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The Renewal of Temporary Vows of Sr. Pierina Mu Mee Mee, a Sister of St. Francis Xavier Congregation and an AU Myanmar student , who is currently enrolled  in M.A. English Language Teaching Program, Graduate School of Human Science. The temporary vows renewing ritual was performed by Rev. Fr. Édouard Gnoumou on February 1, 2021 at the Chapel of the Annunciation, Hua Mak Campus, Assumption University of Thailand. 

What is Vows?

          Promises or commitment to undertake, or abstain from, particular actions, lifestyles, etc.  All religions offer the opportunity to formalize one’s intentions in this way, to such an extent that there can be uncertainty about whether a vow once made can be revoked.  Thus in Judaism vows are not required of Jews in the Bible, but once made they have to be carried out with precision (Deuteronomy 23. 22-4).  Vows are thus inviolable (I Samuel 14. 24 ff.; Judges II. 30 ff.), and there is no mechanism for absolving oneself from one’s vow (see Numbers 30. 1-16). 

In later books, reservations are expressed about making vows (e.g. Ecclesiastes 5.3 f.), reservations which are reiterated in the *Talmud (e.g. B.Ned. 22a), where the problems of vows made in haste and then not fulfilled are recognized.  Perhaps for that reason, the *rabbis evolved an elaborate system for the annulment of vows in the tractate Nedarim. Jewish law uses three terms for vows, neder (general), nedavah (freewill offering), and shebu’ah (to pursue or not to pursue a course of action) – see also KOL NIDREI; NAZIRTE; OATHS.

          Some early Christians followed the practice of taking vows (Paul, e.g., taking the temporary vow of a Nazirite, Acts 21. 22-6), although *Jesus had warned against letting a dedication of something to God through qorban take precedence over more fundamental obligations (Mark 7.11).  Vows came to be understood as a social act through which a person donates himself or herself to another (marriage vows), or to God in religious community. 

Thus vows are a voluntary dedication of the future, and an undertaking of more than the moral law requires.  A vow is called “solemn”, as opposed to “simple” if it is recognized by the Church, and may be perpetual or temporary.  Members of religious orders take vows to observe the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.



Bowker, J. (ed.). (1999). The Oxford dictionary of world religions. Oxford.


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