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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] Out. Para. 1/1 - SERVICE BY PROMISE (Q[88])
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] Out. Para. 1/1 - SERVICE BY PROMISE (Q[88])


OF VOWS (TWELVE ARTICLES)

We must now consider vows, whereby something is promised to God. Under
this head there are twelve points of inquiry:

(1) What is a vow?

(2) What is the matter of a vow?

(3) Of the obligation of vows;

(4) Of the use of taking vows;

(5) Of what virtue is it an act?

(6) Whether it is more meritorious to do a thing from a vow, than
without a vow?

(7) Of the solemnizing of a vow;

(8) Whether those who are under another's power can take vows?

(9) Whether children may be bound by vow to enter religion?

(10) Whether a vow is subject to dispensation or commutation?

(11) Whether a dispensation can be granted in a solemn vow of continence?

(12) Whether the authority of a superior is required in a dispensation
from a vow?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether a vow consists in a mere purpose of the will?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that a vow consists in nothing but a purpose of the
will. According to some [*William of Auxerre, Sum. Aur. III, xxviii, qu.
1; Albertus Magnus, Sent. iv, D, 38], "a vow is a conception of a good
purpose after a firm deliberation of the mind, whereby a man binds
himself before God to do or not to do a certain thing." But the
conception of a good purpose and so forth, may consist in a mere movement
of the will. Therefore a vow consists in a mere purpose of the will.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the very word vow seems to be derived from "voluntas"
[will], for one is said to do a thing "proprio voto" [by one's own vow]
when one does it voluntarily. Now to "purpose" is an act of the will,
while to "promise" is an act of the reason. Therefore a vow consists in a
mere act of the will.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, our Lord said (Lk. 9:62): "No man putting his hand to
the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Now from
the very fact that a man has a purpose of doing good, he puts his hand to
the plough. Consequently, if he look back by desisting from his good
purpose, he is not fit for the kingdom of God. Therefore by a mere good
purpose a man is bound before God, even without making a promise; and
consequently it would seem that a vow consists in a mere purpose of the
will.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Eccles. 5:3): "If thou hast vowed
anything to God, defer not to pay it, for an unfaithful and foolish
promise displeaseth Him." Therefore to vow is to promise, and a vow is a
promise.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, A vow denotes a binding to do or omit some particular
thing. Now one man binds himself to another by means of a promise, which
is an act of the reason to which faculty it belongs to direct. For just
as a man by commanding or praying, directs, in a fashion, what others are
to do for him, so by promising he directs what he himself is to do for
another. Now a promise between man and man can only be expressed in words
or any other outward signs; whereas a promise can be made to God by the
mere inward thought, since according to 1 Kgs. 16:7, "Man seeth those
things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart." Yet we express
words outwardly sometimes, either to arouse ourselves, as was stated
above with regard to prayer (Q[83], A[12]), or to call others to witness,
so that one may refrain from breaking the vow, not only through fear of
God, but also through respect of men. Now a promise is the outcome from a
purpose of doing something: and a purpose presupposes deliberation, since
it is the act of a deliberate will. Accordingly three things are
essential to a vow: the first is deliberation. the second is a purpose of
the will; and the third is a promise, wherein is completed the nature of
a vow. Sometimes, however, two other things are added as a sort of
confirmation of the vow, namely, pronouncement by word of mouth,
according to Ps. 65:13, "I will pay Thee my vows which my lips have
uttered"; and the witnessing of others. Hence the Master says (Sent. iv,
D, 38) that a vow is "the witnessing of a spontaneous promise and ought
to be made to God and about things relating to God": although the
"witnessing" may strictly refer to the inward protestation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The conceiving of a good purpose is not confirmed by the
deliberation of the mind, unless the deliberation lead to a promise.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Man's will moves the reason to promise something relating
to things subject to his will, and a vow takes its name from the will
forasmuch as it proceeds from the will as first mover.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: He that puts his hand to the plough does something already;
while he that merely purposes to do something does nothing so far. When,
however, he promises, he already sets about doing, although he does not
yet fulfil his promise: even so, he that puts his hand to the plough does
not plough yet, nevertheless he stretches out his hand for the purpose of
ploughing.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether a vow should always be about a better good?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that a vow need not be always about a better good.
A greater good is one that pertains to supererogation. But vows are not
only about matters of supererogation, but also about matters of
salvation: thus in Baptism men vow to renounce the devil and his pomps,
and to keep the faith, as a gloss observes on Ps. 75:12, "Vow ye, and pay
to the Lord your God"; and Jacob vowed (Gn. 28:21) that the Lord should
be his God. Now this above all is necessary for salvation. Therefore vows
are not only about a better good.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, Jephte is included among the saints (Heb. 11:32). Yet he
killed his innocent daughter on account of his vow (Judges 11). Since,
then, the slaying of an innocent person is not a better good, but is in
itself unlawful, it seems that a vow may be made not only about a better
good, but also about something unlawful.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, things that tend to be harmful to the person, or that
are quite useless, do not come under the head of a better good. Yet
sometimes vows are made about immoderate vigils or fasts which tend to
injure the person: and sometimes vows are about indifferent matters and
such as are useful to no purpose. Therefore a vow is not always about a
better good.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Dt. 23:22): "If thou wilt not promise
thou shalt be without sin."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As stated above (A[1]), a vow is a promise made to God.
Now a promise is about something that one does voluntarily for someone
else: since it would be not a promise but a threat to say that one would
do something against someone. In like manner it would be futile to
promise anyone something unacceptable to him. Wherefore, as every sin is
against God, and since no work is acceptable to God unless it be
virtuous, it follows that nothing unlawful or indifferent, but only some
act of virtue, should be the matter of a vow. But as a vow denotes a
voluntary promise, while necessity excludes voluntariness, whatever is
absolutely necessary, whether to be or not to be, can nowise be the
matter of a vow. For it would be foolish to vow that one would die or
that one would not fly.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] Body Para. 2/2

