearlessly, not indeed to be conquered thereby, but to triumph: and it is by the gift of fortitude that man is thus moved by the Holy Ghost. In truth one may describe the proper effect of this gift as the victory over death (CXXXIX. 1).


Are there any precepts in the divine law that refer to the virtue of fortitude?

Yes, there are precepts of this kind as is meet. For especially in the New Law, in which everything is done in order to make man fix his mind on God, man is forbidden under the form of a negative precept to fear temporal evils; and under the form of a positive precept he is commanded to fight unintermittingly his worst enemy, who is the Devil (CXL. 1).

Are the precepts relating to the other virtues which are annexed to fortitude equally given in the divine law?

Yes; with regard to the other virtues only precepts (and these positive) are given that have reference to patience and perseverance that bear upon the ordinary occurrences of life; but as regards magnificence and magnanimity which bear upon things that belong rather to the order of perfection, no precepts are given but only counsels (CXL. 2).



What is the last of the great moral virtues which perfects man's life in his journey towards God?

It is the virtue of temperance (CXLI.-CLXX.).

What is understood by the virtue of temperance?

It is that virtue which keeps man's sensitive appetite within the bounds of reason so that it may not be carried away by pleasures, particularly those that refer to the sense of touch in those acts that are necessary for the conservation of bodily life (CXL. 1-5).

Of what kind of pleasures is there question?

Of the pleasures of the table and of marriage (CXLI. 4).

What name is given to the virtue of temperance when it refers to the pleasures of the table?

It is called abstinence or sobriety (CXLVI., CXLIX.).

What precisely is abstinence?

It is that which regulates the sensitive appetite with regard to eating and drinking so that this be done in conformity with what reason demands (CXLVI. 1).

Under what special form may one practise the virtue of abstinence?

Under the form that is called fasting (CXLVII.).

What is fasting?

Fasting is doing without a part of what is normally required for each day's food (CXLVII. 1, 2).

But is it not wrong to do this?

No; on the contrary to fast may be a most excellent thing, for it serves to keep concupiscence under control; to make the mind more free to occupy itself with the things of God; and to make satisfaction for sin (CXLVII. 1).

What conditions are required for fasting to be a good and excellent thing?

In this matter one must always be ruled by discretion and prudence, and there must be no danger to health, and it must not prove an obstacle to duty (CXLVII. 1, Obj. 2).

Is everyone who has attained the use of reason bound to fast?

Yes, everyone who has attained the use of reason is bound to some sort of fasting or of some privation proportionate to the demand of the virtue; but not to the fasting prescribed by the Church (CXLVII. 3, 4).

What is understood by the fasting that is prescribed by the Church?

It is a form of fasting specially fixed by the Church for those who have attained a certain age that has to be undertaken on certain days of the year (CXLVII. 5-8).

In what does this special form of fasting consist?

It consists in this, that only one full meal is allowed during the day (CXLVII. 6).

Is the time or the hour of this meal absolutely fixed?

No; for this repast may be taken at midday or in the evening.

May one take anything outside this repast?

Yes; in the morning one may take some little food, and in the evening also by way of collation (Code, 1251).

Who are bound to the fast prescribed by the Church?

All baptized Christians who have attained their twenty-first year until they have attained the fifty-ninth year completed (Code, 1254).

Given these conditions may one yet have the right not to fast?

Yes, whenever health or work manifestly forbid that one should fast; or if there be doubt on this point whenever legitimate authority dispenses from fasting (CLXVII. 4).

Who may give such dispensation?

In practice it is sufficient to ask for it from our immediate ecclesiastical superior.

What are the days on which one is bound to the Church fast?

They are all the days of Lent except Sundays; Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays of the Ember weeks; the vigils of Pentecost, of the Assumption, of All Saints, and of Christmas. If these vigils fall on Sunday one is not bound to anticipate them (Code, 1252).

Is there a law of the Church concerning abstinence distinct from the law of fasting?

Yes; and the law obliges abstaining from flesh meat and its products on all Fridays of the year, and during Lent on Ash Wednesday, and on all Saturdays to the midday of Holy Saturday inclusively; and lastly, on the Wednesdays and Saturdays of the Ember weeks (Code, 1250, 1252).

Who are bound to the law of abstinence?

All the faithful who have reached the age of seven years (Code, 1254).


What is the sin opposed to the virtue of abstinence?

It is gluttony (CXLVIII. 1).

Are there several species of this sin?

