Choose a topic from Part 2B:

88. Vows

1. A vow is a promise, proceeding from a deliberate will,with a purpose in view. Sometimes a vow is expressed in wordsbefore witnesses; sometimes it is made silently and interiorly,with no human witness.

2. As an act of religion, a vow is a promise freely madeto God to do something pleasing to him that the person promising isnot already under obligation to do.

3. A vow is a promise freely made. No one isobliged to make a vow. But once a vow is made, it imposesobligation; it must be kept. A person must be true to his word,especially his word to God.

4. Although a vow is a promise to do what is pleasing toGod, the whole benefit of the vow redounds to the person who makesit. God is not benefited or helped by our vows; no creature canconfer a favor on the Creator. St. Augustine (Ep. 127ad Arment. et Paulin.) says, "God does not grow richon our payments, but makes those who pay him grow rich inhim."

5. A vow is the directing and dedicating of the thingpromised to the worship and service of God. Therefore, a vow is anact of religion. And, since vows are made to God, they are acts oflatria, that is, of divine worship.

6. It is better and more meritorious to do somethingpleasing to God (which the performer or agent is not alreadyobliged to do) in fulfillment of a vow, than to do the same thingwithout a vow. The vow itself is an act of religion, and adds itsmerit to the merit of the good deed which fulfills it.

7. A religious vow is solemnized when it is thevow of one who receives holy orders, or who enters a religiouscommunity to live under a rule approved by the Church.

8. Since a vow is essentially a free promise, a person whois lawfully subject to another is incapable of making a vow whichconflicts with his duties to that other.

9. Children who have reached the use of reason canlawfully make a private vow to enter a religious community, butwhile they are under the age of puberty, the vow may be annulled bytheir parents. After puberty, according to the age determined bythe Church, children can make a religious vow, simple or solemn,even without the consent of their parents.

10. A person who makes a vow makes a kind of law forhimself. It may happen that this law is found to conflict with agreater good. In such a case, competent authority must decide thatthe vow is not to be observed. This decision is called adispensation from the vow. If the dispensing authority imposesanother obligation to take the place of the one removed, the actionis called commutation, not dispensation.

11. The Church has power to dispense from vows, even fromthe vow of chastity or continency which, by ecclesiasticalinstitution, is attached to the taking of major orders. But itseems that the solemn and perpetual vow of chastity, which belongsessentially to the religious or monastic life, admits of nodispensation.

12. Only competent Church authority can dispense from avow or commute it.

"To do God's will -- this was the goal upon which the saints constantly fixed their gaze. They were fully persuaded that in this consists the entire perfection of the soul. "
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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"God speaks to us without ceasing by his good inspirations."
The Cure D'Ars

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