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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] Out. Para. 1/3 - OF THE STATE OF PERFECTION IN GENERAL (EIGHT ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] Out. Para. 1/3 - OF THE STATE OF PERFECTION IN GENERAL (EIGHT ARTICLES)

We must now consider those things that pertain to the state of
perfection whereto the other states are directed. For the consideration
of offices in relation to other acts belongs to the legislator; and in
relation to the sacred ministry it comes under the consideration of
orders of which we shall treat in the Third Part [*XP, Q[34]].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] Out. Para. 2/3

Concerning the state of the perfect, a three-fold consideration presents
itself: (1) The state of perfection in general; (2) Things relating to
the perfection of bishops; (3) Things relating to the perfection of
religious.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] Out. Para. 3/3

Under the first head there are eight points of inquiry:

(1) Whether perfection bears any relation to charity?

(2) Whether one can be perfect in this life?

(3) Whether the perfection of this life consists chiefly in observing
the counsels or the commandments?

(4) Whether whoever is perfect is in the state of perfection?

(5) Whether especially prelates and religious are in the state of
perfection?

(6) Whether all prelates are in the state of perfection?

(7) Which is the more perfect, the episcopal or the religious state?

(8) The comparison between religious and parish priests and archdeacons.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the perfection of the Christian life consists chiefly in charity?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the perfection of the Christian life does not
consist chiefly in charity. For the Apostle says (1 Cor. 14:20): "In
malice be children, but in sense be perfect." But charity regards not the
senses but the affections. Therefore it would seem that the perfection of
the Christian life does not chiefly consist in charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further,'it is written (Eph. 6:13): "Take unto you the armor of
God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all
things perfect"; and the text continues (Eph. 6:14,16), speaking of the
armor of God: "Stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth,
and having on the breast-plate of justice . . . in all things taking the
shield of faith." Therefore the perfection of the Christian life consists
not only in charity, but also in other virtues.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, virtues like other habits, are specified by their acts.
Now it is written (James 1:4) that "patience hath a perfect work."
Therefore seemingly the state of perfection consists more specially in
patience.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Col. 3:14): "Above all things have
charity, which is the bond of perfection," because it binds, as it were,
all the other virtues together in perfect unity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, A thing is said to be perfect in so far as it attains its
proper end, which is the ultimate perfection thereof. Now it is charity
that unites us to God, Who is the last end of the human mind, since "he
that abideth in charity abideth in God, and God in him" (1 Jn. 4:16).
Therefore the perfection of the Christian life consists radically in
charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The perfection of the human senses would seem to consist
chiefly in their concurring together in the unity of truth, according to
1 Cor. 1:10, "That you be perfect in the same mind [sensu], and in the
same judgment." Now this is effected by charity which operates consent in
us men. Wherefore even the perfection of the senses consists radically in
the perfection of charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: A man may be said to be perfect in two ways. First, simply:
and this perfection regards that which belongs to a thing's nature, for
instance an animal may be said to be perfect when it lacks nothing in the
disposition of its members and in such things as are necessary for an
animal's life. Secondly, a thing is said to be perfect relatively: and
this perfection regards something connected with the thing externally,
such as whiteness or blackness or something of the kind. Now the
Christian life consists chiefly in charity whereby the soul is united to
God; wherefore it is written (1 Jn. 3:14): "He that loveth not abideth in
death." Hence the perfection of the Christian life consists simply in
charity, but in the other virtues relatively. And since that which is
simply, is paramount and greatest in comparison with other things, it
follows that the perfection of charity is paramount in relation to the
perfection that regards the other virtues.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Patience is stated to have a perfect work in relation to
charity, in so far as it is an effect of the abundance of charity that a
man bears hardships patiently, according to Rm. 8:35, "Who . . . shall
separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? Or distress?" etc.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether any one can be perfect in this life?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that none can be perfect in this life. For the
Apostle says (1 Cor. 13:10): "When that which is perfect is come, that
which is in part shall be done away." Now in this life that which is in
part is not done away; for in this life faith and hope, which are in
part, remain. Therefore none can be perfect in this life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, "The perfect is that which lacks nothing" (Phys. iii,
6). Now there is no one in this life who lacks nothing; for it is written
(James 3:2): "In many things we all offend"; and (Ps. 138:16): "Thy eyes
did see my imperfect being." Therefore none is perfect in this life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the perfection of the Christian life, as stated (A[1]),
relates to charity, which comprises the love of God and of our neighbor.
Now, neither as to the love of God can one have perfect charity in this
life, since according to Gregory (Hom. xiv in Ezech.) "the furnace of
love which begins to burn here, will burn more fiercely when we see Him
Whom we love"; nor as to the love of our neighbor, since in this life we
cannot love all our neighbors actually, even though we love them
habitually; and habitual love is imperfect. Therefore it seems that no
one can be perfect in this life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Divine law does not prescribe the impossible. Yet
it prescribes perfection according to Mt. 5:48, "Be you . . . perfect, as
also your heavenly Father is perfect." Therefore seemingly one can be
perfect in this life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As stated above (A[1]), the perfection of the Christian
life consists in charity. Now perfection implies a certain universality
because according to Phys. iii, 6, "the perfect is that which lacks
nothing." Hence we may consider a threefold perfection. One is absolute,
and answers to a totality not only on the part of the lover, but also on
the part of the object loved, so that God be loved as much as He is
lovable. Such perfection as this is not possible to any creature, but is
competent to God alone, in Whom good is wholly and essentially.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] Body Para. 2/3