Yes; for the inordinate desire to eat and drink may bear upon the nature and the quality of food, or upon its quantity, or upon its preparation, or upon the actual consumption of the food by not waiting for the proper time of eating, or by eating with greediness (CXLVIII. 4).

Is gluttony a capital sin?

Yes, because it bears upon one of those pleasures which of its nature incites man to desire things of sense and to act in accordance with them (CXLVIII. 5).

What are the daughters of gluttony?

They are dulness of mind with regard to things intellectual, inept mirth, immoderate speech, buffoonery, and impurity (CXLVIII. 6).

Are these sins particularly gross?

Yes; for they imply more than other sins the absence and almost total lack of reason; and these sins are the outcome of gluttony because thereby the reason becomes sluggish and almost paralyzed, and can no longer guide man in the way he should go (ibid.).



Is there in addition to abstinence any other virtue which helps man to avoid such sins?

Yes, it is the virtue of sobriety (CXLIX.).

What is the virtue of sobriety?

It is that virtue the object of which is only to take intoxicating drink as it behoves (CXLIX. 1, 2).


What sin is opposed to this virtue?

It is the sin by which man passes the just measure in drinking and becomes drunk (CL.).

Is drunkenness always a sin?

Yes, whenever it comes about through one's own fault by not ceasing to drink when one should and not taking into account the intoxicating character of the drink one takes (CL. 1).

What is necessary for this sin to be mortal?

One should be able to foresee that an excess of such drink may lead to the state of drunkenness, and that one has chosen this consequence rather than be deprived of the pleasure that the drink offers (CL. 2).

Is drunkenness a particularly gross and debasing sin?

Yes, because by it man knowingly deprives himself of the use of his reason and puts himself lower than brute beasts, for these at least always keep their instinct to guide them (CL. 3).



Is there any other great virtue besides abstinence and sobriety that is a species of temperance?

Yes; and it is the virtue of chastity (CLI.).

What is meant by the virtue of chastity?

It is that perfection of the sensitive appetite which makes man master of all the impulses that bear him towards the things of marriage (CLI. 1).

Is there in the order of chastity any special virtue which is its crowning and highest perfection?

Yes; and this virtue is called virginity (CLII.).

What is virginity?

It is the firm and absolute purpose, made holy by a vow, of renouncing for ever the pleasures of marriage (CLII. 1-3).


What is the sin opposed to the virtue of chastity?

It is the sin called voluptuousness (CLIII.).

In what does the sin of voluptuousness consist?

It consists in using things on account of the pleasure attached thereunto which nature has ordained for the conservation of the human species, whether this be by deed, or desire, or thought willed, in which pleasure is taken; for this is contrary to the natural order whose office it is to control the use of such things (CLIV.).

Are there several species of voluptuousness?

Yes, there are as many species as there are distinct subversions of order in the things concerned with voluptuousness (CLIII. 1-3).

What are these distinct subversions of order in the matter of voluptuousness?

They are simple fornication, which is directly opposed to the good order of the things of marriage as regards the end of marriage, which is the welfare and the education of offspring; or, and this is the most grave of all, the sin against nature which is opposed directly and wholly to the first and essential end of marriage, which is the birth of offspring; or incest, adultery, the ravishing of a ward, and rape, which relate to the sexual abuse of those near to us by blood ties, or of those married, or of those in the guardianship of their protector, or of those against whom violence is performed; and lastly, sacrilege, which is the abuse of persons consecrated to God (CLIV. 1-12).


Is voluptuousness a capital sin?

Yes; and this on account of the extraordinary attraction of these matters which carries men away by its extreme vehemence (CLIII. 4).

What are the daughters of voluptuousness?

They are blindness of mind, rashness, unmindfulness, inconstancy, self-love, hatred of God, cleaving to the present life, and horror of the world to come (CLIII. 5).

Have all these sins a character in common such as is particularly grave?

Yes, they have this in common, although in different degrees, that the mind is absorbed by the flesh; moreover, there is a special gravity attaching to each of these sins and to voluptuousness, which is the mother of them all, for man falls from his high estate even below the estate of the brute beast which is without reason (CLIII. 5, 6).



Besides these virtues which are species of temperance, are there not other virtues which are annexed to temperance?

Yes; and they are those virtues which imitate its act or manner of acting (which is the controlling of what by its nature carries us away) but in matters that are of less difficulty; or which do not attain to the perfection of the act of temperance (CLV.).

What are these other virtues?

They are continence, clemency and meekness, and modesty (CLV.-CLXX.).


