I was recently reading the Catechism and came across paragraph 915, which has left me with some questions.

It is the first sentence of 915 that's bothering me. It says: "Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple."

What exactly does that mean?

I know we are all meant to live in the spirit of the evangelical counsels, but I thought the evangelical counsels proper were for those in the consecrated life.

Furthermore, 915 doesn't say Christ proposes the spirit of the evangelical counsels, it says Christ proposes THE evangelical counsels.

Any information would be appreciated!

2 Answers 2


Counsels are "Good actions that are not prescribed by any law"; the evangelical counsels "are called evangelical because they were taught and practiced by Christ in the Gospels."

The evangelical counsels are:

  1. poverty
  2. perfect chastity (virginity or perpetual continence)
  3. obedience

See this answer for scriptural quotes showing how Jesus Himself—Who encouraged us to imitate Him more closely—practiced poverty, chastity, and obedience.

  • I know what the evangelical counsels are. I'm confused on what they mean in the context of 915. Aug 6, 2023 at 0:23
  • +1 Counsels are recommendations, not binding on Christians generally.
    – jaredad7
    Aug 11, 2023 at 13:28

What does paragraph 915 in the Catholic Catechism mean?

915 Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. The perfection of charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience. It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God.

"Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple," means that Christ does not oblige anyone to follow these evangelical councils. Yet at the same time Christ recommends them to those who wish to lead a life of perfection the opportunity of doing so, just as he had done his entire life.

There are some variety in which the evangelical councils are performed within the Church: temporary vows or solemn (perpetual) vows. Some religious communities actually renew their vows on a yearly basis. This there is a variety of different ways they are administered or handled.

Consecrated Virgins may make private vows before their local bishop of his representative!

  • 1
    What does "in their great variety" mean? There are only 3 of evangelical counsels.
    – Geremia
    Aug 6, 2023 at 3:47
  • I've contacted several people about this question, and most have told me me 915 means we are called to live the evangelical counsels according to our state of life. You're the first person to give this interpretation. What do you think of the other interpretation? Aug 6, 2023 at 12:06
  • @AlphabatSoop There may certainly be other interpretations. Consecrated Virgins often live in the world. Sometimes individuals I know only take the Vow of chastity while living in the world.
    – Ken Graham
    Aug 6, 2023 at 12:13

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