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Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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HIERARCHY OF BEING

The scholastic concept of an ascending order of beings in the universe, comprising inanimate matter, plants, animals, and rational human beings; above them are the immaterial created spirits or angels; and finally God, whose essence is immeasurably more sublime than that of any creature. Each level in this hierarchy is complete in its own perfection, and there is no transition from one to the other, while each preceding level depends on the beings above it; and all levels totally depend upon God.