On the other hand, if a thing be necessary. not absolutely but on the
supposition of an end - for instance if salvation be unattainable without
it - it may be the matter of a vow in so far as it is done voluntarily,
but not in so far as there is a necessity for doing it. But that which is
not necessary, neither absolutely, nor on the supposition of an end, is
altogether voluntary, and therefore is most properly the matter of a vow.
And this is said to be a greater good in comparison with that which is
universally necessary for salvation. Therefore, properly speaking, a vow
is said to be about a better good.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Renouncing the devil's pomps and keeping the faith of
Christ are the matter of baptismal vows, in so far as these things are
done voluntarily, although they are necessary for salvation. The same
answer applies to Jacob's vow: although it may also be explained that
Jacob vowed that he would have the Lord for his God, by giving Him a
special form of worship to which he was not bound, for instance by
offering tithes and so forth as mentioned further on in the same passage.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Certain things are good, whatever be their result; such are
acts of virtue, and these can be, absolutely speaking, the matter of a
vow: some are evil, whatever their result may be; as those things which
are sins in themselves, and these can nowise be the matter of a vow:
while some, considered in themselves, are good, and as such may be the
matter of a vow, yet they may have an evil result, in which case the vow
must not be kept. It was thus with the vow of Jephte, who as related in
Judges 11:30,31, "made a vow to the Lord, saying: If Thou wilt deliver
the children of Ammon into my hands, whosoever shall first come forth out
of the doors of my house, and shall meet me when I return in peace . . .
the same will I offer a holocaust to the Lord." For this could have an
evil result if, as indeed happened, he were to be met by some animal
which it would be unlawful to sacrifice, such as an ass or a human being.
Hence Jerome says [*Implicitly 1 Contra Jovin.: Comment. in Micheam vi,
viii: Comment. in Jerem. vii. The quotation is from Peter Comestor, Hist.
Scholast.]: "In vowing he was foolish, through lack of discretion, and in
keeping his vow he was wicked." Yet it is premised (Judges 11:29) that
"the Spirit of the Lord came upon him," because his faith and devotion,
which moved him to make that vow, were from the Holy Ghost; and for this
reason he is reckoned among the saints, as also by reason of the victory
which he obtained, and because it is probable that he repented of his
sinful deed, which nevertheless foreshadowed something good.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The mortification of one's own body, for instance by vigils
and fasting, is not acceptable to God except in so far as it is an act of
virtue; and this depends on its being done with due discretion, namely,
that concupiscence be curbed without overburdening nature. on this
condition such things may be the matter of a vow. Hence the Apostle after
saying (Rm. 12:1), "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy,
pleasing to God," adds, "your reasonable service." Since, however, man
is easily mistaken in judging of matters concerning himself, such vows as
these are more fittingly kept or disregarded according to the judgment of
a superior, yet so that, should a man find that without doubt he is
seriously burdened by keeping such a vow, and should he be unable to
appeal to his superior, he ought not to keep it. As to vows about vain
and useless things they should be ridiculed rather than kept.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether all vows are binding?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that vows are not all binding. For man needs things
that are done by another, more than God does, since He has no need for
our goods (Ps. 15:2). Now according to the prescription of human laws
[*Dig. L. xii, de pollicitat., i] a simple promise made to a man is not
binding; and this seems to be prescribed on account of the changeableness
of the human will. Much less binding therefore is a simple promise made
to God, which we call a vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, no one is bound to do what is impossible. Now sometimes
that which a man has vowed becomes impossible to him, either because it
depends on another's decision, as when, for instance, a man vows to enter
a monastery, the monks of which refuse to receive him: or on account of
some defect arising, for instance when a woman vows virginity, and
afterwards is deflowered; or when a man vows to give a sum of money, and
afterwards loses it. Therefore a vow is not always binding.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, if a man is bound to pay something, he must do so at
once. But a man is not bound to pay his vow at once, especially if it be
taken under a condition to be fulfilled in the future. Therefore a vow is
not always binding.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Eccles. 5:3,4): "Whatsoever thou hast
vowed, pay it; and it is much better not to vow, than after a vow not to
perform the things promised."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, For one to be accounted faithful one must keep one's
promises. Wherefore, according to Augustine [*Ep. xxxii, 2: De Mendac.
xx] faith takes its name "from a man's deed agreeing with his word"
[*'Fides . . . fiunt dicta' Cicero gives the same etymology (De Offic. i,
7)]. Now man ought to be faithful to God above all, both on account of
God's sovereignty, and on account of the favors he has received from God.
Hence man is obliged before all to fulfill the vows he has made to God,
since this is part of the fidelity he owes to God. On the other hand, the
breaking of a vow is a kind of infidelity. Wherefore Solomon gives the
reason why vows should be paid to God, because "an unfaithful . . .
promise displeaseth Him" [*Eccles. 5:3].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Honesty demands that a man should keep any promise he makes
to another man, and this obligation is based on the natural law. But for
a man to be under a civil obligation through a promise he has made, other
conditions are requisite. And although God needs not our goods, we are
under a very great obligation to Him: so that a vow made to Him is most
binding.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: If that which a man has vowed becomes impossible to him
through any cause whatsoever, he must do what he can, so that he have at
least a will ready to do what he can. Hence if a man has vowed to enter a
monastery, he must endeavor to the best of his power to be received
there. And if his intention was chiefly to bind himself to enter the
religious life, so that, in consequence, he chose this particular form of
religious life, or this place, as being most agreeable to him, he is
bound, should he be unable to be received there, to enter the religious
life elsewhere. But if his principal intention is to bind himself to this
particular kind of religious life, or to this particular place, because
the one or the other pleases him in some special way, he is not bound to
enter another religious house, if they are unwilling to receive him into
this particular one. on the other hand, if he be rendered incapable of
fulfilling his vow through his own fault, he is bound over and above to
do penance for his past fault: thus if a woman has vowed virginity and is
afterwards violated, she is bound not only to observe what is in her
power, namely, perpetual continency, but also to repent of what she has
lost by sinning.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The obligation of a vow is caused by our own will and
intention, wherefore it is written (Dt. 23:23): "That which is once gone
out of thy lips, thou shalt observe, and shalt do as thou hast promised
to the Lord thy God, and hast spoken with thy own will and with thy own
mouth." Wherefore if in taking a vow, it is one's intention and will to
bind oneself to fulfil it at once, one is bound to fulfil it immediately.
But if one intend to fulfil it at a certain time, or under a certain
condition, one is not bound to immediate fulfilment. And yet one ought
not to delay longer than one intended to bind oneself, for it is written
(Dt. 23:21): "When thou hast made a vow to the Lord thy God thou shalt
not delay to pay it: because the Lord thy God will require it; and if
thou delay, it shall be imputed to thee for a sin."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it is expedient to take vows?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that it is not expedient to take vows. It is not
expedient to anyone to deprive himself of the good that God has given
him. Now one of the greatest goods that God has given man is liberty
whereof he seems to be deprived by the necessity implicated in a vow.
Therefore it would seem inexpedient for man to take vows.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, no one should expose himself to danger. But whoever
takes a vow exposes himself to danger, since that which, before taking a
vow, he could omit without danger, becomes a source of danger to him if
he should not fulfil it after taking the vow. Hence Augustine says (Ep.
cxxvii, ad Arment. et Paulin.): "Since thou hast vowed, thou hast bound
thyself, thou canst not do otherwise. If thou dost not what thou hast
vowed thou wilt not be as thou wouldst have been hadst thou not vowed.
For then thou wouldst have been less great, not less good: whereas now if
thou breakest faith with God (which God forbid) thou art the more
unhappy, as thou wouldst have been happier, hadst thou kept thy vow."
Therefore it is not expedient to take vows.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the Apostle says (1 Cor. 4:16): "Be ye followers of me,
as I also am of Christ." But we do not read that either Christ or the
Apostles took any vows. Therefore it would seem inexpedient to take vows.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Ps. 75:12): "Vow ye and pay to the Lord
your God."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (AA[1],2), a vow is a promise made to
God. Now one makes a promise to a man under one aspect, and to God under
another. Because we promise something to a man for his own profit; since
it profits him that we should be of service to him, and that we should at
first assure him of the future fulfilment of that service: whereas we
make promises to God not for His but for our own profit. Hence Augustine
says (Ep. cxxvii, ad Arment. et Paulin.): "He is a kind and not a needy
exactor, for he does not grow rich on our payments, but makes those who
pay Him grow rich in Him." And just as what we give God is useful not to
Him but to us, since "what is given Him is added to the giver," as
Augustine says (Ep. cxxvii, ad Arment. et Paulin.), so also a promise
whereby we vow something to God, does not conduce to His profit, nor does
He need to be assured by us, but it conduces to our profit, in so far as
by vowing we fix our wills immovably on that which it is expedient to do.
Hence it is expedient to take vows.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Even as one's liberty is not lessened by one being unable
to sin, so, too, the necessity resulting from a will firmly fixed to good
does not lessen the liberty, as instanced in God and the blessed. Such is
the necessity implied by a vow, bearing a certain resemblance to the
confirmation of the blessed. Hence, Augustine says (Ep. cxxvii, ad
Arment. et Paulin.) that "happy is the necessity that compels us to do
the better things."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: When danger arises from the deed itself, this deed is not
expedient, for instance that one cross a river by a tottering bridge: but
if the danger arise through man's failure in the deed, the latter does
not cease to be expedient: thus it is expedient to mount on horseback,
though there be the danger of a fall from the horse: else it would
behoove one to desist from all good things, that may become dangerous
accidentally. Wherefore it is written (Eccles. 11:4): "He that observeth
the wind shall not sow, and he that considereth the clouds shall never
reap." Now a man incurs danger, not from the vow itself, but from his
fault, when he changes his mind by breaking his vow. Hence, Augustine
says (Ep. cxxvii, ad Arment. et Paulin.): "Repent not of thy vow: thou
shouldst rather rejoice that thou canst no longer do what thou mightest
lawfully have done to thy detriment."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 3: It was incompetent for Christ, by His very nature, to take
a vow, both because He was God, and because, as man, His will was firmly
fixed on the good, since He was a "comprehensor." By a kind of
similitude, however, He is represented as saying (Ps. 21:26): "I will pay
my vows in the sight of them that fear Him," when He is speaking of His
body, which is the Church.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 2/2

