St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"How to Be a Better Catholic"

We continue with the section on “How to Be a Better Catholic” from the Daily Roman Missal (6th Edition, 2003).

The Six Precepts of the Church*
The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth of love of God and neighbor:

1) "You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation."
This precept requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration, when the Christian community gathers together on the day commemorating the resurrection of the Lord.

2) "You shall confess your sins at least once a year."
This precept ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness. It is binding only with regard to grave sins.

3) "You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season."This precept guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord's Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.

4) "You shall keep the holy days of obligation"
This precept requires the completion of the Sunday observance by participation in the principal liturgical feasts which honor the mysteries of the Lord, the Virgin Mary, and the saints. It requires, also, abstinence from those works and activities that impede the worship to be owed to God, the joy proper to the Lord's Day, the performance of works of mercy or the appropriate relaxation of mind and body. Family needs of important social service can excuse from this obligation of rest, but the faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits prejudicial to religion, family life and health.

5) "You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence".
This precept ensures the times of ascesis and penance that prepare us for the liturgical feasts; they help us acquire freedom of heart and mastery over instincts.

6) "You shall provide for the material needs of the Church"
This precept requires the faithful to contribute to the Church according to their own abilities.

* See Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), # 2041-2043 & 2185

Works of Mercy**
The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor's spiritual and bodily necessities. Giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity; it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.

- Feeding the hungry
- Giving drink to the thirsty
- Clothing the naked
- Sheltering the homeless
- Visiting the sick
- Visiting the imprisoned
- Burying the dead

- Counseling the doubtful
- Instructing the ignorant
- Admonishing sinners
- Comforting the afflicted
- Forgiving offenses
- Bearing wrongs patiently
- Praying for the living and the dead

** See CCC, # 2447


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