private vows

Hi guys,

This is a question concerning private vows. Are we obliged to keep rash vows we make? I’m referring to those vows we make without enough consideration as to how difficult and sacrificing it might be to fulfill those vows.

For example: when i was about 12 years old, i promised to be a “better Christian” if my prayer was answered. But today my situations have differred as Im in a different life stage. I obviously didnt take enough time to consider how that the vow I was making would be applicable as I grew up. Also, i find that “be a batter Christian” phrase to be too broad. I couldve possibly meant to never sin again, seeing I was immature.

Any input would be appreciated. I also note that I looked at the canons in regards to this but cant apply them to my situation.

I struggle with this question as well. Except in my case I worry about making bigger vows and I’m not sure if I made them.

I would love to see this thread get active.

Look. Very simply.

Both of you (the other poster)…end all questioning of this…

Go to your Pastor and ask him to dispense you of these private vows --if such even exist :slight_smile:

You can do it in confession with the Pastor if you wish.

Then…let us all LIVE the YES of our Baptism and follow Christ with joy …

I’ve been told by priests that my vows wouldn’t count. Are you saying that even ones you aren’t sure exist are still binding - possibly by mortal sin?

Vows that do not exist…have no effect.

No vow…no binding…thus no sin from any “vow”. (PS --just for informaiton–one can bind oneself not only under pain of mortal sin…but one could do so under pain of venial sin only etc…)

it seems you are saying here that it has been determined that you did not…

so no vow…no sin.

My point was if one wants…one can ask ones Pastor to dispense ones private vows.

But as you note…in your case…

it was determined that you had not made any…

(If you like …in your case you can go to your Pastor in confession…or outside…and tell what concerns you and ask him if he can dispense any thing you fear could have been a vow…for it seems to still bug you…)

but you have been informed that you did not make vows… I would go with that for your "formation of conscience " in this regards…

The thing is, I’m not sure if I made the vow. Must it be the Pastor? I’m actually more acquainted with another priest.

You noted that you have been told by priests that what you did was not a vow…

But to answer your question…

As to how private vows are dispensed…yes it must be someone who has the authority to dispense them. This is the Pastor …or the Bishop (and those he then delegated to…) etc.

Not another Priest …unless perhaps he has had such delegated to him by the Bishop.

Can. 1196 In addition to the Roman Pontiff, the following can dispense from private vows …

1/ the local ordinary and the pastor with regard to all their subjects and even travelers;

2/ the superior of a religious institute or society of apostolic life if it is clerical and of pontifical right with regard to members, novices, and persons who live day and night in a house of the institute or society;

3/ those to whom the Apostolic See or the local ordinary has delegated the power of dispensing.

the reason I ask my question is because I have been away from confession for a real long time. I’ve only recently started to get my spiritual life in order. So my considerations are about looking at my past circumstances with God and realising what I have done and what I need to improve. So basically, its like my spiritual life has just been reborn and I often have questions to ask because i neglected resolving some issues over my teenage years.

I can just re-word my question in a non personal way: are rash vows binding?
I am aware i can have them dispensed but if I can challenge this alone (and with prayer) it might be better.

It can be something you can discuss with your confessor…he can ask the necessary questions etc…

You still can fulfil the vow, if it is such, by striving now to be a “better Christian.”

Exactly - there’s hardly anything rash about a vow to be a better Christian. If there were, none of us would be allowed to make or renew our baptismal promises!

I should hope you ARE, every day, striving to be a better Christian, whether or not you made such a vow. We are all called to do so.

And it’s the striving that’s important, since outcomes - successes or failures - often depend on external factors as well as our own efforts.

I agree with you. But what was a “better Christian” back then differs to now. I couldve made a vow without considering how my future might be.

I may have had a thought where i should sin less. But if anything, as we are older we are prone to more situations tempting us to sin.

So what I consider: is how did i understand the difficult and changing nature of being a better Christian as I reach adulthood. I’m not even sure if I had a clear definition of what being better means.

As for being better today, I make my resolution to be more charitable, but I dont think of that as an obligation under the vow but my personal choice to avoid sin.

I  believe BookCat covered the legalist aspect of the OP.  However,  I think to be a "better Christian" is what Christ wants us to be.   I believe that we should all make that promise to ourselves.  What better Christian ideal to follow?

Does anyone know when private vows do count? I made a private vow of celebacy to God, as I never intended to marry anyway (excluding when I was little kid and thought often about finding “my prince”) and I really want this to count.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t make a private vow of chastity, it’s because I have chastity issues.:frowning:

Chasity is included in celibacy.

If you made a vow though --much would depend on your intention.

In any case I would advise you to seek further counsel from a Spiritual Director, Pastor or Confessor.

I read that celibacy is the vow to never marry. I made another personal vow to try and be chaste (not that I wouldn’t try and be chaste anyway,) but I can’t promise God I’ll always be chaste because I know I can’t keep it. Also, I asked my spiritual director about this and he told me that it wasn’t a real vow, but I don’t know if I believe him.

Any valid vow you made -was made according to your intention.

Your Pastor can dispense you of any private vow that may have been made.

We all must have the firm resolution to be chaste (even if someone fears they may fall).

One could (not that I am saying you ought to) make a private vow of chastity even if one knows one could fall into sin. The fact that such can happen does not preclude making a vow. I note this simply for theory sake --not to recommend you or other generally make such. One would do well to consult ones spiritual director or confessor prior to making any private vow and of course prepare for it etc.

I never asked for dispensation, but only if my vow was real because I want it to be real. He told me a vow has to be made before a bishop in order to count.

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