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Kevin Terry wrote:

Hi Mike,

  • Can you help me with a question that a Villanova professor asked me?

He said:

I am reading a little pamphlet I got through the campus mail. It is a compilation of different writings from faculty and students on the challenges facing American Catholic higher education.

One essay is on fasting. It states:

According to the Church, eternal salvation cannot be attained without fasting.

This statement is made in the context of the Five Precepts of the Church outlined by the Catechism.

  • Do you believe this?
Any help would be appreciated.



  { Can eternal salvation be attained without fasting? }

Mike replied:

Hi Kevin,

Who ever would say:

According to the Church, eternal salvation cannot be attained without fasting.

without any context, is either:

  • a poor teacher because [he/she] is giving half the story, or
  • has been poorly catechized.

If you were not aware of them, I've appended all five precepts of the Church from the Catechism below.

Although the minimum requirement for going to Confession is once a year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have recommended that Catholic families go to Confession on a monthly basis.

If you are an active member in the Church, you should consider going more often.

Hope this helps.

[Why do Catholics practice fasting and abstinence during Lent?]

II. The Precepts Of The Church

2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

2042 The first precept ("You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor") requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days. (Code of Canon Law canons 1246-1248; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canons 881 § 1, § 2, § 4.)

The second precept ("You shall confess your sins at least once a year.") ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism's work of conversion and forgiveness. (cf. Code of Canon Law canon 989; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canon 719)

The third precept ("You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.") 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. (cf. Code of Canon Law canon 920; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canons 708; 881 § 3)

2043 The fourth precept ("You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.") 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. (cf. Code of Canon Law canons. 1249-1251; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canon 882)

The fifth precept ("You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.") means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability. (cf. Code of Canon Law canon 222; Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium canon 25; Furthermore, episcopal conferences can establish other ecclesiastical precepts for their own territories (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 455))

The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his own abilities. (cf. Code of Canon Law canon 222)


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