Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Are You Catholic? Part 1: The Precepts of the Church

During Confirmation we are reminded that there are certain Precepts of the Church that all Catholics must adhere to. In addition to the 10 Commandments, these Precepts are our responsibilities to the Church of the future generations as well as ourselves getting to Heaven. If we don’t do our part, our children can’t do their part and pass along the faith.
   These precepts have guided the community of the church for two thousand years and provide a basis for all Christians to follow the Lord. It’s especially helpful to parents and families to raise their children in the faith.

1. Keep holy the Day of the Lord’s Resurrection by participating in Mass, EVERY Sunday, holy day of obligation, avoiding unnecessary work, shopping or other activities which don’t remind you that it’s the Lord you should be honoring this day.

   Funny how we make a special effort to not miss the Super bowl, World Series or other special event, but miss Mass? Well, we can do that every week,  so where’s the harm in skipping every now and then?
   But the harm is showing our kids that thanking God is a low priority in our life. Sure we can say, “Gee thanks God for this meal or when we wake up in the morning.” But  preparing for Sunday Mass, EVERY week is the respectful and loving way to show God we appreciate His gifts of faith, our lives, our children’s lives, our jobs, our world, and everything else He has given us. Shouldn’t He get that at LEAST?
2. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at LEAST once a year. I don’t know about you but I would have a hard time remembering 365 days worth of sins going just once a year.
More often would be better, and make it a family event!

3. Receive Holy Communion at least once a year.  I love chocolate. It would really stink if I could only get chocolate once a year.   I love Jesus too, and I think it would stink to only receive Jesus once a year…
(not comparing Jesus to chocolate okay? Just making a point!)

 4. Study Catholic teaching in preparation for Confirmation,
Learning about the Catholic faith doesn’t stop with Confirmation. And if you haven’t been Confirmed are you really convinced you want to be Catholic? Why haven't you made that Sacrament of Commitment to the Church? Adults can be confirmed too—just ask!

5. Observe the marriage laws of the Church. Okay this is where people can get really messed up. The marriage laws state: Catholics must get married in the Catholic church. Unless you get permission from your pastor/bishop to marry in a protestant church, your marriage is not VALID unless it’s done in the Catholic church which means you’ve met with the priest, attended pre-Cana classes and married in the Church.   You can marry a non-Catholic, in the Church, and that is still a VALID marriage.

But if you marry outside of Church by a Justice of the Peace or any other minister besides a priest, it’s not VALID and you cannot receive Communion until you go to confession.

Sorry, but it’s the rule. Catholic marriages are considered a Sacrament.  It’s not unfair, it’s just how it is. Ballgames have rules, airlines have rules, governments have rules.

The other part of # 5 is: Give religious training to your children by word and your example, and use parish schools,, and religious education programs.

Again, just getting your child baptized isn’t enough. Baptism isn’t magic. You don’t do it because Grandma said so. It’s because you want your child to share in the Catholic faith and share in the salvation  of Heaven.

6.  Strengthen and support the Church by tithing. We give money and support to everything important in our lives. We keep the faith going by helping build our church buildings, fund religious programs so EACH generation will have the faith.  Support your parish and priests, the worldwide Church and Holy Father.  We show our love and appreciation to others by gifts of our time, money and our talents. So too we show God we love Him by sharing our time, money and talents to Him.

7.   Do penance regularly including abstaining from meat and fasting on the appointed days.  Do we forget why we fast from food on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday or abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent? So we can tell everyone we’re Catholic?  Not hardly. Fasting has long been a tradition in the Church to ask forgiveness for our sins, to tell our bodies who’s boss, to cleanse our body and help it rely on God and not on worldly things.  Fasting shows our desire to give thanks to God for sending Jesus to die for our sins. We don’t literally walk the way of the cross like Jesus. Making our stomachs hurt on those days is just a reminder of how much we love God and are grateful for everything He does for us.

8.  Join the missionary spirit and apostolate of the Church. Go out and be fishers of men! Evangelize! You don’t have to preach on a street corner. Do you act like a Christian at work? Do people think of you as a good person, an honest person?  Do we listen to people who need help or advice? Or do we shy away from religious talk so we don’t get labeled a Holy Roller. Even worse, do WE label people who are excited about their faith as too holy or fanatical? Do we judge? Are we prejudiced?

   Living our faith is our way of showing the world that the God who made this world is important to us and should be respected and honored. The way we give example to others, most importantly our children, is what spreads the faith.
    Our children learn about faith from what they see and hear at home. If the television or internet is on too much that is where they will learn about God—which means they won’t learn anything about God.
   Parents are given a huge responsibility to raise children, keep them healthy both physically and spiritually. The Church is here to help you teach your children about our loving God and how to get to Heaven.
    By obeying the Precepts of the Church we give importance to God, the Church he gave us to help us get to heaven and His loving Son.
   As parents we always want what’s best for our children. Shouldn’t we do everything in our power to give them the means of salvation?   If we don’t believe we need salvation, how will we teach it to our kids?  It’s not rocket science—it’s just giving back to God and loving Him.

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