A No Nonsense Presentation of the Fundamental Truths of Catholicism
This concise catechism presents truths about God that can be known by human reason unaided by revelation, the Mysteries of our Catholic Faith, and the Commandments of God and His Church. Mysteries are supernatural truths revealed to us by God which our human minds alone cannot fully understand. The Mysteries tell us what we know about God, and the Commandments show us how to love Him.
For a more detailed explanation of the Catholic Faith in Question and Answer format, No Nonsense Catholic recommends The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
God and His Attributes
God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He alone is independent because He alone exists of Himself. All other things have received existence from Him and are thus dependent upon Him.
God is eternal. He has always existed; He has always been and will always be.
God is a pure spirit, a sovereign intelligence who has no body and who cannot be perceived by our senses. Present everywhere, He can penetrate our most secret thoughts; all powerful, He can do all things. He governs all by His love, His mercy, and His justice, and nothing comes about without His permission.
God is infinitely good, infinitely holy, infinitely just; in a word, He is infinitely perfect. He possesses without restriction or measure all perfections.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth – John 4.24
The Holy Trinity
There is only one God, but there are in Him three distinct Persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God.
However, these three persons are not three Gods, but only one God. The Son is the Word, or interior voice of the Father, and begotten by the Father alone; the Holy Spirit is the mutual love of the Father and the Son, and He proceeds from both. The three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are equal in all things because they have only one nature, the Divine Nature: in this consists the Mystery of the Holy Trinity.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28.19
Creatures of God
Among the creatures of God, the most perfect are angels and men. The Angels are pure spirits created to adore God and execute His commands.
Many of these Angels revolted against their Creator, Who, in turn, condemned them to hell. These Angles whom we call demons or evil spirits hate God and tempt man on earth to defy the laws of God so as to be condemned to the same tortures that they themselves suffer.
The faithful Angels are confirmed in grace and have their abode in heaven for all eternity. We call some Guardian Angels because God has appointed them to keep watch over man on earth. Each one of us has a Guardian Angel.
God will put his angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go – Psalm 91.11 (GNT)
Adam and Eve
God formed man and gave to him a living and immortal soul, created I His own image.
From Adam, the first man, and from Eve, whom God gave to Adam as a companion, has sprung the whole human race.
God created us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.
God not only gave our first parents an immortal soul: He elevated them to a supernatural life of grace; He called them to enjoy His eternal happiness. In the first state of original justice, He exempted them from the ravages of sickness, ignorance, concupiscence, and death.
Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness – Genesis 1.26
Having been tempted by the devil, our first parents disobeyed God. For this reason, they lost for themselves and for their posterity that life of grace and holiness. Adam transmitted that same disgrace and degradation to all his descendants, and this is the state of original sin to which we are all born. The gates of heaven were closed to mankind as a result of original sin.
Only the Blessed Virgin Mary, in view of the merits of her Divine Son, was exempt from original sin—from the first moment of her conception, i.e., from the moment her soul was created and infused into her body it was free from original sin and filled with sanctifying grace. This privilege is called her Immaculate Conception.
And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” – Luke 1.28 (RSVCE)
The Promise of a Redeemer
God had pity upon man whom He had created with such love; and having subjected man from the time of Adam’s fall to sickness, ignorance, concupiscence and death, He promised a Redeemer who would make reparation for the sin of Adam and Eve and reopen the gates of heaven.
The human race never did completely forget this divine promise, although for many centuries before the coming of the Redeemer, it languished in the ways of corruption.
The hope for a Redeemer was kept alive among the Hebrew people, through successive missions which God gave to the Patriarchs, Moses, and the Prophets. These extraordinary men were not raised up for the sole purpose of reminding the Jews of their obligation to the moral law, but also to keep alive their hope and to foretell the character and redeeming works of the future Messiah.
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel” – Matthew 1.23
The Coming of the Savior
When the time appointed by God had come, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, became Man in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Church celebrates the birth of our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas Day.
