by Fr Richard Heilman | February 17, 2015 7:18 PM
The Precepts of the Catholic Church are a description of the absolute minimum actions required of Catholics regarding the Church.
The Church uses these precepts to remind us that Christian life requires a commitment to prayer and active participation in the liturgy and sacraments. If we fall below this bare-minimum level, we can’t rightly consider ourselves to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.
Each of these precepts of the Catholic Church is a requirement. Together with the Ten Commandments, they represent the minimum level of moral living. Intentional violation of the precepts or the Commandments is a grave matter, meaning a mortal sin.
“The fourth precept 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.” See below for more about fasting & abstinence.
Always remember: the precepts of the Catholic Church are minimum levels of participation in the life of the Church. Out of love for Christ and a desire to advance in the spiritual life, you will normally try to do far more than they require.
Many people recommend that Catholics:
Make a habit of practicing penitential and charitable acts beyond those required by the precepts of the Catholic Church.
In so far as divine love beautifies our souls, and makes us pleasing to His Divine Majesty, it is called grace; in so far as it gives us strength to do good, it is called charity; but when it reaches such a degree of perfection that it makes us not only do the good, but do so carefully, frequently and readily, then it is called devotion.
–St. Francis de Sales
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