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183. Meaning of State of Life

1. By a person's state we indicate somethingthat establishes him with some permanence in his position and laysupon him pertinent duties. A person's state is not somethingmainly external and readily changeable; rather it is somethinginternally recognized by intellect and embraced by will as lastingand in some measure binding. Thus, we do not speak of a man'sbeing rich or poor as his state; this is his condition.But we do speak of a man's state as his being married orsingle, priest or layman or religious.

2. It is suitable that within the Church there should bevarious states, each with its own duties. For the Church has avariety of activities, and her beauty of order requires a scale ofdifferent offices or states to see that these activities areexercised. Says St. Paul (Eph. 4:11, 12): "He gave (that is,appointed) some apostles, and some prophets, and other someevangelists, and other some pastors and doctors, for the perfectingof the saints."

3. States with their pertinent duties differ according tothe different activities assigned to each one. There is distinctionof states of perfection, and distinction of active duties, anddistinction of grades in each state and duty.

4. Among men who strive to cast off servitude to sin inorder to serve God in justice, we distinguish the three orders of:beginners; the proficient; the perfect.

"Obedience is the true holocaust which we sacrifice to God on the altar of our hearts."
St Philip Neri

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"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"It is not God's will that we should abound in spiritual delights, but that in all things we should submit to his holy will."
Blessed Henry Suso

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