The apostles are understood to have vowed things pertaining to the state
of perfection when "they left all things and followed Christ."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether a vow is an act of latria or religion?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that a vow is not an act of latria or religion.
Every act of virtue is matter for a vow. Now it would seem to pertain to
the same virtue to promise a thing and to do it. Therefore a vow pertains
to any virtue and not to religion especially.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, according to Tully (De Invent. ii, 53) it belongs to
religion to offer God worship and ceremonial rites. But he who takes a
vow does not yet offer something to God, but only promises it. Therefore,
a vow is not an act of religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, religious worship should be offered to none but God. But
a vow is made not only to God, but also to the saints and to one's
superiors, to whom religious vow obedience when they make their
profession. Therefore, a vow is not an act of religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Is. 19:21): "(The Egyptians) shall
worship Him with sacrifices and offerings and they shall make vows to the
Lord, and perform them." Now, the worship of God is properly the act of
religion or latria. Therefore, a vow is an act of latria or religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As stated above (Q[81], A[1], ad 1), every act of virtue
belongs to religion or latria by way of command, in so far as it is
directed to the reverence of God which is the proper end of latria. Now
the direction of other actions to their end belongs to the commanding
virtue, not to those which are commanded. Therefore the direction of the
acts of any virtue to the service of God is the proper act of latria.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] Body Para. 2/2

