Archives for July 2014

Baltimore Catechism: on our 1st and 2nd obligations

Lesson 35

389Q. Which are the chief commandments of the Church?
A. The chief commandments of the Church are six:
  1. To hear Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
  2. To fast and abstain on the days appointed.
  3. To confess at least once a year.
  4. To receive the Holy Eucharist during the Easter time.
  5. To contribute to the support of our pastors.
  6. Not to marry persons who are not Catholics, or who are related to us within the third degree of kindred, nor privately without witnesses, nor to solemnize marriage at forbidden times.
390Q. Is it a mortal sin not to hear Mass on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation?
A. It is a mortal sin not to hear Mass on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation, unless we are excused for a serious reason. They also commit a mortal sin, who, having others under their charge, hinder them from hearing Mass, without a sufficient reason.

“Serious reason” – that is, a very good reason, such as sickness, necessity of taking care of the sick, great danger of death, etc. Some persons when they go to the country in the summer believe themselves excused from hearing Mass because the church is a little further from them or the Mass at more inconvenient times than in the city. When they are in the country they are bound by the same obligations as the Catholics who live in that parish the whole year round, and they must go to Mass as these do, even if it is more inconvenient than in the city. Persons who have it in their power to select their own summer resort, should not, without great necessity, select a place where there is no Catholic church, and where they will be deprived of Mass and the Sacraments for several months, and where there is danger of their dying without the Sacraments. Some excuse themselves from going to Mass because they are too tired to rise in the morning. They should be ashamed to give such an excuse. Was our Blessed Lord not tired when He carried His Cross? He was tired, for He fell under it several times. And where was He going? To Calvary, to offer up the bloody sacrifice of the Cross for you. Will you plead fatigue as an excuse when you come to be judged by Him? Others again have a great habit of coming late for Mass. No matter at what hour the Mass may be, they will always be late; and I am afraid these persons will also be too late to enter Heaven. By coming late they show disrespect to Our Lord and distract others; and to avoid doing so, they should, when late, take a place in the rear of the church. When you are very late for one Mass, you should wait for the next – at least, for as much of the next as you did not hear in the first. You should not, however, begrudge a little extra time to God. To hear Mass properly, you should be in your place a few minutes before the priest comes out, and make up your mind what blessing you will ask, or for what intention you desire to hear the Mass.

“Having others under their charge.” Some parents are very careless about their children attending Mass, especially on holy days. Now, they must remember that in such neglect the sin will be theirs as well as the children’s. Again, masters and mistresses do not at times give their workmen and servants sufficient opportunity to hear Mass, above all on holy days. All masters and mistresses must remember that they are bound not only to give their servants an opportunity to hear Mass, but they are bound as far as they conveniently can to see that they embrace the opportunity, just as they should see to their children in such matters. Catholics having in their employ others, such as engineers, drivers, conductors, etc., must make some arrangement between their men by which they will be able to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days. The same holds good for companies and corporations having under their charge a large force of men who are obliged by circumstances to work on Sundays.

*391Q. Why were holy days instituted by the Church?
A. Holy days were instituted by the Church to recall to our minds the great mysteries of religion and the virtues and rewards of the saints.

For just the same reason that the government has legal holidays. What would the people of this country know or think at the present time about the Declaration of Independence, and all connected with it, if they did not celebrate from childhood every year, on the Fourth of July, the great day on which their forefathers claimed to be free and independent from the nation that was persecuting them? The Fourth of July keeps alive in our memory the struggles of our ancestors of one hundred years or more ago – their great battles, their sufferings and triumph, the blessings they secured for us, and for which we praise them. In like manner, the feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord keeps us in mind of the sad condition in which we were before Our Lord redeemed us, and how He liberated us from the slavery of the devil and secured for us so many wonderful blessings. Again, what would we remember about George Washington if we did not celebrate his birthday? That holiday keeps before our minds the life and actions of that great man and all he did for our benefit. So, too, when we celebrate every year the feast of a saint in the Church, it keeps before our minds his works and all that he did for God and the Church, and makes us anxious to imitate his virtues. On every day in the year the Church honors some mystery of our holy faith or some saint by saying Mass all over the world in honor of the feast, and by obliging the priests and bishops to say the divine office for the same purpose. The feast-day of a saint is generally the day on which he died; because that is considered the day on which he entered into Heaven – the day on which he was born into the new world.

