Monday, October 15, 2007


Ive been looking all over for this and finally found it in the “Catholic Source Book”. It is the seven precepts of the Church. These are the obligations of members of the Church for those who want to be considered Practicing Catholics as opposed to Cultural Catholics. Supposedly the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore approved them in 1884. Perhaps you might find them interesting.

1. To Keep holy the day of the Lord’s Resurrection: to worship God by participating in Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation; to avoid those activities that would hinder renewal of soul and body; for example, needles work and business activities, unnecessary shopping, and so forth. (In other words; praise God and take a day off and relax and recreate. How many organizations require that of you?)

2. Lead a sacramental life: to receive Holy Communion frequently and the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year if in serious sin, minimally, to receive Holy Communion at least once a year, between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday (aka Easter duty). (Once again, this is for our benefit; enter into and enjoy a state of grace. Cool.)

3. To study Catholic teaching in preparation for confirmation, to be confirmed, and then to continue to study and advance the cause of Christ. (A calling to become fully mature in the life of Christ. Continue to grow and learn!)

4. To observe the marriage laws of the Church: to give religious training (by word and example) to one’s children; to use parish schools and religious education programs. (And now that you are fully initiated, start passing that faith on to others starting, for those who marry, in the home.)

5. To strengthen and support the Church: one’s own parish community and parish priests; the worldwide Church and the Holy Father. (Having enjoyed the sacrifice of those who have gone before us, now make sure that it is there for future generations.)

6. To do penance, including abstaining from meat and fasting from good on the appointed days.

7. To join in the missionary spirit and apostolate of the Church.

To recap: Strive for holiness and wholeness, continue to grow with passion in your relationship with God, pass this opportunity on to others both by example and missionary zeal, and by doing your part to make sure that that which was here to support your journey will be here to support others.


Adoro te Devote said...

That's a great book, isn't it?

And thanks for this post...I knew I was forgetting about reminding people when they SHOULD go to Confession.

I was trying to remember the details, whether it is required every year as a precept of the faith such as is recieving Communion once per year, during the Easter season, or if it was an "only in mortal sin" kind of thing.

But here's what gets me....if people are only recieving Communion once per year, they are either non-practicing Catholics, or possible scrupulous or maybe Native Americans who realize what they are recieving (long story...learned from a Missionary friend of mine). Anyway, if they are non-practicing Catholics, then they can't just show up at Easter and recieve...because, by missing Mass, they have committed a grave sin. That's the background I came from...and I wish I could say different. So that leads to a do you handle that, pastorally?

Someone comes to you, only attends Mass here and there, but each time, recieves communion. Let's assume that this person is living a decent life otherwise, their only sin being skipping Mass...willfully, not due to work or something like that. How do you address it? How do you guide them to do the right thing...go to Confession, attend Mass each week, etc?

That was a bit rambling, but you should be used to me at this point. What say you?

Fr. V said...


For it to be serious sin, on top of everything else one of the three requirments be that they KNOW that it is a serious sin to willfully miss mass. That might be the first step in addressing the issue.

Let us assume that I have contact with them and that I KNOW that they are missing all of the time. I can't make the assumption just because I irregularly see them at mass - there can be a lot of legitimate reasons for not being there - not the least of which is that there are Catholic churches within spitting distance (at least for now) in just about every direction. So the communion line is not the best time to discuss the situation. I assume they are doing as they should.

Let us suppose then that they are willfully missing and I have the opportunity to talk to them. I would tell them the truth in the most loving way that I can - that they should go to confession and barring that, should not go to communion. We tell them not because they are hurting us or Jesus but their won soul.

In other situations, such as funerals and weddings, I will make an announcement concerning this. There are also many opportunities to teach in classrooms, adult ed, blogs, etc. . .

Helpful? It would be better to have prticulars before much more of an anwer is given . . .

Rob said...

-if people are only recieving Communion once per year, they are either non-practicing Catholics, or possible scrupulous or maybe Native Americans who realize what they are recieving (long story...learned from a Missionary friend of mine).-

Well, there are also people who don't go to communion every time they attend mass (like me). JUst because I am at mass does not mean I may receive the Eucharist. I have to be in a state of grace and have confessed any mortal sins. Since I commit mortal sin at a steady rate, I can only receive communion if I have recently confessed.

This is the only thing I like about Spanish mass, a lot of people stay in their seats because they are aware of sin. My Honduran wife is always appalled at English mass when nearly everybody gets in line for communion. She can't imagine that all those people (whom I never see at confession) are actually saints!

Adoro te Devote said...

