This is a continuation of the 73 Steps to Spiritual Communion with God. The previous posts are below and in the archives to the right. This is the 27th step:
(27) Not to swear, lest perchance one swear falsely.
To "swear" in this case means to take a vow. St. Benedict warns in this counsel that we should not take oaths out of fear that we might do so falsely. Why would this be the case?
Jesus commanded his disciples not to swear. In the Gospel of Matthew, he says, " But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil," (Matthew 5:34-37).
Our Lord knows well that we do not know ourselves very well. When He told his disciples that one of them would betray him, they all denied it. Peter spoke the loudest and Our Lord warned him that he would betray him before the cock crowed twice. Notice what Peter does at the crucial moment:
"Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, 'I do not know the man.' And immediately the cock crowed," (Matthew 26: 74). He swears falsely.
Unfortunately people continue to swear oaths that they may humanly incapable of fulfilling. It is interesting that within Christianity this command of Jesus has slowly been abrogated. But the truth of what Jesus said and here St. Benedict counsels remains.
None of us knows what the future holds. None of us knows if we will be able to fulfill any vow five or ten years from now. We can promise, ask God's blessing upon our promise and go where God leads us. But as Jesus says anything else is from the evil one.