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January 27, 1961     The Observer
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FRIDAY. JANUARY 27, 1961 PAGE 13 . t THEOLOGY FOR EVERY MAN THE OBSERVER '" C This comrn ~,tar~ ov resolutin ~s and haws was prcpared~arise in circumstances external to the promise itself, as, for ex-l ], . : at St. Joh,'s Sem~rtary, Brqal lo, Mass. It is reprinted Jrom ample, the involvement m the promise of some innocent thwd the Boston Pilot. party who would be adversely affected were the promise to be * * * /disregarded. While it is in violation of the truth, therefore, to This is the season for the perennial "resolutions" for the new promise something under duress which one does not intend to ful- year. 'Sometime these so-called resolutions are confused with fill, the internal binding force of such a promise would be re- e NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS ARE USUALLY not prom- ises, but merely proposals to make corrections in one's way of living along certain lines Those who make them and break them immediately are hardly to be excused from some degree of sinful inconsistency. They have not committed sin, however, in breaking their resolutions unless they have made them ex- promiies, pledges, vows and other obligations, moved by reason of its not having been freely elicited, plicitly as promises in circumstances in which promises could HOW DO THEOLOGIANS .CLASSIFY PROMISES and resolu- be validly made and accepted. As a general rule, therefore, :icht;,! d~ePw~fdOi~tn~:::~eHnot~S?E~iNtiF;E~;~tmam~ili:~:~iT:l~:i;b:: fhe breaking of New Year's resolutions ~hould not be regarded :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::a~th-~ug.I~-: veds~a`~1.~:ee~n~(-a~-I7r~mis~`~-~`i~c l as sinful in itself. ~.:i : This does not mean that it is useless to make resolutions of strict sense of the word. A promise is the essential element in he has become aware of the relevant information. Failure {o do every.type ot' contract. It is an agreement to give or to do some, this within a reasonable time will establish the presumption of thing, Or tb refrain from some kind of actMty that would be other- subsequent willingness to fulfill the promise. wise aI1owable. Every contract is essentially bilateral in that it Resolutions are not promises in the full sense of the word. A involves two parties or sides. No individual, and no group acting resolution conists as a rule merely in a proposal to do some- as a unit. could conclude a contract Thus a person's last will thing. Even when it is externally manifested, it signifies in itself cannot :be regarded as a contract since it does not involve those only one's present intention, apart from any willingness to as- sume an obligation. Failure to Keep one's resolutions, as thus de- fined, might be an indication of sinful inconstancy, but would in- volve no violation of fidelity or truth. IN GENERAL, THE BINDING FORCE of a promise is as ser- ious as the one who makes it: intends it to be. Most promises are ,~ are named as its beneficiaries. i.THE OTHER HAND, THE OBLIGATION which arises in a actual promise need not be bilateral; it may be found in only one of the contracting parties Such a contract is known as a uni- lateral contract. It is to this type of contract that the promise pertains when it is purely gratuitous and unrelated to any juri- dical facts which would determine or strengthen its obligation. A gratuitous promise may be defined as an obligation freely and deliberately assumed, to do, give or omit something in favor of another who accepts what is proferred without assuming any corresponding obligation. OF ITS NATURE, SUCH A PROMISE creates a moral obliga- tion once it has been duly made and accepted. The fundamental reasor~ for this obligation is the demand of the virtue of truth that a person be faithful in the fulfillment of agreements made with others. One who repudiates a promise which he is morally able to fulfill has violated the virtue of truth by deceiving another person whom he has induced to believe him to have been serious in making the promise. ON THE OTHER HAND. IT FOLLOWS THAT the obligation of the promise does not arise until the person to whom it has been: made has accepted it, at least tacitly. Up to the moment of ac-' ceptance, therefore, a promise may be revoked at the pleasure of the one who