He received the name Jesus, meaning Savior because He came to save the world. Christ, meaning Anointed One, was the name given by the Chosen People of God to their Priests, Kings and Prophets by reason of the holy unction with which they were consecrated. This name is eminently adapted to the Son of God made Man Who was anointed not by means of an exterior unction, but by the fullness of the divinity which resides in Him.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us – John 1.14
The Incarnation of Jesus
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, equal and consubstantial with the Father in all things. Jesus Christ is Man because He possesses all which constitutes a human nature: a body, and a soul. This union of Divine nature and human nature is Jesus Christ is called the Mystery of the Incarnation. There are, then, in Jesus Christ, two natures and one Person: the Person of the Son of God, and the nature of God and the nature of man.
“The Father and I are one” – John 10.30
Jesus Christ—Our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ came upon earth to destroy the reign of sin. He fought sin by His example, prophecies, and miracles; but above all He triumphed over sin by the merits of His Passion and death.
He delivered Himself up to the malice of His enemies; He allowed Himself to be condemned to cruel punishment and to be crucified. He shed all His Blood while praying for His persecutors: taking the place of the guilty, He suffered and died for them. He made satisfaction for the sins of all human beings: for those who preceded His coming as well as those who followed Him, meriting graces without measure for their sanctification and salvation.
But he was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed – Isaiah 53.5
Jesus Christ did not suffer and die as God, for a Divine Nature can neither suffer nor die. He died as Man; but as God, He has given an infinite value to His sufferings and death. He died for all human beings, including those who do not take advantage of His saving merits. The day in which the Church, in a special manner, commemorates the death of Jesus Christ is called Good Friday.
This death of the Son of God made Man, offering His very life on the Cross as a sacrifice for the salvation of humankind, is called the Mystery of the Redemption of the human race: a mystery of love in which God has united His mercy and justice, in pardoning sinful human beings in view of the sacrifice and merits of His innocent Son.
Immediately after the death of Jesus Christ, His body was placed in a tomb. He then descended into hell, that is, the place of the dead, to free all the souls of the just, the Patriarchs, and Prophets who were detained there awaiting the coming of the Messiah and the Redemption of the world.
[God] wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth – 1 Timothy 2.4
The third day after His death, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. This signal of His mission and of His divinity has confirmed His work, and has given us a solid foundation for our Faith and an infallible assurance of our hope. The Church commemorates the great miracle of Easter Sunday.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said – Matthew 28.6
Forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. The Church commemorates this event of the Feast of the Ascension.
[A]s they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight – Acts 1.9
The Primitive Church
Jesus Christ has left upon earth a Church, a holy people and society which unites on one body the children of God all over the world. He Himself gathered together the first members, His disciples, from among whom He chose His twelve Apostles. To them especially, He entrusted His mission to teach all nations, to administer the Sacraments, to offer the sacrifice of His Body and Blood, and to govern the Church.
He chose particularly one of them whom He gave the name of Peter (the Rock), indicating by this name that He wanted to make him the foundation stone upon which His Church would be built. He appointed Peter Prince of the Apostles, Pastor of Pastors, and designated him to be His Vicar on earth after His Ascension into Heaven. St. Peter, the other Apostles, and the disciples made up the membership of the Church after Jesus ascended into Heaven. The advent of the Holy Spirit fertilized its beginnings and gave the Apostles the gift of prophecy.
And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues,[a] as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim – Acts 2.4
The Marks of the True Church
The chief marks of the Church are four: It is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.
The Church is one because all its members, according to the will of Christ, profess the same faith, have the same Sacrifice and Sacraments, and are united under one and the same visible head, the Pope.
The Church is holy through Jesus Christ Who is the source of all holiness: in its doctrine, which is the doctrine of Jesus Christ, of which it is the custodian; in its Sacraments, which the Divine Savior has established to sanctify human beings.
The Church is catholic, or universal, i.e., it is not destined for one race, but will be the light and salvation of all peoples of the world. There is not one country where the good tidings of salvation have not been or should not be announced by her.
