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In the Catholic Church, the Precepts of the Church, sometimes called Commandments of the Church, are certain laws considered binding on the faithful. As usually understood, they are moral and ecclesiastical, broad in character and limited in number. In modern times there are five. These specifically Catholic commandments flow from and lead to the Ten Commandments which are common to all the Abrahamic religions.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgates the following:
- You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
- You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
- You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.
- You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.
- You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
- You shall observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage
The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church enumerates the same five:
- to attend Mass on Sundays and other holy days of obligation and to refrain from work and activities which could impede the sanctification of those days;
- to confess one's sins, receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation at least once each year;
- to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season;
- to abstain from eating meat and to observe the days of fasting established by the Church.
- to help to provide for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.
The fourth Church Commandment is commonly remembered as abstinence from meat (but not fish) on Fridays (except solemnities), and abstinence-plus restriction to one meal only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The details are quite various, including some countries to allow for a different way of penance on at least ordinary Fridays. The whole of Lent is of penitential character,though no specified practice is required.
The first reason for the Church commandments is Christ's ability to liberate through his prescriptions for humanity.Secondly, Church authority, which has a right to be obeyed as delegated by Jesus, which common tradition subsumes under the Fourth Commandment. The first Church Commandment is obviously an explanation of the minimum requirements for hallowing the Lord's Day, with the specification that it is Mass, and not anything else, that needs to be heard, that the Lord's Day has been shifted from Saturday to Sunday, and that some other feasts are assigned by Church authority in remembrance of Our Lord, of His blessed Mother and of the Saints. The third Church Commandment is a specification to Our Lord's directive to eat His Flesh, reducible to the Third Commandment as well since it is an act of devotion. The second Church Commandment prescribes a preparation for fulfilling the third Church Commandment and was promulgated at the Fourth Council of the Lateran. What concerns the fourth Church Commandment, the Church believes that penance is of divine law, and the notion is general that fasting, as a penitential practise, is quite useful, citing such Scripture as "Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting". Thus again, the commanding act of the Church rather consists in the precisation. The necessity of providing for the needs of the Church results from the faithful belonging to one Mystical Body and is regulated in canons 1260 and 1262.
The Church commandments are generally seen as “minimum requirements” for leading a Christian life in Communion with the Catholic Church.
As early as the time of Constantine I, especial insistence was put upon the obligation to hear Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, to receive the sacraments and to abstain from contracting marriage at certain seasons. In the seventh-century Penitentiary of Theodore of Canterbury we find penalties imposed on those who contemn the Sunday.
According to a work written by Regino, Abbot of Prüm (d. 915), entitled "Libri duo de synodalibus causis et disciplinis", the bishop in his visitation is, among other inquiries, to ask
The precepts here implied came to be regarded as special Commandments of the Church. Thus in a book of tracts of the thirteenth century attributed to Pope Celestine V (though the authenticity of this work has been denied) a separate tractate is given to the precepts of the Church and is divided into four chapters, the first of which treats of fasting, the second of confession and paschal Communion, the third of interdicts on marriage, and the fourth of tithes.
In the fourteenth century Ernest von Parduvitz, Archbishop of Prague, instructed his priests to explain in popular sermons the principal points of the catechism, the Our Father, the Creed, the Commandments of God and of the Church (Hafner, loc. cit., 115). A century later (1470) the catechism of Dietrick Coelde, the first, it is said, to be written in German, explicitly set forth that there were five Commandments of the Church.
In his "Summa Theologica" (part I, tit. xvii, p. 12) Antoninus of Florence (1439) enumerates ten precepts of the Church universally binding on the faithful. These are:
In the sixteenth century Martin Aspilcueta(1586), gives a list of four principal precepts of obligation:
At this time there began to appear many popular works in defence of the authority of the Church and setting forth her precepts. Such among others were the "Summa Doctrinæ Christianæ" (1555) of Peter Canisius and the "Doctrina Christiana" of Bellarmine (1589).
Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting. It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday and falls on the first day of Lent, the six weeks of penitence before Easter. Ash Wednesday is traditionally observed by Western Christians. It is observed by Catholics in the Roman Rite, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Moravians, Nazarenes, and Independent Catholics, as well as by many from the Reformed faith and United Protestants.
Fasting is the willful refrainment from eating and drinking. In a physiological context, fasting may refer to the metabolic status of a person who has not eaten overnight, or to the metabolic state achieved after complete digestion and absorption of a meal. Several metabolic adjustments occur during fasting. Some diagnostic tests are used to determine a fasting state. For example, a person is assumed to be fasting once 8–12 hours have elapsed since the last meal. Metabolic changes of the fasting state begin after absorption of a meal.
Confession, in many religions, is the acknowledgment of one's sins (sinfulness) or wrongs.
Penance is repentance of sins as well as an alternate name for the Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession. It also plays a part in confession among Anglicans and Methodists, in which it is a rite, as well as among other Protestants. The word penance derives from Old French and Latin paenitentia, both of which derive from the same root meaning repentance, the desire to be forgiven. Penance and repentance, similar in their derivation and original sense, have come to symbolize conflicting views of the essence of repentance, arising from the controversy as to the respective merits of "faith" and "good works". Word derivations occur in many languages.
