Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 31
LESSON THIRTY-FIRST: The First Commandment -- On the Honor and Invocation of the Saints
Q. 1189. Does the first Commandment forbid the honoring of the saints?
A. The first Commandment does not forbid the honoring of the saints, but rather approves of it; because by honoring the saints, who are the chosen friends of God, we honor God Himself.
Q. 1190. What does "invocation" mean?
A. Invocation means calling upon another for help or protection, particularly when we are in need or danger. It is used specially with regard to calling upon God or the saints, and hence it means prayer.
Q. 1191. How do we show that by honoring the Saints we honor God Himself?
A. We honor the Saints because they honor God. Therefore, it is for His sake that we honor them, and hence by honoring them we honor Him.
Q. 1192. Give another reason why we honor God by honoring the Saints.
A. Another reason why we honor God by honoring the Saints is this: As we honor our country by honoring its heroes, so do we honor our religion by honoring its Saints. By honoring our religion we honor God, who taught it. Therefore, by honoring the Saints we honor God, for love of whom they became religious heroes in their faith.
Q. 1193. Does the first Commandment forbid us to pray to the saints?
A. The first Commandment does not forbid us to pray to the saints.
Q. 1194. Why does the first commandment not forbid us to pray to the Saints?
A. The first commandment does not forbid us to pray to the Saints, because if we are allowed to ask the prayers of our fellow-creatures upon earth we should be allowed also to ask the prayers of our fellow-creatures in heaven. Moreover, the Saints must have an interest in our welfare, because whatever tends to make us good, tends also to the glory of God.
Q. 1195. What do we mean by praying to the saints?
A. By praying to the saints we mean the asking of their help and prayers.
Q. 1196. Do we not slight God Himself by addressing our prayers to saints?
A. We do not slight God Himself by addressing our prayers to saints, but, on the contrary, show a greater respect for His majesty and sanctity, acknowledging, by our prayers to the saints, that we are unworthy to address Him for ourselves, and that we, therefore, ask His holy friends to obtain for us what we ourselves are not worthy to ask.
Q. 1197. How do we know that the saints hear us?
A. We know that the saints hear us, because they are with God, who makes our prayers known to them.
Q. 1198. Why do we believe that the saints will help us?
A. We believe that the saints will help us because both they and we are members of the same Church, and they love us as their brethren.
Q. 1199. How are the saints and we members of the same Church?
A. The saints and we are members of the same Church, because the Church in heaven and the Church on earth are one and the same Church, and all its members are in communion with one another.
Q. 1200. What is the communion of the members of the Church called?
A. The Communion of the members of the Church is called the Communion of Saints.
Q. 1201. What does the communion of saints mean?
A. The communion of saints means the union which exists between the members of the Church on earth with one another, and with the blessed in Heaven, and with the suffering souls in Purgatory.
Q. 1202. What benefits are derived from the communion of saints?
A. The following benefits are derived from the communion of saints: the faithful on earth assist one another by their prayers and good works, and they are aided by the intercession of the saints in Heaven, while both the saints in Heaven and the faithful on earth help the souls in Purgatory.
Q. 1203. How can we best honor the Saints, and where shall we learn their virtues?
A. We can best honor the saints by imitating their virtues, and we shall learn their virtues from the written accounts of their lives. Among the Saints we shall find models for every age, condition or state of life.
Q. 1204. Does the first Commandment forbid us to honor relics?
A. The first Commandment does not forbid us to honor relics, because relics are the bodies of the saints or objects directly connected with them or with our Lord.
Q. 1205. How many kinds or classes of relics are there?
A. There are three kinds or classes of relics:
- The body or part of the body of a saint;
- Articles, such as clothing or books, used by the saint;
- Articles that have touched a relic of the body or other relic.
Q. 1206. What is there special about a relic of the true cross on which Our Lord Died, and also about the instruments of His Passion?
A. The relics of the true Cross and relics of the thorns, nails, etc., used in the Passion are entitled to a very special veneration, and they have certain privileges with regard to their use and the manner of keeping them that other relics have not. A relic of the true Cross is never kept or carried with other relics.
Q. 1207. What veneration does the Church permit us to give to relics?
A. The Church permits us to give relics a veneration similar to that we give images. We do not venerate the relics for their own sake, but for the sake of the persons they represent. The souls of canonized saints are certainly in heaven, and we are certain that their bodies also will be there. Therefore, we may honor their bodies because they are to be glorified in heaven and were sanctified upon earth.
Q. 1208. What care does the Church take in the examination and distribution of relics?
A. The Church takes the greatest care in the examination and distribution of relics.
- The canonization or beatification of the person whose relic we receive must be certain.
- The relics are sent in sealed packets, that must be opened only by the bishop of the diocese to which the relics are sent, and each relic or packet must be accompanied by a document or written paper proving its genuineness.
- The relics cannot be exposed for public veneration until the bishop examines them and pronounces them authentic; that is, that they are what they are claimed to be.
Q. 1209. What should we be certain of before using any relic or giving it to another?
A. Before using any relic or giving it to another we should be certain that all the requirements of the Church concerning it have been fulfilled, and that the relic really is, as far as it is possible for any one to know, what we believe it to be.
