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Good actions that are not prescribed by any law. They are morally better that the corresponding precepts, as fasting is higher that temperance. among the counsels the most important are the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They are called evangelical because they were taught and practiced by Christ in the Gospels. Moreover, they are especially proposed by the Church as means for attaining Christian perfection. A person can freely bind oneself to practice the evangelical counsels, as in the religious life, and then they become obligatory according to the conditions of the vow or promises assumed.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.