Q. 1325. Are not the commandments of the Church also commandments of God?
A. The commandments of the Church are also commandments of God, because they are made by His authority, and we are bound under pain of sin to observe them.
Q. 1326. What is the difference between the commandments of God and the Commandments of the Church?
A. The commandments of God were given by God Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai; the commandments of the Church were given on different occasions by the lawful authorities of the Church. The Commandments given by God Himself cannot be changed by the Church; but the commandments made by the Church itself may be changed by its authority as necessity requires.
Q. 1327. Which are the chief commandments of the Church?
A. The chief commandments of the Church are six:
1. To hear Mass on Sundays and holydays 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.
Q. 1328. Why has the Church made commandments?
A. The Church has made commandments to teach the faithful how to worship God and to guard them from the neglect of their religious duties.
Q. 1329. Is it a mortal sin not to hear Mass on a Sunday or a holyday of obligation?
A. It is a mortal sin not to hear Mass on a Sunday or a holyday 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.
Q. 1330. What is a "serious reason" excusing one from the obligation of hearing Mass?
A A "serious reason" excusing one from the obligation of hearing Mass is any reason that makes it impossible or very difficult to attend Mass, such as severe illness, great distance from the Church, or the need of certain works that cannot be neglected or postponed.
Q. 1331. Are children obliged, under pain of mortal sin, the same as grown persons, to hear Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation?
A. Children who have reached the use of reason are obliged under pain of mortal sin, the same as grown persons, to hear Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation; but if they are prevented from so doing by parents, or others, then the sin falls on those who prevent them.
Q. 1332. Why were holydays instituted by the church?
A. Holydays were instituted by the Church to recall to our minds the great mysteries of religion and the virtues and rewards of the saints.
Q. 1333. How many holydays of obligation are there in this country?
A. In this country there are six holydays of obligation, namely:
1. Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8th);
2. Christmas (Dec. 25th);
3. Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord (Jan. 1st);
4. Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord (forty days after Easter);
5. Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Aug. 15th); and
6. Feast of All Saints (Nov. 1st).
Q. 1334. How should we keep the holydays of obligation?
A. We should keep the holydays of obligation as we should keep the Sunday.
Q. 1335. Why are certain holydays called holydays of obligation?
A. Certain holydays are called holydays of obligation because on such days we are obliged under pain of mortal sin to hear Mass and keep from servile works as we do on Sundays.
Q. 1336. What should one do who is obliged to work on a holyday of obligation?
A. One who is obliged to work on a holyday of obligation should, if possible, hear Mass before going to work, and should also explain this necessity in confession, so as to obtain the confessor's advice on the subject.
Q. 1337. What do you mean by fast-days?
A. By fast-days I mean days on which we are allowed but one full meal.
Q. 1338. Is it permitted on fast days to take any food besides the one full meal?
A. It is permitted on fast days, besides the one full meal, to take two other meatless meals, to maintain strength, according to each one's needs. But together these two meatless meals should not equal another full meal.
Q. 1339. Who are obliged to fast?
A. All persons over 21 and under 59 years of age, and whose health and occupation will permit them to fast.
Q. 1340. Does the Church excuse any classes of persons from the obligation of fasting?
A. The Church does excuse certain classes of persons from the obligation of fasting on account of their age, the condition of their health, the nature of their work, or the circumstances in which they live. These things are explained in the Regulations for Lent, read publicly in the Churches each year.
Q. 1341. What should one do who doubts whether or not he is obliged to fast?
A. In doubt concerning fast, a parish priest or confessor should be consulted.
Q. 1342. When do fast days chiefly occur in the year?
A. Fast days chiefly occur in the year during Lent and Advent, on the Ember days and on the vigils or eves of some great feasts. A vigil falling on a Sunday is not observed.
Q. 1343. What do you mean by Lent, Advent, Ember days and the vigils of great feasts?
A. Lent is the seven weeks of penance preceding Easter. Advent is the four weeks of preparation preceding Christmas. Ember days are three days set apart in each of the four seasons of the year as special days of prayer and thanksgiving. Vigils are the days immediately preceding great feasts and spent in spiritual preparation for them.
Q. 1344. What do you mean by days of abstinence?
A. By days of abstinence I mean days on which no meat at all may be taken (complete abstinence) or on which meat may be taken only once a day (partial abstinence). This is explained in the regulations for Lent. All the Fridays of the year are days of abstinence except when a Holyday of obligation falls on a Friday outside of Lent.
Q. 1345. Are children and persons unable to fast bound to abstain on days of abstinence?
A. Children, from the age of seven years, and persons who are unable to fast are bound to abstain on days of abstinence, unless they are excused for sufficient reason.
Q. 1346. 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.
Q. 1347. What is meant by our passions and what by mortifying them?
A. By our passions are meant our sinful desires and inclinations. Mortifying them means restraining them and overcoming them so that they have less power to lead us into sin.
Q. 1348. Why does the Church command us to abstain from flesh-meat on Fridays?
A. The Church commands us to abstain from flesh-meat on Fridays in honor of the day on which our Savior died.