February 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 54

Precepts of the Church

    Several installments in these pages over the past few months have been presenting an examination of conscience. They can be found in the archives of this website. I encourage you to print these articles out and refer to them for helping you make a good confession. My reference is a booklet entitled: "A Contemporary Adult Guide to Conscience for the Sacrament of Confession" by Father Richard J. Rego.

    Today, we leave the Ten Commandments and take up the Six Commandments or Precepts of the Church. They are often forgotten, yet very important and something we should all be aware of because Catholics are bound under pain of sin to observe. These laws are Church laws, which means they were made by lawful authority in the Church. They do not demand much. Actually, they demand very little, but not to observe them is sinful because Jesus gave authority to the Church in light of which we owe obedience.

    The Six Precepts of the Church are:

  • 1) To assist at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation
  • 2) To confess our sins at least once a year, if you are in the state of mortal sin
  • 3) To receive Holy Communion during the Easter Season
  • 4) To fast and abstain on days appointed
  • 5) To observe the Churchís laws regarding marriage and
  • 6) To contribute to the support of the Church

    There are six holy days of obligation in the United States for the Roman Rite. (Other countries may have other or added days that are binding to them.) They are:

  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • The Solemnity of the Mother of God (January 1)
  • Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter)
  • The Assumption (August 15)
  • All Saintís Day (November 1)
  • The Immaculate Conception (December 8)
To knowingly and willingly miss Mass without a very good reason is considered grave sin. The Bishops of each country have the option to assign a Holy Day of Obligation to a Sunday when it is more expedient for the faithful because of the workforce today or other circumstances determined by each Diocese.

    To knowingly and willingly refuse to go to confession at least once a year, if one is in the state of mortal sin is, also, considered grave sin.

    To knowingly and willingly refuse to receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist during the Easter Season, which is called our Easter Duty, is considered grave sin. In the United States the Easter Season is from the First Sunday in Lent to Trinity Sunday.

    To knowingly and willingly refuse to fast and abstain on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday is considered grave sin. To fast means that two meals eaten during the day must not exceed the total amount of the main meal. People from the ages of 14 -59 must fast. To abstain means to avoid eating bloodied meat or sauces and gravies made from meat and meat juices. Catholics must also fast an hour before receiving the Holy Eucharist. Water and necessary medicines may be taken within an hour. The elderly and those taking care of the elderly and sick are excused from this law of an hourís fast. Those who put gum in their mouth, chew during Mass and then receive Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist break this law of fasting before Communion - no matter what age. Parents, please do not allow your children to chew gum in Church. Would you allow them to chew gum in the presence of the Queen of England? Then why before the King of kings?

    Regarding the law concerning marriage, one must ask if he/she has been disobedient to the laws of the Church concerning the preparation for marriage or lied or deliberately clouded information in an effort to obtain a declaration of nullity for himself/herself or for another.

    Has one delayed the baptism of an infant unreasonably.

    Has one deliberately failed to call for a priest to administer the last Sacraments to someone in danger of death?

    Regarding the law concerning the support of the Church, everyone, who has an income, must contribute a just amount to the support of the Church.

    Those are the six Precepts, dear reader. Are you planning to make a good confession this Lent? I hope I have helped you with the articles of the last several weeks.

    Remember, we do not know the day or the hour the Lord will call us. If you are not in the state of Sanctifying Grace, please, please go to confession soon.

    God bless you!

Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

For past columns by Sister Lucy, see GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER Archives

February 23, 2001
volume 12, no. 54
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