Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 26
LESSON TWENTY-SIXTH: On Matrimony
Q. 1005. What is the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. The Sacrament of Matrimony is the Sacrament which unites a Christian man and woman in lawful marriage.
Q. 1006. When are persons lawfully married?
A. Persons are lawfully married when they comply with all the laws of God and of the Church relating to marriage. To marry unlawfully is a mortal sin, and it deprives the souls of the grace of the Sacrament.
Q. 1007. When was marriage first instituted?
A. Marriage was first instituted in the Garden of Eden, when God created Adam and Eve and made them husband and wife, but it was not then a Sacrament, for their union did not confer any special grace.
Q. 1008. When was the contract of marriage raised to the dignity of a Sacrament?
A. The exact time at which the contract of marriages was raised to the dignity of a Sacrament is not known, but the fact that it was thus raised is certain from passages in the New Testament and from the constant teaching of the Church ever since the time of the apostles. Our Lord did not merely add grace to the contract, but He made the very contract a Sacrament, so that Christians cannot make this contract without receiving the Sacrament.
Q. 1009. What is the outward sign in the Sacrament of Matrimony, and in what does the whole essence of the marriage contract consist?
A. The outward sign in the Sacrament of matrimony is the mutual consent of the persons, expressed by words or signs in accordance with the laws of the Church. The whole essence of the marriage contract consists in the surrender by the persons of their bodies to each other and in declaring by word or sign that they make this surrender and take each other for husband and wife now and for life.
Q. 1010. What are the chief ends of the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. The chief ends of the Sacrament of matrimony are:
- To enable the husband and wife to aid each other in securing the salvation of their souls;
- To propagate or keep up the existence of the human race by bringing children into the world to serve God;
- To prevent sins against the holy virtue of purity by faithfully obeying the laws of the marriage state.
Q. 1011. Can a Christian man and woman be united in lawful marriage in any other way than by the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. A Christian man and woman cannot be united in lawful marriage in any other way than by the Sacrament of Matrimony, because Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament.
Q. 1012. Were, then, all marriages before the coming of Christ unlawful and invalid?
A. All marriages before the coming of Christ were not unlawful and invalid. They were both lawful and valid when the persons contracting them followed the dictates of their conscience and the laws of God as they knew them; but such marriages were only contracts. Through their evil inclinations many forgot or neglected the true character of marriage till Our Lord restored it to its former unity and purity.
Q. 1013. What do we mean by impediments to marriage?
A. By impediments to marriage we mean certain restrictions, imposed by the law of God or of the Church, that render the marriage invalid or unlawful when they are violated in entering into it. These restrictions regard age, health, relationship, intention, religion and other matters affecting the good of the Sacrament.
Q. 1014. Can the Church dispense from or remove these impediments to marriage?
A. The Church can dispense from or remove the impediments to marriage that arise from its own laws; but it cannot dispense from impediments that arise from the laws of God and nature. Every lawmaker can change or excuse from the laws made by himself or his equals, but he cannot, of his own authority, change or excuse from laws made by a higher power.
Q. 1015. What is required that the Church may grant, when it is able, dispensations from the impediments to marriage or from other laws?
A. That the Church may grant dispensations from the impediments to marriage or from other laws, there must be a good and urgent reason for granting such dispensations. The Church does not grant dispensations without cause and merely to satisfy the wishes of those who ask for them.
Q. 1016. Why does the Church sometimes require the persons to whom dispensations are granted to pay a tax or fee for the privilege?
A. The Church sometimes requires the persons to whom dispensations are granted to pay a tax or fee for the privilege:
- That persons on account of this tax be restrained from asking for dispensations and may comply with the general laws;
- That the Church may not have to bear the expense of supporting an office for granting privileges to a few.
Q. 1017. What should persons who are about to get married do?
A. Persons who are about to get married should give their pastor timely notice of their intention, make known to him privately whatever they suspect might be an impediment to the marriage, and make sure of all arrangements before inviting their friends.
Q. 1018. What timely notice of marriage should be given to the priest, and why?
A. At least three weeks notice of marriage should be given to the priest, because, according to the laws of the Church, the names of the persons about to get married must be announced and their intended marriage published at the principal Mass in their parish for three successive Sundays.
Q. 1019. Why are the banns of matrimony published in the Church?
A. The banns of matrimony are published in the Church that any person who might know of any impediment to the marriage may have an opportunity to declare it privately to the priest before the marriage takes place and thus prevent an invalid or unlawful marriage. Persons who know of such impediments and fail to declare them in due time are guilty of sin
Q. 1020. What things in particular should persons arranging for their marriage make known to the priest?
A. Persons arranging for their marriage should make known to the priest whether both are Christians and Catholics; whether either has been solemnly engaged to another person; whether they have ever made any vow to God with regard to chastity or the like; whether they are related and in what degree; whether either was ever married to any member of the other's family and whether either was ever godparent in baptism for the other.
Q. 1021. What else must they make known?
A. They must also make known whether either was married before and what proof can be given of the death of the former husband or wife; whether they really intend to get married, and do so of their own will; whether they are of lawful age; whether they are sound in body or suffering from any deformity that might prevent their marriage, and lastly, whether they live in the parish in which they ask to be married, and if so, how long they have lived in it.
Q. 1022. What is particularly necessary that persons may do their duty in the marriage state?
A. That persons may do their duty in the marriage state, it is particularly necessary that they should be well instructed, before entering it, in the truths and duties of their religion for how will they teach their children these things if they are ignorant of them themselves?
Q. 1023. Can the bond of Christian marriage be dissolved by any human power?
A. The bond of Christian marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power.
Q. 1024. Does not a divorce granted by courts of justice break the bond of marriage?
A. Divorce granted by courts of justice or by any human power does not break the bond of marriage, and one who makes use of such a divorce to marry again while the former husband or wife lives commits a sacrilege and lives in the sin of adultery. A civil divorce may give a sufficient reason for the persons to live apart and it may determine their rights with regard to support, the control of the children and other temporal things, but it has no effect whatever upon the bond and spiritual nature of the Sacrament.
Q. 1025. Does not the Church sometimes allow husband and wife to separate and live apart?
A. The Church sometimes, for very good reasons, does allow husband and wife to separate and live apart; but that is not dissolving the bond of marriage, or divorce as it is called, for though separated they are still husband and wife, and neither can marry again till the other dies.