The “divine office” is a collection of prayers, hymns, lessons, and psalms which every priest and bishop must read every day of his life. As it is said each day in honor of some particular mystery or saint, the greater part of it differs for each day. The prayers are to God, asking some grace or blessing in honor of the saint – generally such graces as were granted to the saint. The hymns are in the saint’s honor; the lessons are parts of the Holy Scripture, or an account of the saint’s life; and the psalms are those beautiful poems that King David composed and sang to God. The divine office is the prayer of the universal Church for its children, and if a priest neglects to say it he commits a mortal sin. It takes about an hour to say the whole divine office, but it is not intended to be said all at once. It is so divided that it is said at three times in the day. The part called “Matins” and “Lauds” is said very early in the morning and before Mass. The part called “Little Hours” is said later in the day; and the part called “Vespers” and “Compline” is said in the afternoon. See, therefore, how anxious the Church is for the good of its children, when it makes its bishops, priests, and religious pray daily for all the faithful, and send up in one voice the same prayer to the throne of God.

*392Q. How should we keep the holy days of obligation?
A. We should keep the holy days of obligation as we should keep the Sunday.
393Q. What do you mean by fast-days?
A. By fast-days I mean days on which we are allowed but one full meal.

According to the traditional Catholic method of fasting, one may eat “one full meal” each day with meat included, plus two smaller meatless meals, both of which together do not equal the one full meal. No eating between meals is allowed, although drinking beverages such as coffee and tea are allowed and are not considered to break the fast. (Milk, juice, and soft drinks are also considered not to break the fast, although they are in fact foods and mitigate the effects of the fast and work contrary to its intent because they satisfy one’s hunger to some extent, since they have food value.) They, therefore, who follow the above regulations obey the Catholic method of fasting. Today the prescribed days of fast for the whole Church are Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (these are also days of abstinence). However the Church today says that the meaning of the law of fasting during Lent remains, although the extent of the obligation has been changed. In other words, Lent remains as a season of penance in the Church, but how it is to be observed is greatly up to the individual, though no one may think himself excused from all penance whatsoever, and those who are in the fasting age group should still practice the Church’s form of fasting, since fasting is a primary and very efficacious form of penance.

Those who, for sufficient reasons, are excused from the obligation of fasting, are not on that account freed from the law of abstinence, for all who have reached their fourteenth birthday are bound to abstain from flesh-meat on days when it is forbidden – Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. The following persons are excused from fasting: (1) those who are not yet twenty-one or who have begun their sixtieth year (from their 59th birthday onward); (2) those whose infirmity, condition, or occupation renders it impossible or dangerous for them to fast. If you think you should be excused from fasting or abstaining, state your reasons to your confessor and ask his advice. On a fast-day, therefore, you have to look both to the quantity and the kind of food, while on a day of abstinence – as the Fridays in Lent other than Good Friday – you have to look only to the kind.

394Q. What do you mean by days of abstinence?
A. By days of abstinence I mean days on which we are forbidden to eat flesh-meat, but are allowed the usual amount of food.
395Q. Why does the Church command us to fast and abstain?
A. The Church commands us to fast and abstain in order that we may mortify our passions and satisfy for our sins.

“Mortify our passions,” keep our bodies under control, do bodily penance. Remember it is our bodies that generally lead us into sin; if therefore we punish the body by fasting and mortification, we atone for the sin, and thus God wipes out a part of the temporal punishment due to it.

*396Q. Why does the Church command us to abstain from flesh-meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent and to abstain from flesh-meat or do some other chosen penance on the other Fridays of the year?
A. The Church commands us to abstain, from flesh-meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent and to abstain from flesh-meat or do some other chosen penance on the other Fridays of the year in honor of the day on which Our Saviour died.

It is amazing how little has changed in the last 123 years. The obligation (#6) for Catholics to marry only Catholics remains (and is wise, IMHO), but dispensation is far more common if no other impediments exist (Canon 1124 and 1125). The requirement for abstinence on non-Lenten Fridays (question 396 above, such as abstaining from meat) has been dispensed in the US but some alternate form of penance is strongly urged.

Click here to see the Baltimore Catechism portions published to date.
For general info on this series, see my initial post.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #145)

This week: Courage has released a wonderful new film: Desire of the Everlasting Hills. Planned Parenthood provides an abortion to a 13 year-old then returns her to her rapist. Despite spending $1 TRILLION per year, the “war on poverty” has failed (but for political advantage, it has morphed into a “war on work”). Matthew Archbold has an interesting observation on the media’s choice of nomenclature. Thailand produces some of the best TV commercials. An “IRS Love Song”: What are the Chances?. World Order produces…   you just have to see it.