Now, it is evident from what has been said above (AA[1],2) that a vow is
a promise made to God, and that a promise is nothing else than a
directing of the thing promised to the person to whom the promise is
made. Hence a vow is a directing of the thing vowed to the worship or
service of God. And thus it is clear that to take a vow is properly an
act of latria or religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The matter of a vow is sometimes the act of another virtue,
as, for instance, keeping the fast or observing continency; while
sometimes it is an act of religion, as offering a sacrifice or praying.
But promising either of them to God belongs to religion, for the reason
given above. Hence it is evident that some vows belong to religion by
reason only of the promise made to God, which is the essence of a vow,
while others belong thereto by reason also of the thing promised, which
is the matter of the vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: He who promises something gives it already in as far as he
binds himself to give it: even as a thing is said to be made when its
cause is made, because the effect is contained virtually in its cause.
This is why we thank not only a giver, but also one who promises to give.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: A vow is made to God alone, whereas a promise may be made
to a man also: and this very promise of good, which is fore made to a
man, may be the matter of a vow, and in so far as it is a virtuous act.
This is how we are to understand vows whereby we vow something to the
saints or to one's superiors: so that the promise made to the saints or
to one's superiors is the matter of the vow, in so far as one vows to God
to fulfil what one has promised to the saints or one's superiors.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it is more praiseworthy and meritorious to do something in
fulfilment of a vow, than without a vow?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that it is more praiseworthy and meritorious to do
a thing without a vow than in fulfilment of a vow. Prosper says (De Vita
Contempl. ii): "We should abstain or fast without putting ourselves under
the necessity of fasting, lest that which we are free to do be done
without devotion and unwillingly." Now he who vows to fast puts himself
under the necessity of fasting. Therefore it would be better for him to
fast without taking the vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the Apostle says (2 Cor. 9:7): "Everyone as he hath
determined in his heart, not with sadness, or of necessity: for God
loveth a cheerful giver." Now some fulfil sorrowfully what they have
vowed: and this seems to be due to the necessity arising from the vow,
for necessity is a cause of sorrow according to Metaph. v [*Ed. Did. iv,
5]. Therefore, it is better to do something without a vow, than in
fulfilment of a vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, a vow is necessary for the purpose of fixing the will on
that which is vowed, as stated above (A[4]). But the will cannot be more
fixed on a thing than when it actually does that thing. Therefore it is
no better to do a thing in fulfilment of a vow than without a vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, A gloss on the words of Ps. 75:12, "Vow ye and pay,"
says: "Vows are counseled to the will." But a counsel is about none but
a better good. Therefore it is better to do a deed in fulfilment of a vow
than without a vow: since he that does it without a vow fulfils only one
counsel, viz. the counsel to do it, whereas he that does it with a vow,
fulfils two counsels, viz. the counsel to vow and the counsel to do it.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, For three reasons it is better and more meritorious to do
one and the same deed with a vow than without. First, because to vow, as
stated above (A[5]) is an act of religion which is the chief of the moral
virtues. Now the more excellent the virtue the better and more
meritorious the deed. Wherefore the act of an inferior virtue is the
better the more meritorious for being commanded by a superior virtue,
whose act it becomes through being commanded by it, just as the act of
faith or hope is better if it be commanded by charity. Hence the works of
the other moral virtues (for instance, fasting, which is an act of
abstinence; and being continent, which is an act of chastity) are better
and more meritorious, if they be done in fulfilment of a vow, since thus
they belong to the divine worship, being like sacrifices to God.
Wherefore Augustine says (De Virg. viii) that "not even is virginity
honorable as such, but only when it is consecrated to God, and cherished
by godly continence."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] Body Para. 2/3

Secondly, because he that vows something and does it, subjects himself
to God more than he that only does it; for he subjects himself to God not
only as to the act, but also as to the power, since in future he cannot
do something else. Even so he gives more who gives the tree with its
fruit, than he that gives the fruit only, as Anselm [*Eadmer] observes
(De Simil. viii). For this reason, we thank even those who promise, as
stated above (A[5], ad 2).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] Body Para. 3/3

Thirdly, because a vow fixes the will on the good immovably and to do
anything of a will that is fixed on the good belongs to the perfection of
virtue, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. ii, 4), just as to sin with
an obstinate mind aggravates the sin, and is called a sin against the
Holy Ghost, as stated above (Q[14], A[2]).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The passage quoted should be understood as referring to
necessity of coercion which causes an act to be involuntary and excludes
devotion. Hence he says pointedly: "Lest that which we are free to do be
done without devotion and unwillingly." On the other hand the necessity
resulting from a vow is caused by the immobility of the will, wherefore
it strengthens the will and increases devotion. Hence the argument does
not conclude.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: According to the Philosopher, necessity of coercion, in so
far as it is opposed to the will, causes sorrow. But the necessity
resulting from a vow, in those who are well disposed, in so far as it
strengthens the will, causes not sorrow but joy. Hence Augustine says
(Ep. ad Arment. et Paulin. cxxcii): "Repent not of thy vow: thou shouldst
rather rejoice that thou canst no longer do what thou mightest lawfully
have done to thy detriment." If, however, the very deed, considered in
itself, were to become disagreeable and involuntary after one has taken
the vow, the will to fulfil it remaining withal, it is still more
meritorious than if it were done without the vow, since the fulfilment of
a vow is an act of religion which is a greater virtue than abstinence, of
which fasting is an act.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: He who does something without having vowed it has an
immovable will as regards the individual deed which he does and at the
time when he does it; but his will does not remain altogether fixed for
the time to come, as does the will of one who makes a vow: for the latter
has bound his will to do something, both before he did that particular
deed, and perchance to do it many times.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[7] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether a vow is solemnized by the reception of holy orders, and by the
profession of a certain rule?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[7] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that a vow is not solemnized by the reception of
holy orders and by the profession of a certain rule. As stated above
(A[1]), a vow is a promise made to God. Now external actions pertaining
to solemnity seem to be directed, not to God, but to men. Therefore they
are related to vows accidentally: and consequently a solemnization of
this kind is not a proper circumstance of a vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[7] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, whatever belongs to the condition of a thing, would seem
to be applicable to all in which that thing is found. Now many things may
be the subject of a vow, which have no connection either with holy
orders, or to any particular rule: as when a man vows a pilgrimage, or
something of the kind. Therefore the solemnization that takes place in
the reception of holy orders or in the profession of a certain rule does
not belong to the condition of a vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[7] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, a solemn vow seems to be the same as a public vow. Now
many other vows may be made in public besides that which is pronounced in
receiving holy orders or in professing a certain rule; which latter,
moreover, may be made in private. Therefore not only these vows are
solemn.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[7] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, These vows alone are an impediment to the contract of
marriage, and annul marriage if it be contracted, which is the effect of
a solemn vow, as we shall state further on in the Third Part of this work
[*XP, Q[53], A[2]].

