Know Your Faith: 6 Precepts of the Catholic Church

The precepts of the church basically represent the norms that should be imbibed by people who wish to live intentionally as Catholics. These precepts are based on the moral and doctrinal foundations of the Church and have been documented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 2041-2043.

“Now when they heard [Peter’s preaching] they were cut to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?” – Acts 2:37

Here are the precepts of the Catholic Church:

Attend Mass on Sundays and Holy days of obligation, and rest from servile labour

Holy mass on Sundays and Holy days of obligation is mandatory for all practicing Roman Catholics with the exception of a few circumstances such as personal health, caring for people suffering from serious illness or disability, unavoidable travel or particular jobs that affect public safety or welfare. Watching live masses does not fulfil this obligation but attending Saturday evening mass regardless of the type of mass, will suffice (1983 CIC 1248).

*The Holy days of obligation include:

  • Ascension Thursday
  • The Feast of Assumption (August 15th)
  • All Saints day (November 1st)
  • Christmas Day (December 25th)

Servile labour in this context refers to the work which is responsible for paying us our earthly wages and not necessarily physical labour. The idea behind this is to have a day of rest and reverence to God while other days can be used to engage in labour.

Attend confession at least once a year

Catholics that are communicants are advised to attend confession any time during the year even if they intend to confess only venial sins. People that are burdened with mortal sins should go immediately they come to the realisation of their sin and not bank on the “once a year” principle. People that receive an absolution are still required to attend confession as this does not negate the requirement.

Receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least once a year during Easter

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This can take place inside or outside mass and is to occur during Easter, i.e. from the first Sunday of Lent to Pentecost day. This precept may be fulfilled on another day if there’s a just cause (1983 CIC 920).

Observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church

The days of fasting and abstinence of the church are on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday where all Catholics from age 14 and above are required to abstain from meat while those aged 18-59 are also to fast in addition. This involves taking one full meal during the day and two smaller meals during those days.

Help provide for the needs of the church

Although the requirements of this precept are quite broad, it is important not to neglect the various ways we can help, whether in cash or kind. Sunday offerings, special appeals, tithes, spontaneous offerings, bequests and wills include ways that Catholics can provide for the needs of the church. It is also important to note that since clergy members are not permitted to engage in economic activities alongside their sacrificial duties to the Church, we are called to support them with offerings. Usually, offerings given for a specific purpose are to be used exclusively for that purpose.

Observe the Church’s marriage laws

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Catholics are not allowed to select the marriage canons that favour them but should abide by everything provided by the church even though they may be married to non-Catholics. These include raising up children in the Catholic faith, not marrying any kindred within four generations of consanguinity and observing other precepts.

Is this your first-time hearing about these precepts? It was for many people at the last Young and Catholic session. Keep track of various aspects of the faith by reading this blog, the Bible, church publications and watching inspirational videos.

Will you join us at our next session?

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