THE SIX COMMANDMENTS OF THE CHURCH
1. The six precepts of the Church are an amplification of the Third Commandment of the Decalogue.
The first precept of the Church enjoins upon the faithful to rest from work on certain days besides the Sunday, to give thanks to God for special graces.
The second precept of the Church ordains the manner in which Sunday and the other holy-days of obligation are to be observed.
The third and fourth precepts of the Church oblige us to confess and communicate at least once a year.
The fifth precept bids us support our pastors.
The sixth forbids us to marry non-Catholics, or to solemnize marriage at forbidden times.
2. We are under a rigorous obligation to keep the commandments of the Church, for disobedience to the Church is disobedience to Christ.
Christ has conferred upon the Church the same powers which He Himself received from His Father; He said to His apostles: “As the Father hath sent Me, I also send you” (John xx. 21). When the Church enjoins anything upon us, it is the same as if Christ enjoined it; for He said: “Whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven” (Matt. xviii. 18). In disobeying the Church we disobey Christ; as He told the apostles: “He that despiseth you, despiseth Me” (Luke x. 16). Our Lord speaks of the Church as a kingdom; He also compares it to a fold, to teach us that the children of the Church must obey their ecclesiastical superiors. Every society is authorized to make laws which the members must observe; this the Church does; and by her mouth God makes His will known to us.
He therefore who wantonly violates one of the Church’s laws, commits a grievous sin.
Our Lord expressly says that he who will not hear the Church is to be regarded as a heathen (Matt. xviii. 17). Under the Old Dispensation death was the punishment of one who through pride should refuse to obey the commandment of the high priest (Deut. xvii. 12). Thus we see that from the first rebellion against the spiritual authority was a heinous sin.
3. The rulers of the Church are empowered to dispense the faithful from the observance of any of the commandments of the Church for weighty reasons.
Christ said to the apostles: “What you loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven” (Matt. xviii. 18). Some bishops permit meat to be eaten on Friday when a festival falls on that day. The Pope has sanctioned the transference of certain holy-days to the following Sunday in some countries.
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