— 1 —

Courage has released (free) a truly excellent film on homosexuality and Catholicism: Desire of the Everlasting Hills. Here it is in its entirety:

Anthony Esolen has written a review of the film at Crisis Magazine. Professor Esolen’s piece is outstanding and I highly recommend it. National Catholic Register also has a good review.

— 2 —

This is nothing new at Planned Parenthood, but I draw your attention to the suit by the mother of a 13 year-old child. The young girl was taken to PP for an abortion by the step-father who had been raping her since she was 6. PP did the abortion and returned the young girl to her rapist where the sexual assaults continued. Of course, they kept mum about the whole thing in defiance of the law. LifeNews has the story.

— 3 —

In Economic Activity and Social Justice, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

2427 Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: “If any one will not work, let him not eat.” Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.

2428 In work, the person exercises and fulfills in part the potential inscribed in his nature. The primordial value of labor stems from man himself, its author and its beneficiary. Work is for man, not man for work.

Everyone should be able to draw from work the means of providing for his life and that of his family, and of serving the human community.

Charity providing only for basic needs does not help the poor beyond the very short term. It removes their independence, which some would argue is often a hidden goal. Welfare reform signed by Bill Clinton in 1996 included work requirements. That is, it sought to effect a “hand-up” and not just a “hand-out.” The current administration has significantly undermined that law. People are now far more dependent on the largess of government. For their own political ends, they have in essence launched a war on work:

— 4 —

An interesting media observation on nomenclature from Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report:

Isn’t it funny that a man who wishes to be called a woman by the media is immediately called a woman but pro-lifers still can’t get the media to call them pro-lifers?

And practicing Catholics who publicly speak about the faith are labeled “controversial” while pro-abortion and pro same-sex marriage Catholics are labeled “devout.”

— 5 —

Thailand has the best commercials. Last September one of my 7QTF notes was on a wonderful advertisement for a Thai telecom company. Here is another Thai commercial for an insurance company:

— 6 —

I wrote two weeks ago about the unlikely odds of 7 concurrent disk drive failures as the IRS has claimed (1 in 78 billion). I understand they are claiming even more sudden failures of drives sought by investigators. This guy (Remy Munasifi) has taken another, more humorous approach to explaining it – an IRS love song entitled What are the Chances?. (The “chances” are astronomical that this is the obvious criminal conspiracy it appears to be.)

— 7 —

In my day, way before music videos, acts performed highly choreographed dance in their stage performances to promote their music. One of my favorites was The Temptations.

A modern analog of them might be World Order. Not my cup of tea, but I give them props for their dancing (or whatever it is they do):

They have “music videos” on their YouTube channel, including this one for their Machine Civilization hit:


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler to address this blogging need, but is guest hosted this week by Carolyn Svellinger at Svellerella. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen (and Grace) for hosting this project!

The Narrow Gate: Introduction

Guest contributor:   Ed Trego

We live in a society that is dependent on rapid transportation. Automobiles, trains, and airplanes carry us all over the world. If given the opportunity, we will almost always chose the fastest and easiest route to our destination.

Unfortunately we also tend to look for the path to heaven in the same manner. We want the high-speed eight lane interstate highway, not the two lane dirt road. However, if we believe what Jesus tells us, the highway may be the way to ruin and damnation. The dirt road, though more difficult to travel, may very well be the most direct route to heaven.

In Matthew, chapter seven, Jesus told his disciples that they would have to enter via the narrow gate. The wide, easily entered gate is the way to destruction. He also admonished them that the way that leads to life is hard and those who find it are few. That admonition is as applicable to us today as it was to the people of Jesus’ time. The way to God may not be easy, but it is well worth the journey.

My earlier book, Thoughts of God, focused primarily on the spiritual. This time I’ve tried to look more at the practical. Our society is on a road to destruction and we need to be aware of that fact in order to change our direction. God and faith have been pushed aside and are continuing to be removed from the public square. We must not allow our Christianity and our faith to be limited to our Churches and homes. Jesus told his apostles to “make disciples of all nations”. We too have that mission. It can’t be accomplished from behind closed doors.

Find the narrow gate and prayer for the courage and strength to enter through it. Share your faith with others that they too may find their way to heaven. May God bless you, protect you from evil, and lead you to eternal life.

Scriptural references in this book are taken from the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible.


