Dear St Michael Family,
The question of what it means to be a “Practicing Catholic” or a “Catholic in Good Standing” comes up often. Simply put, a Catholic in good standing is one who can receive the sacraments frequently and does. It is also one who follows out of love and deep respect to the 5 Precepts of the Catholic Church which are the following from the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2041-3:
1. You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor. We must “sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord” (Sunday), as well as the principal feast days, known as Catholic holy days of obligation. This requires attending Mass, “and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.”
2. You shall confess your sins at least once a year. We must prepare for the Eucharist by means of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). This sacrament “continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.”
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.”
4. You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church. “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.
5. You shall help to provide generously for the needs of the Church. “The fifth precept means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.”
Note that these precepts of the Catholic Church are required, unless you have a legitimate reason for not meeting them. For example:
○ If you are sick, tending to a sick child, or camping in the wilderness on Sunday and cannot get to Mass, it is not a grave violation to miss Mass that day.
○ Children, the elderly, and pregnant or nursing women do not have to fast on normal fast days (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday).
“A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.” Canon Law #916
Couples who were married outside the church are in grave sin. Please click here or contact the church office to find out about Marriage Convalidation, which elevates your civil marriage to a sacramental marriage.
Go beyond the minimum!
Always remember that 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.
May God richly bless you and your families, that we may all grow in holiness!
St Michael the Archangel, defend us…