Q. 1026. Has not the Church sometimes allowed Catholics once married to separate and marry again?
A. The Church has never allowed Catholics once really married to separate and marry again, but it has sometimes declared persons apparently married free to marry again, because their first marriage was null; that is, no marriage on account of some impediment not discovered till after the ceremony.
Q. 1027. What evils follow divorce so commonly claimed by those outside the true Church and granted by civil authority?
A. The evils that follow divorce so commonly claimed by those outside the true Church and granted by civil authority are very many; but chiefly:
- A disregard for the sacred character of the Sacrament and for the spiritual welfare of the children;
- The loss of the true idea of home and family followed by bad morals and sinful living.
Q. 1028. Which are the effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. The effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony are:
- To sanctify the love of husband and wife;
- To give them grace to bear with each other's weaknesses;
- To enable them to bring up their children in the fear and love of God.
Q. 1029. What do we mean by bearing with each other's weaknesses?
A. By bearing with each other's weaknesses we mean that the husband and wife must be patient with each other's faults, bad habits or dispositions, pardon them easily, and aid each other in overcoming them.
Q. 1030. How are parents specially fitted to bring up their children in the fear and love of God?
A. Parents are specially fitted to bring up their children in the fear and love of God:
- By the special grace they receive to advise and direct their children and to warn them against evil;
- By the experience they have acquired in passing through life from childhood to the position of parents. Children should, therefore, conscientiously seek and accept the direction of good parents.
Q. 1031. To receive the Sacrament of Matrimony worthily is it necessary to be in the state of grace?
A. To receive the Sacrament of Matrimony worthily it is necessary to be in the state of grace, and it is necessary also to comply with the laws of the Church.
Q. 1032. With what laws of the Church are we bound to comply in receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. In receiving the Sacrament of matrimony we are bound to comply with whatever laws of the Church concern Matrimony; such as laws forbidding solemn marriage in Lent and Advent; or marriage with relatives or with persons of a different religion, and in general all laws that refer to any impediment to marriage.
Q. 1033. In how many ways may persons be related?
A. Persons may be related in four ways. When they are related by blood their relationship is called consanguinity; when they are related by marriage it is called affinity; when they are related by being god-parents in Baptism or Confirmation, it is called spiritual affinity; when they are related by adoption, it is called legal affinity.
Q. 1034. Who has the right to make laws concerning the Sacrament of marriage?
A. The Church alone has the right to make laws concerning the Sacrament of marriage, though the state also has the right to make laws concerning the civil effects of the marriage contract.
Q. 1035. What do we mean by laws concerning the civil effects of the marriage contract?
A. By laws concerning the civil effects of the marriage contract we mean laws with regard to the property or debts of the husband and wife, the inheritance of their children, or whatever pertains to their temporal affairs. All persons are bound to obey the laws of their country when these laws are not opposed to the laws of God.
Q. 1036. Does the Church forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all?
A. The Church does forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all.
Q. 1037. Why does the Church forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all?
A. The Church forbids the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion, or no religion at all, because such marriages generally lead to indifference, loss of faith, and to the neglect of the religious education of the children.
Q. 1038. What are the marriages of Catholics with persons of a different religion called, and when does the Church permit them by dispensation?
A. The marriages of Catholics with persons of a different religion are called mixed marriages. The Church permits them by dispensation only under certain conditions and for urgent reasons; chiefly to prevent a greater evil.
Q. 1039. What are the conditions upon which the Church will permit a Catholic to marry one who is not a Catholic?
A. The conditions upon which the Church will permit a Catholic to marry one who is not a Catholic are:
- That the Catholic be allowed the free exercise of his or her religion;
- That the Catholic shall try by teaching and good example to lead the one who is not a Catholic to embrace the true faith;
- That all the children born of the marriage shall be brought up in the Catholic religion. The marriage ceremony must not be repeated before a heretical minister. Without these promises, the Church will not consent to a mixed marriage, and if the Church does not consent the marriage is unlawful.
Q. 1040. What penalty does the Church impose on Catholics who marry before a Protestant minister?
A. Catholics who marry before a Protestant minister incur excommunication; that is, a censure of the Church or spiritual penalty which prevents them from receiving the Sacrament of Penance till the priest who hears their confession gets special faculties or permission from the bishop; because by such a marriage they make profession of a false religion in acknowledging as a priest one who has neither sacred power nor authority.
Q. 1041. How does the Church show its displeasure at mixed marriages?
A. The Church shows its displeasure at mixed marriages by the coldness with which it sanctions them, prohibiting all religious ceremony at them by forbidding the priest to use any sacred vestments, holy water or blessing of the ring at such marriages; by prohibiting them also from taking place in the Church or even in the sacristy. On the other hand, the Church shows its joy and approval at a true Catholic marriage by the Nuptial Mass and solemn ceremonies.
Q. 1042. Why should Catholics avoid mixed marriages?
A. Catholics should avoid mixed marriages:
- Because they are displeasing to the Church and cannot bring with them the full measure of God's grace and blessing;
- Because the children should have the good example of both parents in the practice of their religion;
- Because such marriages give rise to frequent disputes on religious questions between husband and wife and between their relatives;
- Because the one not a Catholic, disregarding the sacred character of the Sacrament, may claim a divorce and marry again, leaving the Catholic married and abandoned.
Q. 1043. Does the Church seek to make converts by its laws concerning mixed marriages?
A. The Church does not seek to make converts by its laws concerning mixed marriages, but seeks only to keep its children from losing their faith and becoming perverts by constant company with persons not Catholics. The Church does not wish persons to become Catholics merely for the sake of marrying Catholics. Such conversions are, as a rule, not sincere, do no good, but rather make such converts hypocrites and guilty of greater sins, especially sins of sacrilege.
Q. 1044. Why do many marriages prove unhappy?
A. Many marriages prove unhappy because they are entered into hastily and without worthy motives.
Q. 1045. When are marriages entered into hastily?
A. Marriages are entered into hastily when persons do not sufficiently consider and investigate the character, habits and dispositions of the one they intend to marry. It is wise to look for lasting qualities and solid virtues in a life-long companion and not to be carried away with characteristics that please only for a time.
Q. 1046. When are motives for marriage worthy?
A. Motives for marriage are worthy when persons enter it for the sake of doing God's will and fulfilling the end for which He instituted the Sacrament. Whatever is opposed to the true object of the Sacrament and the sanctification of the husband and wife must be an unworthy motive.
Q. 1047. How should Christians prepare for a holy and happy marriage?
A. Christians should prepare for a holy and happy marriage by receiving the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist; by begging God to grant them a pure intention and to direct their choice; and by seeking the advice of their parents and the blessing of their pastors.
