Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"How to Be a Better Catholic" (cont.)

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


At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I see some of these kinds of things- the steps/rules/ways to be “better” at something, my stomach clinches a bit (for myself and others) thinking of how many there may be like me who think they’re too far gone to start being “better” at anything. When it comes to matters that involve how we respect and honor our faith, it can be hard to acknowledge some things and change our ways.

Here’s something I read to remind me of a few important things:

“It is too easy to believe we are at the end of the line when it is only the beginning. One more step, one more effort may be all that is needed. It would amaze us if we knew how close we are to stepping past an old barrier-and it would shake us to know how close we came to quitting. Some would say it is too late-that too much has happened, we cannot go back and recapture what was lost. We have destroyed too much, bent the twig too far. And so it is true in some things. It is true that we have hurt and been hurt. We can't go back, but the spiritual basis on which we stand can lift us up. Sometimes we have to sift our own lives to see what is worth saving, and then we find the Great Spirit made us. What He made is good and we should not let it go to waste. It is the time to turn over a new leaf to rediscover Divine connections.”
-From A Cherokee Feast of Days

At 7:53 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

When our daughter C. was younger, my husband and I sat in one of the pews at the rear of the church, so that I could quickly take C. into the narthex if she became restless.

From that vantage point, we were painfully aware of how many parishioners came in late and how many departed immediately after Communion. Not to mention those who came late AND left early. At the church in which I was reared, not only did no one EVER leave during the last hymn, no one moved until the postlude started...so you can imagine how appalled I was at people who skipped out. (I was especially irked at those who came skulked into a back pew 10 minutes after Mass had started, and had the nerve to glare at C. if she made the slightest peep. If you don't want to be near small children, get here on time and sit farther forward! Grrr!)

How can anyone begrudge God an hour of his or her time? We wouldn't dream of being so slack about when we show up for work, nor would we allow our children to attend only the classes they like. Shouldn't we be as diligent about Mass?

EVERY part of Mass is important, from the opening prayer to the final blessing. How can one feel fit for Communion having failed to speak the words of confession or of the Kyrie? How can one go back out into the world without having heard God's blessing? I don't get it.

At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the admonishment of sinners-

When you know a person is:

Committing a sin, over and over, weekend after weekend (the same self focused behavior) setting what I believe is a very poor example for his/her teenage children and friends,

attends church and accepts the Eucharist weekly,

knows and understands the Ten Commandments (in my opinion),

is not real gentle, forgiving,understanding or welcoming of criticism,

is an acquaintance you will have to "chit chat" with from time to time (job related, kid related),

is it really our place to admonish them for their sin?

I discuss my viewpoint on the behavior with my own kids, but also say, “To each his own, it’s not our place to judge.” If I were to admonish the sinner, I feel as if I am being judgmental and am teaching my children to be judgmental. Even if admonished in my own silence, or within my own home, Who are we to judge? God is the ultimate judge, knows all and is the person a sinner is ultimately accountable to. It’s their conscience, their choice and their eternal salvation that’s at stake. It’s simply a matter of time, on God’s clock. Thoughts anyone?

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anon of 11:39-

"If thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother" (Matt 18:15)
I think there is a way to look at the admonishment of sinner that is distinguishable from making judgments. If you are talking to another for the purpose of helping them from continuing to commit serious offenses, that is different from disciplining, criticizing or judging (although it may not be understood that way from the one who is on the receiving end of the conversation). If your motive is not to impugn and you are not in the position to punish, then you are not acting in judgment. Wouldn’t you, instead, be acting with brotherly love?
I’ve recently been on the receiving end of an admonishment (done with gentleness, love and care), and I’m grateful. It gave me the opportunity to look at my actions and make changes I desperately needed to make.

At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“EVERY part of Mass is important, from the opening prayer to the final blessing. How can one feel fit for Communion having failed to speak the words of confession or of the Kyrie? How can one go back out into the world without having heard God's blessing? I don't get it.”
There were two things that happened recently, one in prep for my child’s First Communion and this past Sunday in helping another child w/some extra credit for religion class.
In prep for First Communion, parents and children were asked to fill out a Q&A sheet than had to do with parts of the Mass- order, meaning and so forth. Mind you, it wasn’t something anyone was turning in, but I’m not sure the parents originally knew that. There was a scramble among parents to get the correct answers on that sheet, and only a handful knew the answers. My point- if there are those (and in that clip of parents, there were many) who don’t even understand the various parts of the Mass, how much can they embrace (and respect) the importance of each and every part?
This past Sunday, my child was filling out a sheet for extra credit for religion class. The kids are asked which Mass they attended, who was the celebrant, what was the Gospel reading (and a basic synopsis), and what was the homily about. My child attends Catholic school (obviously), goes to Mass regularly and is in junior high asked me, “Which part is the Gospel?” Followed by, “and the homily is the part when the priest talks, right?”
I think our parish has in recent years done a good job in explaining more about why we do and say what we do as Catholics- both during Mass and out in the world. I took a course given by one of our pastors that, in part, went through the parts of the Mass, and I learned much I never knew. I now hear the Mass differently than I once did, and I’ve just been reminded that I am responsible for sharing that with my children.

At 2:12 PM, Blogger fran said...

If we take a look at the definition of the word admonish, - 1.to caution, advise, or encourage. 2. to warn, esp. in a mild manner. 3. to urge to duty or remind of an obligation - it really does not have any connection with passing judgment on another. Now, HOW to admonish without appearing judgmental, in the eyes of others, is quite another story, especially when the person may not be open to constructive criticism.

I am reading a book "Search and Rescue, How to Bring Your Family and Friends into - or Back into- the Catholic Church." Much of what I have read so far can be applied to many of life's situations, not just the matter of bringing others to the Church. I have not gotten to the chapter which covers how to approach others, but I am hoping it will provide some valuable information/insight.

As you say, anon, it is "their eternal salvation that's at stake." Somebody has to say something.

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This doesn’t exactly relate to the admonition of another, but it does relate to how we think about each others’ actions:

There is a Zen story about two monks who had taken vows not to associate with women. While out walking one day, they came to a river they had to cross. A woman on the bank needed to cross too but couldn't do it by herself. One of the monks carried her across on his back. Once on the other side, he put her down and the two monks continued on. After many miles, the other monk finally spoke, saying angrily, "You shouldn't have carried that woman." The first monk just smiled and said, "I put her down ten miles ago. Why are you still carrying her?"

It’s a story that makes me smile. When I do something that “needs to be done,” and there may be others who have negative perceptions about it, I worry about what others will say and how their thought and actions may affect me (even if I know I’ve done the right thing). So, I create a burden for myself to bear.

On the other hand, when someone else does something I may think was the wrong thing, I often carry that too. I don’t think there is anything wrong in speaking up when you experience something or have an idea with another regarding their actions, but when I think of how long I hold those thoughts and opinions, I realize they usually grow into heavy burdens that really aren’t even mine to carry.


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