makes it. Again, it should be noted that the nature of a gratuitous promise demands that it be made independently of binding merely as obligations of fidelity. To break them without reason is sinful, but not seriously so.' In some cases, however, even a freely made promise will be made in such a way as to confer a strict right on the one who accepts it. Such promises will be bind- ing in justice, so that failure to fulfill them in serious matter will demand restitution of what has been promised as a condition for obtaining forgiveness. Even in the ease of a promise which is binding in itself only as a matter of fidelity, an obligation may arise if the one to whom the l promise is made suffers considerable material loss by assuming l that the promise was sincere. This would happen, for example, if a young man who had been promised assistance in paying his way through college would spend a large sum of money making prep- arations to enter college only to find that the promise of paying his tuition had not been made sincerely. AS A GENERAL RULE, HOWEVER, IT IS not to be presumed that an obligation in justice attaches to a promise unless there is definite indication to this effect. The obligation arising in a prom- ise always supposes, moreover, that the thing promised can be given or done without committing sin and without undue hardship or inconvenience. The obligation ceases likewise if the one to whom the promise is made voluntarily releases the one who made of what we have said on the matter of promises will be appli cable as well to the vow. We have noted that.a promise, to be valid, must be accepted by the one to whom it is made. A vow, made to God, cannot be validated by any express act of acceptance on the part of God Himself. When a vow is made publicly its ratification by ecclesi- astical authority represents acceptance by God. When a vow is made privately, it is presumed to be accepted by God when all other conditions required for its validity are af hand. AVOW, MADE DIRECTLY TO GOD, is binding as an act of religionUo as well as one of fidelity or truthfulness. The serious- this kind. Nor does it mean that the resolutions, once made ness of the obligation of the vow depends on the intention of the . one who makes it Public vows, which of their nature are of should not be taken sermusly. Usually resolutions are concern- . . : : . grave Importance tor me common gooa ot me t.nurcn are a~- ed with matters that are ot obligation from some omer point . - - t. . ways presumed to be made wlth the mtentmn of assuming a .' . *,-. ] of vaew and a~e meam to reaffnm these ob lgatmns Failure ," serious obligation. Private vows may be taken even in matters to keep one's, resolutions. means fat ure to preserve in some, of consiu'erable ob'ectivea importance with the a'ntentmn" of form of vwtuous action m whmh one has been conspicuously binding oneself only under pain of venial sin deficient. The practice of making resolutions at the beginning of the ~ * * New Year should be encouraged, therefore, not as adding a new NO ONE SHOULD TAKE A PRIVATE vow without the ap- obligation, but as affording new motivation for remaining faith-[proval of a competent spiritual director. We have already sug- ful to existing obligations. New Year's resolutions should not gested that resolutions and pledges should nor be taken as be made frivolously, or in a spirit of merely nostalgic devotion vows, which would be binding in themselves as acts of religion. to ideals of virtue Ior which no preparation of self-discipline, We may note further that no one should undertake to strengthen is intended, his spiritual life by means of a vow unless there is reasonable ~ ~ assurance of his being able to keep the vow and unless the ~ reasons that would justify the vow are of serious importance. IF GOOD ]RESOLUTIONS ARE TO BE taken at the begin- ,o ~ 1 on VOWS ARE BENEFICIAL NOT ONLY for the reasons ,~hlch ning of the Ne~ Year, they sh uld be brou,ht into re ati ' . . . ' " we have suggested In ielatmn to resoluhons and pledges but with one's religious life, and particularly with the pro-pose of ." . amendment which is a condition for the fruitful reception of also because the fulfillment of a vow adds the meritorious the sacrament of Penance value of an act of religion to that which attaches objectively to " Ithe good act with which it is associated The practice of taking If New ~ear's reso,utions are concernea w m aetans m con- . " . . . . : lvows may oe encouragea therefore when the conditmns de- duct which are not obligatory unaer pain ot sin mey snouml . ' . . ' ' . ~. manded by dn, lne and eccleslastmal law and by supernatural look towarcts growm in virtue as well as towaras greater era- -ru-'en . p ~ ce are at nana. vows snoulo not nowever, oe taken :for ciency and fidelity in the discnarge oi one s oany auues, tri - . " v,at reasons. ~ vow is a serious engagement wnn t oa .