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[7] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The manner in which a thing is solemnized depends on its
nature [conditio]: thus when a man takes up arms he solemnizes the fact
in one way, namely, with a certain display of horses and arms and a
concourse of soldiers, while a marriage is solemnized in another way,
namely, the array of the bridegroom and bride and the gathering of their
kindred. Now a vow is a promise made to God: wherefore, the solemnization
of a vow consists in something spiritual pertaining to God; i.e. in some
spiritual blessing or consecration which, in accordance with the
institution of the apostles, is given when a man makes profession of
observing a certain rule, in the second degree after the reception of
holy orders, as Dionysius states (Eccl. Hier. vi). The reason of this is
that solemnization is not wont to be employed, save when a man gives
himself up entirely to some particular thing. For the nuptial
solemnization takes place only when the marriage is celebrated, and when
the bride and bridegroom mutually deliver the power over their bodies to
one another. In like manner a vow is solemnized when a man devotes
himself to the divine ministry by receiving holy orders, or embraces the
state of perfection by renouncing the world and his own will by the
profession of a certain rule.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[7] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This kind of solemnization regards not only men but also
God in so far as it is accompanied by a spiritual consecration or
blessing, of which God is the author, though man is the minister,
according to Num. 6:27, "They shall invoke My name upon the children of
Israel, and I will bless them." Hence a solemn vow is more binding with
God than a simple vow, and he who breaks a solemn vow sins more
grievously. When it is said that a simple vow is no less binding than a
solemn vow, this refers to the fact that the transgressor of either
commits a mortal sin.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[7] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: It is not customary to solemnize particular acts, but the
embracing of a new state, as we have said above. Hence when a man vows
particular deeds, such as a pilgrimage, or some special fast, such a vow
is not competent to be solemnized, but only such as the vow whereby a man
entirely devotes himself to the divine ministry or service: and yet many
particular works are included under this vow as under a universal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[7] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Through being pronounced in public vows may have a certain
human solemnity, but not a spiritual and divine solemnity, as the
aforesaid vows have, even when they are pronounced before a few persons.
Hence the publicity of a vow differs from its solemnization.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether those who are subject to another's power are hindered from taking
vows?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that those who are subject to another's power are
not hindered from taking vows. The lesser bond is surpassed by the
greater. Now the obligation of one man subject to another is a lesser
bond than a vow whereby one is under an obligation to God. Therefore
those who are subject to another's power are not hindered from taking
vows.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, children are under their parents' power. Yet children
may make religious profession even without the consent of their parents.
Therefore one is not hindered from taking vows, through being subject to
another's power.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, to do is more than to promise. But religious who are
under the power of their superiors can do certain things such as to say
some psalms, or abstain from certain things. Much more therefore
seemingly can they promise such things to God by means of vows.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, whoever does what he cannot do lawfully sins. But
subjects do not sin by taking vows, since nowhere do we find this
forbidden. Therefore it would seem that they can lawfully take vows.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is commanded (Num. 30:4-6) that "if a woman vow any
thing . . . being in her father's house, and yet but a girl in age," she
is not bound by the vow, unless her father consent: and the same is said
there (Num. 30:7-9) of the woman that has a husband. Therefore in like
manner other persons that are subject to another's power cannot bind
themselves by vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (A[1]), a vow is a promise made to God.
Now no man can firmly bind himself by a promise to do what is in
another's power, but only to that which is entirely in his own power. Now
whoever is subject to another, as to the matter wherein he is subject to
him, it does not lie in his power to do as he will, but it depends on the
will of the other. And therefore without the consent of his superior he
cannot bind himself firmly by a vow in those matters wherein he is
subject to another.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Nothing but what is virtuous can be the subject of a
promise made to God, as stated above (A[2]). Now it is contrary to virtue
for a man to offer to God that which belongs to another, as stated above
(Q[86], A[3]). Hence the conditions necessary for a vow are not
altogether ensured, when a man who is under another's power vows that
which is in that other's power, except under the condition that he whose
power it concerns does not gainsay it.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: As soon as a man comes of age, if he be a freeman he is in
his own power in all matters concerning his person, for instance with
regard to binding himself by vow to enter religion, or with regard to
contracting marriage. But he is not in his own power as regards the
arrangements of the household, so that in these matters he cannot vow
anything that shall be valid without the consent of his father.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

A slave, through being in his master's power, even as regards his
personal deeds, cannot bind himself by vow to enter religion, since this
would withdraw him from his master's service.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: A religious is subject to his superior as to his actions
connected with his profession of his rule. Wherefore even though one may
be able to do something now and then, when one is not being occupied with
other things by one's superior, yet since there is no time when his
superior cannot occupy him with something, no vow of a religious stands
without the consent of his superior, as neither does the vow of a girl
while in (her father's) house without his consent; nor of a wife,
without the consent of her husband.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[8] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Although the vow of one who is subject to another's power
does not stand without the consent of the one to whom he is subject, he
does not sin by vowing; because his vow is understood to contain the
requisite condition, providing, namely, that his superior approve or do
not gainsay it.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether children can bind themselves by vow to enter religion?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that children cannot bind themselves by vow to
enter religion. Since a vow requires deliberation of the mind, it is
fitting that those alone should vow who have the use of reason. But this
is lacking in children just as in imbeciles and madmen. Therefore just as
imbeciles and madmen cannot bind themselves to anything by vow, so
neither, seemingly, can children bind themselves by vow to enter religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, that which can be validly done by one cannot be annulled
by another. Now a vow to enter religion made by a boy or girl before the
age of puberty can be revoked by the parents or guardian (20, qu. ii,
cap. Puella). Therefore it seems that a boy or girl cannot validly make a
vow before the age of fourteen.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, according to the rule of Blessed Benedict [*Ch. 58] and
a statute of Innocent IV, a year's probation is granted to those who
enter religion, so that probation may precede the obligation of the vow.
Therefore it seems unlawful, before the year of probation, for children
to be bound by vow to enter religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, That which is not done aright is invalid without being
annulled by anyone. But the vow pronounced by a maiden, even before
attaining the age of puberty, is valid, unless it be annulled by her
parents within a year (20, qu. ii, cap. Puella). Therefore even before
attaining to puberty children can lawfully and validly be bound by a vow
to enter religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As may be gathered from what has been said above (A[7]),
vows are of two kinds, simple and solemn. And since, as stated in the
same article, the solemnization of a vow consists in a spiritual blessing
and consecration bestowed through the ministry of the Church, it follows
that it comes under the Church's dispensation. Now a simple vow takes its
efficacy from the deliberation of the mind, whereby one intends to put
oneself under an obligation. That such an obligation be of no force may
happen in two ways. First, through defect of reason, as in madmen and
imbeciles, who cannot bind themselves by vow so long as they remain in a
state of madness or imbecility. Secondly, through the maker of a vow
being subject to another's power, as stated above (A[8]). Now these two
circumstances concur in children before the age of puberty, because in
most instances they are lacking in reason, and besides are naturally
under the care of their parents, or guardians in place of their parents:
wherefore in both events their vows are without force. It happens,
however, through a natural disposition which is not subject to human
laws, that the use of reason is accelerated in some, albeit few, who on
this account are said to be capable of guile: and yet they are not, for
this reason, exempt in any way from the care of their parents; for this
care is subject to human law, which takes into account that which is of
most frequent occurrence.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] Body Para. 2/3

