Choose a topic from Part 2B:

186. The Religious State

1. The religious state is one in which a person seeks toadhere wholly to God. And in this is perfection. Hence, thereligious life implies the state of perfection.

2. A religious is bound to make effort after perfection,and to strive to fulfill the demands of perfect charity. He must befaithful to such counsels as bind him by vow. And he must practicewith fidelity the Rule he has professed.

3. For the attaining of perfect charity, the firstrequisite is voluntary poverty. By this, a person mosteffectively releases himself from attachment to earthly things andaffection for them. Our Lord said (Matt. 19:21):"If thou wiltbe perfect, go, sell what thou hast, and give to the poor . . . andcome follow me."

4. Perpetual continence is also a requisite for religiousperfection. For, despite the need for marriage, and the honest andhonorable status of those who follow this way of fife, it doesinvolve activities and duties which can hinder a person fromdevoting himself entirely to God's service. St. Paul (I Cor.7:32, 33) says: "He that is without a wife is solicitous forthe things of the Lord, how he may please God: but he that is witha wife is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may pleasehis wife." St. Paul says the very same thing of the woman whohas, and who has not, a husband.

5. The religious state is a state of perfection, whichmeans that those who embrace it must steadily strive forperfection. So that this striving may be well directed, and not,perhaps, a matter of restless and unavailing endeavor, it findsrule and regularity in full and willing obedience to a superior.Hence obedience is requisite for religious perfection.

6. Persons in the religious life are under obligation,freely assumed, to achieve the perfection proper to their state.Such obligation cannot be effectively assumed without a vow toobserve the requisites of the religious life. In fact, religiousperfection requires the vows of fulfilling its essential duties ofpoverty, chastity, and obedience in all lawful matters to areligious superior.

7. Indeed, it may be justly said that religious perfectionconsists in these three vows. For in the religious state a personstrives for perfection, seeks to keep himself free from care andworry about external things, and offers himself wholly andsteadfastly to God. Now, all these essential purposes of thereligious life are admirably served by the vows of poverty,chastity, and obedience. The faithful practice of fulfilling thesevows may rightly be said to constitute the perfection of thereligious state.

8. The vow of obedience is the chief of the three vows.For (a) by obedience a person offers to God his own will, and thisis something more excellent than his body which he offers by thevow of chastity, or external goods which he offers by the vow ofpoverty; (b) the vow of obedience includes the other twovows, for the religious life imposes chastity and poverty byprecept; but chastity and poverty do not necessarily include thevow of religious obedience; (c) the vow of obedience, more directlythan the other two vows, indicates full submission to God'swill.

9. Willful and serious violation of any of the vows of thereligious life is always a mortal sin. Now, the essential virtuesof poverty, chastity, and obedience are subserved by a variety ofobservances imposed by rule. Violation of any of these observancesdoes not exceed venial sin, unless indeed the violation comes fromcontempt for the rule; in this case, the violation would be amortal sin.

10. A sin committed by one who is in the religious life ismore deplorable than the same sin committed by one who is not inthat state of life. Yet it may happen that a sin, not opposed toany of the religious vows, and not the occasion of scandal in anyway, is no greater (and perhaps it may even be less) than the samesin committed by another who is not in the religious state oflife.

"A person who rails at God in adversity, suffers without merit; moreover by his lack of resignation he adds to his punishment in the next life and experiences greater disquietude of mind in this life."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Whom do you seek, friend, if you seek not God? Seek him, find him, cleave to him; bind your will to his with bands of steel and you will live always at peace in this life and in the next."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"Obedience is a short cut to perfection."
St Philip Neri

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