A mortal sin, in Catholic theology, is a gravely sinful act, which can lead to damnation if a person does not repent of the sin before death. A sin is considered to be "mortal" when its quality is such that it leads to a separation of that person from God's saving grace. Three conditions must together be met for a sin to be mortal: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." The sin against the Holy Ghost and the sins that cry to Heaven for vengeance are considered especially serious. This type of sin should be distinguished from a venial sin that simply leads to a weakening of a person's relationship with God. Despite its gravity, a person can repent of having committed a mortal sin. Such repentance is the primary requisite for forgiveness and absolution. Teaching on absolution from serious sins has varied somewhat throughout history. The current teaching for Catholics was formalized at the 16th-century Council of Trent.
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness imparted by ordained Christian priests and experienced by Christian penitents. It is a universal feature of the historic churches of Christendom, although the theology and the practice of absolution vary between denominations.
Eucharistic discipline is the term applied to the regulations and practices associated with an individual preparing for the reception of the Eucharist. Different Christian traditions require varying degrees of preparation, which may include a period of fasting, prayer, repentance, and confession.
The Friday Fast is a Christian practice of abstaining from animal meat, lacticinia as well as alcohol, on Fridays, or holding a fast on Fridays, that is found most frequently in the Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Methodist traditions. The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, written in the first century A.D., directed Christians to fast on both Wednesdays and Fridays. The Wednesday fast is done in remembrance of the betrayal of Christ by Judas on Spy Wednesday, while the Friday fast is done in commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday. As such, all Fridays of the year have been historically kept in many parts of Christendom as a day of strict fasting and abstinence from alcohol, meat and lacticinia.
The Catholic Church historically observes the disciplines of fasting and abstinence at various times each year. For Catholics, fasting is the reduction of one's intake of food, while abstinence refers to refraining from something that is good, and not inherently sinful, such as meat. The Catholic Church teaches that all people are obliged by God to perform some penance for their sins, and that these acts of penance are both personal and corporeal. Bodily fasting is meaningless unless it is joined with a spiritual avoidance of sin. Basil of Caesarea gives the following exhortation regarding fasting:
Let us fast an acceptable and very pleasing fast to the Lord. True fast is the estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence from anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood and perjury. Privation of these is true fasting.
The Sacrament of Penance is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, in which the faithful are absolved from sins committed after baptism and they are reconciled with the Christian community. While in current practice reconciliation services may be used to bring out the communal nature of sacraments, mortal sins must be confessed and venial sins may be confessed for devotional reasons. According to the current doctrine and practice of the church, only those ordained as priests may grant absolution.
The Copts, who belong mostly to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, observe fasting periods according to the Coptic calendar. These fasting periods are exceeded by no other Christian community except the Orthodox Tewahedo. Out of the 365 days of the year, Copts often fast between 180 to 210 days.
The Mass is the central liturgical rite in the Catholic Church, encompassing the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where the bread and wine are consecrated and become the Body and Blood of Christ. As defined by the Church at the Council of Trent, in the Mass, "The same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner." The Church describes the Holy Mass as "the source and summit of the Christian life". It teaches that the sacramental bread and wine, through consecration by an ordained priest, become the sacrificial body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ as the sacrifice on Calvary made truly present once again on the altar. The Catholic Church permits only baptised members in the state of grace to receive Christ in the Eucharist.
Saint Augustine's Prayer Book is an Anglo-Catholic devotional book published for members of the various Anglican churches in the United States and Canada by the Order of the Holy Cross, an Anglican monastic community.
In the Catholic Church, the Anointing of the Sick, also known as Extreme Unction, is a Catholic sacrament that is administered to a Catholic "who, having reached the age of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age", except in the case of those who "persevere obstinately in manifest grave sin". Proximate danger of death, the occasion for the administration of Viaticum, is not required, but only the onset of a medical condition of serious illness or injury or simply old age: "It is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived."
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later; depending on the Christian denomination and local custom, Lent concludes either on the evening of Maundy Thursday, or at sundown on Holy Saturday, when the Easter Vigil is celebrated. Regardless, Lenten practices are properly maintained until the evening of Holy Saturday. In Eastern Churches, whether Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Lutheran or Eastern Catholic, Lent ends at noon of Holy Saturday.
Canon 915, one of the canons in the 1983 Code of Canon Law of the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, forbids the administration of Holy Communion to those upon whom the penalty of excommunication or interdict has been imposed or declared or who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin:
Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
In the Lutheran Church, Confession is the method given by Christ to the Church by which individual men and women may receive the forgiveness of sins; according to the Large Catechism, the "third sacrament" of Holy Absolution is properly viewed as an extension of Holy Baptism.
The Lutheran sacraments are "sacred acts of divine institution". Lutherans believe that, whenever they are properly administered by the use of the physical component commanded by God along with the divine words of institution, God is, in a way specific to each sacrament, present with the Word and physical component. They teach that God earnestly offers to all who receive the sacrament forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation. They teach that God also works in the recipients to get them to accept these blessings and to increase the assurance of their possession.
There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which accord to Catholic theology were instituted by Jesus and entrusted to the Church. Sacraments are visible rites seen as signs and efficacious channels of the grace of God to all those who receive them with the proper disposition. The sevenfold list of sacraments is often organized into three categories: the sacraments of initiation, consisting of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist; the sacraments of healing, consisting of Penance and Anointing of the Sick; and the sacraments of service: Holy Orders and Matrimony.