Accordingly we must say that boys or girls who have not reached the
years of puberty and have not attained the use of reason can nowise bind
themselves to anything by vow. If, however, they attain the use of
reason, before reaching the years of puberty, they can for their own
part, bind themselves by vow; but their vows can be annulled by their
parents, under whose care they are still subject.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] Body Para. 3/3

Yet no matter how much they be capable of guile before the years of
puberty, they cannot be bound by a solemn religious vow, on account of
the Church's decree [*Sext. Decret. cap. Is qui, de Reg. et transeunt. ad
Relig.] which considers the majority of cases. But after the years of
puberty have been reached, they can bind themselves by religious vows,
simple or solemn, without the consent of their parents.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This argument avails in the case of children who have not
yet reached the use of reason: for their vows then are invalid, as stated
above.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The vows of persons subject to another's power contain an
implied condition, namely, that they be not annulled by the superior.
This condition renders them licit and valid if it be fulfilled, as stated
above.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[9] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: This argument avails in the case of solemn vows which are
taken in profession.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether vows admit of dispensation?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that vows are not subject to dispensation. It is
less to have a vow commuted than to be dispensed from keeping it. But a
vow cannot be commuted, according to Lev. 27:9,10, "A beast that may be
sacrificed to the Lord, if anyone shall vow, shall be holy, and cannot be
changed, neither a better for a worse, nor a worse for a better." Much
less, therefore, do vows admit of dispensation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, no man can grant a dispensation in matters concerning
the natural law and in the Divine precepts, especially those of the First
Table, since these aim directly at the love of God, which is the last end
of the precepts. Now the fulfilment of a vow is a matter of the natural
law, and is commanded by the Divine law, as shown above (A[3]), and
belongs to the precepts of the First Table since it is an act of
religion. Therefore vows do not admit of dispensation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the obligation of a vow is based on the fidelity which a
man owes to God, as stated above (A[3]). But no man can dispense in such
a matter as this. Neither, therefore, can any one grant a dispensation
from a vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, That which proceeds from the common will of many has
apparently greater stability than that which proceeds from the individual
will of some one person. Now the law which derives its force from the
common will admits of dispensation by a man. Therefore it seems that vows
also admit of dispensation by a man.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, The dispensation from a vow is to be taken in the same
sense as a dispensation given in the observance of a law because, as
stated above (FS, Q[96], A[6]; FS, Q[97], A[4]), a law is made with an
eye to that which is good in the majority of instances. But since, in
certain cases this is not good, there is need for someone to decide that
in that particular case the law is not to be observed. This is properly
speaking to dispense in the law: for a dispensation would seem to denote
a commensurate distribution or application of some common thing to those
that are contained under it, in the same way as a person is said to
dispense food to a household.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] Body Para. 2/2

In like manner a person who takes a vow makes a law for himself as it
were, and binds himself to do something which in itself and in the
majority of cases is a good. But it may happen that in some particular
case this is simply evil, or useless, or a hindrance to a greater good:
and this is essentially contrary to that which is the matter of a vow, as
is clear from what has been said above (A[2]). Therefore it is necessary,
in such a case, to decide that the vow is not to be observed. And if it
be decided absolutely that a particular vow is not to be observed, this
is called a "dispensation" from that vow; but if some other obligation be
imposed in lieu of that which was to have been observed, the vow is said
to be "commuted." Hence it is less to commute a vow than to dispense from
a vow: both, however, are in the power of the Church.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: An animal that could be lawfully sacrificed was deemed holy
from the very moment that it was the subject of a vow, being, as it were,
dedicated to the worship of God: and for this reason it could not be
changed: even so neither may one now exchange for something better, or
worse, that which one has vowed, if it be already consecrated, e.g. a
chalice or a house. On the other hand, an animal that could not be
sacrificed, through not being the lawful matter of a sacrifice, could and
had to be bought back, as the law requires. Even so, vows can be commuted
now, if no consecration has intervened.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Even as man is bound by natural law and Divine precept to
fulfil his vow, so, too, is he bound under the same heads to obey the
law or commands of his superiors. And yet when he is dispensed from
keeping a human law, this does not involve disobedience to that human
law, for this would be contrary to the natural law and the Divine
command; but it amounts to this - that what was law is not law in this
particular case. Even so, when a superior grants a dispensation, that
which was contained under a vow is by his authority no longer so
contained, in so far as he decides that in this case such and such a
thing is not fitting matter for a vow. Consequently when an
ecclesiastical superior dispenses someone from a vow, he does not
dispense him from keeping a precept of the natural or of the Divine law,
but he pronounces a decision on a matter to which a man had bound himself
of his own accord, and of which he was unable to consider every
circumstance.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[10] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The fidelity we owe to God does not require that we fulfil
that which it would be wrong or useless to vow, or which would be an
obstacle to the greater good whereunto the dispensation from that vow
would conduce. Hence the dispensation from a vow is not contrary to the
fidelity due to God.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it is possible to be dispensed from a solemn vow of continency?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that it is possible to be dispensed from a solemn
vow of continency. As stated above, one reason for granting a
dispensation from a vow is if it be an obstacle to a greater good. But a
vow of continency, even though it be solemn, may be an obstacle to a
greater good, since the common good is more God-like than the good of an
individual. Now one man's continency may be an obstacle to the good of
the whole community, for instance, in the case where, if certain persons
who have vowed continency were to marry, the peace of their country might
be procured. Therefore it seems that it is possible to be dispensed even
from a solemn vow of continency.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, religion is a more excellent virtue than chastity. Now
if a man vows an act of religion, e.g. to offer sacrifice to God he can
be dispensed from that vow. Much more, therefore, can he be dispensed
from the vow of continency which is about an act of chastity.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, just as the observance of a vow of abstinence may be a
source of danger to the person, so too may be the observance of a vow of
continency. Now one who takes a vow of abstinence can be dispensed from
that vow if it prove a source of danger to his body. Therefore for the
same reason one may be dispensed from a vow of continency.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, just as the vow of continency is part of the religious
profession, whereby the vow is solemnized, so also are the vows of
poverty and obedience. But it is possible to be dispensed from the vows
of poverty and obedience, as in the case of those who are appointed
bishops after making profession. Therefore it seems that it is possible
to be dispensed from a solemn vow of continency.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] OTC Para. 1/2
On the contrary, It is written (Ecclus. 26:20): "No price is worthy of a
continent soul."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] OTC Para. 2/2