Q. 1048. How may parents be guilty of great injustice to their children in case of marriage?
A. Parents may be guilty of great injustice to their children in case of marriage by seeking the gratification of their own aims and desires, rather than the good of their children, and thus for selfish and unreasonable motives forcing their children to marry persons they dislike or preventing them from marrying the persons chosen by the dictates of their conscience, or compelling them to marry when they have no vocation for such a life or no true knowledge of its obligations.
Q. 1049. May persons receive the Sacrament of Matrimony more than once?
A. Persons may receive the sacrament of Matrimony more than once, provided they are certain of the death of the former husband or wife and comply with the laws of the Church.
Q. 1050. Where and at what time of the day should Catholics be married?
A. Catholics should be married before the altar in the Church. They should be married in the morning, and with a Nuptial Mass if possible.
Q. 1051. What must never be forgotten by those who attend a marriage ceremony in the Church?
A. They who attend a marriage ceremony in the Church must never forget the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and that all laughing, talking, or irreverence is forbidden then as at other times. Women must never enter into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament with uncovered heads, and their dress must be in keeping with the strict modesty that Our Lord's presence demands, no matter what worldly vanity or social manners may require.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 27
LESSON TWENTY-SEVENTH: On the Sacramentals
Q. 1052. What is a sacramental?
A. A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to increase devotion, and through these movements of the heart to remit venial sin.
Q. 1053. How do the Sacramentals excite good thoughts and increase devotion?
A. The Sacramentals excite good thoughts by recalling to our minds some special reason for doing good and avoiding evil; especially by reminding us of some holy person, event or thing through which blessings have come to us. They increase devotion by fixing our minds on particular virtues and by helping us to understand and desire them.
Q. 1054. Do the Sacramentals of themselves remit venial sins?
A. The Sacramentals of themselves do not remit venial sins, but they move us to truer devotion, to greater love for God and greater sorrow for our sins, and this devotion, love and sorrow bring us grace, and the grace remits venial sins.
Q. 1055. Why does the Church use Sacramentals?
A. The Church uses Sacramentals to teach the faithful of every class the truths of religion, which they may learn as well by their sight as by their hearing; for God wishes us to learn His laws by every possible means, by every power of soul and body.
Q. 1056. Show by an example how Sacramentals aid the ignorant in learning the truths of faith.
A. Sacramentals aid the ignorant in learning the truths of faith as children learn from pictures before they are able to read. Thus one who cannot read the account of Our Lord's passion may learn it from the Stations of the Cross, and one who kneels before a crucifix and looks on the bleeding head, pierced hands and wounded side, is better able to understand Christ's sufferings than one without a crucifix before him.
Q. 1057. What are the Stations or Way of the Cross?
A. The Stations or Way of the Cross is a devotion instituted by the Church to aid us in meditating on Christ's passion and death. Fourteen crosses or stations, each with a picture of some scene in the passion, are arranged at distances apart. By passing from one station to another and praying before each while we meditate upon the scene it represents, we make the Way of the Cross in memory of Christ's painful journey during His passion, and we gain the indulgence granted for this pious exercise.
Q. 1058. Are prayers and ceremonies of the Church also Sacramentals?
A. Prayers and ceremonies of the Church are also Sacramentals because they excite good thoughts and increase devotion. Whatever the Church dedicates to a pious use or devotes to the worship of God may be called a Sacramental.
Q. 1059. On what ground does the Church make use of ceremonies?
A. The Church makes use of ceremonies:
- After the example of the Old Law, in which God described and commanded ceremonies;
- After the example of Our Lord, who rubbed clay on the eyes of the blind to whom He wished to restore sight, though He might have performed the miracle without any external act;
- On the authority of the Church itself, to whom Christ gave power to do whatever was necessary for the instruction of all men;
- To add solemnity to religious acts.
Q. 1060. How may persons sin in using Sacramentals?
A. Persons may sin in using Sacramentals by using them in a way or for a purpose prohibited by the Church; also by believing that the use of Sacramentals will save us in spite of our sinful lives. We must remember that Sacramentals can aid us only through the blessing the Church gives them and through the good dispositions they excite in us. They have, therefore, no power in themselves, and to put too much confidence in their use leads to superstition.
Q. 1061. What is the difference between the Sacraments and the Sacramentals?
A. The difference between the Sacraments and the Sacramentals is:
- The Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ and the Sacramentals were instituted by the Church;
- The Sacraments give grace of themselves when we place no obstacle in the way;
- The Sacramentals excite in us pious dispositions, by means of which we may obtain grace.
Q. 1062. May the Church increase or diminish the number of Sacraments and Sacramentals?
A. The Church can never increase nor diminish the number of Sacraments, for as Christ Himself instituted them, He alone has power to change their number; but the Church may increase or diminish the number of the Sacramentals as the devotion of its people or the circumstances of the time and place require, for since the Church instituted them they must depend entirely upon its laws.
Q. 1063. Which is the chief sacramental used in the Church?
A. The chief sacramental used in the Church is the sign of the cross.
Q. 1064. How do we make the sign of the cross?
A. We make the sign of the cross by putting the right hand to the forehead, then on the breast, and then to the left and right shoulders, saying, "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen."
Q. 1065. What is a common fault with many in blessing themselves?
A. A common fault with many in blessing themselves is to make a hurried motion with the hand which is in no way a sign of the cross. They perform this act of devotion without thought or intention, forgetting that the Church grants an indulgence to all who bless themselves properly while they have sorrow for their sins.
Q. 1066. Why do we make the sign of the cross?
A. We make the sign of the cross to show that we are Christians and to profess our belief in the chief mysteries of our religion.
Q. 1067. How is the sign of the cross a profession of faith in the chief mysteries of our religion?
A. The sign of the cross is a profession of faith in the chief mysteries of our religion because it expresses the mysteries of the Unity and Trinity of God and of the Incarnation and death of our Lord.
Q. 1068. How does the sign of the cross express the mystery of the Unity and Trinity of God?
A. The words, "In the name," express the Unity of God; the words that follow, "of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," express the mystery of the Trinity.
Q. 1069. How does the sign of the cross express the mystery of the Incarnation and death of our Lord?
A. The sign of the cross expresses the mystery of the Incarnation by reminding us that the Son of God, having become man, suffered death on the cross.