What is continence?

It is that virtue, in some sort imperfect in the order of virtue, which consists in choosing not to follow the violent movements of passion, and this for some motive of reason (CLV. 1).

Why is there in continence something imperfect in the order of virtue?

Because perfect virtue presupposes that the movements of passion are held in check, whereas continence does no more than resist them (ibid.).


Is there a sin opposed to continence?

Yes; and it is called incontinence (CLVI.).

In what does it consist?

It consists in this, that man gives way to the violence of passion and becomes its slave (CLVI. 1).

Which is the more grave sin, that of intemperance or that of incontinence?

Intemperance; for just as continence is less perfect than temperance in the order of virtue, so, in the order of sin, incontinence is less evil than intemperance (CLVI. 3).



What are clemency and meekness?

They are two virtues: the first of which moderates the degree of external punishment to be meted out to someone so that it does not exceed the right limits of reason; the second virtue controls the interior movement of the passion which is called anger (CLVII. 1).

Are clemency and severity opposed to each other, and are meekness and retributive justice also opposed?

In no wise, for they are all different in motive, and in some sense they are the same in that they all seek what is in accordance with right reason (CLVII. 2, Obj. 1).


What sins are opposed to clemency and meekness?

Anger in the bad sense of the word, and cruelty or savagery (CLVIII.-CLIX.).

What is anger?

It is a movement of the irascible appetite which seeks unjust avengement, or an avengement which is just but which is sought with too much temper (CLVIII. 2).

Are there several kinds of anger?

Yes, there are three species of anger: the anger of those who are fretful and who become angry at the slightest cause; the anger of those who are bitter, who forget with difficulty an injury done to them; and the anger of those who are revengeful, who without ceasing seek the punishment of those by whom they have been wronged (CLVIII. 5).

Is anger a capital sin?

Yes, because men are particularly borne towards the seeking of revenge in satisfaction for an injury done them (CLVIII. 6).

What are the daughters of anger?

They are indignation, excitement of the mind, contumely, clamour, blasphemy, and quarrelling (CLVIII. 7).

Is there any sin opposed to the sin of anger?

Yes, it consists in the lack of anger when reason demands it, for there is a just anger which is the result of the right will to punish when punishment is due (CLVIII. 8).


What is understood by cruelty which is opposed to clemency?

It is a kind of crudity or rawness of soul owing to which one seeks to increase punishment beyond the just limits fixed by reason (CLXI. 1).

And what is savageness?

It is something absolutely inhuman which delights in the infliction of punishment, taking pleasure therein merely because it is an evil. Savageness is directly opposed to the gift of piety (CLIX. 2).

Is such a thing possible?

Yes, of a truth, for depraved human nature can reach even to this excess; in former times there were whole nations apparently in the highest degree of civilization which took supreme delight in the spectacles of the amphitheatres.



What is the last of the virtues annexed to temperance?

It is modesty (CLX.-CLXX.).

What is modesty?

Modesty is that virtue which restrains the sensitive appetite in things that are less difficult to regulate than those which are the object of temperance, continence, clemency, and meekness (CLX. 1, 2).

What are these things of less difficulty which are kept under control by the virtue of modesty?

They are the desire of one's own excellence; the desire to know; the exterior actions of the body; and lastly, one's exterior as regards the manner of dress (CLX. 2).

What are those virtues called which regulate the sensitive appetite with regard to these divers things?

They are called humility, the virtue of the studious, and modesty in its strict sense (CLX. 2).


What is humility?

It is that virtue which makes man repress or regulate whatever touches his own worth in such wise that he does not seek more than is in accordance with the degree of his excellence as fixed by God (CLXI. 1, 2).

What follows from this as regards man's dealings with others?

It follows that man does not esteem anything as due to him considered in himself, but that all he has and is comes from God; for of himself he has nothing at all, except sin; as regards his neighbours, he esteems that their worth is due to them according to the state of perfection in which God has placed them; and as regards the rest of creation, he wishes only that things should have the place and order such as God has disposed (CLXI. 3).

Humility then seeks always the strict truth?

Yes, humility seeks always and acknowledges the exact truth (ibid.).


What is the sin opposed to humility?

It is pride (CLXII.).

What is pride?

It is that special and in some sort general sin which, in despisal of God and of the order He has established in His work, strives to dominate all and to make one place oneself before all others by esteeming oneself superior to all (CLXII. 1, 2).

Why is it said that pride is a special and in some sort a general sin also?

