Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION CLXXXIII.: OF OFFICES AND VARIOUS STATES OF MEN IN GENERAL. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2)
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QUESTION CLXXXIII.: OF OFFICES AND VARIOUS STATES OF MEN IN GENERAL. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 2 (Summa Theologica - Secunda Secundae Pt.2) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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OF OFFICES AND VARIOUS STATES OF MEN IN GENERAL.
Article I.—Does state (status) essentially denote the condition of liberty or slavery?1
R. State (status, “a standing”) properly speaking signifies a special position, wherein a thing is set aside according to the manner of its nature, and established in a sort of immobility. For it is natural to man for his head to be erect and his feet planted firm on the ground, and the rest of the intervening members arranged in due order; which is not the case when the man is lying down, or sitting, or reclining, but only when he is standing straight up; nor again is he said to stand if he is moving, but only when he is at rest. Hence with reference to men the incidents about them that are extrinsic and easily variable do not constitute a state; for instance, one’s being rich or poor, in dignity or in a plebeian condition. Hence also in the Civil Law it is said that in the case of a man losing his seat in the Senate it is his dignity rather than his state that is taken from him. That alone is considered to belong to a man’s state, which regards the obligation of his person, as he is his own master or in the power of another, and that not for any light or easily changeable cause, but on some permanent ground; or in other words, something which forms part of the notion of liberty or slavery. Hence state (status) properly regards liberty or slavery, whether in spiritual or in civil matters.
§ 3. An office is so called in relation to action: rank or grade, in regard of order of superiority or inferiority. But to the notion of state there is requisite immobility as regards the condition of the person.
Article II.—Ought there to be in the Church a variety of offices or states?
R. The variety of states and offices in the Church points in the first place to the perfection of the Church. For as in the order of nature that perfection which exists in God simply and uniformly, cannot exist in creatures except in various forms and in many manners; so also the fulness of grace that is united in Christ the Head, overflows upon His members in manifold variety, that the body of the Church may be whole and perfect. And this is what the Apostle says: “And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors, for the perfecting of the saints.”1 Secondly, it is matter of necessity for the necessary work of the Church. For different men must be set aside for different work, that all may be done more expeditiously and without confusion: as the Apostle says, “In one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office.”2 Thirdly, this is part of the dignity and beauty of the Church, a beauty which consists in order: hence it is said, “When the Queen of Saba saw all the wisdom of Solomon, and the apartments of his servants, and the order of his ministers, she had no longer any spirit left in her;”3 and the Apostle says: “In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth.”4
§ 3. As in the natural body the different members are kept together in unity by the virtue of the quickening spirit, on the departure of which the members of the body break up; so also in the body of the Church peace between the different members is kept by the virtue of the Holy Ghost, who quickens the whole body of the Church. Hence the Apostle says: “Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”5 A man departs from this unity of the Spirit by seeking the things that are his own; as even in the earthly State peace is destroyed by the citizens severally seeking their own private interests. Otherwise the variety of offices and of states furthers the preservation of peace by giving more people an interest in public business.
Article IV.—Does the difference of states answer to the difference between beginners, proficients, and perfect?
R. State (status) is in regard of freedom or bondage. In spiritual things there is a twofold bondage and a twofold freedom. There is one bondage of sin, and another bondage of justice. In like manner there is a twofold freedom, one from sin and one from justice: as the Apostle says, “When you were servants of sin, you were free men to justice; but now being made free from sin, you are become servants to God.”1 It is the bondage of sin or of justice, when one is bent either upon evil by the habit of sin, or upon good by the habit of justice. In like manner also freedom from sin is when one is not overcome by the inclination to sin; and freedom from justice is when the love of justice does not hold one back and make one slow to do evil. But because natural reason inclines a man to justice, and sin is against natural reason, it follows that freedom from sin is true freedom; and such freedom goes along with the bondage of justice: because both by the one and the other the man tends to what becomes a man. In like manner real bondage is the bondage of sin; and that goes along with freedom from justice: for hereby a man is hindered from what properly befits him. But it is by human effort that man is rendered the bondsman either of justice or of sin: as the Apostle says, “To whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are whom you obey, whether it be of sin, unto death, or of obedience, unto justice.”1 Now in every human effort we may take a beginning, a middle, and an end. Consequently the state of spiritual bondage and freedom2 is marked off into three parts: the beginning, which is the state of beginners; the middle, which is the state of proficients; and the end, which is the state of the perfect.
[1 ]Status is a technical term of Roman Law. “The status of men means that by which they are partakers in a certain right. And since slaves are partakers in no civil right, they are said on that account to have no status: therefore when they come to be freemen, they are not considered to change their status. Cases of status are those in which a freeman is claimed as a slave, or a slave as a freeman. All freemen are said to change their status, who lose either their liberty, or their citizenship, or their rights in a particular family.” Vicat, Vocabularium Juris Utriusque, s.v. (Trl.)
[1 ]Ephes. iv. 11.
[2 ]Romans xii. 4.
[3 ]3 Kings x. 4, 5.
[4 ]2 Timothy ii. 20.
[5 ]Ephes. iv. 3.
[1 ]Romans vi. 20, 22.
[1 ]Romans vi. 16.
[2 ]That is, bondage of justice and freedom from sin. (Trl.)