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The five laws of the Church?

The five laws of the Church?

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Laws of the Church

1. To assist at Mass on all Sundays & Holy Days of obligation – The solemnity of Mary on New Year’s  Day (January 1), Assumption (August 15), All Saints’ Day (November 1), Immaculate Conception (December 8) and Christmas (December 25).

2. To fast & to abstain on the days appointed.


3. To confess our sins at least once a year.


4. To receive Holy Communion during the Lent- Easter time extending from the first Sunday of Lent through Trinity Sunday (1st Sunday after Pentecost)


5. To observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage. All Catholics are bound to marry before a priest or deacon unless dispensed by the local bishop. Catholics not married in accord with the laws of the Church lose the privilege of receiving the Sacraments

As you know, “The Four Spiritual Laws” is the name of the booklet many Protestants use to bring people to Jesus. In accord with this method, the Christian approaches a non-believer, presents the four laws, and then invites him to pray the ‘Jesus Prayer.’ Here are the four laws and the prayer:

1. God Loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.

2. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his life.

3. Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.

4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.

“Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Amen.”

What makes the “Four Spiritual Laws” “Protestant” is not so much their content, but their context. For the “evangelizer” the goal is the praying of the ‘Jesus Prayer.’ The belief is that once a person sincerely prays to bring Christ into his heart, he is saved, for always.

Hence, a Catholic version of this model could perhaps be called the “Five Laws,” or at least would surely involve the following:

1) Belief in an existing transcendent God who is Creator of the Universe and holds all persons and things in being.

2) Man in the person of our first parents fell from grace to become spiritually dead, and needed Redemption to reach heaven.

3) The Only-begotten Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity, had mercy upon His sinful creatures and became man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. This was the fulfillment of God’s Plan of salvation as revealed in the Old and New Testaments and culminating in the Divine Person of Our Savior dying on the Cross in expiation of the sins of mankind. By His death, heaven was again opened to mankind.

4) We are saved by faith in Christ Our Savior and His doctrines (basically outlined in the ancient Apostles’ Creed) and by the good works performed with the help of Christ’s grace flowing from devout prayer and the sacraments He instituted in His Catholic Church. One becomes a Christian by being incorporated into the Church by the sacrament of Baptism and will be saved by continuing to live with His divine life.

5) The whole Christian life is summarized by the goal of becoming a saint, to reach Christian perfection and to give God glory by becoming holy. The chief occupation of the Christian now and in eternity is to give glory to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. He does this by observing God’s Ten Commandments, the precepts of the Church, participation in the sacraments and worship of the Church, which are all grounded in the love of Christ who sacrificed Himself for our salvation. Those who love Christ to the end, dying in the state of grace, will be saved and resurrected to forever join the angels and Saints in heaven. Those who do not die in the state of grace and the love of Christ will be damned body and soul in hell forever.

This is simply an outline of what a Catholic model of the “Four Spiritual Laws” might look like, but it provides many essentials of our Faith within it. Thanks for contacting Catholic Exchange and Catholics United for the Faith with your question.

Blessings in Chris

The 5 Church Precepts, do you Know them?

The 5 Church Precepts, do you Know them?

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The Church Precepts

The precepts of the Church are duties that the Catholic Church requires of all the faithful. Also called the commandments of the Church, they are binding under pain of mortal sin, but the point is not to punish. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, the binding nature “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.” If we follow these commands, we’ll know that we’re headed in the right direction spiritually.

This is the current list of the precepts of the Church found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Traditionally, there were seven precepts of the Church; the other two may be found at the end of this list.

The Sunday Duty

Elevation of the Host during Mass at St. Mary's Oratory, Rockford, IL

The first precept of the Church is “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.” Often called the Sunday Duty or the Sunday Obligation, this is the way in which Christians fulfill the Third Commandment: “Remember, keep holy the Sabbath day.” We participate in the Mass, and we refrain from any work that distracts us from a proper celebration of Christ’s Resurrection.

