Catholic vows and bad omens

Veronica Gwaze
One of the most enduring legacies of Catholicism has been the Catholic vows, which have always been mired in myth. Typically, misconceptions have formed around catholic priests and nuns.

For instance, mysterious ailments and deaths of those who have broken the vows have been reported over the years, leaving many to wonder if transgressing the catholic vows has been the cause.

As recently as this past October, Sister Plaxedes Kamundiya was murdered while praying at the Holy Cross in Mutoko. At one point she gave up nun-hood to take care of her family which is against the vows.

In 2016, Brother Benedict Mafura of Driefontein Primary School was caught up in the school pupils’ abuse allegations, breaking one of the Catholic vows. Later that same year he committed suicide.

In 2011, Father Peter of the Chishawasha Seminary diocese was allegedly involved in issues of embezzlement of church funds. He later suffered a mysterious cancer and died in 2016.

Back in the early 2000s, Father Joseph of Masvingo parish gave up his vows for marriage. Barely two years into the marriage, he died mysteriously.

Which raises the question: could there be a link between these mysterious deaths and the broken vows?

L’arche Catholic Organisation director, Time Bulawa, says clergy-hood is a lifetime commitment because of the sacrament ritual that the clergy takes at the final procession.

“Even if one gets married and ceases to be a practising priest, the sacrament remains with them. This is from where the saying ‘than meets the eye’ derives its meaning,” he said.

While there is more to the vows than meets the eye, could this be the source of the alleged bad omens? Due to that fact that they are sworn to secrecy, most Catholic clergymen contacted for comments or insights into this issue could not say much.

The Roman Catholic has vows of obedience, private vows, vows of poverty and the vows of celibacy. For clergy, the vow of celibacy is an iron law and is the first vow to be taken before any other vow.

The Vows of celibacy

The vow of celibacy is an oath to never enter marriage. The partaker surrenders their right to marry and entirely devote to God while preserving their virginity. The vow of celibacy makes one the “Bride of Christ” and configures them wholly to Christ.

Genesis 2 verse 24 reads: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”.

When Catholics take the vow of celibacy, they are promising to be one body with Christ, and in breaking this vow, they will be cheating on Christ.

This could, possibly, be the reason why these mysterious incidents happen to vow breakers.

Another Bible verse which might seem to cement this argument is Romans 6 verse 23: “For the wages of sin is death . . . “

Tichaona Mubaiwa, a Catholic, understands that in celibacy, the clergy is married to Christ and breaking the vows is an indication of promiscuity.

“A vow is a promise made to God, the fulfilment of which is a serious religious obligation. I believe bad omen is the punishment for being unfaithful to God,” he said.

Literally, when one divorces emotions are involved, tempers lost and anger expressed.

Irene Nkomazana, another Catholic, is of the belief that the same atmosphere that builds up during divorce is the same atmosphere that builds up when one breaks these vows.

“God will be expressing his wrath because one has been unfaithful,” said another Catholic, acknowledging her belief on the issues of bad omen.

St Paul, one of the ancient Catholic Fathers, referred to celibacy as a superior state of life and said it was good for the unmarried and the widows to remain so, himself included.

Father Tendai Reki Mashayamombe said the rule of ecclesiastical celibacy is a law not a doctrine and can also be changed at any time by the Pope.

“Nonetheless, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II said the traditional practice is unlikely to change,” he added. He said believing superstitions can rob one of their faith and belief. “Personally I do not believe in the bad omen myth,” he said.

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