The Church is apostolic, that is, it had its beginning with the Apostles. In commanding His Apostles to go forth and teach all nations, to call them to His Church, and to let them enter through the door of Baptism, Jesus Christ promised to assist them in their ministry until the consummation of the world. This promise embraces all times, not merely apostolic times, nor does Jesus Christ address Himself personally to the Apostles alone but to all those who would succeed them till the end of the world.
The Apostles have had as their successors Bishops, whom they consecrated and who in turn consecrated others so that the apostolic ministry has never been interrupted. St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, was the first bishop of Rome, where he ended his apostolate in glorious martyrdom. His successors in the see of Rome will always preserve the primacy of honor and jurisdiction which Jesus gave to St. Peter.
In virtue of this succession, the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the head of all the Church, the Father of all Christians. To him, in the person of St. Peter, has been given the power to shepherd, to reign, and to rule the universal Church: so that the Pope and all the Bishops in communion with him continually represent on earth the Apostolic college established by our Savior.
By the legitimate succession of its pastors, principally of its Roman Pontiffs, from the Apostles down to our own times, and until the end of the world, the Church can and will always be able to trace its origin to the Apostles and from them to Jesus.
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” – Matthew 28.20b
One Flock, One Shepherd
The Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church is the only flock of which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only Shepherd. To hear the teachings of the Church and to submit oneself to its laws is to hear Jesus Christ and to obey Him. To refuse to submit to the decisions and laws of the Church is to refuse to submit to Jesus Christ. He Himself has expressly said to His Apostles: He who hears you, hears Me; and he who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me, rejects Him Who sent Me (Luke 10.16).
One cannot separate oneself from the Church without at the same time rejecting Jesus Christ; for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4.12). When one willfully remains outside the true Church there is no hope for salvation.
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” – Mark 16.16
Infallibility of the Church
Jesus Christ has given to His Church the privilege of doctrinal infallibility. The Pope enjoys this infallibility when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when he speaks to all the Church concerning matters of Faith or Morals. He not merely must speak as a private theologian, but he must speak with the manifest intention of obligating the universal Church to consent. The general Councils of the Church (in union with the Pope) enjoy the same privilege of infallibility under the same conditions.
“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” – Matthew 16.19
The Mystical Body of Christ
The faithful who make up the Church represent one body, of which Jesus Christ is the Head. In their capacity as members of this Mystical Body, all are called to participate in the merits of its Divine Head; all are united through participation in the same spiritual benefits: faith, the Sacraments, good works, and prayers. This union continues even after death and is called the Communion of Saints, which means the union of the faithful on earth, the blessed in heaven, and the souls in Purgatory, with Christ as their Head.
The Saints who are already in heaven, pray for us, and we obtain from God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, powerful assistance in order to attain the happiness which they already enjoy. Accordingly, we on earth, who are battling against the enemy of our salvation, can help by our prayers and other good works of mercy those souls who suffer in Purgatory to expiate their faults and discharge their debts to divine justice.
Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin – 2 Maccabees 12.46
The Last Judgement
At the end of time, Jesus Christ will again come with great power and majesty to judge all men and to render to each according to each one’s works. This general judgement will be a manifestation and confirmation of the particular judgement to which each one of us must submit immediately after death. But before the last judgement, all men will be resurrected with the same bodies they had during life on earth, so that their bodies will share the same reward or punishment as their souls.
God wants also, by this resurrection, to render more complete the triumph of Jesus Christ over death and sin. Impenitent sinners will suffer eternal punishment; the just, on the other hand, will enjoy the vision and possession of God, eternal happiness.
[W]ho will repay everyone according to his works – Romans 2.6
Sanctifying grace is that grace which confers on our souls a new life, that is, a sharing in the life of God.
Our reconciliation with God, which the Redemption of Christ has merited for us, finds its accomplishment in sanctifying grace. Through this most precious gift we participate in the divine life; we have the right to be called children of God. This grace is the source of all our supernatural merits and bestows upon us the right of eternal glory.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come — 2 Corinthians 5.17
Our Lord has also merited actual graces for us, those interior and supernatural helps given to us according to our needs in doing good and avoiding evil. These helps are of such necessity that without them it is impossible to elicit a good desire or to have a good thought in the order of salvation. Jesus offered Himself for all human beings; His actual graces are given to all but not in the same measure because God is always the master of His gifts.