Another perfection answers to an absolute totality on the part of the
lover, so that the affective faculty always actually tends to God as much
as it possibly can; and such perfection as this is not possible so long
as we are on the way, but we shall have it in heaven.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] Body Para. 3/3

The third perfection answers to a totality neither on the part of the
object served, nor on the part of the lover as regards his always
actually tending to God, but on the part of the lover as regards the
removal of obstacles to the movement of love towards God, in which sense
Augustine says (QQ. LXXXIII, qu. 36) that "carnal desire is the bane of
charity; to have no carnal desires is the perfection of charity." Such
perfection as this can be had in this life, and in two ways. First, by
the removal from man's affections of all that is contrary to charity,
such as mortal sin; and there can be no charity apart from this
perfection, wherefore it is necessary for salvation. Secondly, by the
removal from man's affections not only of whatever is contrary to
charity, but also of whatever hinders the mind's affections from tending
wholly to God. Charity is possible apart from this perfection, for
instance in those who are beginners and in those who are proficient.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The Apostle is speaking there of heavenly perfection which
is not possible to those who are on the way.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Those who are perfect in this life are said to "offend in
many things" with regard to venial sins, which result from the weakness
of the present life: and in this respect they have an "imperfect being"
in comparison with the perfection of heaven.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As the conditions of the present life do not allow of a man
always tending actually to God, so neither does it allow of his tending
actually to each individual neighbor; but it suffices for him to tend to
all in common and collectively, and to each individual habitually and
according to the preparedness of his mind. Now in the love of our
neighbor, as in the love of God we may observe a twofold perfection: one
without which charity is impossible, and consisting in one's having in
one's affections nothing that is contrary to the love of one's neighbor;
and another without which it is possible to have charity. The latter
perfection may be considered in three ways. First, as to the extent of
love, through a man loving not only his friends and acquaintances but
also strangers and even his enemies, for as Augustine says (Enchiridion
lxxiii) this is a mark of the perfect children of God. Secondly, as to
the intensity of love, which is shown by the things which man despises
for his neighbor's sake, through his despising not only external goods
for the sake of his neighbor, but also bodily hardships and even death,
according to Jn. 15:13, "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man
lay down his life for his friends." Thirdly, as to the effect of love, so
that a man will surrender not only temporal but also spiritual goods and
even himself, for his neighbor's sake, according to the words of the
Apostle (2 Cor. 12:15), "But I most gladly will spend and be spent myself
for your souls."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether, in this life, perfection consists in the observance of the
commandments or of the counsels?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that, in this life, perfection consists in the
observance not of the commandments but of the counsels. For our Lord said
(Mt. 19:21): "If thou wilt be perfect, go sell all [Vulg.: 'what'] thou
hast, and give to the poor . . . and come, follow Me." Now this is a
counsel. Therefore perfection regards the counsels and not the precepts.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, all are bound to the observance of the commandments,
since this is necessary for salvation. Therefore, if the perfection of
the Christian life consists in observing the commandments, it follows
that perfection is necessary for salvation, and that all are bound
thereto; and this is evidently false.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the perfection of the Christian life is gauged according
to charity, as stated above (A[1]). Now the perfection of charity,
seemingly, does not consist in the observance of the commandments, since
the perfection of charity is preceded both by its increase and by its
beginning, as Augustine says (Super Canonic. Joan. Tract. ix). But the
beginning of charity cannot precede the observance of the commandments,
since according to Jn. 14:23, "If any one love Me, he will keep My word."
Therefore the perfection of life regards not the commandments but the counsels.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Dt. 6:5): "Thou shalt love the Lord thy
God with thy whole heart," and (Lev. 19:18): "Thou shalt love thy
neighbor [Vulg.: 'friend'] as thyself"; and these are the commandments of
which our Lord said (Mt. 22:40): "On these two commandments dependeth the
whole law and the prophets." Now the perfection of charity, in respect of
which the Christian life is said to be perfect, consists in our loving
God with our whole heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. Therefore it
would seem that perfection consists in the observance of the precepts.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Perfection is said to consist in a thing in two ways: in one way, primarily and essentially; in another, secondarily and
accidentally. Primarily and essentially the perfection of the Christian
life consists in charity, principally as to the love of God, secondarily
as to the love of our neighbor, both of which are the matter of the chief
commandments of the Divine law, as stated above. Now the love of God and
of our neighbor is not commanded according to a measure, so that what is
in excess of the measure be a matter of counsel. This is evident from the
very form of the commandment, pointing, as it does, to perfection - for
instance in the words, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole
heart": since "the whole" is the same as "the perfect," according to the
Philosopher (Phys. iii, 6), and in the words, "Thou shalt love thy
neighbor as thyself," since every one loves himself most. The reason of
this is that "the end of the commandment is charity," according to the
Apostle (1 Tim. 1:5); and the end is not subject to a measure, but only
such things as are directed to the end, as the Philosopher observes
(Polit. i, 3); thus a physician does not measure the amount of his
healing, but how much medicine or diet he shall employ for the purpose of
healing. Consequently it is evident that perfection consists essentially
in the observance of the commandments; wherefore Augustine says (De Perf.
Justit. viii): "Why then should not this perfection be prescribed to man,
although no man has it in this life?"

