A: Besides the Commandments of God we must also observe the Precepts of the Church.
A: Undoubtedly we are obliged to obey the Church, because Jesus Christ Himself commands us to do so, and because the Precepts of the Church help us to observe the Commandments of God.
A: As a rule the obligation to observe the Precepts of the Church begins to bind us as soon as we come to the age of reason.
A: Knowingly to transgress a Precept of the Church in grave matter is a mortal sin.
A: Only the Pope, or one who has received from him the power to do so, can dispense from a Precept of the Church.
A: The Precepts of the Church are:
1. To hear Mass on all Sundays and on Holy days of obligation.
2. To fast during Lent, on Ember Days and appointed Vigils, and not to eat meat on forbidden days.
3. To confess our sins at least once a year, and to receive Holy Communion at Easter each one in his own parish.
4. To contribute to the support of the Church, according to local custom.
5. Not to solemnize marriage at forbidden times, that is, from the first Sunday in Advent until the Epiphany, and from the first day of Lent until Low Sunday.
A: The First Precept of the Church: To hear Mass on all Sundays and on Holy days of obligations, orders us to assist devoutly at Mass on all Sundays and on Holy days of obligation.
A: The Mass at which the Church desires us to assist, if possible, on Sundays and Holy days of obligation is the Parochial Mass.
A: The Church recommends the faithful to assist at the Parochial Mass: (1) In order that all the parishioners of the same parish may unite in prayer together with their Pastor, who is their head; (2) In order that the parishioners may participate more abundantly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is applied principally for them; (3) In order that they may hear the truths of the Gospel, which Pastors are bound to explain during Mass; (4) In order that they may learn the regulations and notices which are published at that Mass.
A: The Lord's Day means the day of the Lord, that is, the day specially consecrated to divine service.
A: In the First Precept of the Church special mention is made of the Lord's Day, because it is the principal Christian festival, as the Sabbath was the principal Jewish festival, and because it was instituted by God Himself.
A: The Church has instituted Feasts of our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin, of the Angels and of the Saints.
A: The Church instituted other Festivals of our Lord in memory of His divine Mysteries.
A: Festivals of the Blessed Virgin and of the Saints have been instituted: (1) In memory of the graces which God has given them, and to thank His divine goodness; (2) In order that we may honor them, imitate their example, and be aided by their prayers.
A: By the words, To fast on the days prescribed, the Second Precept of the Church commands us to observe the fast: (1) During Lent; (2) On certain days of Advent, where this is prescribed; (3) On Ember Days; (4) And on certain Vigils.
A: Fasting consists in taking but one meal a day and in abstaining from prohibited kinds of food.
A: Through the concession of the Church, a collation may be taken in the evening on fast days.
A: Fasting serves to dispose us better to prayer; to do penance for past sins; and to preserve us from sinning again.
A: Every Christian over twenty-one years of age who is not dispensed, or excused for some good reason, is bound to fast.
A: Those who are not bound by the obligation of fasting are not exempt from all mortification, because all are bound to do penance.
A: Lent has been instituted to imitate in some way the rigorous fast of forty days undergone by Jesus Christ in the desert, and to prepare us by penitential exercises to celebrate the feast of Easter devoutly.
A: The Advent fast has been instituted to prepare us to celebrate devoutly the Feast of our Lord's Nativity.
A: The fast of Ember Days has been instituted: (1) To consecrate each of the Four Seasons of the year by some days' penance; (2) To beg of God the preservation of the fruits of the earth; (3) To thank Him for those already given us; (4) And to beseech Him to give good priests to His Church, the usual days for ordaining priests being the Ember Saturdays.
A: Fasting on Vigils has been instituted to prepare us to celebrate the principal Feasts devoutly.
A: On Fridays, and also on Saturdays where not dispensed, it is forbidden to eat meat, except in case of necessity.
A: In order that we may do penance each week, and especially on Friday, in honor of the Passion, and on Saturdays in memory of the burial of Jesus Christ, and in honor of the Blessed Virgin.
A: By the words of the Third Precept: To go to Confession a least once a year, the Church obliges all Christians, who have come to the use of reason, to approach the sacrament of Penance at least once a year.
A: The best time to satisfy the precept of annual Confession is Lent, in accordance with the usage introduced and approved by the whole Church.
A: The Church uses the words at least to let us see her desire that we should approach the sacraments more frequently.
A: It is most useful to go often to Confession, especially as it is difficult for one who goes only rarely to make a good Confession and to avoid mortal sin.
A: By the words of the Third Precept: To receive Holy Communion at Easter, each one in his own parish, the Church obliges all Christians who have come to the age of discretion to receive the Blessed Eucharist every year at Paschal time in their own parish.
A: We are also bound to go to Holy Communion when in danger of death.
A: Because the Church earnestly desires us to approach Holy Communion which is the divine food of our souls, not only at Easter, but as often as we possibly can.
A: This Precept of the Church is not fulfilled by sacrilegious Confession and Communion, because the intention of the Church is that we receive those Sacraments for the end on account of which they were instituted, that is, for our sanctification.
A: The Fourth Precept is satisfied by paying the dues or making the offerings which have been established in recognition of God's supreme dominion over all things and as a means of providing for the becoming support of His ministers.
A: They are to be paid in the way and manner customary in the place in which we live.
A: In the Fifth Precept the Church does not forbid the celebration of the sacrament of marriage; but only the nuptial solemnities, from the first Sunday of Advent until the Epiphany, and from the first day of Lent until Low Sunday.
A: The nuptial solemnities forbidden by this Precept are the celebration of the nuptial Mass, the nuptial benediction, and marriage festivities on a large scale.
A: Pompous displays are out of place in Advent and Lent because these seasons are specially consecrated to penance and prayer.