Further, (Extra, De Statu Monach.) at the end of the Decretal, Cum ad
Monasterium it is stated that the "renouncing of property, like the
keeping of chastity, is so bound up with the monastic rule, that not even
the Sovereign Pontiff can disperse from its observance."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] Body Para. 1/4

I answer that, Three things may be considered in a solemn vow of
continency: first, the matter of the vow, namely, continency; secondly,
the perpetuity of the vow, namely, when a person binds himself by vow to
the perpetual observance of chastity: thirdly, the solemnity of the vow.
Accordingly, some [*William of Auxerre, Sum. Aur. III. vii. 1, qu. 5] say
that the solemn vow cannot be a matter of dispensation, on account of the
continency itself for which no worthy price can be found, as is stated by
the authority quoted above. The reason for this is assigned by some to
the fact that by continency man overcomes a foe within himself, or to the
fact that by continency man is perfectly conformed to Christ in respect
of purity of both body and soul. But this reason does not seem to be cogent since the goods of the soul, such as contemplation and prayer, far
surpass the goods of the body and still more conform us to God, and yet
one may be dispensed from a vow of prayer or contemplation. Therefore,
continency itself absolutely considered seems no reason why the solemn
vow thereof cannot be a matter of dispensation; especially seeing that
the Apostle (1 Cor. 7:34) exhorts us to be continent on account of
contemplation, when he says that the unmarried woman . . . "thinketh on the things of God [Vulg.: 'the Lord']," and since the end is of more
account than the means.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] Body Para. 2/4

Consequently others [*Albertus Magnus, Sent. iv, D, 38] find the reason
for this in the perpetuity and universality of this vow. For they assert
that the vow of continency cannot be canceled, save by something
altogether contrary thereto, which is never lawful in any vow. But this
is evidently false, because just as the practice of carnal intercourse is
contrary to continency, so is eating flesh or drinking wine contrary to
abstinence from such things, and yet these latter vows may be a matter
for dispensation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] Body Para. 3/4

For this reason others [*Innocent IV, on the above decretal] maintain
that one may be dispensed even from a solemn vow of continency, for the
sake of some common good or common need, as in the case of the example
given above (OBJ[1]), of a country being restored to peace through a
certain marriage to be contracted. Yet since the Decretal quoted says
explicitly that "not even the Sovereign Pontiff can dispense a monk from
keeping chastity," it follows seemingly, that we must maintain that, as
stated above (A[10], ad 1; cf. Lev. 27:9,10,28), whatsoever has once been
sanctified to the Lord cannot be put to any other use. For no
ecclesiastical prelate can make that which is sanctified to lose its
consecration, not even though it be something inanimate, for instance a
consecrated chalice to be not consecrated, so long as it remains entire.
Much less, therefore, can a prelate make a man that is consecrated to God
cease to be consecrated, so long as he lives. Now the solemnity of a vow
consists in a kind of consecration or blessing of the person who takes
the vow, as stated above (A[7]). Hence no prelate of the Church can make
a man, who has pronounced a solemn vow, to be quit of that to which he
was consecrated, e.g. one who is a priest, to be a priest no more,
although a prelate may, for some particular reason, inhibit him from
exercising his order. In like manner the Pope cannot make a man who has
made his religious profession cease to be a religious, although certain
jurists have ignorantly held the contrary.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] Body Para. 4/4

