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THE professional vow is a triple one, and embraces the three great
evangelical counsels of perfect chastity, poverty and obedience. The
cloister is necessary for the observance of such engagements as these,
and it were easier for a lily to flourish on the banks of the Dead Sea,
or amid the fiery blasts of the Sahara, than for these delicate flowers
of spirituality to thrive in the midst of the temptations, seductions
and passions of the every day world of this life. Necessity makes a
practice of these virtues a profession.

It is good to be chaste, good to be obedient, good to be voluntarily
poor. What folly, then, to say that it is unlawful to bind oneself by
promises of this kind, since it is lawful to be good--the only thing
that is lawful! It is not unlawful, if you will, to possess riches, to
enjoy one's independence, to wed; but there is virtue in foregoing
these pleasures, and virtue is better than its defect, and it is no
more unlawful to do better than to do good.

If it is lawful to contract a solemn engagement with man, why not with
God? If it is lawful for a short time, why not for a long time? If it
is lawful for two years, why not for ten, and a lifetime! The
engagement is no more unlawful itself than that to which we engage

The zealous guardians of the rights of man protest that, nevertheless,
vows destroy man's liberty, and should therefore be forbidden, and the
profession suppressed. It is along this line that the governmental
machine is being run in France at present. If the vow destroys liberty,
these fanatics are doing what appears dangerously near being the same

There is a decided advantage in being your own slave-master over having
another perform that service for you. If I do something which before
God and my conscience I have a perfect right to do, if I do it with
deliberate choice and affection, it is difficult to see wherein my
liberty suffers. Again, if I decide not to marry--a right that every
man certainly has--and in this situation engage myself by vow to
observe perfect chastity--which I must do to retain the friendship of
God--I do not see how I forfeit my liberty by swearing away a right I
never had.

In all cases, the more difficult an enterprise a man enters upon and
pursues to a final issue, the more fully he exercises his faculty of
free will. And since the triple vow supposes nothing short of heroism
in those who take it, it follows that they must use the very plenitude
of their liberty to make the thing possible.

The "cui bono" is the next formidable opponent the vow has to contend
with. What's the good of it? Where is the advantage in leading such an
impossible existence when a person can save his soul without it? All
are not damned who refuse to take vows. Is it not sufficient to be
honest men and women?

That depends upon what you mean by an honest man. A great saint once
said that an honest man would certainly not be hanged, but that it was
by no means equally certain that he would not be damned. A man may do
sundry wicked and crooked things and not forfeit his title to be called
honest. The majority of Satan's subjects were probably honest people in
their day.

The quality of being an honest man, according to many people, consists
in having the privilege of doing a certain amount of wickedness without
prejudice to his eternal salvation. The philosophy of this class of
people is summed up in these words: "Do little and get much; make a
success of life from the standpoint of your own selfishness, and then
sneak into heaven almost by stealth and fraud." That is one way of
doing business with the Lord. But, there are greater things in heaven
and on earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.

Human natures differ as much as pebbles on the sea shore. One man's
meat has often proven poison to another. In the religion of Jesus
Christ there is something more than the Commandments given to Moses.
Love of God has degrees of intensity and perfection. Such words as
sacrifice, mortification, self-denial have a meaning as they have
always had. God gives more to some, less to others; He demands
corresponding returns. These are things Horatio ignores. Yet they are
real, real as his own empty and conceited wisdom.


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