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What are the basic requirements of being a practicing Catholic?

What are the basic requirements of being a practicing Catholic?


What are the basic requirements of being a practicing Catholic?

An important part of the answer includes what are known as the Precepts of the Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives five precepts (CCC 2041-2043), which are listed below with explanations.

So then why does the Church have these precepts at all? According to the Catechism, they are “meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor.”


The 5 Precepts of the Church:


1) “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.”

This “requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.” (CCC 2042)


2) “You shall confess your sins at least once a year.”

This “ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.” (CCC 2042)

Catholics are not supposed to receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin, and the Sacrament of Confession is the means by which a person can be cleansed of mortal sin. Since you are required to receive the Eucharist at least once a year (see precept 3), and since the Church is realistic about human sin, you have to go to Confession at least once a year.


3) “You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.”

This “guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.” (CCC 2042)


4) “You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.”

This “ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.” (CCC 2043)

Fasting is a normal part of the Christian life, because Jesus says so in the Gospels and because it helps us to grow in virtue. The Church has prescribed minimal fasting during certain parts of the liturgical year. None of it is very difficult, but that’s because it’s a bare minimum requirement. All Christians can voluntarily do more difficult and more frequent fasts (for which a spiritual director can provide helpful oversight).


5) “You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.”

This “means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.” (CCC 2043)

The Holy Catholic Church has the most important mission of any organization in the history of the world: preaching the soul-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Carrying on this mission, of course, takes earthly resources. Those of us who, by God’s gratuitous grace, have received the gift of faith and a new life in Jesus Christ, should naturally want to generously provide what we can to support this desperately important work. But because of our human weakness, the Church has made giving support an obligation of Church law.


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