Q. 1070. What other sacramental is in very frequent use?
A. Another sacramental in very frequent use is holy water.
Q. 1071. What is holy water?
A. Holy water is water blessed by the priest with solemn prayer to beg God's blessing on those who use it, and protection from the powers of darkness.
Q. 1072. How does the water blessed on Holy Saturday, or Easter Water, as it is called, differ from the holy water blessed at other times?
A. The water blessed on Holy Saturday, or Easter Water, as it is called, differs from the holy water blessed at other times in this, that the Easter water is blessed with greater solemnity, the paschal candle, which represents Our Lord risen from the dead, having been dipped into it with a special prayer.
Q. 1073. Is water ever blessed in honor of certain saints?
A. Water is sometimes blessed in honor of certain saints and for special purposes. The form of prayer to be used in such blessings is found in the Roman Ritual -- the book containing prayers and ceremonies for the administration of the Sacraments and of blessings authorized by the Church.
Q. 1074. Are there other Sacramentals besides the sign of the cross and holy water?
A. Beside the sign of the cross and holy water there are many other Sacramentals, such as blessed candles, ashes, palms, crucifixes, images of the Blessed Virgin and of the saints, rosaries, and scapulars.
Q. 1075. When are candles blessed in the Church and why are they used?
A. Candles are blessed in the Church on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin -- February 2nd. They are used chiefly to illuminate and ornament our altars, as a mark of reverence for the presence of Our Lord and of joy at His coming.
Q. 1076. What praiseworthy custom is now in use in many places?
A. A praiseworthy custom now in use in many places is the offering by the faithful on the feast of the Purification of candles for the use of the altar during the year. It is pleasing to think we have candles burning in our name on the altar of God, and if the Jewish people yearly made offerings to their temple, faithful Christians should not neglect their altars and churches where God Himself dwells.
Q. 1077. When are ashes blessed in the Church and why are they used?
A. Ashes are blessed in the Church on Ash Wednesday. They are used to keep us in mind of our humble origin, and of how the body of Adam, our forefather, was formed out of the slime or clay of the earth; also to remind us of death, when our bodies will return to dust, and of the necessity of doing penance for our sins. These ashes are obtained by burning the blessed palms of the previous year.
Q. 1078. When are palms blessed and of what do they remind us?
A. Palms are blessed on Palm Sunday. They remind us of Our Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when the people, wishing to honor Him and make Him king, strewed palm branches and even their own garments in His path, singing: Hosanna to the Son of David.
Q. 1079. What is the difference between a cross and a crucifix?
A. A cross has no figure on it and a crucifix has a figure of Our Lord. The word crucifix means fixed or nailed to the cross.
Q. 1080. What is the Rosary?
A. The Rosary is a form of prayer in which we say a certain number of Our Fathers and Hail Mary's, meditating or thinking for a short time before each decade; that is, before each Our Father and ten Hail Marries, on some particular event in the life of Our Lord. These events are called mysteries of the Rosary. The string of beads on which these prayers are said is also called a Rosary. The ordinary beads are of five decades, or one-third of the whole Rosary.
Q. 1081. Who taught the use of the Rosary in its present form?
A. St. Dominic taught the use of the Rosary in its present form. By it he instructed his hearers in the chief truths of our holy religion and converted many to the true faith.
Q. 1082. How do we say the Rosary, or beads?
A. To say the Rosary or beads we bless ourselves with the cross, then say the Apostles' Creed and the Our Father on the first large bead, then the Hail Mary on each of the three small beads, and then Glory be to the Father, etc. Then we mention or think of the first mystery we wish to honor, and say an Our Father on the large bead and a Hail Mary on each small bead of the ten that follow. At the end of every decade, or ten Hail Marries, we say "Glory be to the Father;" etc. Then we mention the next mystery and do as before, and so on to the end.
Q. 1083. How many mysteries of the Rosary are there?
A. There are fifteen mysteries of the Rosary arranged in the order in which these events occurred in the life of Our Lord, and divided into five joyful, five sorrowful, and five glorious mysteries.
Q. 1084. Say the five joyful mysteries of the Rosary.
A. The five joyful mysteries of the Rosary are:
- The Annunciation -- the Angel Gabriel telling the Blessed Virgin that she is to be the Mother of God;
- The Visitation -- the Blessed Virgin goes to visit her cousin, St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist;
- The Nativity, or birth, of Our Lord;
- The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the temple -- His parents offered Him to God;
- The finding of the Child Jesus in the temple -- His parents had lost Him in Jerusalem for three days.
Q. 1085. Say the five sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary.
A. The five sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary are:
- The Agony in the Garden -- Our Lord was in dreadful anguish and bathed in a bloody sweat;
- The Scourging at the Pillar -- Christ was stripped of His garments and lashed in a cruel manner;
- The Crowning with Thorns -- He was mocked as a king by heartless men;
- The Carriage of the Cross -- from the place He was condemned to Calvary, the place of Crucifixion;
- The Crucifixion -- He was nailed to the cross amid the jeers and blasphemies of His enemies.
Q. 1086. Say the five glorious mysteries of the Rosary.
A. The five glorious mysteries of the Rosary are:
- The Resurrection of Our Lord;
- The Ascension of Our Lord;
- The Coming of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles;
- The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin -- after death she was taken body and soul into heaven;
- The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin -- on entering heaven she was made queen of all the Angels and Saints and placed in dignity next to her Divine Son, Our Blessed Lord.
Q. 1087. On what days, according to the pious custom of the faithful, are the different mysteries of the Rosary usually said?
A. According to the pious custom of the faithful, the different mysteries of the Rosary are usually said on the following days, namely: the joyful on Mondays and Thursdays, the sorrowful on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the glorious on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Q. 1088. What do the letters I. N. R. I. over the crucifix mean?
A. The letters I. N. R. I. over the crucifix are the first letters of four Latin words that mean Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Our Lord did say He was king of the Jews, but He also said that He was not their temporal or earthly king, but their spiritual and heavenly king.
Q. 1089. To what may we attribute the desire of the Jews to put Christ to death?
A. We may attribute the desire of the Jews to put Christ to death to the jealously, hatred and ill-will of their priests and the Pharisees, whose faults He rebuked and whose hypocrisy He exposed. By their slanders and lies they induced the people to follow them in demanding Our Lord's crucifixion.
Q. 1090. With whom did the Blessed Virgin live after the death of Our Lord?
A. After the death of Our Lord the Blessed Virgin lived for about eleven years with the Apostle St. John the Evangelist, called also the Beloved Disciple. He wrote one of the four Gospels, three Epistles, and the Apocalypse, or Book of Revelations -- the last book of the Bible. He lived to the age of a hundred years or more and died last of all the apostles.