Rob ~ I'll address you first, because for this purpose, the issue is the easiest...I'm with you, and a lot of people I know are with you, too. And I'll admit...there are times I go to Communion when maybe I shouldn't. Please pray for me in this regard. I won't go into any further depth than that. But yes, I do abstain if I know I'm in mortal sin.

Some people don't know they're in mortal sin, or they don't understand what they have done, or see Communion as something they "have" to's a stage of conversion for people to really understand this. One thing I've learned between class and work...and my own experience...the heart and the mind are often not on the same page. So I say keep praying for coversion of souls....including those you think are already converted. We...uh...ahem...THEY....hide so much.

In my parish, people do stay behind, but you're right...not the majority. The best we can all do? Pray for everyone.

Have I mentioned how much I love Confession?

Fr. V. ~ I can't be specific because I'm not addressing a specific situation. So let's just use me as a guinea pig...after all, my conversion story is out there already so it's not news or scandalous. God knows I'm a sinner of the worst sort.

Let's just say you came to know me when I was in my rebellion, and let's just say I'm not the crybaby I am, and for the purposes of fiction, I am more hardened and ignorant than I pretended to be. (The hardened heart as a result of sin actually causes ignorance)

So...let's just say that it doesn't bother me to tell you that I haven't been to Mass in a long time..and I was raised to believe such is a mortal sin. Let's just say that I do volunteer that I know this, intellectually.

Let's assume that for whatever reason, prior to this revelation, you've become aware of my somewhat-regular attendance at Mass, and in good faith, you've been offering me Communion, because I know what to do, so there are no "red flags". No problem; you don't know any different at this point. You think I've been a Catholic in good standing. And because I'm not an obvious rebel...why would you do any different?

But say, at a social function, you learn, through me directly or through someone else, that I'm struggling. You learn that I've been at odds with the faith, that I've been recieving Communion, and that although I say I understand what I'm receiving, some comments indicate that I don't really understand. And say that you learn that I'm also terrified of going to Confession for whatever reason.

If you become aware of me, what do you say? On one hand, you can't allow the sin to see that I don't really understand, although the intellectual knowledge is there. It's all parroting...conversion hasn't taken place. This is outside of the Communion line, say, at a social function, and say you know me well enough that I am not just a random person you can't reach...I am someone you know because God put me in your way, much to yours and my chagrin.

(God does that.)

And to reiterate, let's say that there is no other mortal premarital sex, use of chemicals, no occult practices, etc. The ONLY sin made aware to you at this point is willfully missing Mass.

Willfully, with intellectual knowledge that it is a grave sin, and with the intent to not attend Mass, anyway.

So you meet this person. All you can assume about other things is the best...but they reveal to you that they are missing Mass for an illegitimate reason. And you know from others they are padrephobic so also hasn't been to Confession in YEARS. (You know this reference).

How do you handle it? How do you guide this person into the right direction? How do you help this person make their confession and come regularly to Mass?

Grave matter is grave matter...but it still has to be handled with kid gloves.

And for those of us who come into contact with such do we best direct them? How do we get them to YOU?

Anonymous said...

Bishop Lennon should make a public statement...possibly even going so far as to take out an full page ad in the plain dealer...reminding the faithful and unfaithful of the precepts...

Anonymous said...

While reading this blog, something keeps coming to mind - we live in an immoral, moral world. There is a certain moral loneliness in today's society.

In order to keep our faith alive, it means going against the majority, one's own community. It's no longer good enough to be blessed into a Catholic Christian family, baptized, received the Sacraments, and part of a worshipping community - we have to have our own personal fatih, our own deep, private act of fatih. This private act of faith has to be based upon prayer.

The problem that arises today with this is that there are so many things that have been taking up our time, away from God & away from prayer. TV, Sports, work, movies, entertainment, and many other distractions. The more we feel restless, the more we want to go outside of ourselves to seek the cure, when in fact, we need to go inward to soothe the ache & pains.

As far as Confession, I used to be one who would go to Mass weekly, bi-weekly, maybe monthly, and never go to Confession. It was only by the Grace of God, intercessions of Saints & the Blessed Virgin, and TONS of prayers that I have changed and come back to the Church's teachings. Now, it drives me crazy if I do not get to Confession at least once every other week.

Just my thoughts - Lillian Marie

Fr. V said...

If they are padrephobic - that is where you come in - this is where you apply your office from the priesthood of baptism - encouraging and praying and being of support for the person - contacting a priest who can make things easier.

I usually would set up something a bit less threatening - sometimes it is an office visit (with coffee?) talk a bit and then ease into a confession. And then talk about it (was that hard? How do you feel? Think you could do it in the confessional next time?

Hard to say what would work with a PARTICULAR person but this seems to work when they are truly scared but tired of hanging on to a sin.