The above text is the Introduction from Ed Trego’s new eBook The Narrow Gate:

  1. The Narrow Gate
  2. Children of God
  3. Childlike Faith
  4. A Well Formed Conscience
  5. The Spirit Within
  6. The Potter and the Vase
  7. Seeking God’s Help
  8. Make Disciples of All Nations
  9. Believing Christ
  10. Christian Strength
  11. A Spiritual Relationship
  12. Against Evil
  13. Trust In God
  14. The Garden of Gethsemane
  15. Simplicity of Faith

This book will appear exclusively here on Convert Journal over the next 18 months, at a rate of 1 chapter (more or less) per month.

Why wait? Show Ed your support and enjoy the convenience of the eBook format. The Narrow Gate is available NOW for only $1.99 on Amazon and Smashwords. It will also be available soon from many additional fine publishers.

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #144)

This week: Nancy Pelosi presents the hard-hitting facts of the Hobby Lobby decision (and of course, gets it completely wrong). Steve Ray is asked if he is saved. The Chosen faith formation program. EWTN offers an excellent alternative to biased evening news programs. An ex-terrorist places blame for the Palestinian / Israeli conflict. Input on the administration’s carefully crafted border crisis from Chicagoans. Bill Whittle also takes a look at illegal immigrants and history.

— 1 —

Nancy Pelosi speaks about the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision. As usual, few truthful words are manifested. Same ole same ole, easily addressed by Megyn Kelly:

— 2 —

Last December I wrote about the question Are you saved?. Steve Ray talks about a friendly dinner party “ambush” where he is asked this.

— 3 —

I recently posted one of my Resources pieces on the excellent Ascension Press Chosen faith formation courses. In future weeks, individual preview videos will be featured here. To give you a flavor, here is Chris Stefanick with an overview of the program:

— 4 —

I have written often about biased news reporting. It is blatantly so and frequently anti-Catholic. EWTN (with the support of the Knights of Columbus) launched News Nightly last September and it is very good. This half-hour program is broadcast weekdays (6pm, 9pm and 2am ET for me; check your local EWTN schedule).

If you still enjoy paying for cable, EWTN may be one of your channels (or at least available channels).

If you “cut the cable” like me, watch it free online or via the free EWTN mobile apps. If you use a Roku box to receive Netflix or Hulu+ (or a zillion other things) on your TV, EWTN is available as a free channel.

All of these free means of watching EWTN live also offer archived copies of the show. It is similarly available on YouTube (this link works nicely). I watch the most recent archived version on YouTube at my convenience via my Google Chromecast. For example, here is a recent show:

— 5 —

Who causes the Palestinian / Jewish turmoil? Not Israel and not Palestinians (at least directly). It is Hamas. Much of the Arab world admits this. Here an Egyptian doctor (and terrorist in his youth) explains:

— 6 —

Residents from the southside of Chicago weigh-in on the administration’s manufactured border crisis and the president’s related and extravagant spending proposals:

— 7 —

Bill Whittle looks at that carefully engineered border crisis and finds some parallels in history:


Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

Resources: Chosen courses

We fail to reach too many children with outdated and boring catechetical programs. This is beginning to change with excellent programs from publishers like Ascension Press. Their Chosen offering is outstanding. It is available in two 24 lesson formats, one for faith formation and a modified version for confirmation preparation.

While both are targeted at teens, the faith formation series can also be used in any setting people are learning or refreshing their knowledge of the faith. That could be classes welcoming people back, RCIA, parish rediscovering classes or even religious education.

These lessons are exciting, fast-paced and include excellent videos from some of the best young apologists out there. Here, Chris Stefanick (whose videos I often feature in my 7 Quick Takes Friday posts) introduces the program:

The course also has a boat-load of heavy-hitter endorsements, including bishops:

This is more of a parish resource than a personal one. That is, it is probably something that you individually will not buy but is perfect for your parish. Talk to your Religious Education director or pastor about this. Send them the URL for this program: http://ConfirmationStudy.com/. There they will also find previews of the program’s exceptional videos. Watch these videos to see how they will appeal to young folks. They will appeal to you too!

Chosen Introduction

What are you looking for? (Chris Stefanick)

What Happens at Mass? (Brian Butler)

The Problem of Suffering (Fr. Mark Toups)

The Symbols of Baptism (Sarah Swafford)

Where Am I Going? (Chris Stefanick)

“Are you talking to me?” (Jackie Francois)

The Power of Confession (Fr. Mike Schmitz)

What Happens at Confirmation? (Chris Stefanick)

What is a Sacrament? (Sr. Maris Stella)

What is Marriage? (Jason Evert)

How Do I Build Virtue? (Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers)

The Beatitudes (Mary Ann Wiesinger)

Building the Kingdom (Chris Padgett)

This is the new evangelization.

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