Because this esteeming of oneself and one's worth in despisal of God and the rules established by Him, leads man to commit all manner of sins (ibid.).

Is this a grave sin?

It is the gravest of all sins by reason of the contempt of God which it directly implies; and owing to this it aggravates the gravity of all other sins no matter how grave these may be in themselves (CLXII. 6).

Is pride the first of all sins?

Yes; for there can be no grave sin that does not presuppose the sin of pride, although such sin in itself, or by reason of the motive which makes it a specific sin, is not itself a sin of pride; for it is pride, by reason of the contempt it implies for God, that completes as it were the essence of other sins in so far as they make man turn away from God (CLXII. 7).

Is pride a capital sin?

Yes, and it is even more than this, for it is the head and the king as it were of every sin and vice (CLXII. 8).


Was the first sin of Adam and Eve a sin of pride?

Yes, their first sin was a sin of pride; and the sin of the bad angels was also a sin of pride (CLXIII. 1).

But was not the first sin of Adam and Eve rather a sin of gluttony, or of disobedience, or an empty curiosity with regard to knowledge, or a lack of faith in the word of God?

All these sins here mentioned were the consequence of the sin of pride, without which no other sin could exist at all (CLXIII. 1).

Why could no other sin be committed by Adam and Eve without the sin of pride?

Because their state of integrity made all within them to be perfectly under control so long as their mind remained subjected to God; but their mind could only turn away from God for some motive of pride by wishing themselves some excellence which was not their due (CLXIII. 1, 2).

Is not the sin of secularism which is so prevalent in these days also a sin of pride?

Yes, and it is of exceptional gravity; for it is an imitation of the contempt and of the revolt of Satan and of the bad angels, and afterwards of our first parents.


What is understood by the virtue of the studious, which is the second of those virtues annexed to temperance?

It is that virtue which makes man control in conformity with right reason the desire to know and to learn (CLXVI. 1).

What is the sin opposed to this virtue?

It is called curiosity (CLXVII.).

What is curiosity?

It is the inordinate desire to know what one has no right to know, or to know what may prove a source of danger to virtue owing to one's weakness (CLXVII. 1, 2).

Does one easily commit the sin of curiosity?

Yes; it is frequently committed, whether this be as regards knowledge in general, or as regards that knowledge which effects the senses and the passions (CLXVII. 1, 2).

Does the inordinate desire to read daily papers and novels also belong to this sin; or further, to be present at spectacles of all sorts, such as the theatre, the cinematograph, and other such things?

Yes; all these things belong to the sin of curiosity, and perhaps also to the sin of sensuality or of voluptuousness; indeed, one cannot do too much to overcome the inordinate desire for such things.


What is the last of the virtues annexed to temperance under the general name of modesty?

It is the special virtue of modesty understood in the strict sense (CLXVII.-CLXX.).

What is this virtue?

It is that perfection in the sensitive appetite which makes everything in a person's exterior as regards his movements, gestures, words, the tone of his voice, and of his general attitude, to be what it ought to be according to the status of the person, and this in such way that nothing whatever is offensive in his conduct; and on this head modesty is akin to friendship and truthfulness (CLXVIII. 1).

Must one attribute to the virtue of modesty whatever has reference to games and recreation which are part of the economy of human life?

Yes; and this virtue then goes by another name, which is that of eutrapelia; and this virtue effects that a person plays, amuses, or recreates himself as it behoves, avoiding both excess and defect (CLXVIII. 2-4).

Does modesty also have reference to one's manner of dress?

Yes; and this is what is implied by modesty understood in its strictest sense (CLXIX.).

What does modesty do with regard to dress?

It effects that the sensitive appetite is exactly what it ought to be with regard to dress to the exclusion of unseemly fashion or disorderly negligence (CLXIX. 1).

Is it against this virtue of modesty that many sin in that they do not keep a just measure as regards the excesses of what is called fashion, and which may prove an occasion of sin to others?

Yes, to exceed in this way is against the virtue of modesty and at the same time against the virtue of chastity; and indeed such excess cannot be sufficiently reproved (CLXIX. 2).


Is there a gift of the Holy Ghost that corresponds to the virtue of temperance?

Yes, the gift of fear (CXLI. 1, Obj. 3).

But was it not said above that the gift of fear corresponds to the theological virtue of hope?

Yes, but the gift of fear corresponds also to the cardinal virtue of temperance, not, however, under the same aspect (ibid.).

In what does this difference consist?