Just as there is no one from whom the most powerful grace can take away free will, so also there is no one who can complain that the insufficiency of grace reduced him to the necessity of falling into sin. We all have the sum total of graces sufficient for the acquisition of everlasting life, for which all of us have been created.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12.9
Prayer is Necessary
Prayer is a means as efficacious as it is necessary for obtaining help from God. Our Blessed Lord has urged us often to have recourse to it, and has given us the model of a perfect prayer—The Lord’s Prayer. To this prayer, the Church usually joins the Angelical Salutation, or the Hail Mary, so as to render homage to the Blessed Virgin.
Prayer is necessary for salvation, victory over temptation, the practice of virtue, and perseverance in grace. If the proper things are asked for, and the prayer is made with attention, humility, confidence, sincerity, and perseverance, God will certainly grant our petitions. We do not always obtain what we pray for, either because we have not prayed properly or because God sees that what we are asking would not be for our good.
Pray without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5.17
Each year through the Liturgy (especially the Holy Mass), the Church makes present for us the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus. In this way, we can encounter our Lord in His Mysteries, give glory to God, and obtain graces for ourselves and the whole world.
Outline of the Church Year
Advent—Jesus is near.
Christmas—Jesus is with us.
Epiphany—Jesus shows His glory.
Ordinary Time—Jesus gives lessons for His Church.
Lent—Jesus suffers and dies for us.
Easter—Jesus triumphs over sin and death.
Easter Time—Jesus instructs His Apostles.
Ascension—Jesus ascends to His heavenly Father.
Pentecost—Jesus sends the Holy Spirit.
Ordinary Time—The Spirit carries on the work of Jesus through His Church.
On the Cross Jesus offered His Body and Blood to God the Father for us. In the Mass this great act is renewed for our benefit. We offer Jesus to God the Father in adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and petition. We receive Jesus back from the Father as our Bread for eternal life. We sing hymns of praise to God and to show our joy at Holy Mass.
Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” – Luke 22.19
Major Parts of Holy Mass
There are two forms of the one Roman Rite: The New Order of the Mass [the Ordinary Form] introduced by Pope St. Paul VI in 1970, and the Traditional Latin Mass [the Extraordinary Form] revised by Pope St. John XXIII in 1962. When Paul VI introduced the New Order of the Mass, he reminded us that “the outline of the Mass is still the traditional one.” Titles in parentheses are for the Extraordinary Form.
Introductory Rites—We speak to God in acts of contrition, praise, and petition.
Liturgy of the Word (Mass of the Catechumens)—We listen to what God says to us in the Readings, the Gospel, and the Homily.
Liturgy of the Eucharist (Mass of the Faithful)—
Preparation of the Gifts (Offertory)—With the priest we offer the gifts of bread and wine.
Eucharistic Prayer (Canon of the Mass)—At the consecration this bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Communion Rite—We receive Jesus Who has given Himself in Love.
Concluding Rite—We receive God’s blessing and go forth to bring the good news of Jesus to others by word and example.
The Seven Sacraments
Jesus is present among us today by means of the Sacraments. Through them Jesus acts in His Church and effects the salvation of all human beings. Sacraments are sensible signs, instituted by Christ to give us grace, which makes us children of God and heirs of heaven.
Our natural life follows a series of stages: we are born and grow until we become adults and can live on our own. In instituting the Seven Sacraments Jesus gave us helps to be born and grow to adulthood in the supernatural life—to be with us in every phase of life.
Baptism—Christ gives us a new life: the life of grace in His Church. We celebrate our birth to faith, as children of God, and we die to sin.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved – Mark 16.16
Confirmation—Christ strengthens us as Christians, and He makes us His soldiers and Apostles to defend and spread the faith.
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Spirit – Acts 8.14-15
Eucharist—We celebrate the Lord’s Passover, the sacrifice of the Cross. Christ feeds us with the Bread of Life, His Body and Blood.