Q. 1091. What do we mean by the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and why do we believe in it?
A. By the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin we mean that her body was taken up into heaven after her death. We believe in it:
- Because the Church cannot teach error, and yet from an early age the Church has celebrated the Feast of the Assumption;
- Because no one ever claimed to have a relic of our Blessed Mother's body, and surely the apostles, who knew and loved her, would have secured some relic had her body remained upon earth.
Q. 1092. What do the letters I. H. S. on an altar or sacred things mean?
A. The letters I. H. S. on an altar or sacred things means the name Jesus; for it is in that way the Holy Name is written in the Greek language when some of the letters are left out.
Q. 1093. What is the scapular, and why is it worn?
A. The scapular is a long, broad piece of woolen cloth forming a part of the religious dress of monks, priests and sisters of some religious orders. It is worn over the shoulders and extends from the shoulders to the feet. The small scapular made in imitation of it, and consisting of two small pieces of cloth fastened together by strings, is worn by the faithful as a promise or proof of their willingness to practice some particular devotion, indicated by the kind of scapular they wear.
Q. 1094. How many kinds of scapulars are there in use among the faithful?
A. Among the faithful there are many kinds of scapulars in use, such as the brown scapular or scapular of Mount Carmel worn in honor of Our Lord's passion; the white, in honor of the Holy Trinity; the blue, in honor of the Immaculate Conception; and the black, in honor of the seven dolors of the Blessed Virgin. When these are joined together and worn as one they are called the five scapulars. The brown scapular is best known and entitles its wearer to the greatest privileges and indulgences.
Q. 1095. What are the seven dolors of the Blessed Virgin?
A. The seven dolors of the Blessed Virgin are the chief sorrowful events in the life of Our Blessed Lady. They are:
- The circumcision of our Lord -- when she saw his blood shed for the first time;
- Her flight into Egypt -- to save the life of the Infant Jesus when Herod sought to kill Him;
- The three days she lost her Son in Jerusalem;
- When she saw him carrying the cross;
- When she saw him die;
- When His dead body was taken down from the cross;
- When it was laid in the sepulchre or tomb.
Q. 1096. What are the seven dolor beads, and how do we say them?
A. Seven dolor beads are beads constructed with seven medals, each bearing a representation of one of the seven dolors, and seven beads between each medal and the next. At each medal we meditate on the proper dolor and the say a Hail Mary on each of the bead following it.
Q. 1097. What is an Agnus Dei?
A. An Agnus Dei is a small piece of beeswax stamped with the image of a lamb and cross. It is solemnly blessed by the Pope with special prayers for those who carry it about their person in honor of Our Blessed Redeemer, whom we call the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sins of the world. The wax is usually covered with silk or some fine material.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 28
LESSON TWENTY-EIGHTH: On Prayer
Q. 1098. Is there any other means of obtaining God's grace than the Sacraments?
A. There is another means of obtaining God's grace, and it is prayer.
Q. 1099. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God, to adore Him, to thank Him for His benefits, to ask His forgiveness, and to beg of Him all the graces we need whether for soul or body.
Q. 1100. How many kinds of prayer are there?
A. There are two kinds of prayer:
- Mental prayer, called meditation, in which we spend the time thinking of God or of one or more of the truths He has revealed, that by these thoughts we may be persuaded to lead holier lives;
- Vocal prayer, in which we express these pious thoughts in words.
Q. 1101. Why is mental prayer most useful to us?
A. Mental prayer is most useful to us because it compels us, while we are engaged in it, to keep our attention fixed on God and His holy laws and to keep our hearts and minds lifted up to Him.
Q. 1102. How can we make a meditation?
A. We can make a meditation:
- By remembering that we are in the presence of God;
- By asking the Holy Ghost to give us grace to benefit by the meditation;
- By reflecting seriously on some sacred truth regarding our salvation;
- By drawing some good resolution from the thoughts we have had; and
- By thanking God for the knowledge and grace bestowed on us through the meditation.
Q. 1103. Where may we find subjects or points for meditation?
A. We may find the subjects or points for meditation in the words of the Our Father, Hail Mary or Apostles' Creed; also in the questions and answers of our Catechism, in the Holy Bible, and in books of meditation.
Q. 1104. Is prayer necessary to salvation?
A. Prayer is necessary to salvation, and without it no one having the use of reason can be saved.
Q. 1105. At what particular times should we pray?
A. We should pray particularly on Sundays and holy days, every morning and night, in all dangers, temptations, and afflictions.
Q. 1106. How should we pray?
A. We should pray:
- With attention;
- With a sense of our own helplessness and dependence upon God;
- With a great desire for the graces we beg of God;
- With trust in God's goodness;
- With perseverance.
Q. 1107. What should our attention at prayer be?
A. Our attention at prayer should be threefold, namely, attention to the words, that we may say them correctly and distinctly; attention to their meaning, if we understand it, and attention to God, to whom the words are addressed.
Q. 1108. What should be the position of the body when we pray?
A. At prayer the most becoming position of the body is kneeling upright, but whether we pray kneeling, standing or sitting, the position of the body should always be one indicating reverence, respect and devotion. We may pray even lying down or walking, for Our Lord Himself says we should pray at all times.
Q. 1109. What should we do that we may pray well?
A. That we may pray well we should make a preparation before prayer:
- By calling to mind the dignity of God, to whom we are about to speak, and our own unworthiness to appear in His presence;
- By fixing upon the precise grace or blessing for which we intend to ask;
- By remembering God's power and willingness to give if we truly need and ,earnestly, humbly and confidently ask.
Q. 1110. Why does God not always grant our prayers?
A. God does not always grant our prayers for these and other reasons:
- Because we may not pray in the proper manner;
- That we may learn our dependence on Him, prove our confidence in Him, and merit rewards by our patience and perseverance in prayer.
Prudent persons do not grant every request; why, then, should God do so?
Q. 1111. What assurance have we that God always hears and rewards our prayers, though He may not grant what we ask?
A. We have the assurance of Our Lord Himself that God always hears and rewards our prayers, though He may not grant what we ask; for Christ said: "Ask and it shall be given you," and "if you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you."
Q. 1112. Which are the prayers most recommended to us?
A. The prayers most recommended to us are the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Apostles' Creed, the Confiteor, and the Acts of Faith, Hope, Love, and Contrition.