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

Secondarily and instrumentally, however, perfection consists in the
observance of the counsels, all of which, like the commandments, are
directed to charity; yet not in the same way. For the commandments, other
than the precepts of charity, are directed to the removal of things
contrary to charity, with which, namely, charity is incompatible, whereas
the counsels are directed to the removal of things that hinder the act of
charity, and yet are not contrary to charity, such as marriage, the
occupation of worldly business, and so forth. Hence Augustine says
(Enchiridion cxxi): "Whatever things God commands, for instance, 'Thou
shalt not commit adultery,' and whatever are not commanded, yet suggested
by a special counsel, for instance, 'It is good for a man not to touch a
woman,' are then done aright when they are referred to the love of God,
and of our neighbor for God's sake, both in this world and in the world
to come." Hence it is that in the Conferences of the Fathers (Coll. i,
cap. vii) the abbot Moses says: "Fastings, watchings, meditating on the
Scriptures, penury and loss of all one's wealth, these are not perfection
but means to perfection, since not in them does the school of perfection
find its end, but through them it achieves its end," and he had already
said that "we endeavor to ascend by these steps to the perfection of
charity."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: In this saying of our Lord something is indicated as being
the way to perfection by the words, "Go, sell all thou hast, and give to
the poor"; and something else is added wherein perfection consists, when
He said, "And follow Me." Hence Jerome in his commentary on Mt. 19:27,
says that "since it is not enough merely to leave, Peter added that
which is perfect: 'And have followed Thee'"; and Ambrose, commenting on
Lk. 5:27, "Follow Me," says: "He commands him to follow, not with steps
of the body, but with devotion of the soul, which is the effect of
charity." Wherefore it is evident from the very way of speaking that the
counsels are means of attaining to perfection, since it is thus
expressed: "If thou wilt be perfect, go, sell," etc., as though He said:
"By so doing thou shalt accomplish this end."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: As Augustine says (De Perf. Justit. viii) "the perfection
of charity is prescribed to man in this life, because one runs not right
unless one knows whither to run. And how shall we know this if no
commandment declares it to us?" And since that which is a matter of
precept can be fulfilled variously, one does not break a commandment
through not fulfilling it in the best way, but it is enough to fulfil it
in any way whatever. Now the perfection of Divine love is a matter of
precept for all without exception, so that even the perfection of heaven
is not excepted from this precept, as Augustine says (De Perf. Justit.
viii [*Cf. De Spir. et Lit. XXXVI]), and one escapes transgressing the
precept, in whatever measure one attains to the perfection of Divine
love. The lowest degree of Divine love is to love nothing more than God,
or contrary to God, or equally with God, and whoever fails from this
degree of perfection nowise fulfils the precept. There is another degree
of the Divine love, which cannot be fulfilled so long as we are on the
way, as stated above (A[2]), and it is evident that to fail from this is
not to be a transgressor of the precept; and in like manner one does not
transgress the precept, if one does not attain to the intermediate
degrees of perfection, provided one attain to the lowest.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Just as man has a certain perfection of his nature as soon
as he is born, which perfection belongs to the very essence of his
species, while there is another perfection which he acquires by growth,
so again there is a perfection of charity which belongs to the very
essence of charity, namely that man love God above all things, and love
nothing contrary to God, while there is another perfection of charity
even in this life, whereto a man attains by a kind of spiritual growth,
for instance when a man refrains even from lawful things, in order more
freely to give himself to the service of God.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether whoever is perfect is in the state of perfection?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that whoever is perfect is in the state of
perfection. For, as stated above (A[3], ad 3), just as bodily perfection
is reached by bodily growth, so spiritual perfection is acquired by
spiritual growth. Now after bodily growth one is said to have reached the
state of perfect age. Therefore seemingly also after spiritual growth,
when one has already reached spiritual perfection, one is in the state of
perfection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, according to Phys. v, 2, movement "from one contrary to
another" has the same aspect as "movement from less to more." Now when a
man is changed from sin to grace, he is said to change his state, in so
far as the state of sin differs from the state of grace. Therefore it
would seem that in the same manner, when one progresses from a lesser to
a greater grace, so as to reach the perfect degree, one is in the state
of perfection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, a man acquires a state by being freed from servitude.
But one is freed from the servitude of sin by charity, because "charity
covereth all sins" (Prov. 10:12). Now one is said to be perfect on
account of charity, as stated above (A[1]). Therefore, seemingly, whoever
has perfection, for this very reason has the state of perfection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Some are in the state of perfection, who are wholly
lacking in charity and grace, for instance wicked bishops or religious.
Therefore it would seem that on the other hand some have the perfection
of life, who nevertheless have not the state of perfection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As stated above (Q[183], A[1]), state properly regards a
condition of freedom or servitude. Now spiritual freedom or servitude may
be considered in man in two ways: first, with respect to his internal
actions; secondly, with respect to his external actions. And since
according to 1 Kgs. 16:7, "man seeth those things that appear, but the
Lord beholdeth the heart," it follows that with regard to man's internal
disposition we consider his spiritual state in relation to the Divine
judgment, while with regard to his external actions we consider man's
spiritual state in relation to the Church. It is in this latter sense
that we are now speaking of states, namely in so far as the Church
derives a certain beauty from the variety of states [*Cf. Q[183], A[2]].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] Body Para. 2/3
Now it must be observed, that so far as men are concerned, in order that
any one attain to a state of freedom or servitude there is required first
of all an obligation or a release. For the mere fact of serving someone
does not make a man a slave, since even the free serve, according to Gal.
5:13, "By charity of the spirit serve one another": nor again does the
mere fact of ceasing to serve make a man free, as in the case of a
runaway slave; but properly speaking a man is a slave if he be bound to
serve, and a man is free if he be released from service. Secondly, it is
required that the aforesaid obligation be imposed with a certain
solemnity; even as a certain solemnity is observed in other matters which
among men obtain a settlement in perpetuity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] Body Para. 3/3