“I am the bread of life.” – John 6.48
Penance—Christ forgives our sins and restores or increases our grace. We celebrate our conversion and reconciliation with God and the Church.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing – 1 John 1.9
Anointing of the Sick—Christ strengthens our soul in the face of sickness and death. We celebrate the Christian hope of life eternal.
Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters [priests] of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven – James 5.15
Holy Orders—Christ consecrates His ministers for the Priestly Service of the People of God.
They appointed presbyters [priests] for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith – Acts 14.23
Matrimony—Christ sanctifies the indissoluble union of man and woman in mutual love and support, to have children and to bring them up in the Catholic Faith.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh – Matthew 19.5
The Word of God
God revealed Himself in time. He intervened in history and communicated to human beings His merciful plans. The Bible (Word of God) is the record of this self-revelation of God which was set forth in a message as well as in events. God spoke and acted; word and event went together.
Human beings left to themselves cannot discover all the mysteries of God or His creatures. In His goodness, God has revealed to us many truths which He wants us to know.
God’s Revelation is contained in the Bible and in Sacred Tradition.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Matthew 24.35
The Bible is a collection of books, which were composed under the positive influence of the Holy Spirit by men chosen by God, and which have been accepted by the Church as inspired. It is the most authorized, most admirable, and most important book in the world because it is the only “divine book,” the word of God in the language of man.
The two main parts of the Bible are the Old Testament and the New Testament. The word “testament” is used here in the sense of “agreement” or “covenant.”
The Old Testament is a record of the old agreement between God (Yahweh) and His chosen people, the Hebrews. It describes the remote preparation for the coming of the Messiah.
The New Testament is a record of the new agreement made by God with the whole human race through the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made Man.
All scripture is inspired by God – 2 Timothy 3.16a
Sacred Tradition is the Word of God given to the Apostles by Christ and the Holy Spirit and handed down to their successors through the Church by means of prayer and Creeds, liturgical practices and authoritative writings (Popes, bishops, and theologians).
Tradition can be defined as the way the Church understands and lives the teachings of Jesus at any particular moment in time. Tradition and Sacred Scripture for one deposit of the Word of God. Thus Scripture, Tradition, and the Catholic Church combine to bring us God’s revelation.
The Catholic Church is the official interpreter of the Bible. As the people of God—both of the Old Covenant in figure and of the New Covenant in reality—she wrote the Sacred Scriptures. And as the Church of Christians, she has always treasured them.
She encourages her members to study the Scriptures for she knows that “ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ” (St. Jerome).
Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours – 2 Thessalonians 2.15
God’s Word to Us Today
When reading the Bible, we should take pains to discover the literal sense of every passage. Reading introductions and footnotes in our Bible is very important in this respect. We should realize that the Bible is God’s Word speaking to us today.
Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12
The Ten Commandments
Our Duties to God
- “I am the Lord, your God: you shall not have other gods besides Me.” Our Main duties to God are embodied in the following Theological Virtues:
- Faith is a virtue by which we firmly believe all that God has revealed and teaches through His Church.
- Hope is a virtue by which we have confidence in God’s infinite bounty, His fidelity to His promises, the eternal salvation which should be the ultimate end of all our desires, and the graces which we need to attain everlasting life.
- Charity is a virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake.
- “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” The profound respect which the name of God requires prohibits us from taking His name in vain, and to utter any false statement against truth or justice. It prohibits also all manner of oaths, imprecations, and blasphemies. Finally, the Second Commandment admonishes us against vows lightly made, and imposes the obligations of fulfilling those already made.
Our Duties to Ourselves and to Our Neighbor
- “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day.” Notwithstanding interior worship, we owe to God an exterior and public worship, so as to stir up one another to serve and worship Him and thus mutually edify one another. It is for this reason that God has commanded us to consecrate one day out of each week to Him, and to abstain from servile works. In the Old Law, the day set aside was Saturday, in memory of the creation of the world; in the New Law, the day set aside is Sunday, in memory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday.
