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Catholic Dictionary




The voluntary binding of oneself under oath to obey superiors in a religious institute, or a confessor, or spiritual guide. By this means a person is more permanently and securely united with God's saving will. Speaking of religious, the Second Vatican Council declares: "Moved by the Holy Spirit, they subject themselves in faith to those who hold God's place, their superiors. Through them they are led to serve all their brothers in Christ, just as Christ ministered to his brothers in submission to the Father and laid down his life for the redemption of many. They are thus bound more closely to the Church's service and they endeavor to attain to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Decree on Renewal of Religious Life, 14). In some institutes of perfection a promise of obedience is taken instead of a formal vow.