Confession

Pews and confessionals, Shrine of the Apostle Paul, Saint Paul, MN

The second precept of the Church is “You shall confess your sins at least once a year.” Strictly speaking, we only need to take part in the Sacrament of Confession if we have committed a mortal sin, but the Church urges us to make frequent use of the sacrament and, at a minimum, to receive it once each year in preparation for fulfilling our Easter Duty.

The Easter Duty

Pope Benedict XVI gives Polish President Holy Communion

The third precept of the Church is “You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.” Today, most Catholics receive the Eucharist at every Mass they attend, but it wasn’t always so. Since the Sacrament of Holy Communion binds us to Christ and to our fellow Christians, the Church requires us to receive it at least once each year, sometime between Palm Sunday and Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost Sunday).

Fasting and Abstinence

Ash Wednesday at Saint Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

The fourth precept of the Church is “You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.” Fasting and abstinence, along with prayer and alms-giving, are powerful tools in developing our spiritual life. Today, the Church requires Catholics to fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and to abstain from meat on the Fridays during Lent. On all other Fridays of the year, we may perform some other penance in place of abstinence.

Supporting the Church

ettings Buy the print Comp Save to Board White donation box with a cross on it at a Catholic church


The fifth precept of the Church is “You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.” The Catechism notes that this “means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.” In other words, we don’t necessarily have to tithe (give ten percent of our income), if we can’t afford it; but we should also be willing to give more if we can. Our support of the Church can also be through donations of our time, and the point of both is not simply to maintain the Church but to spread the Gospel and bring others into the Church, the Body of Christ.

And Two More…

Traditionally, the precepts of the Church numbered seven instead of five. The other two precepts were:

  • To obey the laws of the Church concerning Matrimony.
  • To participate in the Church’s mission of Evangelization of Souls. 

Both are still required of Catholics, but they are no longer included in the Catechism’s official listing of the precepts of the Church.

The best form of receiving the Holy Eucharist; mouth or hand?

The best form of receiving the Holy Eucharist; mouth or hand?

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Reception of Holy Eucharist

The “Sacrament of Unity,” the Eucharist, demonstrates great diversity. In its celebration, ritual families from Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople, Armenia, and Rome make their own unique cultural contributions. Indeed, the “mystery of Christ is so unfathomably rich that it cannot be exhausted by its expression in any single liturgical tradition” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1201).

Within these traditions, the faithful may receive Holy Communion in a variety of ways. In the Latin Church alone, legitimate options include the communicant’s posture of standing or kneeling. In addition, the minister may distribute the Blood of Christ directly from the chalice, by intinction (dipping the host in the Precious Blood), or—even if not customary for most Catholics—“by means of a tube or a spoon” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal[GIRM] 245). The consecrated host can also be received in multiple ways, “either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant” (GIRM 160).

Communion in the hand, while relatively new to today’s Latin Church, is acknowledged as an “ancient usage” by the Holy See (see the 1969 Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship’s Memoriale Domini, “Instruction on the Manner of Distributing Holy Communion”). The U.S. bishops, in their Vatican-approved norms on the distribution and reception of Holy Communion, invoke the oft-cited remarks of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 368):

When you approach, take care not to do so with your hand stretched out and your fingers open or apart, but rather place your left hand as a throne beneath your right, as befits one who is about to receive the King. Then receive him, taking care that nothing is lost. 

Despite the “ancient usage,” however, and even within the boundaries of the current discipline, the Church has made clear that Communion on the tongue is the preferred practice. (Consider especially the entire 1969 text of Memoriale Domini, as well as Pope John Paul II’s 1980 Apostolic Letter Dominicae Cenae 11). The Church’s preference for Communion on the tongue is nearly always justified by notions of reverence, devotion, humility, respect, adoration, and decorum. And while Pope John Paul II acknowledges those “who, receiving the Lord Jesus in the hand, do so with profound reverence and devotion” (Dominicae Cenae 11), permission for Communion in the hand is accompanied by warnings of potential disrespect, profanation, weakening of Eucharistic faith, and indifference.