Accordingly, properly speaking, one is said to be in the state of
perfection, not through having the act of perfect love, but through
binding himself in perpetuity and with a certain solemnity to those
things that pertain to perfection. Moreover it happens that some persons
bind themselves to that which they do not keep, and some fulfil that to
which they have not bound themselves, as in the case of the two sons (Mt.
21:28,30), one of whom when his father said: "Work in my vineyard,"
answered: "I will not," and "afterwards . . . he went," while the other
"answering said: I go . . . and he went not." Wherefore nothing hinders
some from being perfect without being in the state of perfection, and
some in the state of perfection without being perfect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: By bodily growth a man progresses in things pertaining to
nature, wherefore he attains to the state of nature; especially since
"what is according to nature is," in a way, "unchangeable" [*Ethic. v,
7], inasmuch as nature is determinate to one thing. In like manner by
inward spiritual growth a man reaches the state of perfection in relation
to the Divine judgment. But as regards the distinctions of ecclesiastical
states, a man does not reach the state of perfection except by growth in
respect of external actions.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: This argument also regards the interior state. Yet when a
man passes from sin to grace, he passes from servitude to freedom; and
this does not result from a mere progress in grace, except when a man
binds himself to things pertaining to grace.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Again this argument considers the interior state.
Nevertheless, although charity causes the change of condition from
spiritual servitude to spiritual freedom, an increase of charity has not
the same effect.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether religious and prelates are in the state of perfection?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that prelates and religious are not in the state of
perfection. For the state of perfection differs from the state of the
beginners and the proficient. Now no class of men is specially assigned
to the state of the proficient or of the beginners. Therefore it would
seem that neither should any class of men be assigned to the state of perfection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the outward state should answer to the inward, else one
is guilty of lying, "which consists not only in false words, but also in
deceitful deeds," according to Ambrose in one of his sermons (xxx de
Tempore). Now there are many prelates and religious who have not the
inward perfection of charity. Therefore, if all religious and prelates
are in the state of perfection, it would follow that all of them that are
not perfect are in mortal sin, as deceivers and liars.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, as stated above (A[1]), perfection is measured according
to charity. Now the most perfect charity would seem to be in the martyrs,
according to Jn. 15:13, "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man
lay down his life for his friends": and a gloss on Heb. 12:4, "For you
have not yet resisted unto blood," says: "In this life no love is more
perfect than that to which the holy martyrs attained, who strove against
sin even unto blood." Therefore it would seem that the state of
perfection should be ascribed to the martyrs rather than to religious and
bishops.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. v) ascribes perfection to
bishops as being perfecters, and (Eccl. Hier. vi) to religious (whom he
calls monks or {therapeutai}, i.e. servants of God) as being perfected.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As stated above (A[4]), there is required for the state
of perfection a perpetual obligation to things pertaining to perfection,
together with a certain solemnity. Now both these conditions are
competent to religious and bishops. For religious bind themselves by vow
to refrain from worldly affairs, which they might lawfully use, in order
more freely to give themselves to God, wherein consists the perfection of
the present life. Hence Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. vi), speaking of
religious: "Some call them {therapeutai}," i.e. servants, "on account of
their rendering pure service and homage to God; others call them
{monachoi}" [*i.e. solitaries; whence the English word 'monk'], "on
account of the indivisible and single-minded life which by their being
wrapped in," i.e. contemplating, "indivisible things, unites them in a
Godlike union and a perfection beloved of God" [*Cf. Q[180], A[6]].
Moreover, the obligation in both cases is undertaken with a certain
solemnity of profession and consecration; wherefore Dionysius adds (Eccl.
Hier. vi): "Hence the holy legislation in bestowing perfect grace on them
accords them a hallowing invocation."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] Body Para. 2/2