Q. 1113. Are prayers said with distractions of any avail?
A. Prayers said with willful distraction are of no avail.
Q. 1114. Why are prayers said with willful distraction of no avail?
A. Prayers said with willful distraction are of no avail because they are mere words, such as a machine might utter, and since there is no lifting up of the mind or heart with them they cannot be prayer.
Q. 1115. Do, then, the distractions which we often have at prayer deprive our prayers of all merit?
A. The distractions which we often have at prayer do not deprive our prayers of all merit, because they are not willful when we try to keep them away, for God rewards our good intentions and the efforts we make to pray well.
Q. 1116. What, then, is a distraction?
A. A distraction is any thought that, during prayer, enters our mind to turn our thoughts and hearts from God and from the sacred duty we are performing.
Q. 1117. What are the fruits of prayer?
A. The fruits of prayer are:
- It strengthens our faith,
- nourishes our hope,
- increases our love for God,
- keeps us humble,
- merits grace and atones for sin.
Q. 1118. Why should we pray when God knows our needs?
A. We pray not to remind God or tell Him of what we need, but to acknowledge that He is the Supreme Giver, to adore and worship Him by showing our entire dependence upon Him for every gift to soul or body.
Q. 1119. What little prayers may we say even at work?
A. Even at work we may say little aspirations such as "My God, pardon my sins; Blessed be the Holy Name of Jesus; Holy Spirit, enlighten me; Holy Mary, pray for me," etc.
Q. 1120. Did Our Lord Himself pray, and why?
A. Our Lord Himself very frequently prayed, often spending the whole night in prayer. He prayed before every important action, not that He needed to pray, but to set us an example of how and when we should pray.
Q. 1121. Why does the Church conclude most of its prayers with the words "through Jesus Christ Our Lord"?
A. The Church concludes most of its prayers with the words "through Jesus Christ Our Lord" because it is only through His merits that we can obtain grace, and because "there is no other name given to men whereby we must be saved."
Q. 1122. Was any special promise made in favor of the united prayers of two or more persons?
A. A special promise was made in favor of the united prayers of two or more persons when Our Lord said: "Where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them." Therefore, the united prayers of a congregation, sodality or family, and, above all, the public prayers of the whole Church, have great influence with God. We should join in public prayers out of true devotion, and not from habit, or, worse, to display our piety.
Q. 1123. What is the most suitable place for prayer?
A. The most suitable place for prayer is in the Church -- the house of prayer -- made holy by special blessings and, above all, by the Real Presence of Jesus dwelling in the Tabernacle. Still, Our Lord exhorts us to pray also in secret, for His Father, who seeth in secret, will repay us.
Q. 1124. For what should we pray?
A. We should pray:
- For ourselves, for the blessings of soul and body that we may be devoted servants of God;
- For the Church, for all spiritual and temporal wants, that the true faith may be everywhere known and professed;
- For our relatives, friends and benefactors, particularly for those we may in any way have injured;
- For all men, for the protection of the good and conversion of the wicked, that virtue may flourish and vice disappear;
- For our spiritual rulers, the Pope, our bishops, priests and religious communities, that they may faithfully perform their sacred duties;
- For our country and temporal rulers, that they may use their power for the good of their subjects and for the honor and glory of God.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 29
LESSON TWENTY-NINTH: On the Commandments of God
Q. 1125. Is it enough to belong to God's Church in order to be saved?
A. It is not enough to belong to the Church in order to be saved, but we must also keep the Commandments of God and of the Church.
Q. 1126. Are not the commandments of the Church also commandments of God?
A. The commandments of the Church are also commandments of God, for they are made by His authority and under the guidance of the Holy Ghost; nevertheless, the Church can change or abolish its own commandments, while it cannot change or abolish the commandments given directly by God Himself.
Q. 1127. Which are the Commandments that contain the whole law of God?
A. The Commandments which contain the whole law of God are these two: 1.1st. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, with thy whole strength, and with thy whole mind; 2.2nd. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Q. 1128. Why do these two Commandments of the love of God and of our neighbor contain the whole law of God?
A. These two Commandments of the love of God and of our neighbor contain the whole law of God because all the other Commandments are given either to help us to keep these two, or to direct us how to shun what is opposed to them.
Q. 1129. Explain further how the two commandments of the love of God and of our neighbor contain the teaching of the whole ten commandments.
A. The two commandments of the love of God and of our neighbor contain the teaching of the whole ten commandments because the first three of the ten commandments refer to God and oblige us to worship Him alone, respect His name and serve Him as He wills, and these things we will do if we love Him; secondly, the last seven of the ten commandments refer to our neighbor and forbid us to injure him in body, soul, goods or reputation, and if we love him we will do him no injury in any of these, but, on the contrary, aid him as far as we can.
Q. 1130. Which are the Commandments of God?
A. The Commandments of God are these ten:
- I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day.
- Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.
Q. 1131. What does the first commandment mean by a "graven thing" or "the likeness of anything" in heaven, in the earth or in the waters?
A. The first commandment means by a "graven thing" or "the likeness of anything" in heaven, in the earth or in the waters, the statue, picture or image of any creature in heaven or of any animal on land or in water intended for an idol and to be worshipped as a god.
Q. 1132. Who gave the Ten Commandments?
A. God Himself gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, and Christ our Lord confirmed them.
Q. 1133. How and when were the Commandments give to Moses?
A. The Commandments, written on two tables of stone, were given to Moses in the midst of fire and smoke, thunder and lightning, from which God spoke to him on the mountain, about fifty days after the Israelites were delivered from the bondage of Egypt and while they were on their journey through the desert to the Promised Land.
Q. 1134. What do we mean when we say Christ confirmed the Commandments?
A. When we say Christ confirmed the Commandments we mean that He strongly approved them, and gave us by His teaching a fuller and clearer knowledge of their meaning and importance.
Q. 1135. Was anyone obliged to keep the Commandments before they were given to Moses?
A. All persons, from the beginning of the world, were obliged to keep the Commandments, for it was always sinful to blaspheme God, murder, steal or violate any of the Commandments, though they were not written till the time of Moses.
Q. 1136. How many kinds of laws had the Jews before the coming of Our Lord?
A. Before the coming of Our Lord the Jews had three kinds of laws:
- Civil laws, regulating the affairs of their nation;
- Ceremonial laws, governing their worship in the temple;
- Moral laws, guiding their religious belief and actions.
Q. 1137. To which of these laws did the Ten Commandments belong?
A. The Ten Commandments belong to the moral law, because they are a compendium or short account of what we must do in order to save our souls; just as the Apostles' Creed is a compendium of what we must believe.