But more needs to be said about these connections between the manner of reception and potential reverence or abuse. Potential for abuse is often not sufficient reason to forego a valid option. Instead, a positive theology for reception of Communion on the tongue is more helpful. Why, for instance, might Communion on the tongue help one’s Eucharistic faith, increase devotion, and better express one’s love to Jesus in the Sacrament? Conversely, whydoes receiving Communion in the hand risk profanation, weakened belief, or signify a possible lack of Eucharistic faith? Indeed, I have received Communion in the hand many times and should like to think I am among those mentioned by St. John Paul II who receive “with reverence and devotion.” Similarly, reception on the tongue does not necessarily guarantee fidelity and a grace-filled spiritual life. Still: how can I more clearly understand the Church’s preference for Communion on the tongue and, more importantly, how can I benefit spiritually from this preferred practice?

Whether receiving Communion on the tongue, in the hand, or each way from time to time, every communicant should reflect upon how the outward manner of reception expresses and fosters his or her Eucharistic faith.

The Passive Action of Communion

An ancient maxim of the Church teaches that “the law of prayer is the law of belief” (lex orandi, lex credendi). Belief and prayer—and prayer and belief—are integrally connected to one another. We pray, for example, in the name of the Father and of Son and of the Holy Spirit because we believe that God is one substance in three persons. Similarly, our belief that Jesus is truly and substantially present in the Blessed Sacrament is deepened by humble prayer on our knees during periods of adoration (See CCC 1124 and Pius XII’s Mediator Dei 46-48).

This liturgical law clarifies the Church’s discipline regarding the reception of Holy Communion. Like most things liturgical—words, music, postures, time, ministers, architecture—the manner of receiving Communion should be understood and carried out in light of our belief. Our reception—whether on the tongue or in the hand—ought to reflect our Eucharistic faith and, at the same time, foster that same faith within us and in the Church.

So, what does the Church, and we as her members, believe about Holy Communion? While there are many (perhaps innumerable) dimensions to receiving the Eucharist, I find three particular notions enlightening to the question of Communion in the hand or on the tongue.

  • First, in Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 

“On the Eucharist in its Relationship to the Church,” the late pontiff offers a remarkable comparison between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Communicant. “There is a profound analogy,” he says, “between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived ‘through the Holy Spirit’ was ‘the Son of God’ (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine” (55). He goes on to liken Mary to a tabernacle—“the first ‘tabernacle’ in history” (ibid.).

If there is a lesson for the communicant, it is that, like Mary, our reception of Jesus is characterized by lowliness, humility, and docility.

  • A second consideration of Eucharistic Communion stems from the texts of the Roman Missal. At the end of the preparatory rites prior to the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest commands us to “Pray that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.”

This notion of sacrifice, says Pope Benedict, is “a concept that has been buried beneath the debris of endless misunderstandings” (The Spirit of the Liturgy 27). While it is tempting to think of “sacrifice” as essentially pain, loss, suffering, and deprivation, at its heart sacrifice is union with God, divinization, and “becoming love with Christ” (76).

Consequently, if Eucharistic Communion is the fruit of Christ’s—and our own—sacrifice, that is, his action of selfless turning to the Father, our manner of reception likewise needs be characterized by our heartfelt desire to unite to God our entire freedom, memory, will, and all we possess (“Prayer of Self-Offering,”* St. Ignatius of Loyola, found in the Roman Missal).

Finally is the amazing insight of St. Augustine. Recounted by Pope Benedict in his exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, “Augustine imagines the Lord saying to him: ‘I am the food of grown men; grow, and you shall feed upon me; nor shall you change me, like the food of your flesh, into yourself, but you shall be changed into me.’ It is not the Eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it” (70).

