Precepts of the Church

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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 are additional to the Ten Commandments which are common to all the Abrahamic religions.

In particular

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church enumerates the following five: [1]

  1. You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
  2. You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
  3. You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.
  4. You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.
  5. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.

The 5th precept was listed separately in the first edition of the Catechism. The second (current) edition combines participation at Sunday Mass and keeping/celebration of Holy Days, which had been two separate precepts. [2]

Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church enumerates the same five: [3]

  1. 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;
  2. to confess one's sins, receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation at least once each year;
  3. to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season;
  4. to abstain from eating meat and to observe the days of fasting established by the Church.
  5. 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, [4] though no specified practice is required.

Reasons

The first reason for the Church commandments is Christ's ability to liberate through His prescriptions for humanity. [5] Secondly, Church authority, which has a right to be obeyed as delegated by Our Lord, [6] 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, [7] 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. [8] What concerns the fourth Church Commandment, the Church believes that penance [9] is of divine law, and the notion is general that fasting, as a penitential practise, is quite useful, [10] citing such Scripture as "Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting". [11] 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. [12]

The Church commandments are generally seen as “minimum requirements” for leading a Christian life in Communion with the Catholic Church.

History

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

if anyone has not kept the fast of Lent, or of the ember-days, or of the rogations, or that which may have been appointed by the bishop for the staying of any plague; if there by any one who has not gone to Holy Communion three time in the year, that is at Easter, Pentecost and Christmas; if there by any one who has withheld tithes from God and His saints; if there by anyone so perverse and so alienated from God as not to come to Church at least on Sundays; if there be anyone who has not gone to confession once in the year, that is at the beginning of Lent, and has not done penance for his sins (Hafner, Zur Geschichte der Kirchengebote, in Theologische Quartalschrift, LXXX, 104).

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).

Notes

  1. https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c3a3.htm
  2. https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P75.HTM Vatican.Va Catechism of the Catholic Church 2042-2043
  3. Vatican.Va: Compendium of the Catechism Q. 432
  4. Paul VI, Paenitemini II 1
  5. http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091998_fides-et-ratio.html, Jn 14:15; 10:10
  6. “He that heareth you, heareth me.” Lk 10:16
  7. John 5:53
  8. Technically, he is not bound to confess who has not sinned mortally. Can 989. Previously, theologians have opined that their duty to confess “their sins” is indeed restricted to mortal sins, but if they have none, they are bound to declare just that in the confessional. St. Thomas Supp. 6 III ad 3, who however also mentions the other opinion, safer then and, anyway and now as well, the better alternative anyway in a spiritual way, that such persons at least should confess some of their venial sins.
  9. Paenitemini I 1
  10. St. Thomas, II/II 147 I and III
  11. Joel 2:12, Douay-Rheims Bible
  12. According to Can. 1263, a compulsory church tax may be imposed to natural persons only in extraordinary circumstances, except in countries where this is particular custom.

Related Research Articles

Fasting is the willful refrainment from eating for a period of time. 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 (religion) acknowledgment of ones sins

Confession, in many religions, is the acknowledgment of one's sins (sinfulness) or wrongs.

Penance Repentance of sins

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.

Indulgence remission of sins in the Catholic Church

In the teaching of the Catholic Church, an indulgence is "a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins". The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes an indulgence as "a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and all of the saints".

In the Catholic Church, holy days of obligation are days on which the faithful are expected to attend Mass, and engage in rest from work and recreation, according to the Third Commandment.

Mortal sin

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. 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 Catholic teaching was formalized at the 16th century Council of Trent.

Ember days 3 days set aside for fasting and prayer in each season

In the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian churches, ember days are four separate sets of three days within the same week—specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday—roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that are set aside for fasting and prayer. These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days are known in Latin as the quatuor anni tempora, or formerly as the jejunia quatuor temporum.

Eastertide In Western Christianity, the period of fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.

Eastertide or Paschaltide is a festal season in the liturgical year of Christianity that focuses on celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It begins on Easter Sunday, which initiates Easter Week in Western Christianity, and Bright Week in Eastern Christianity. There are several Eastertide customs across the Christian world, including sunrise services, exclaiming the Paschal greeting, clipping the church, and decorating Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb. The Easter lily, a symbol of the resurrection, traditionally serve as the chancel flowers that decorate the chancel area of churches throughout Eastertide. Other Eastertide customs include egg hunting, eating special Easter foods and watching Easter parades.

Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced by Christians in the life of the Church. It is a universal feature of the historic churches of Christendom, although the theology and the practice of absolution vary between denominations.

In the Catholic Church, the Seal of Confession is the absolute duty of priests not to disclose anything that they learn from penitents during the course of the Sacrament of Penance (confession). Even where the seal of confession does not strictly apply – where there is no specific serious sin confessed for the purpose of receiving absolution – priests have a serious obligation not to cause scandal by the way they speak.

Eucharistic discipline

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 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 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 fast from sin. St. Basil gives the following exhortation regarding fasting:

Eucharist in the Catholic Church

Eucharist here refers to Holy Communion or the Body and Blood of Christ, which is consumed during the Catholic Mass or Eucharistic Celebration. "At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood, ... a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet 'in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.'" As such, Eucharist is "an action of thanksgiving to God" derived from "the Jewish blessings that proclaim – especially during a meal – God's works: creation, redemption, and sanctification."

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.

Mass in the Catholic Church Central liturgical ritual

Mass in the Catholic Church goes by many names. As fundamentally an action of thanksgiving to God it is called Eucharist, which means thanksgiving. Other terms for it are Lord's Supper, Breaking of Bread, Eucharistic assembly, memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection, holy sacrifice of the Mass, Holy and Divine Liturgy, Sacred Mysteries, Most Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion, the holy things, and finally Holy Mass from the sending forth (missio) of the faithful.

Anointing of the Sick in the Catholic Church One of the sacraments in the Catholic Church

Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of the Catholic Church 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."

Catholic theology of sexuality

Catholic theology of sexuality, like Catholic theology in general, is drawn from natural law, canonical scripture, divine revelation, and sacred tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Sexual morality evaluates sexual behavior according to standards laid out by Catholic moral theology, and often provides general principles by which Catholics are able to evaluate whether specific actions meet these standards.

Catholic theology Study of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church

Catholic theology is the understanding of Catholic doctrine or teachings, and results from the studies of theologians. It is based on canonical scripture, and sacred tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. This article serves as an introduction to various topics in Catholic theology, with links to where fuller coverage is found.

Lent Christian observance

Lent is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial. This event is observed in the Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian, Presbyterian, Oriental Orthodox, Reformed, and Roman Catholic Churches. Some Anabaptist and evangelical churches also observe the Lenten season.

Sacraments of the Catholic Church seven visible rituals that Catholics see as signs of Gods presence, consisting of those of initiation (baptism, confirmation, eucharist), of healing (reconciliation, anointing of the sick), and of service (holy orders, matrimony)

There are seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, which according 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.

References

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Commandments of the Church". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton Company.