In like manner bishops bind themselves to things pertaining to
perfection when they take up the pastoral duty, to which it belongs that
a shepherd "lay down his life for his sheep," according to Jn. 10:15.
Wherefore the Apostle says (1 Tim. 6:12): "Thou . . . hast confessed a
good confession before many witnesses," that is to say, "when he was
ordained," as a gloss says on this passage. Again, a certain solemnity of
consecration is employed together with the aforesaid profession,
according to 2 Tim. 1:6: "Stir up the grace of God which is in thee by
the imposition of my hands," which the gloss ascribes to the grace of the
episcopate. And Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. v) that "when the high
priest," i.e. the bishop, "is ordained, he receives on his head the most
holy imposition of the sacred oracles, whereby it is signified that he is
a participator in the whole and entire hierarchical power, and that not
only is he the enlightener in all things pertaining to his holy
discourses and actions, but that he also confers this on others."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Beginning and increase are sought not for their own sake,
but for the sake of perfection; hence it is only to the state of
perfection that some are admitted under certain obligations and with
solemnity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Those who enter the state of perfection do not profess to
be perfect, but to tend to perfection. Hence the Apostle says (Phil.
3:12): "Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect;
but I follow after, if I may by any means apprehend": and afterwards
(Phil. 3:15): "Let us therefore as many as are perfect, be thus minded."
Hence a man who takes up the state of perfection is not guilty of lying
or deceit through not being perfect, but through withdrawing his mind
from the intention of reaching perfection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Martyrdom is the most perfect act of charity. But an act of
perfection does not suffice to make the state of perfection, as stated
above (A[4]).


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether all ecclesiastical prelates are in the state of perfection?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that all ecclesiastical prelates are in a state of
perfection. For Jerome commenting on Titus 1:5, "Ordain . . . in every
city," etc. says: "Formerly priest was the same as bishop," and
afterwards he adds: "Just as priests know that by the custom of the
Church they are subject to the one who is placed over them, so too,
bishops should recognize that, by custom rather than by the very
ordinance of our Lord, they are above the priests, and are together the
rightful governors of the Church." Now bishops are in the state of
perfection. Therefore those priests also are who have the cure of souls.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, just as bishops together with their consecration receive
the cure of souls, so also do parish priests and archdeacons, of whom a
gloss on Acts 6:3, "Brethren, look ye out . . . seven men of good
reputation," says: "The apostles decided here to appoint throughout the
Church seven deacons, who were to be of a higher degree, and as it were
the supports of that which is nearest to the altar." Therefore it would
seem that these also are in the state of perfection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, just as bishops are bound to "lay down their life for
their sheep," so too are parish priests and archdeacons. But this belongs
to the perfection of charity, as stated above (A[2], ad 3). Therefore it
would seem that parish priests and archdeacons also are in the state of
perfection.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. v): "The order of pontiffs
is consummative and perfecting, that of the priests is illuminative and
light-giving, that of the ministers is cleansing and discretive." Hence
it is evident that perfection is ascribed to bishops only.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, In priests and deacons having cure of souls two things
may be considered, namely their order and their cure. Their order is
directed to some act in the Divine offices. Wherefore it has been stated
above (Q[183], A[3], ad 3) that the distinction of orders is comprised
under the distinction of offices. Hence by receiving a certain order a
man receives the power of exercising certain sacred acts, but he is not
bound on this account to things pertaining to perfection, except in so
far as in the Western Church the receiving of a sacred order includes the
taking of a vow of continence, which is one of the things pertaining to
perfection, as we shall state further on (Q[186], A[4]). Therefore it is
clear that from the fact that a man receives a sacred order a man is not
placed simply in the state of perfection, although inward perfection is
required in order that one exercise such acts worthily.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] Body Para. 2/2

In like manner, neither are they placed in the state of perfection on
the part of the cure which they take upon themselves. For they are not
bound by this very fact under the obligation of a perpetual vow to retain
the cure of souls; but they can surrender it - either by entering
religion, even without their bishop's permission (cf. Decret. xix, qu. 2,
can. Duae sunt) - or again an archdeacon may with his bishop's permission
resign his arch-deaconry or parish, and accept a simple prebend without
cure, which would be nowise lawful, if he were in the state of
perfection; for "no man putting his hand to the plough and looking back
is fit for the kingdom of God" (Lk. 9:62). On the other hand bishops,
since they are in the state of perfection, cannot abandon the episcopal
cure, save by the authority of the Sovereign Pontiff (to whom alone it
belongs also to dispense from perpetual vows), and this for certain
causes, as we shall state further on (Q[185], A[4]). Wherefore it is
manifest that not all prelates are in the state of perfection, but only
bishops.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 1: We may speak of priest and bishop in two ways. First, with
regard to the name: and thus formerly bishops and priests were not
distinct. For bishops are so called "because they watch over others," as
Augustine observes (De Civ. Dei xix, 19); while the priests according to
the Greek are "elders." [*Referring to the Greek {episkopos} and
{presbyteros} from which the English 'bishop' and 'priest' are derived.]
Hence the Apostle employs the term "priests" in reference to both, when
he says (1 Tim. 5:17): "Let the priests that rule well be esteemed worthy
of double honor"; and again he uses the term "bishops" in the same way,
wherefore addressing the priests of the Church of Ephesus he says (Acts
20:28): "Take heed to yourselves" and "to the whole flock, wherein the
Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 2/2