If we believe that this “mysterious food” (ibid.) has the power to change us—if we believe as St. Augustine and Pope Benedict believe—our manner of eating must signify such belief. Eucharistic food is “not something to be grasped at” but is received with humility and obedience (Phil 2:7-8). Only then will we be, like Christ, “highly exalted” (Phil 2:9).

The three above reflections offer a number of common elements relative to Eucharistic Communion: humility, docility, fidelity, selflessness. Which manner of receiving (the lex orandi) best expresses and fosters these truths (the lex credendi)?

Even though, as Pope John Paul acknowledges, Communion in the hand can be carried out with reverence and devotion; and even though reception on the tongue is no guaranteed symbol of fidelity and humility; Communion on the tongue is, all things being equal, the most suitable manner of reception.

In certain cultures, including our own, the bride and groom often receive from the hand of the other a piece of wedding cake at the wedding banquet. When done with love and devotion and faithfulness, the small gesture signifies not only the care one pledges to the other, but also the concern a vulnerable spouse can expect from the other. At the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, our humble reception of the fruits of his saving work likewise show our devotion to him, our Spouse, and express our abandonment into his care.

The Best form of Thanksgiving to God

The Best form of Thanksgiving to God

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Thanksgiving should be a way of life

You and I know God wants us to thank and praise Him but I sometimes wonder if I’m thanking Him the ways He wants.

I start my prayers with thank you and praise Him for who He is and what He does but are words enough.

David wrote:

Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Psalm 50:14

Honestly, words don’t feel like much of a sacrifice. I can say “thank you” so easily and then just as easily go back to living in ways that don’t seem very thankful.

What does thankful living look like? Thankfulness that is sacrificial? Thankfulness that is God’s will and pleases Him.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:20

How are you with the “all circumstances” part? Not so good? Yeah, me too.

I wonder (you know I do that a lot) . . . maybe there are ways to thank God that go beyond simply speaking words. Ways to live with gratitude even when I don’t feel thankful for my circumstances.

Luke 17 gives the account of Jesus healing the ten lepers. One of the most convicting statements to me in that passage was Christ’s question to the man who returned to give Him thanks: “Where are the nine?”

What really gripped my heart from that question is the fresh realization that Jesus considers our lack of response to the many blessings He lavishes upon us.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.Psalm 68:19

So how do we give Him thanks?

What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?Psalm 116:12

1. OBEY HIS WORD

Giving thanks unto the Lord assumes that we do indeed follow Him as our Lord.

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?Luke 6:46

2. GIVE HIM OFFERINGS

One of the best ways to express thanksgiving is through thankful giving. Out of gratitude for what the Lord has done for you, give an extra offering to Him—invest in His work, or give to someone in need in His name.

Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.1 Chronicles 16:29

3. VERBALLY THANK HIM IN PRAYER

Our verbal expressions of gratitude are a sacrifice of praise to Him.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.Hebrews 13:15

4. THANK PEOPLE HE HAS USED IN YOUR LIFE

Take some time today to express gratitude to others who God has used in your life—your family, friends, teachers, mentors, spiritual leaders. Thank them for their investment in you, and tell them specifically how God has used them to provide for, encourage, and strengthen you.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,—Philippians 1:3

Thanksgiving at its best is thanks giving. Give the Lord thanks!

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!—Psalm 107:8

WORSHIP HIM.

Remember worship is…

Taking your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. (Romans 12:1)

We were made to worship – to thank and praise God, the One who loves us and gives us all we need for today and for always.

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. Hebrews 12:28

THANK HIM WITH MUSIC.

Make music. Sing praise. Music gives our thanks and praise emotion. So, make that “joyful noise” at home, in the car, at church . . . anywhere. Turn up the tunes and give thanks.

And each morning and evening they stood before the Lord to sing songs of thanks and praise to Him. 1 Chronicles 23:30