In this, that the gift of fear corresponds to the theological virtue of hope in so far as man reveres God directly by reason of His infinite greatness and avoids offending Him; and it corresponds to the virtue of temperance in so far as the respect that it inspires with regard to God's greatness makes man avoid those things which are more offensive to God, and these are the pleasures of the senses (ibid.).

But does not the virtue of temperance make one avoid those things already?

Yes, but in a way that is in every sense less perfect; for temperance puts these things aside only in that measure of which man is able of himself by the light of reason or of faith; whereas the gift of fear makes him avoid them according to the personal action of the Holy Ghost, moving him and leading him by reason of the reverence which the infinite majesty of God inspires to hold the pleasures of the senses as so much rottenness.



Is there any precept in the divine law referring to temperance?

Yes, there are two precepts in the Decalogue that refer to temperance (CLXX.).

What are these two precepts?

They are the sixth and the ninth precepts: "Thou shalt not commit adultery," and "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife."

Why is only adultery spoken of? and why in the matter of adultery are there two distinct precepts in the Decalogue?

Because of the things that have to do with temperance, adultery brings man more into relation with his neighbour especially from the point of view of justice, which is precisely that of the precepts of the Decalogue; and the reason of the two distinct precepts with regard to this matter is due to the importance of preventing at its very source the great evil of adultery (CLXX. 1).


Are there any precepts among those of the Decalogue that have reference to the parts of temperance?

No, there is no precept which refers directly to the parts of temperance, because these of themselves do not refer to man's dealings with God or his neighbour. Nevertheless these divers parts are referred to indirectly by reason of their effects, and this either by the precepts of the first table or by those of the second table. It is for instance through pride that man does not give to God or his neighbour the respect due to them; and it is through anger that man assails the person of his neighbour even to the attempting of his life (CLXX. 2).

Would it not have been fitting to speak in the Decalogue of the positive side of the precepts that relate to temperance and its parts?

No, because the Decalogue should contain only the first precepts of the divine law such as are applicable to all men and to all times; but whatever belongs to the positive side of these virtues, as abstinence, the manner of speaking, acting, etc., can vary with different peoples, in different places, in different times, etc. (CLXX. 1, Obj.3).

To what particular authority in the New Law does it belong to determine such things?

It belongs to the Church to determine these things for the right behaviour of the faithful.



Have we now a sufficient knowledge of all the virtues that man must practise in order to get to heaven, and of the sins he must avoid so as not to lose heaven and gain hell?

Yes. For we have learnt about the three great virtues of faith, hope, and charity, whereby man can attain his last supernatural end in the way that he must attain it in this life, so that it might direct his steps aright and command as it were his life of virtue. We have learnt also about the four great moral or cardinal virtues, which are prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, with all the virtues annexed to them; and we have considered them not only in the natural order in so far as they are called the acquired virtues, but also in the supernatural order in which they are called the infused virtues, and on this head they are on a level with the theological virtues. We have seen that these virtues effect that man is able to direct his moral life with regard both to himself and his neighbour as it behoves in order that his life may be in harmony in all things with his supernatural end. If man practises all these virtues, connected as they are with the corresponding gifts of the Holy Ghost, they are sufficient for the attainment of the vision of God which we know must be his eternal happiness in heaven. If, however, man sins against any one of the above virtues he must by means of another virtue which is called penance (and of which we shall speak in the Third Part) make satisfaction for his sin in union with the satisfaction of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Can such a thing be found anywhere on earth as the putting into practice of the whole of the virtues and the coming into play of all the gifts which truly constitute man's life on earth?

Yes, such a life is found under two forms which are distinct, and in some sense separate; these two forms are called the contemplative and the active life (CLXXIX.-CLXXXII.).


What is meant by the contemplative life?

It is that kind of life, in which man finds peace in his soul as a result of the subjection of his sinful passions, and of his withdrawal from the external affairs of life; under the impulse of the love of God, he passes his time in the contemplation of God in Himself and in His works in so far as this is possible on earth; rejoicing in the vision of God whom he loves, and finding in this enjoyment of God his highest perfection, such as makes him live a life detached from all things on earth and to cleave to God alone (CLXXX. 1-8).

Does the contemplative life presuppose all the virtues?

Yes, it presupposes all the virtues, and it helps to make them perfect; but in itself it consists in a certain activity wherein all the intellectual and theological virtues come into play, remaining always and entirely subject to the personal action of the Holy Ghost through the instrumentality of the gifts (CLXXX. 2).


What does the active life entail?