But as regards the thing signified by these terms, there was always a
difference between them, even at the time of the apostles. This is clear
on the authority of Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. v), and of a gloss on Lk.
10:1, "After these things the Lord appointed," etc. which says: "Just as
the apostles were made bishops, so the seventy-two disciples were made
priests of the second order." Subsequently, however, in order to avoid
schism, it became necessary to distinguish even the terms, by calling the
higher ones bishops and the lower ones priests. But to assert that
priests nowise differ from bishops is reckoned by Augustine among
heretical doctrines (De Heres. liii), where he says that the Arians
maintained that "no distinction existed between a priest and a bishop."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Bishops have the chief cure of the sheep of their diocese,
while parish priests and archdeacons exercise an inferior ministry under
the bishops. Hence a gloss on 1 Cor. 12:28, "to one, helps, to another,
governments [*Vulg.: 'God hath set some in the church . . . helps,
governments,' etc.]," says: "Helps, namely assistants to those who are in
authority," as Titus was to the Apostle, or as archdeacons to the bishop;
"governments, namely persons of lesser authority, such as priests who
have to instruct the people": and Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. v) that
"just as we see the whole hierarchy culminating in Jesus, so each office
culminates in its respective godlike hierarch or bishop." Also it is said
(XVI, qu. i, can. Cunctis): "Priests and deacons must all take care not
to do anything without their bishop's permission." Wherefore it is
evident that they stand in relation to their bishop as wardens or mayors
to the king; and for this reason, just as in earthly governments the king
alone receives a solemn blessing, while others are appointed by simple
commission, so too in the Church the episcopal cure is conferred with the
solemnity of consecration, while the archdeacon or parish priest receives
his cure by simple appointment; although they are consecrated by
receiving orders before having a cure.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As parish priests and archdeacons have not the chief cure,
but a certain ministry as committed to them by the bishop, so the
pastoral office does not belong to them in chief, nor are they bound to
lay down their life for the sheep, except in so far as they have a share
in their cure. Hence we should say that they have an office pertaining to
perfection rather than that they attain the state of perfection.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[7] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the religious state is more perfect than that of prelates?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[7] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the religious state is more perfect than that
of prelates. For our Lord said (Mt. 19:21): "If thou wilt be perfect, go"
and "sell" all [Vulg.: 'what'] "thou hast, and give to the poor"; and
religious do this. But bishops are not bound to do so; for it is said
(XII, qu. i, can. Episcopi de rebus): "Bishops, if they wish, may
bequeath to their heirs their personal or acquired property, and whatever
belongs to them personally." Therefore religious are in a more perfect
state than bishops.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[7] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, perfection consists more especially in the love of God
than in the love of our neighbor. Now the religious state is directly
ordered to the love of God, wherefore it takes its name from "service and
homage to God," as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. vi); [*Quoted above A[5]]
whereas the bishop's state would seem to be ordered to the love of our
neighbor, of whose cure he is the "warden," and from this he takes his
name, as Augustine observes (De Civ. Dei. xix, 19). Therefore it would
seem that the religious state is more perfect than that of bishops.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[7] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the religious state is directed to the contemplative
life, which is more excellent than the active life to which the episcopal
state is directed. For Gregory says (Pastor. i, 7) that "Isaias wishing
to be of profit to his neighbor by means of the active life desired the
office of preaching, whereas Jeremias, who was fain to hold fast to the
love of his Creator, exclaimed against being sent to preach." Therefore
it would seem that the religious state is more perfect than the episcopal
state.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[7] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is not lawful for anyone to pass from a more
excellent to a less excellent state; for this would be to look back [*Cf.
Lk. 9:62]. Yet a man may pass from the religious to the episcopal state,
for it is said (XVIII, qu. i, can. Statutum) that "the holy ordination
makes a monk to be a bishop." Therefore the episcopal state is more
perfect than the religious.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[7] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 16), "the agent is
ever more excellent than the patient." Now in the genus of perfection
according to Dionysius (Eccl. Hier. v, vi), bishops are in the position
of "perfecters," whereas religious are in the position of being
"perfected"; the former of which pertains to action, and the latter to
passion. Whence it is evident that the state of perfection is more
excellent in bishops than in religious.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[7] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Renunciation of one's possessions may be considered in two
ways. First, as being actual: and thus it is not essential, but a means,
to perfection, as stated above (A[3]). Hence nothing hinders the state of
perfection from being without renunciation of one's possessions, and the
same applies to other outward practices. Secondly, it may be considered
in relation to one's preparedness, in the sense of being prepared to
renounce or give away all: and this belongs directly to perfection. Hence
Augustine says (De QQ. Evang. ii, qu. 11): "Our Lord shows that the
children of wisdom understand righteousness to consist neither in eating
nor in abstaining, but in bearing want patiently." Wherefore the Apostle
says (Phil. 4:12): "I know . . . both to abound and to suffer need." Now
bishops especially are bound to despise all things for the honor of God
and the spiritual welfare of their flock, when it is necessary for them
to do so, either by giving to the poor of their flock, or by suffering
"with joy the being stripped of" their "own goods" [*Heb. 10:34].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[7] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: That bishops are busy about things pertaining to the love
of their neighbor, arises out of the abundance of their love of God.
Hence our Lord asked Peter first of all whether he loved Him, and
afterwards committed the care of His flock to him. And Gregory says
(Pastor. i, 5): "If the pastoral care is a proof of love, he who refuses
to feed God's flock, though having the means to do so, is convicted of
not loving the supreme Pastor." And it is a sign of greater love if a man
devotes himself to others for his friend's sake, than if he be willing
only to serve his friend.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[7] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As Gregory says (Pastor. ii, 1), "a prelate should be
foremost in action, and more uplifted than others in contemplation,"
because it is incumbent on him to contemplate, not only for his own sake,
but also for the purpose of instructing others. Hence Gregory applies
(Hom. v in Ezech.) the words of Ps. 144:7, "They shall publish the memory
. . . of Thy sweetness," to perfect men returning after their
contemplation.



Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether parish priests and archdeacons are more perfect than religious?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that also parish priests and archdeacons are more
perfect than religious. For Chrysostom says in his Dialogue (De Sacerdot.
vi): "Take for example a monk, such as Elias, if I may exaggerate
somewhat, he is not to be compared with one who, cast among the people
and compelled to carry the sins of many, remains firm and strong." A
little further on he says: "If I were given the choice, where would I
prefer to please, in the priestly office, or in the monastic solitude,
without hesitation I should choose the former." Again in the same book
(ch. 5) he says: "If you compare the toils of this project, namely of the
monastic life, with a well-employed priesthood, you will find them as far
distant from one another as a common citizen is from a king." Therefore
it would seem that priests who have the cure of souls are more perfect
than religious.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Augustine says (ad Valerium, Ep. xxi): "Let thy
religious prudence observe that in this life, and especially at these times, there is nothing so difficult, so onerous, so perilous as the
office of bishop, priest, or deacon; while in God's sight there is no
greater blessing, if one engage in the fight as ordered by our
Commander-in-chief." Therefore religious are not more perfect than
priests or deacons.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Augustine says (Ep. lx, ad Aurel.): "It would be most
regrettable, were we to exalt monks to such a disastrous degree of pride,
and deem the clergy deserving of such a grievous insult," as to assert
that 'a bad monk is a good clerk,' "since sometimes even a good monk
makes a bad clerk." And a little before this he says that "God's
servants," i.e. monks, "must not be allowed to think that they may easily
be chosen for something better," namely the clerical state, "if they
should become worse thereby," namely by leaving the monastic state.
Therefore it would seem that those who are in the clerical state are more
perfect than religious.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, it is not lawful to pass from a more perfect to a less
perfect state. Yet it is lawful to pass from the monastic state to a
priestly office with a cure attached, as appears (XVI, qu. i, can. Si
quis monachus) from a decree of Pope Gelasius, who says: "If there be a
monk, who by the merit of his exemplary life is worthy of the priesthood,
and the abbot under whose authority he fights for Christ his King, ask
that he be made a priest, the bishop shall take him and ordain him in
such place as he shall choose fitting." And Jerome says (Ad Rustic.
Monach., Ep. cxxv): "In the monastery so live as to deserve to be a
clerk." Therefore parish priests and archdeacons are more perfect than
religious.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, bishops are in a more perfect state than religious, as
shown above (A[7]). But parish priests and archdeacons. through having
cure of souls, are more like bishops than religious are. Therefore they
are more perfect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Obj. 6 Para. 1/1

OBJ 6: Further, virtue "is concerned with the difficult and the good"
(Ethic. ii, 3). Now it is more difficult to lead a good life in the
office of parish priest or archdeacon than in the religious state.
Therefore parish priests and archdeacons have more perfect virtue than
religious.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is stated (XIX, qu. ii, cap. Duce): "If a man while
governing the people in his church under the bishop and leading a secular
life is inspired by the Holy Ghost to desire to work out his salvation in
a monastery or under some canonical rule, since he is led by a private
law, there is no reason why he should be constrained by a public law."
Now a man is not led by the law of the Holy Ghost, which is here called a
"private law," except to something more perfect. Therefore it would seem
that religious are more perfect than archdeacons or parish priests.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Body Para. 1/5

I answer that, When we compare things in the point of super-eminence, we
look not at that in which they agree, but at that wherein they differ.
Now in parish priests and archdeacons three things may be considered,
their state, their order, and their office. It belongs to their state
that they are seculars, to their order that they are priests or deacons,
to their office that they have the cure of souls committed to them.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Body Para. 2/5

Accordingly, if we compare these with one who is a religious by state, a
deacon or priest by order, having the cure of souls by office, as many
monks and canons regular have, this one will excel in the first point,
and in the other points he will be equal. But if the latter differ from
the former in state and office, but agree in order, such as religious
priests and deacons not having the cure of souls, it is evident that the
latter will be more excellent than the former in state, less excellent in
office, and equal in order.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Body Para. 3/5

