Evangelical councils

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The mystical marriage of St. Francis with the woman poverty

The evangelical counsels ( lat. Consilia evangelica ) are advice that Jesus Christ gave in the Gospel to those who, as described in Mt 19:21  EU , wanted to “be perfect”. It is not necessary for Christians to obey them to attain eternal life. They are based on the teaching and example of Christ and are a gift from God to those believers whom He specifically calls .

Since the 12th century, a triad of councils emerged as the legal content of religious vows . In particular, people who decide to lead a consecrated life ( men and women religious , hermits , consecrated virgins , members of the secular institutes ) have since committed to a life according to the evangelical counsels:

  • Poverty : Mt 19.21  EU warns against overvaluation and too strong attachment to earthly goods and demands a simple lifestyle. In the mendicant orders , the vow of poverty by definition plays a special role.
  • Obedience : Based on Mt 20.26  EU , obedience can be understood as the willingness to be integrated into a community or to be obedient to a superior. In the order this is expressed in the promise of obedience in profession before the abbot or prior ; Consecrated persons living alone, on the other hand, are usually directly subordinate to the bishop of the respective diocese .

The three evangelical counsels are sometimes referred to as Franciscan virtues. This goes back to a legend of St. Francis of Assisi , who on his way to Siena met three women, allegorical embodiments of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Current understanding

The Dogmatic Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church, Lumen Gentium , stated in relation to the general vocation of Christians to holiness:

“Therefore all in the Church, whether they belong to the hierarchy or be guided by it, are called to holiness […]. It [holiness] expresses itself in many forms in individuals who strive in their way of life for the perfection of love in the edification of others. It appears in its own way in the practice of the so-called evangelical counsels. This practice of councils, which many Christians have taken on privately at the instigation of the Holy Spirit or in a form of life recognized by the Church, a class, gives an outstanding testimony and example of this holiness and must give it in the world. "

“All believers in Christ are invited and obliged to strive for holiness and perfection according to their status. Everyone should therefore guide their volitional impulses correctly, so as not to be hindered in the pursuit of perfect love in dealing with things in the world and through attachment to the riches against the spirit of evangelical poverty. "

Correspondingly, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the distinction between the commandments and the evangelical counsels is related to the perfection of love, but in an overarching way:

“The commandments are supposed to get rid of what cannot be reconciled with love. The aim of the councils is to correct what can hinder the development of love, even if it does not go against it.

Even after the Second Vatican Council, the vow of the evangelical councils established the status of consecrated life. "


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Benedikta Hintersberger , Wilhelm Korff : Evangelical Councilors III. Theological-ethical . In: Walter Kasper (Ed.): Lexicon for Theology and Church . 3. Edition. tape 3 . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 1995, Sp. 1049 .
  2. Second Vatican Council: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”, Chapter 5, No. 39. Retrieved May 13, 2014 .
  3. Second Vatican Council: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”, Chapter 5, No. 42. Retrieved May 13, 2014 .
  4. The Holy See: “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (1997). No. 1973, accessed May 13, 2014 .
  5. Second Vatican Council: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium , Chapter 6, No. 43–46. Retrieved May 13, 2014 .