~lm- The same general principles apply to the practice of taking self It should be surrounded even when talrt, n nriv= ,qv wH-h tchoemmPloend]gereOcfoabms;m2:dea,:~ amti21~txt':~teinn.gtdq~i~]S/e i;e2tnl~ sufficient solemnity to arouse consciousness-orbits grave im- y ~ -,p g o ~ortance. add any new obligation to that which already exists: Those who take it are very often bound under pain of sin to avoid THE OBLIGATION OF A VOW CEASES when dispensation intoxicating liquors completely for the reason that a single s given from it by competent ecclesiastical authority, acting in drink has proved to be for them a proximate occasion of serious, the name of God. For pubIic vows, this authority is the supreme sin. In other cases the pledge calls attention to serious personal authority of the Church, acting either directly or through pro- or domestic problems which have followed upon indulgence in eedures established by general law. For private vows dispensa- intoxicating liquor that under other circumstances might be'tions must be sought from the ordinary of the diocese, or from any threat or unjustly inflicted fear. A person from whom a prom- it. Finally, the heirs of tho,;e who made promises are not held to excusable, some other authority who has received delegated power. ise is extorted by unjust means is often bound to fulfill it because made fulfillment unless the promise had become associated with of the difficult5, of disproving the presumption that he acted freely, some other juridical fact which would create an obligation in jus- * * *- In some cases vows cease when they are invalidated by some one with authority over either the person of the one who makes Sometimes, moreover, the obligation of keeping a promise will tire, as in the case of a will. TAKING A PLEDGE ADDS EMPHASIS and direction to a the vow of the matter of the vow itself. Thus the superior of a perso~fs efforts to conform to right standards of conduct. It- religious community, with direct authority over the person of Sister" M. Omer strengthens good resolutions which might otherwise become a subject, may invalidate his private vows in the Not Faring Well T R A N G E B U T T R U ~ h'ustrated by human weakness. The pledge likewise makes it name of felly- Dies at Dubuque ] C OoN ,nV nt--S nC or ] Little-Known ~aet, for Catholic, IF' evident that other people are interested in the spiritual and ious obedience. A husband or wife possessingo rights of mar- temporal welfare of the one who takes it. The exhortations of riage, may invalidate indirectly any'vow of his or her marriage SINSINAWA, Wis.--Sister M./famil[, planning service is not t By M. 1. MURRAY ~r,~h~ ~ ~.c.w.c. ~,~ s,~:, others, their good will, their personal identification with theisPartnerinvalidatedWhich indirectlyprevents thebecomesexerciSevalidOf hiSoncerightS.moreAifvoWthe whiChcondi. success or failure of those whom they sponsor---these are hu- tions which justified its validation cease to exist, as, for example, Omer, O.P died at Dominic[faring well, according to a U.S.~ man instruments by which the grace of God works in men's when a husband dies after having invalidated a private vow Villa, Dubuque, Ia Jan. 15, inlmedical education consultant the 66th year of her religiouslwho works in New Delhi. souls. When taken before a priest, the pledge is likewise a re-I profession. Requiem High MassI "There's nothing in the Hindu n-finder of the Church's interest in the spiritual life of its mem-of his wife. On the other hand, a vow which has been invali- dated by one with authority over the person of the one who was otfered in St. Clara chapel, lreligion that forbids birth con- bers, and of the harm that results within the Social organism has taken it does not revive even after the relationship of au- Sinsinawa. by the Very Rev. J. trol," Dr. Edward M. Holmes of the