We must therefore consider whether continency is essentially bound up
with the purpose for which the vow is solemnized. because if not, the
solemnity of the consecration can remain without the obligation of
continency, but not if continency is essentially bound up with that for
which the vow is solemnized. Now the obligation of observing continency
is connected with Holy orders, not essentially but by the institution of
the Church; wherefore it seems that the Church can grant a dispensation
from the vow of continency solemnized by the reception of Holy Orders. on
the other hand the obligation of observing; continency is an essential
condition of the religious state, whereby a man renounces the world and
binds himself wholly to God's service, for this is incompatible with
matrimony, in which state a man is under the obligation of taking to
himself a wife, of begetting children, of looking after his household,
and of procuring whatever is necessary for these purposes. Wherefore the
Apostle says (1 Cor. 7:33) that "he that is with a wife, is solicitous
for the things of the world, how he may please his wife; and he is
divided." Hence the "monk" takes his name from "unity" [*The Greek
{monos}] in contrast with this division. For this reason the Church
cannot dispense from a vow solemnized by the religious profession; and
the reason assigned by the Decretal is because "chastity is bound up with
the monastic rule."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Perils occasioned by human affairs should be obviated by
human means, not by turning divine things to a human use. Now a professed
religious is dead to the world and lives to God, and so he must not be
called back to the human life on the pretext of any human contingency.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: A vow of temporal continency can be a matter of
dispensation, as also a vow of temporal prayer or of temporal abstinence.
But the fact that no dispensation can be granted from a vow of continency
solemnized by profession is due, not to its being an act of chastity, but
because through the religious profession it is already an act of religion.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Food is directly ordered to the upkeep of the person,
therefore abstinence from food may be a direct source of danger to the
person: and so on this count a vow of abstinence is a matter of
dispensation. On the other hand sexual intercourse is directly ordered to
the upkeep not of the person but of the species, wherefore to abstain
from such intercourse by continency does not endanger the person. And if
indeed accidentally it prove a source of danger to the person, this
danger may be obviated by some other means, for instance by abstinence,
or other corporal remedies.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] R.O. 4 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 4: A religious who is made a bishop is no more absolved from
his vow of poverty than from his vow of continency, since he must have
nothing of his own and must hold himself as being the dispenser of the
common goods of the Church. In like manner neither is he dispensed from
his vow of obedience; it is an accident that he is not bound to obey if
he have no superior; just as the abbot of a monastery, who nevertheless
is not dispensed from his vow of obedience.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[11] R.O. 4 Para. 2/2

The passage of Ecclesiasticus, which is put forward in the contrary
sense, should be taken as meaning that neither fruitfulness of the of the
flesh nor any bodily good is to be compared with continency, which is
reckoned one of the goods of the soul, as Augustine declares (De Sanct.
Virg. viii). Wherefore it is said pointedly "of a continent soul," not
"of a continent body."


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the authority of a prelate is required for commutation or the
dispensation of a vow?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the authority of a prelate is not required for
the commutation or dispensation of a vow. A person may enter religion
without the authority of a superior prelate. Now by entering religion one
is absolved from the vows he made in the world, even from the vow of
making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land [*Cap. Scripturae, de Voto et Voti
redempt.]. Therefore the commutation or dispensation of a vow is possible
without the authority of a superior prelate.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, to dispense anyone from a vow seems to consist in
deciding in what circumstances he need not keep that vow. But if the
prelate is at fault in his decision, the person who took the vow does not
seem to be absolved from his vow, since no prelate can grant a
dispensation contrary to the divine precept about keeping one's vows, as
stated above (A[10], ad 2; A[11]). Likewise, when anyone rightly
determines of his own authority that in his case a vow is not to be kept,
he would seem not to be bound; since a vow need not be kept if it have an
evil result (A[2], ad 2). Therefore the Authority of a prelate is not
required that one may be dispensed from a vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, if it belongs to a prelate's power to grant
dispensations from vows, on the same count it is competent to all
prelates, but it does not belong to all to dispense from every vow.
Therefore it does not belong to the power of a prelate to dispense from
vows.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, A vow binds one to do something, even as a law does.
Now the superior's authority is requisite for a dispensation from a
precept of the law, as stated above (FS, Q[96], A[6]; FS, Q[97], A[4]).
Therefore it is likewise required in a dispensation from a vow.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (AA[1],2), a vow is a promise made to God
about something acceptable to Him. Now if you promise something to anyone
it depends on his decision whether he accept what you promise. Again in
the Church a prelate stands in God's place. Therefore a commutation or
dispensation of vows requires the authority of a prelate who in God's
stead declares what is acceptable to God, according to 2 Cor. 2:10: "For
. . . have pardoned . . . for your sakes . . . in the person of Christ."
And he says significantly "for your sakes," since whenever we ask a
prelate for a dispensation we should do so to honor Christ in Whose
person he dispenses, or to promote the interests of the Church which is
His Body.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: All other vows are about some particular works, whereas by
the religious life a man consecrates his whole life to God's service. Now
the particular is included in the universal, wherefore a Decretal [*Cap.
Scripturae, de Voto et Voti redempt.] says that "a man is not deemed a
vow-breaker if he exchange a temporal service for the perpetual service
of religion." And yet a man who enters religion is not bound to fulfil
the vows, whether of fasting or of praying or the like, which he made
when in the world, because by entering religion he dies to his former
life, and it is unsuitable to the religious life that each one should
have his own observances, and because the burden of religion is onerous
enough without requiring the addition of other burdens.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: Some have held that prelates can dispense from vows at
their will, for the reason that every vow supposes as a condition that
the superior prelate be willing; thus it was stated above (A[8]) that the
vow of a subject, e.g. of a slave or a son, supposes this condition, if
"the father or master consent," or "does not dissent." And thus a subject
might break his vow without any remorse of conscience, whenever his
superior tells him to.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

But this opinion is based on a false supposition: because a spiritual
prelate being, not a master, but a dispenser, his power is given "unto
edification, not for destruction" (2 Cor. 10:8), and consequently, just
as he cannot command that which is in itself displeasing to God, namely,
sin, so neither can he forbid what is in itself pleasing to God, namely,
works of virtue. Therefore absolutely speaking man can vow them. But it
does belong to a prelate to decide what is the more virtuous and the more
acceptable to God. Consequently in matters presenting no difficulty, the
prelate's dispensation would not excuse one from sin: for instance, if a
prelate were to dispense a person from a vow to enter the religious life,
without any apparent cause to prevent him from fulfilling his vow. But
if some cause were to appear, giving rise, at least, to doubt, he could
hold to the prelate's decision whether of commutation or of dispensation.
He could not, however, follow his own judgment in the matter, because he
does not stand in the place of God; except perhaps in the case when the
thing he has vowed is clearly unlawful, and he is unable to have recourse
to the prelate.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[88] A[12] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Since the Sovereign Pontiff holds the place of Christ
throughout the whole Church, he exercises absolute power of dispensing
from all vows that admit of dispensation. To other and inferior prelates
is the power committed of dispensing from those vows that are commonly
made and frequently require dispensation, in order that men may easily
have recourse to someone; such are the vows of pilgrimage (Cap. de
Peregin., de Voto et Voti redempt.), fasting and the like, and of
pilgrimage to the Holy Land, are reserved to the Sovereign Pontiff [*Cap.
Ex multa].





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