We must therefore consider which is the greater, preeminence of state or
of office; and here, seemingly, we should take note of two things,
goodness and difficulty. Accordingly, if we make the comparison with a
view to goodness, the religious state surpasses the office of parish
priest or archdeacon, because a religious pledges his whole life to the
quest of perfection, whereas the parish priest or archdeacon does not
pledge his whole life to the cure of souls, as a bishop does, nor is it
competent to him, as it is to a bishop, to exercise the cure of souls in
chief, but only in certain particulars regarding the cure of souls
committed to his charge, as stated above (A[6], ad 2). Wherefore the
comparison of their religious state with their office is like the
comparisons of the universal with the particular, and of a holocaust with
a sacrifice which is less than a holocaust according to Gregory (Hom. xx
in Ezech.). Hence it is said (XIX, qu. i, can. Clerici qui monachorum.):
"Clerics who wish to take the monastic vows through being desirous of a
better life must be allowed by their bishops the free entrance into the
monastery."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Body Para. 4/5

This comparison, however, must be considered as regarding the genus of
the deed; for as regards the charity of the doer it happens sometimes
that a deed which is of less account in its genus is of greater merit if
it be done out of greater charity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] Body Para. 5/5

On the other hand, if we consider the difficulty of leading a good life
in religion, and in the office of one having the cure of souls, in this
way it is more difficult to lead a good life together with the exercise
of the cure of souls, on account of outward dangers: although the
religious life is more difficult as regards the genus of the deed, by
reason of the strictness of religious observance. If, however, the
religious is also without orders, as in the case of religious lay
brethren, then it is evident that the pre-eminence of order excels in the
point of dignity, since by holy orders a man is appointed to the most
august ministry of serving Christ Himself in the sacrament of the altar.
For this requires a greater inward holiness than that which is requisite
for the religious state, since as Dionysius says (Eccl. Hier. vi) the
monastic order must follow the priestly orders, and ascend to Divine
things in imitation of them. Hence, other things being equal, a cleric
who is in holy orders, sins more grievously if he do something contrary
to holiness than a religious who is not in holy orders: although a
religious who is not in orders is bound to regular observance to which
persons in holy orders are not bound.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: We might answer briefly these quotations from Chrysostom by
saying that he speaks not of a priest of lesser order who has the cure of
souls, but of a bishop, who is called a high-priest; and this agrees with
the purpose of that book wherein he consoles himself and Basil in that
they were chosen to be bishops. We may, however, pass this over and reply
that he speaks in view of the difficulty. For he had already said: "When
the pilot is surrounded by the stormy sea and is able to bring the ship
safely out of the tempest, then he deserves to be acknowledged by all as
a perfect pilot"; and afterwards he concludes, as quoted, with regard to
the monk, "who is not to be compared with one who, cast among the people
. . . remains firm"; and he gives the reason why, because "both in the
calm end in the storm he piloted himself to safety." This proves nothing
more than that the state of one who has the cure of souls is fraught with
more danger than the monastic state; and to keep oneself innocent in face
of a greater peril is proof of greater virtue. on the other hand, it also
indicates greatness of virtue if a man avoid dangers by entering
religion; hence he does not say that "he would prefer the priestly office
to the monastic solitude," but that "he would rather please" in the
former than in the latter, since this is a proof of greater virtue.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: This passage quoted from Augustine also clearly refers to
the question of difficulty which proves the greatness of virtue in those
who lead a good life, as stated above (ad 1).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Augustine there compares monks with clerics as regards the
pre-eminence of order, not as regards the distinction between religious
and secular life.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] R.O. 4 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 4: Those who are taken from the religious state to receive the
cure of souls, being already in sacred orders, attain to something they
had not hitherto, namely the office of the cure, yet they do not put
aside what they had already. For it is said in the Decretals (XVI, qu. i,
can. De Monachis): "With regard to those monks who after long residence
in a monastery attain to the order of clerics, we bid them not to lay
aside their former purpose."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] R.O. 4 Para. 2/2

On the other hand, parish priests and archdeacons, when they enter
religion, resign their cure, in order to enter the state of perfection.
This very fact shows the excellence of the religious life. When religious
who are not in orders are admitted to the clerical state and to the
sacred orders, they are clearly promoted to something better, as stated:
this is indicated by the very way in which Jerome expresses himself: "So
live in the monastery as to deserve to be a clerk."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: Parish priests and archdeacons are more like bishops than
religious are, in a certain respect, namely as regards the cure of souls
which they have subordinately; but as regards the obligation in
perpetuity, religious are more like a bishop, as appears from what we
have said above (AA[5],6).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[184] A[8] R.O. 6 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 6: The difficulty that arises from the arduousness of the deed
adds to the perfection of virtue; but the difficulty that results from
outward obstacles sometimes lessens the perfection of virtue - for
instance, when a man loves not virtue so much as to wish to avoid the
obstacles to virtue, according to the saying of the Apostle (1 Cor.
9:25), "Everyone that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from
all things": and sometimes it is a sign of perfect virtue - for instance,
when a man forsakes not virtue, although he is hindered in the practice
of virtue unawares or by some unavoidable cause. In the religious state
there is greater difficulty arising from the arduousness of deeds;
whereas for those who in any way at all live in the world, there is
greater difficulty resulting from obstacles to virtue, which obstacles
the religious has had the foresight to avoid.





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