I came across this while reading up about St Francis of Assisi. Usually when we think about vows we think silence, monks, stone buildings (or at least I do). But we don’t need to be cloistered to take a vow. Vows like the one below are probably more valuable out in daily life, anyway. It’s a vow of non-violence. And before you get an image of Gandhi in your head and think, Gee, no thanks, read through it. It will make you rethink your definition of violence.
Recognising the violence in my own heart, yet trusting in the goodness and mercy of God, I vow for one year to practice the non-violence of Jesus who taught us in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons and daughters of God… You have learned how it was said, You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you will be daughters and sons of your Creator in heaven.’
Before God the Creator and the Sanctifying Spirit, I vow to carry out in my life the love and example of Jesus:
- by striving for peace within myself and seeking to be a peacemaker in my daily life;
- by accepting suffering rather than inflicting it;
- by refusing to retaliate in the face of provocation and violence;
- by persevering in non-violence of tongue and heart;
- by living conscientiously and simply so that I do not deprive others of the means to live;
- by actively resisting evil and working non-violently to abolish war and the causes of war from my own heart and from the face of the earth.
God, I trust in your sustaining love and believe that just as you give me the grace and desire to offer this, so you will also bestow abundant grace to fulfill it.
(The above vow was provided by Pax Christi USA.)
The book I read recommends you take the vow for a specific period of time, like a year. But maybe that seems, well, hard. I know the “persevering in non-violence of heart and tongue” gave me pause. So why not try it out for the rest of this week? As we head to Easter, we’re confronted with the violent humiliation Christ suffered…and how His sacrifice changed everything. Maybe this week sacrificing that witty but hurtful retort, or that trolling comment on a blog, or the impatience in a supermarket line or traffic jam, could make a difference.