Q. 1138. When did the civil and ceremonial laws of the Jews cease to exist?
A. The civil laws of the Jews ceased to exist when the
Q. 1139. Why were not also the moral laws of the Jews abolished when the Christian religion was established?
A. The moral laws of the Jews could not be abolished by the establishment of the Christian religion because they regard truth and virtue and have been revealed by God, and whatever God has revealed as true must be always true, and whatever He has condemned as bad in itself must be always bad.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 30
LESSON THIRTIETH: On the First Commandment
Q. 1140. What is the first Commandment?
A. The first Commandment is: I am the Lord thy God: thou shalt not have strange gods before me.
Q. 1141. What does the commandment mean by "strange gods"?
A. By strange gods the commandment means idols or false gods, which the Israelites frequently worshipped when, through their sins, they had abandoned the true God.
Q. 1142. How may we, in a sense, worship strange gods?
A. We, in a sense, may worship strange gods by giving up the salvation of our souls for wealth, honors, society, worldly pleasures, etc., so that we would offend God, renounce our faith or give up the practice of our religion for their sake.
Q. 1143. How does the first Commandment help us to keep the great Commandment of the love of God?
A. The first Commandment helps us to keep the great Commandment of the love of God because it commands us to adore God alone.
Q. 1144. How do we adore God?
A. We adore God by faith, hope, and charity, by prayer and sacrifice.
Q. 1145. By what prayers do we adore God?
A. We adore God by all our prayers, but in particular by the public prayers of the Church, and, above all, by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Q. 1146. How may the first Commandment be broken?
A. The first Commandment make be broken by giving to a creature the honor which belongs to God alone; by false worship; and by attributing to a creature a perfection which belongs to God alone.
Q. 1147. What is the honor which belongs to God alone?
A. The honor which belongs to God alone is a divine honor, in which we offer Him sacrifice, incense or prayer, solely for His own sake and for His own glory. To give such honor to any creature, however holy, would be idolatry.
Q. 1148. How do we offer God false worship?
A. We offer God false worship by rejecting the religion He has instituted and following one pleasing to ourselves, with a form of worship He has never authorized, approved or sanctioned.
Q. 1149. Why must we serve God in the form of religion He has instituted and in no other?
A. We must serve God in the form of religion He has instituted and in no other, because heaven is not a right, but a promised reward, a free gift of God, which we must merit in the manner He directs and pleases.
Q. 1150. When do we attribute to a creature a perfection which belongs to God alone?
A. We attribute to a creature a perfection which belongs to God alone when we believe it possesses knowledge or power independently of God, so that it may, without His aid, make known the future or perform miracles.
Q. 1151. Do those who make use of spells and charms, or who believe in dreams, in mediums, spiritists, fortune-tellers, and the like, sin against the first Commandment?
A. Those who make use of spells and charms, or who believe in dreams, in mediums, spiritists, fortune-tellers, and the like, sin against the first Commandment, because they attribute to creatures perfections which belong to God alone.
Q. 1152. What are spells and charms?
A. Spells and charms are certain words, by the saying of which superstitious persons believe they can avert evil, bring good fortune or produce some supernatural or wonderful effect. They may be also objects or articles worn about the body for the same purpose.
Q. 1153. Are not Agnus Deis, medals, scapulars, etc., which we wear about our bodies also charms?
A. Agnus Deis, medals, scapulars, etc., which we wear about our bodies, are not charms, for we do not expect any help from these things themselves, but, through the blessing they have received from the Church, we expect help from God, the Blessed Mother, or the Saint in whose honor we wear them. On the contrary, they who wear charms expect help from the charms themselves, or from some evil spirit.
Q. 1154. What must we carefully guard against in all our devotions and religious practices?
A. In all our devotions and religious practices we must carefully guard against expecting God to perform miracles when natural causes may bring about what we hope for. God will sometimes miraculously help us, but, as a rule, only when all natural means have failed.
Q. 1155. What are dreams and why is it forbidden to believe in them?
A. Dreams are the thoughts we have in sleep, when our will is unable to guide them. It is forbidden to believe in them, because they are often ridiculous, unreasonable, or wicked, and are not governed by either reason or faith.
Q. 1156. Are bad dreams sinful in themselves?
A. Bad dreams are not sinful in themselves, because we cannot prevent them, but we may make them sinful: 1.(1) By taking pleasure in them when we awake, and 2.(2) By bad reading or immodest looks, thoughts, word or actions before going to sleep; for by any of these things we may make ourselves responsible for the bad dreams.
Q. 1157. Did not God frequently in the Old Law make use of dreams as a means of making known His will?
A. God did frequently in the Old Law make use of dreams as a means of making known His Will; but on such occasions He always gave proof that what He made known was not a mere dream, but rather a revelation or inspiration. He no longer makes use of such means, for He now makes known His will through the inspiration of His Church.
Q. 1158. What are mediums and spiritists?
A. Mediums and spiritists are persons who pretend to converse with the dead or with spirits of the other world. They pretend also to give this power to others, that they may know what is going on in heaven, purgatory or hell.
Q. 1159. What other practice is very dangerous to faith and morals?
A. Another practice very dangerous to faith and morals is the use of mesmerism or hypnotism, because it is liable to sinful abuses, for it deprives a person for a time of the control of his reason and will and places his body and mind entirely in the power of another.
Q. 1160. What are fortune tellers?
A. Fortune tellers are imposters who, learning the past, or guessing at it, pretend to know also the future and to be able to reveal it to anyone who pays for the knowledge. They pretend also to know whatever concerns things lost or stolen, and the secret thoughts, actions or intentions of others.
Q. 1161. How do we, by believing in spells, charms, mediums, spiritists and fortune tellers, attribute to creatures the perfections of God?
A. By believing in spells, charms, mediums, spiritists and fortune tellers we attribute to creatures the perfections of God because we expect these creatures to perform miracles, reveal the hidden judgments of God, and make known His designs for the future with regard to His creatures, things that only God Himself may do.
Q. 1162. Is it sinful to consult mediums, spiritists, fortune tellers and the like when we do not believe in them, but through mere curiosity to hear what they may say?
A. It is sinful to consult mediums, spiritists, fortune tellers and the like even when we do not believe in them, but through mere curiosity, to hear what they may say:
- Because it is wrong to expose ourselves to the danger of sinning even though we do not sin;
- Because we may give scandal to others who are not certain that we go through mere curiosity;
- Because by our pretended belief we encourage these impostors to continue their wicked practices.
