Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus! Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
Over the past few weeks, I have been discussing our parish and how it relates to the Virtue of Religion. This has sparked several questions, which is edifying. Next week, I will address some of the questions I have received.
You may recall, that in addition to the Commandments, the Church has given to us certain Precepts. The Precepts of the Church are: attendance at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, the confession of sins at least once a year, reception of Holy Communion at least once a year during the Easter Season, the observance of laws of the Church regarding fast and abstinence, to observe the laws of the Church regarding Marriage, to participate in the missionary activity of the Church according to one’s state in life; and to provide support for the Church.
These precepts are given to us as the mere minimum expectations that the Church proposes to us for our activity as Catholics. These are the minimum, and their minimum practice is not the true goal of being a Christian, which is Christian perfection.
If we desire to truly progress in perfection, it is important to do so within the context of the Church, and also within a parish. This doesn’t mean one may not go to other parishes for Mass, especially Daily Mass, for Adoration or devotional opportunities, or take advantage of the many offerings our parishes try to give to the faithful for their sanctification. It does mean, however, that even while taking advantage of these opportunities, that we can ultimately have only one home and one parish ‘family’. It is important to be known by the Priests and others who attend your Parish.
We are often asked for letters of recommendation that people are good Catholics, and that they observe the bare minimum Precepts of the Church. How can the Priests put their name to such a letter if we do not know you? We are often asked to assist at weddings; but to do so when we are not the proper Pastor is actually forbidden in Canon Law, because it is the right of the Pastor alone to assist at the weddings of his parishioners. It is also the right of the Pastor alone to administer Baptism, the Anointing of the Sick, and to bury his parishioners.
Even beyond the rights of the Pastor, and the importance of being known and knowing the Clergy, it is a consolation to be able to celebrate these important Sacraments and moments in life with one’s extended family in a parish. To know that, when we are in need, there are good Christians in the pews with us who can assist us in our difficulty. Most importantly, to know that, when we pass from this earth that there will be people left in the pews after us who will pray for us and have Masses offered for us.
I desire that our parishes are true extended families within the wider Mystical Body of Christ. All Catholics of good will are always welcome here. They are part of the wider Mystical Body of the Church. But we also have our local family here in our parishes. I desire that each parishioner truly seeks and strives after perfection, going above and beyond. Without the assistance of the parish, this becomes difficult. Attaining Heaven is difficult; but we are thankful that God has left us the Catholic Church, the Sacraments, and this Church to assist us. Have a blessed week ahead!