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Evangelical Counsels by HugaDuck Evangelical Counsels by HugaDuck

Going to go on a little rant here:


Alright, so in the Catholic Church, we have a little something called the Evangelical Counsels. These are vows that priests and religious profess. For priests, it doesn’t matter if they're diocesan(assigned to a church/hospital/organization within diocese) or religious (belonging to a community e.g. Benedictines, Jesuits, Franciscans), all priests take these vows in some form or another. Even in some religious communities, like the Benedictines, where they only verbally profess obedience from the counsels, this obedience still binds them to a life of chastity and poverty, which is required from all professed religious by Canon Law.

Now I get a little pissed off, because I’ve seen a lot of representations of priests in the media that take the Evangelical Counsels and completely screw them over. Now I can understand if it’s someone who hates the Catholic Church and is trying to make priests out to be as horrible as they possibly can, but I’ve also seen instances where there are no malicious intentions, but either the person just doesn’t understand the Catholic faith and what priests are bound to, or they bypass it anyways and glorify abuses as good things, and not what they are: an abuse. Now, I highly doubt anyone cares or is going to pay attention to the grievances of someone like me, but I’ve been wanting to say something about this, even if I can’t do anything about it. At least to make these counsels aware to someone who doesn’t know the Catholic faith but doesn’t have ill intentions against her.


The first of the Evangelical Counsels is Obedience. Bottom line, this means obedience to God and to the rules and teachings of the Church. In other terms; for a diocesan priest, this means obedience to their local Bishop. For a religious priest or brother, this means obedience to their community’s Superior. This binds them to an area, an apostolate, a mission, ect. Diocesan priests are moved from parish to parish, or to be chaplains at schools and hospitals, ect, by their Bishop, not by their own accord or by the will of the lay people. In order to formally administer the Sacraments in a diocese that is not their own, they have to have permission from the Bishop of that other diocese as well as their own. With Religious, Communities of monks are generally rooted to one area. In normal cases, they don’t leave the monastery grounds. Friars tend to travel around teaching, and the same with Jesuits and other mendicant orders. But they still have a mission and are sent by their Superior. They don’t just go wherever they want for whatever reasons they want. They have a specific job to do, an apostolate to fulfill.


The Counsel of poverty is taken to different levels. The main point of the counsel is that God is to be the priest’s (or brother’s) only treasure. Diocesan priests receive what they have from their diocese. Given that dioceses vary from place to place, so does how they live out the counsel, but a lavish lifestyle is avoided if the counsel is to be kept. Religious communities take the counsel of poverty to a whole other level. Nothing is owned personally and much of what the community has, they receive from outside help. If a member needs something, like a new pair of shoes, a watch, a pair of glasses, they have to ask for it. Many religious communities are groups of mendicants, which mean that part of their apostolate is humility through being beggars. In fact, part of the initiation to the Jesuits is to travel a certain distance and to do it all by begging for help and aid as they make their way to their destination.


Finally we have the Counsel of Chastity, and this is the one people don’t like, or love to depict priests abusing. But I’ve already talked about that realm of ridiculousness a while ago --->…

Contrary to what people seem to think, chastity is not just “not having sex.” However, in the RCC, Priests are called to physical chastity in the form of celibacy, as well as emotional chastity, which us just as important as celibacy. So while priests in the Roman Catholic Church do not get married or have children, emotions still need to be kept in check. People know all about abuses of Sensuality, but no one thinks about the fact that Sentimentality is just as easily abused. Women do this all the time. We get caught up in romantic ideas and end up with nothing but fluff and sentiments, blinding ourselves to logic, reasoning, and self control. That’s part of what this vow is about. First, is having an undivided heart. A priest needs to be fully devoted to his parish or community. He can’t be fully devoted there if he’s also trying to be fully devoted to a family. Second, with emotional chastity, it calls priests to having self control and discipline, which is no different from  lay people. And it’s not impossible, unlike what many people like to propose. Giving in to every tug of the heart, every whim of sentimentality, every desire, makes people no better than animals. Self control is something we’re capable, and it’s something priests are called to when they profess this vow.

Now as a side note, the Catholic Church holds that these vows are binding on the soul of the priest. If they  are taken with full knowledge and full intention, the Sacrament was valid and even in death, they will be priests. This is different as opposed to marriage vows, which end in death. There is no marriage in death. There are no romantic relationships in death. But the ministerial priesthood is personally binding on the priest.


When I created Fr. Elias McCarthy SJ, it was in response to some really rather poor representations of priests in the media. Contrary to what the media would like to propose, there is presently no mass apostasy with the Church’s priests. There are occasionally instances, and unfortunately, since it deviates from the norm, it calls attention. But what the media doesn’t look it as the ranks of priests doing what their supposed to do. So when I created Fr. McCarthy, I had it in my mind to create  a priest character who was human, who had flaws, but wasn’t a slave to them. If you’ve been following him in my art or know my kids well, you’ll know that Fr. McCarthy comes from a rough background, has issues with explosive anger and passion, likes whiskey a little too much, and is easily attracted to women, specifically in my story, Kat. I’m not glorifying any of this though, but pointing these out as issues that he has to learn to deal with, and he does. After all, priests are only human like the rest of us, but have a job that requires them to be set apart, and to rise above their temptations to better attend to those they serve.

That’s what I wanted to say about this matter. I realize most people won’t give a damn because their point IS to portray priests in a bad light, but like I said, I’ve been wanting to say something, and it’s all I can really do, so there you have it.


So do your friend, Kyra, a favor and stop asking if you can ship Fr. McCarthy and Fr. Jerry. The answer will forever be No.

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Submitted on
May 18, 2016
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