Q. 1163. Are sins against faith, hope, and charity also sins against the first Commandment?
A. Sins against faith, hope and charity are also sins against the first Commandment.
Q. 1164. How does a person sin against faith?
A. A person sins against faith:
- By not trying to know what God has taught;
- By refusing to believe all that God has taught;
- By neglecting to profess his belief in what God has taught.
Q. 1165. How do we fail to try to know what God has taught?
A. We fail to try to know what God has taught by neglecting to learn the Christian doctrine.
Q. 1166. What means have we of learning the Christian doctrine?
A. We have many means of learning the Christian doctrine: In youth we have Catechism and special instructions suited to our age; later we have sermons, missions, retreats, religious sodalities and societies through which we may learn. At all times, we have books of instruction, and, above all, the priests of the Church, ever ready to teach us. God will not excuse our ignorance if we neglect to learn our religion when He has given us the means.
Q. 1167. Should we learn the Christian doctrine merely for our own sake?
A. We should learn the Christian doctrine not merely for our own sake, but for the sake also of others who may sincerely wish to learn from us the truths of our holy faith.
Q. 1168. How should such instruction be given to those who ask it of us?
A. Such instruction should be given to those who ask it of us in a kind and Christian spirit, without dispute or bitterness. We should never attempt to explain the truths of our religion unless we are certain of what we say. When we are unable to answer what is asked we should send those who inquire to the priest or to others better instructed than ourselves.
Q. 1169. Who are they who do not believe all that God has taught?
A. They who do not believe all that God has taught are the heretics and infidels.
Q. 1170. Name the different classes of unbelievers and tell what they are.
A. The different classes of unbelievers are:
- Atheists, who deny there is a God;
- Deists, who admit there is a God, but deny that He revealed a religion;
- Agnostics, who will neither admit nor deny the existence of God;
- Infidels, who have never been baptized, and who, through want of faith, refuse to be baptized;
- Heretics, who have been baptized Christians, but do not believe all the articles of faith;
- Schismatics, who have been baptized and believe all the articles of faith, but do not submit to the authority of the Pope;
- Apostates, who have rejected the true religion, in which they formerly believed, to join a false religion;
- Rationalists and Materialists, who believe only in material things.
Q. 1171. Will the denial of only one article of faith make a person a heretic?
A. The denial of only one article of faith will make a person a heretic and guilty of mortal sin, because the Holy Scripture says: "Whosoever shall keep the whole law but offend in one point is become guilty of all."
Q. 1172. What is an article of faith?
A. An article of faith is a revealed truth so important and so certain that no one can deny or doubt it without rejecting the testimony of God. The Church very clearly points out what truths are articles of faith that we may distinguish them from pious beliefs and traditions, so that no one can be guilty of the sin of heresy without knowing it.
Q. 1173. Who are they who neglect to profess their belief in what God has taught?
A. They who neglect to profess their belief in what God has taught are all those who fail to acknowledge the true Church in which they really believe.
Q. 1174. How do persons who are members of the Church neglect to profess their belief?
A. Persons who are members of the Church neglect to profess their belief by living contrary to the teachings of the Church: that is, by neglecting Mass or the Sacraments, doing injury to their neighbor, and disgracing their religion by sinful and scandalous lives.
Q. 1175. What chiefly prevents persons who believe in the Church from becoming members of it?
A. A want of Christian courage chiefly prevents persons who believe in the Church from becoming members of it. They fear too much the opinion or displeasure of others, the loss of position or wealth, and, in general, the trials they may have to suffer for the sake of the true faith.
Q. 1176. What does Our Lord say of those who neglect the true religion for the sake of relatives or friends, or from fear of suffering?
A. Our Lord says of those who neglect the true religion for the sake of relatives or friends, or from fear of suffering: "He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me"; also: "And whosoever does not carry his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."
Q. 1177. What excuse do some give for neglecting to seek and embrace the true religion?
A. Some give as an excuse for neglecting to seek and embrace the true religion that we should live in the religion in which we were born, and that one religion is as good as another if we believe we are serving God.
Q. 1178. How do we show that such an excuse is false and absurd?
A. We show that such an excuse is false and absurd because: 1.(1) It is false and absurd to say that we should remain in error after we have discovered it; 2.(2) Because if one religion is as good as another, Our Lord would not have abolished the Jewish religion, nor the apostles have preached against heresy.
Q. 1179. Can they who fail to profess their faith in the true Church in which they believe expect to be saved while in that state?
A. They who fail to profess their faith in the true Church in which they believe cannot expect to be saved while in that state, for Christ has said: "Whosoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven."
Q. 1180. Are we obliged to make open profession of our faith?
A. We are obliged to make open profession of our faith as often as God's honor, our neighbor's spiritual good or our own requires it. "Whosoever," says Christ, "shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven."
Q. 1181. When does God's honor, our neighbor's spiritual good, or our own good require us to make an open profession of our faith ?
A. God's honor, our neighbor's spiritual good, or our own good requires us to make an open profession of our faith as often as we cannot conceal our religion without violating some law of God or of His Church, or without giving scandal to others or exposing ourselves to the danger of sinning. Pious practices not commanded may often be omitted without any denial of faith.
Q. 1182. Which are the sins against hope?
A. The sins against hope are presumption and despair.
Q. 1183. What is presumption?
A. Presumption is a rash expectation of salvation without making proper use of the necessary means to obtain it.
Q. 1184. How may we be guilty of presumption?
A. We may be guilty of presumption:
- By putting off confession when in a state of mortal sin;
- By delaying the amendment of our lives and repentance for past sins;
- By being indifferent about the number of times we yield to any temptation after we have once yielded and broken our resolution to resist it;
- By thinking we can avoid sin without avoiding its near occasion;
- By relying too much on ourselves and neglecting to follow the advice of our confessor in regard to the sins we confess.
Q. 1185. What is despair?
A. Despair is the loss of hope in God's mercy.
Q. 1186. How may we be guilty of despair?
A. We may be guilty of despair by believing that we cannot resist certain temptations, overcome certain sins or amend our lives so as to be pleasing to God.
Q. 1187. Are all sins of presumption and despair equally great?
A. All sins of presumption and despair are not equally great. They may be very slight or very great in proportion to the degree in which we deny the justice or mercy of God.
Q. 1188. How do we sin against the love of God?
A. We sin against the love of God by all sin, but particularly by mortal sin.