- “Honor your father and your mother.” The principal duties toward our parents are to respect, love, and obey them and to assist them in their needs. This Commandment also regulates the duties of subjects toward superiors and vice versa; in a word, it regulates all our rights and duties in the family circle and in society.
- “You shall not kill.” The Fifth Commandment forbids us to harm the body or soul of others or our own. We sin against the body of others when we assault others physically, wound or kill them; when through abuse and mistreatment we embitter or shorten their life. The killing of a human being is allowed to individuals in self-defense, to the State when necessary as punishment for heinous crimes, or to its soldiers acting int eh name of the State in defense of its borders.
- “You shall not commit adultery.” In the Sixth Commandment God forbids immodesty and unchastity and everything that leads to such sins.
- “You shall not steal.” The Seventh Commandment forbids harming others in regard to their goods and property. We harm others in regard to their goods and property when we rob or steal, defraud or profiteer, fail to return found or borrowed goods, go into debt recklessly or fail to pay our debts, or damage the property of others.
- “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The Eighth Commandment forbids false witness, lying—that is, saying what one knows to be untrue in order to deceive—and every sin against the character and good name of others.
- “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” In the Sixth and Ninth Commandments God requires us to practice modesty and live chastely. To keep ourselves chaste we must control our thoughts and desires, keep ourselves occupied, and as far as possible avoid anything that is a threat to chastity.
- “You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.” The Tenth Commandment forbids the desire to take for our own the goods and property of others wrongfully.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – John 14.15
Chief Precepts of the Church
- To keep holy the day of the Lord’s Resurrection: to worship God by participating in Holy Mass every Sunday and holyday of obligation; to avoid those activities that would hinder renewal of soul and body, e.g., needless work and business activities, unnecessary shopping and so on.
- To lead a sacramental life: to receive Holy Communion frequently and the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly—minimally, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year (annual confession is obligatory only if serious sin is involved); minimally also, to receive Holy Communion at least once a year, between the First Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday.
- To study Catholic teaching in preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation, to be confirmed, and then to continue to study and advance the cause of Christ.
- To observe the marriage laws of the Church: to give religious training, by example and word, to one’s children.
- To strengthen and support the Church: one’s own parish community and parish priests, the worldwide Church and the Pope.
- To do penance, including abstaining from meat and fasting from food on the appointed days.
- To join in the missionary spirit and apostolate of the Church.
Holy Days of Obligation in the United States
All Sundays of the year
January 1—Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Ascension of Our Lord (Forty days after Easter)
August 15—Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
November 1—All Saints Day
December 8—The Immaculate Conception
December 25—Christmas Day
Every violation of the Commandments of God or of the Church is a sin: mortal sin, if three conditions are present—a serious matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will; venial sin, if the law violated concerns matter which is not grave or the offense is committed without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will. Venial sin does not deprive the soul of sanctifying grace.
Mortal sin deprives us of sanctifying grace and brings eternal punishment to the soul, if we pass from this life before confessing this sin and obtaining forgiveness. However, an act of perfect contrition (sorrow for offending our good and loving God) suffices, if one is not able to go to confession.
Venial sin also carries with it a temporal punishment. It also weakens the will, thereby making it more difficult to resist temptation to mortal sin.
“What profit is there if you gain the whole world—and lose eternal life? What can be compared with the value of eternal life?” – Matthew 16.26 (TLB)
Christian Virtues and Perfection
It is not enough to avoid sin; we must grow in virtue and strive for Christian perfection or holiness. Especially praised in the Gospel are the virtues contained in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5.3-10):
- Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
- Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
- Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
- Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
- Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
- Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
- Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The way to Christian perfection is imitation of Jesus Christ. To attain Christian perfection, we should love to pray, be eager for the word of God and devoted to the Sacraments; practice self-denial and strive to overcome even venial sin; and perform our daily work in the state of grace and for good intentions.
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” – Luke 9.2
Adapted with permission from Our Catholic Faith DVD copyright ©2005, Saint Joseph Communications, Inc.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Scriptures marked (GNT) taken from the Good News Translation, Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society.
Scriptures marked (RSV-CE) taken from The Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture marked (TLB) taken from The Catholic Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.