The active life entails all the acts of the moral virtues, and most especially the acts of the virtue of prudence; and the reason is because the precise object of the active life is to regulate, as it behoves, all things of the present life (CLXXXI. 1-4).

Of these two lives which is the more perfect?

Incontestably the contemplative life is the more perfect, because even on earth it brings with it a foretaste of heaven (CLXXXII. 1).

Is it possible for anyone to live both these kinds of lives at the same time?

Yes, it is possible to lead both the contemplative and active life in what is called a state of perfection.

What is understood by a state of perfection?

It is a certain condition of life in which man lives in a fixed and permanent way, apart from the ties which make him a slave to the necessities of the present life, making him free to occupy himself exclusively with the things of God (CLXXXIII. 1, 4).


Is this state of perfection the same thing as perfection itself?

No, for perfection consists in something that is internal; whereas the state of perfection, of which we are speaking, consists in a condition of life which should be considered rather as the assemblage of external acts (CLXXXIV. 1).

Can one have the perfection of the virtues and gifts, or the perfection of the life of charity, without being in a state of perfection; and, conversely, can one be in a state of perfection without having the perfection of charity?

Yes, both these are possible (CLXXXIV. 4).

Why then should one enter a state of perfection?

Because, of itself, it facilitates in a great degree the acquisition of perfection itself; and generally speaking it is in a state of perfection that perfection is found.

What then constitutes a state of perfection?

It is the fact of obliging oneself for ever, under a certain solemn form, to things which are of perfection in so far as they relate to the external organization of one's life (CLXXXI V. 4).


Who are they who live in a state of perfection?

Those who are bishops and those who are religious (CLXXXIV. 5).

Why are bishops in a state of perfection?

Because bishops at the moment when they take upon themselves the pastoral office, oblige themselves to give their lives to the service of their flocks; and this assumption of office is attended with the solemnity of consecration (CLXXXIV. 6).

What makes religious to be in a state of perfection?

The fact that under the form of perpetual vows they oblige themselves to give up the things of the world of which they might lawfully have made use, in order to occupy themselves more freely with the things of God; and they make these vows with a certain solemnity of profession or of blessing (CLXXXIV. 5).

Of these two states of perfection which is the more perfect?

That of bishops (CLXXXI V. 7).

Why is the state of bishops more perfect than that of religious?

Because bishops in virtue of their state must possess the perfection which religious by their state strive to acquire (CLXXXIV. 7).

How do religious by their state tend toward perfection?

Religious by their state tend to acquire perfection in so far as by the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they are placed outside the danger of committing sin and are happily constrained to act virtuously in all things (CLXXXVI. 1-10).

Are the three vows essential to the religious state?

Yes; and in such way that without them there could be no religious state at all (CLXXXVI. 2-7).


Can there be a diversity of religious communities, all having the essential conditions of the religious state?


In what does this diversity consist?

It is according to the diversity of things as regards which man may devote himself wholly to the service of God; and according as one may attain this in different ways and by different exercises (CLXXXVIII. 1).

What are the two great species of religious communities?

They are the contemplative and the active (CLXXXVIII. 2-6).

What is understood by the community which devotes itself to the active life?

It is that religious community which devotes itself for love of God to the service of man in order to bring him to God (CLXXXVIII. 2).

And what is the religious community which devotes itself to the contemplative life?

It is that which devotes itself wholly to the service of God in Himself (CLXXXIII. 2, Obj. 2).

Of these two kinds of religious communities which is the more perfect?

The contemplative; but the most perfect of all are those religious communities the principal part of whose life is given up to the contemplation of divine things or to the worship and service of God in Himself, but with the object in view of giving to others the benefit of their contemplation in the endeavour to lead them to the service and the greater love of God (CLXXXVIII. 6).

Is not the existence of the divers religious communities in the Church a very great blessing?

Yes, for apart from the fact they are the chosen homes of those who seek to practise virtue in all its perfection, they contribute towards the greatest good of society by their works of charity or the apostolate, and by their life of immolation to God.

Whence arises this excellence of religious communities?

This excellence arises from the fact that they seek openly and by their very vocation to walk in the way in which every man whosoever he be should walk in order to practise the same virtues and reach the happiness of heaven.

What is this way without which it is impossible to practise the virtues and reach to the happiness of God?

This way is no other than Jesus Christ or the mystery of the Word made flesh. It is of Jesus Christ now that we must speak; and the consideration of Him will form the subject-matter of the Third Part of this work.

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