Chuich when one of its members falts from the ideals thority which made the invalidation possible ceases to exist, B. Walker, O.P.: and after the, Jr.i explained here in an inter- of the Christian life. The pledge should not, however, be con-: ~ : : : chanting of the Office of Buriallview' "but the Indians simply sidered as binding in itself under pain of sin, and it should or- according to the Dominican I love their families and they dinarily not be administered in such a way as to cause this nt follo e n th added moral obligations to arise Rite, interme ' w d i e ilove children." cemetery at the Motherhouse. Reporting that the Indian * * * ~~ E -t Sister Omer taught at St. ]birth rate is climbing and the A VOW IS A PROMISE MADE TO GOD to do something ~S@:~i;:i[~ :.~ g/,~t~ii::iii/)~iil.g~;~: ~:~J~ ~' |1 l| / " :2C;s :f:s", I I eMra'aYssSiCh m le'n~rlep~r~'eH::h2to~;I,"Y: L, r~eo~.Ls adr Pp~ng~,2he which is morally possible, and which is morally superior to any A,'.~" ~. I~.:"'~ ';,',~ ~*~, 9~,~ alternative course of action. As a promise made to God, a vow ".-::~"~"~/g~#":~g4/~:i!~;;~N;:.~ - :;.".*.+z. ~ ,~.::~. E t m ~n]cago ann ~toomm~ton, lcUreetor sala support or mous- " hl ,-~ e ~,~. h hu,~, " h /,~:i!~i:' ~ }ii:::::- -~::!:~i,"~:~ "~.'~"~, 1 ' ! II1.; Omaha and Jackson, Nob.; ,trial development is creating ~] [ I~lwaukee and Oshkosh, Wis ;lmore jobs in India. ~'~"~"~'~ ~ ~::#;::.{ili :' p~.shington, D. C.; Cheyenne,I Although problems India faces FREEPORT . . . ~~~i i ~Vyo. Cincinnati, O. : Fairbault, are s t i 1 1 'overwhelming"i . ~. ~)i~!!i!~i~.i ;5~~i~: | I j!:}~i~:'j Minn.; an d Evanston Ii1 malaria is being brought under ~ . Home of K-L GAS ~:~;i~~,I where'~he served as superior, control and education and Wa's" ~ne ~ 4"2 5" ,b '~V~ m /-r-l~,- " L'~ " " --"1 ""~-- ~~| | ;a----',-- ]tighter sanitation measures are ~rOA,~l~q,!-,~l~ ~6~/r~.Maz'r ;,~ If "7 / ~ .n~;b K-L GAS ) I I WillIlI TIIFK,--.---- . . bnakingfight againstgradual"headwaYsuchrampantinthe ~"" " 1 3 172 77 7 ] lL .o-,iiF i " NO VaN lURER IvE i ildiseases as tuberculosis, small- . ~t ~SC~U~ {t~ |~ - - --I t FREiiPORT ILL I tN WOODSTOCK I/pox, cholera, trachoma and dy,[ iAoo~ 774EYTATUK(:IF I HAYDN ' I :r ".~ I 1 1 I~ lll l &~ il~ ~! ~iJ;?~~l.i: ): :i~. I I I ~ I1Dr. Holmes was sent to lndta" . ~ Im~o~ 7~eu~.' : t ;~=.t ,~mt~.~J~w.w~rl~m Ira---r -,~ Announces The Addition o] Their I . . lira uc~ooer, J-ua~, oy me mter-1 IO~VmSFg~SrDAv ~q~ ! ll~E~l~illL-Allllil~iiti~ll/l " " " I ' ' ' |/national Cooperation Admini- I,vl'l/vo) ,o='~'io~x~'~'[~IlfltVI~IE~I'IF EIBIII BRIDA u SHOP r I I[stration. He was assigned to [~~ I .i ~. . . i I ' []India's health ministry by the[ I AKI: KUlh }tKVI( t I AD 2-1413 ~!~" ~ 1[2~i~id;a' ~:gtr~i~3th /rgsM;~!thl[ I~g~;:r~~~:~~l~| I I M ~bil] B~ 2{M:;L~TEE~AeeilT~ ~i~, I Our consultant will help you choose, from g g y g a I For I|range program to raise healthl I ~ ~ I that's perfect for you . select harmonizing "" ' I We Give VAL-U-~HECK$ I I Quality ond LOW COST I/standards [ ' dresses and c~ccessories for your attendants . | Di.per Service I/ ' ' I for the mothers Of bride ood groom, I Call Rockford "Collect" I/ I~,~~,~ ~---~ woo o I ' I I - [[ Opell New M,ssion Ill Peru [ COATS, SUITS DRESSES I i1 CHICAGO --(NC)-- Four Sis-[munity's Chicago province;I] " I I ~tr~e t~nt, nrt ~:]~n s'~t't~~ li ~-~~ Cookin~--Wat,r He.atin~ liters of Mercy are leaving here Mother Mary Baptista of thell ~t.lln;n t~ ~c;~ I I ' " ! [ Kerrigerotion--:~pace Meotln9," ' ~,~gs~l~s~s4~ ~l~s ~ ~o,o, [,on January 13 to open a school Omaha province; S,ster Mary[| I ] Equipment ' Iland a clinic in Sicuani, Peru in]Johnetta Kaney Sister Mary!| "~ I I Make Your Next Beautv-Care I! [ u/ mhtlntl~ Illrltt< lithe Diocese of Cuzco which islNivard Murphy; Sister Mary',| ~ II :'""" I: li ,I headed by Bishop Nevin Hayes Damaris wig,:and Sister I I I At t}ointment At li l h Bottled and Buk ' |/,~ .-. " 1 f "hic =o'1"" -"" s -- " 'l // at ~ I I - -rr z, i E-ui-ment " IIU t.arm.Iormer y OL. a~. . Mary ~.auren nogers zne two I /,t -.-I~ I ~1i :a $ O n $ 0ffiee .nd Bul"k P"lont Rte. 14& 4,The Sisters are: Mother Mary Mothers will return' to the Umt-'| i l K A Y E B E A U T I C I A N S Ii "" I WOODSTOCK, ILLINOIS I/Huberta Provincial of the cam-fed States shortly. II I I II +o+ I I I BELVlDERE 6 . ~'11 4, E. 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