As I understand the teaching on the Evangelical Counsels or Counsels of Perfection, tobeying them makes salvation quicker/easier/more expedient/more sure. Also, I understand the teaching to be that those who desire to be “perfect” should (or even must?) follow them.
However, shouldn’t EVERYONE desire to be perfect? Therefore, shouldn’t EVERYONE follow the Counsels of Perfection?
Yet, I understand that few are expected to do this. I have even heard that few are even called to do this.
On all these points, I am thoroughly confused.
Is it not a sin to fall short of even desiring to be perfect? Then, why is observing these Counsels apparently considered a matter of vocation, and a rare vocation at that?
Shouldn’t we all desire to have the greatest assurance that we will inherit eternal life? Wouldn’t taking a risk on something so important by not obeying the COunsels of Perfection be a grave mistake? Then, why do so few obey these Counsels and why are so few apparently expected by the Church to do so?
Are those who wish to serve Christ in as much perfection as possible but who still remain in the world not living up to their full potential, as it were? Should these kinds of people adopt the Counsels? Should those that know that they struggle with a particular area of sin in the world adopt them? Should even those who might possibly encounter sin in some area of life adopt them, just to be safe?
Is observing the Counsels always considered a special vocation on someone’s life? How does someone know that he/she has this vocation? Is it really as simple as a matter of choice/preference? As I understand what I have read, the Counsels are to be observed in relation to Christ and to more fully serve Him. However, does this serving Him relate more to an overtly “religious” service, say, that one attains through the Priesthood or other Religious (cap R) life, or does this service to Him mean the kind of everyday service that we all strive to carry out?
And, what of those who are living, as it were, in the world? Are they therefore called vocationally to live in this state and, therefore, shouldn’t consider themselves as falling short in any way? Should they enjoy the world with which God has blessed them fully and completely (but, of course, within Christian principles) without guilt? Or, should they always consider themselves in some way as falling short of true perfection meant for them?
I have already read both the Catholic ENcyclopedia’s and even Wikipedia’s entries on this subject, but am still as confused about the issue as I indicate above.
Any clarification from you guys or from other sources would therefore be most appreciated.
Also, a bit of a P.S. kind of question: Is the notion of the Counsels considered an infallible article of faith by the Church?