Question concerning promises

I have been in the midst of some confusion for quite some time now regarding the subject of promises. I had promised a friend of mine who lives in another country that I would send them a letter, and this promise was made quite some time ago, maybe almost 2 years ago and I haven’t lived up to it, and at the time, my understanding was that if you break a promise it would be a sin albeit in this case a venial one. And my question is, how binding are promises in regards to sinning or not sinning? I know promises made in God’s name are certainly binding under pain of sin, but what about just regular old promises people make where their intention is to relate to someone their firm desire to do something by using the term,“promise”? And I guess I get a bit anxious in my case considering, I haven’t actually “broken” that promise I made, but I just have yet to fulfill it. I want to do the morally right thing here, but I am not sure if the person even cares anymore since it was so long ago.

So it boils down to: are promises **not **made in God’s name binding under any pain of sin?

and, am I obliged to send a letter to this friend? meaning that not sending a letter would mean I am sinning.

and lastly, I know if someone makes an oath that they dont feel they can fulfill, the only way it can be expiated is in confession, but what about promises in my situation? considered I did not swear, or vow, or use God’s name in any fashion, would getting rid of the responsibility of a promise be something that needs to be expiated solely in confession or some lesser means?

Well. Here’s my opinion:

In this case it’s venial. Why? Well, you made a statement saying you’d do something trivial (as far as this case goes. If it was your dieing grandmother’s last wish it may be a different story). You’ve broken it. That’s a lie. A venial lie.

I say ‘broken’ because most statements have a lifespan before they become false. Like, it is a sin to not pay your debts in due time, or it’s a lie if you say “I will clean my room,” yet two whole years later you hadn’t.

I hope I made my point clear :wink:

I think it depends on the context of your conversation with your friend. If you used “promise” with the understanding that this was a significant and binding promise, then it may be a venial sin. If you used “promise” with the understanding that you were merely expressing desire or intent, than I do not believe it to be a sin.

If you need to get out of of a serious promise, I suggest asking the person to release you. Perhaps you could send him a letter :stuck_out_tongue:

If you need more detailed counsel, you should ask your confessor.

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