SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
EXPLANATION of the TEN COMMANDMENTS.
A. It is a promise made to God of performing some good action.
Q. Explain it more at large.
A. The promise must be, with an intention to oblige one's self: and the thing promised must be good, possible, and better done than undone.
Q. What is a promise?
A. It is an engaging of one's faith: and a breach of it is a lying to the person to whom it is made.
Q. Are vows made to saints?
A. No, only to God: saints are called upon as witnesses.
Q. How many sorts of vows are there ?
A. Several: the chief are absolute, not expressing nor implying a condition. A conditional vow is when a condition is expressed or implied. An express vow is when the thing promised is expressed in words or thoughts. A tacit vow is when the thing promised is acknowledged to have a vow annexed; as in the vows of priests, where chastity, etc., are not expressed, but implied. A simple vow is that which is made without ceremonies appointed by the Church. A solemn vow is that which is made in the profession of religious persons, etc.
Q. In what cases are vows lawful and valid, and when are they neither lawful nor valid ?
A. In the first place, a purpose or intention to do a thing, is no vow, unless a person does actually, in words or thoughts oblige himself. If a person actually makes a vow in words, but declares lie has no intention inwardly to comply with it, or oblige himself, the Church will oblige him to stand to his vow; and he sins mortally, at least in matters of consequence. Vows made by persons in sickness, in danger of death, or by young persons, if they have a sufficient presence of mind, are obligatory. A vow to do things which are unlawful or bad, or things out of one's power, or things that are vain, indifferent, and of no consideration, in order to promote i goodness, is invalid; and it is an offence to make such vows.—Things that are indifferent of themselves, may become good by circumstances ; in which cases, they may be vowed.
Q. Why do vows oblige? When do they oblige? How does the obligation cease? Are persons obliged to perform vows made by others ?
A. Vows are obligatory of their own nature; because, not to keep our promise with God, is derogatory to his honor; and we lie to him in fact. Hence, the Scriptures command us to comply with our vows, otherwise we offend God. Num. xxx. 3. Prov. xx. 25. Isa. xix. 21.
Q. Vows destroy freedom.
A. Those who vow, enjoy freedom both before and after. They were at liberty to vow or not vow; and when they had vowed, the obligation they laid upon themselves no more destroyed their freedom, than the commandments of God destroy freedom.
Q. What occasion is there of vows to do good ? Are we not all obliged to do good, both by the law of nature and God's positive law ?
A. True: the law of nature and divine laws oblige us to do good; but still we may use means, and impose a law upon ourselves, in order to be more punctual in observing those laws, viz.: By submitting to pains and forfeitures, if we disobey God. Again, the law of nature, and law of God, though they command good in general, and several species of doing good, yet they do not particularise matters, as to time, place, persons, or how they are to be complied with. For instance, the law of God commands obedience, charity, etc.; but it does not specify every particular person whom we are to obey, or to whom we are to bestow charity, or when, or how; these we may impose upon ourselves by vows. I am not obliged to give such a sum, or to such a person, or at such a time, unless I oblige myself by vow.
Q. What do you say as to the time when a vow is to be fulfilled?
A. The rule is given in the 23d chapter of Deuteronomy, v. 21. " When thou hast vowed a vow to our Lord thy God, thou shalt not delay to pay it: because our Lord thy God will require it, and if thou delay, it shall be reputed to thee as a sin." Hence, a vow of immediately doing a thing, is to be done the first opportunity. If no time is mentioned, it is not to be deferred too long, lest a person become incapable.
Q. Is an heir obliged to perform the vow of his parent?
A. A distinction is to be observed between personal and real vows. For instance, an heir is not obliged to visit Rome or Jerusalem, because his father made such a vow: but if his father made a vow to bestow an alms, he is obliged to perform it, if he tied himself to it by promise and consent, or if that encumbrance is expressed in the settlement; because it is a debt of charity and justice.