Private Vows and Presumption

Hope everyone is having a good Sunday. I just had a quick question.

I was wondering whether presumption can invalidate a person’s dispensation. If someone breaks a private vow thinking, “Oh, the priest will dispense me.” Does that render any dispensation invalid?

To me it appears that I might be mixing up concepts. If the priest deems there is a just cause for dispensation and dispenses someone, she is dispensed. Presumption appears to deal just with confession. So it’s obvious this person will have to confess not only the sin of breaking her vow but also her presumptuous attitude.

What do you all think? Does presumption invalidate a dispensation?

Well, there is more to this post than has been offered. First, is why the private vow was made. Then, is there a moral or financial hardship in keeping the said vow? Did the person really know the implication of making a private vow? Then, is the vow maker going on to make a consecrated vow? Was the private vow made at the hands of a priest? Does the vow maker just want “out?”

A private vow is a serious oath to God and not to be taken lightly. The Bible warns us of not making frivolous vows or oaths. Do speak to a priest about this as it is hard to give a concise answer here in a forum. Peace.

The question of the original poster is actually a straight forward one, presuming the accuracy of the vocabulary you are using. The dispensation would not be invalidated in the circumstance you present and, yes, you are in essence confusing two concepts, and precisely in the way that you articulate.

A private vow can be dispensed by one who has the faculty to do so. The grant of a dispensation from a private vow is governed by Canon 1196. If the ecclesiastical authority who has the power to do so has granted a dispensation, then the dispensation is effective and the vow is no longer binding on the person who made it.

Beyond that, a person should not lightly make a private vow and doing so without noting the gravity – with the thought that one can, after all, be dispensed – could (and I stress could…I cannot make that determination from what you have said) be something that should at least be mentioned in confession. That, however, is dependent on matters not articulated in your post and so would best be resolved, I suggest, by a confessor in the sacrament of penance now that the vow has been dispensed.

To the other poster: vows and oaths are different matters. Vows are covered by Canons 1191-1198 and oaths by Canons 1199-1204. The various circumstances you relate, such as whether or not a private vow was made in the presence of a priest, do not alter either the nature of the vow or an ecclesiastical authority’s ability to dispense which, again, is well and simply explained by the aforementioned canons themselves. I have no idea what the question “Then, is the vow maker going on to make a consecrated vow?” means unless you are attempting to quote Canon 1198: “Vows taken before religious profession are suspended as long as the person who made the vow remains in the religious institute.”

The canons may be consulted using the link below. I hope this information helps.

I was trying not to overburden the original poster with Cannon Laws. Yes, there are those that do make private vows and later become consecrated. A Private Vow is made at the hands of a priest and usually done within the Mass. An oath can be made independently, but may feel or seem like a vow to the one who professes the oath. While lesser than a vow it is still a serious commitment and should be well thought out. Peace.

I am a priest, who is a retired professor.

With all due respect, as I taught my own students, because of how the 1983 code of canon law was so splendidly formulated, the canons are a distilled enunciation of theology, as well as being legislative, and are often in fact the very best place to begin rather than the last place to go. Not only do I not think of the canons as being burdensome…they are normally singularly elucidating.

A private vow is a private vow, according to the norms of the Church. It may be made in the presence of a priest or not…but that does not impact or alter the nature of the vow as private.

In any event, I honestly do not know how the definition of what makes a vow to be a private vow could be any more simply stated than what canon 1192 directly says in one sentence: “A vow is public if a legitimate superior accepts it in the name of the Church; otherwise, it is private.” (The terms in the first clause of the sentence being strictly interpreted.)

Actually, in this case, the canon is so readily understandable that I don’t know how it could overburden; actually it gives the clearest, simplest, and easiest explanation possible…and it has the advantage of also being definitive and authoritative.

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