Q. 1210. Has God Himself honored relics?
A. God Himself has frequently honored relics by permitting miracles to be wrought through them. There is an example given in the Bible, in the IV Book of Kings, where it is related that a dead man was restored to life when his body touched the bones, that is, the relics of the holy prophet Eliseus.
Q. 1211. Does the first Commandment forbid the making of images?
A. The first Commandment does forbid the making of images if they are made to be adored as gods, but it does not forbid the making of them to put us in mind of Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, and the saints.
Q. 1212 How do we show that it is only the worship and not the making of images that is forbidden by the first commandment?
A. We show that it is only the worship and not the making of images that is forbidden by the first commandment:
- Because no one thinks it sinful to carve statues or make photographs or paintings of relatives or friends;
- Because God Himself commanded the making of images for the temple after He had given the first commandment, and God never contradicts Himself.
Q. 1213. Is it right to show respect to the pictures and images of Christ and His saints?
A. It is right to show respect to the pictures and images of Christ and His saints, because they are the representations and memorials of them.
Q. 1214. Have we in this country any civil custom similar to that of honoring the pictures and images of saints?
A. We have, in this country, a civil custom similar to that of honoring pictures and images of saints, for, on Decoration or Memorial Day, patriotic citizens place flowers, flags, or emblems about the statues of our deceased civil heroes, to honor the persons these statues represent; for just as we can dishonor a man by abusing his image, so we can honor him by treating it with respect and reverence.
Q. 1215. Is it allowed to pray to the crucifix or to the images and relics of the saints?
A. It is not allowed to pray to the crucifix or images and relics of the saints, for they have no life, nor power to help us, nor sense to hear us.
Q. 1216. Why do we pray before the crucifix and the images and relics of the saints?
A. We pray before the crucifix and the images and relics of the saints because they enliven our devotion by exciting pious affections and desires, and by reminding us of Christ and of the saints, that we may imitate their virtues.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 32
LESSON THIRTY-SECOND: From the Second to the Fourth Commandment
Q. 1217. What is the second Commandment?
A. The second Commandment is: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Q. 1218. What do you mean by taking God's name in vain?
A. By taking God's name in vain I mean taking it without reverence, as in cursing or using in a light and careless manner, as in exclamation.
Q. 1219. What are we commanded by the second Commandment?
A. We are commanded by the second Commandment to speak with reverence of God and of the saints, and of all holy things, and to keep our lawful oaths and vows.
Q. 1220. Is it sinful to use the words of Holy Scripture in a bad or worldly sense?
A. It is sinful to use the words of Holy Scripture in a bad or worldly sense, to joke in them or ridicule their sacred meaning, or in general to give them any meaning but the one we believe God has intended them to convey.
Q. 1221. What is an oath?
A. An oath is the calling upon God to witness the truth of what we say.
Q. 1222. How is an oath usually taken?
A. An oath is usually taken by laying the hand on the Bible or by lifting the hand towards heaven as a sign that we call God to witness that what we are saying is under oath and to the best of our knowledge really true.
Q. 1223. What is perjury?
A. Perjury is the sin one commits who knowingly takes a false oath; that is, swears to the truth of what he knows to be false. Perjury is a crime against the law of our country and a mortal sin before God.
Q. 1224. Who have the right to make us take an oath?
A. All persons to whom the law of our country has given such authority have the right to make us take an oath. They are chiefly judges, magistrates and public officials, whose duty it is to enforce the laws. In religious matters bishops and others to whom authority is given have also the right to make us take an oath.
Q. 1225. When may we take an oath?
A. We may take an oath when it is ordered by lawful authority or required for God's honor or for our own or our neighbor's good.
Q. 1226. When may an oath be required for God's honor or for our own or our neighbor's good?
A. An oath may be required for God's honor or for our own or our neighbor's good when we are called upon to defend our religion against false charges; or to protect our own or our neighbor's property or good name; or when we are required to give testimony that will enable the lawful authorities to discover the guilt or innocence of a person accused.
Q. 1227. Is it ever allowed to promise under oath, in secret societies or elsewhere, to obey another in whatever good or evil he commands?
A. It is never allowed to promise under oath, in secret societies or elsewhere, to obey another in whatever good or evil he commands, for by such an oath we would declare ourselves ready and willing to commit sin, if ordered to do so, while God commands us to avoid even the danger of sinning. Hence the Church forbids us to join any society in which such oaths are taken by its members.
Q. 1228. What societies in general are we forbidden to join?
A. In general we are forbidden to join:
- All societies condemned by the Church;
- All societies of which the object is unlawful and the means used sinful;
- Societies in which the rights and freedom of our conscience are violated by rash or dangerous oaths;
- Societies in which any false religious ceremony or form of worship is used.
Q. 1229. Are trades unions and benefit societies forbidden?
A. Trades unions and benefit societies are not in themselves forbidden because they have lawful ends, which they can secure by lawful means. The Church encourages every society that lawfully aids its members spiritually or temporally, and censures or disowns every society that uses sinful or unlawful means to secure even a good end; for the Church can never permit anyone to do evil that good may come of it.
Q. 1230. Is it lawful to vow or promise strict obedience to a religious superior?
A. It is lawful to vow or promise strict obedience to a religious superior, because such superior can exact obedience only in things that have the sanction of God or of His Church.
Q. 1231. What is necessary to make an oath lawful?
A. To make an oath lawful it is necessary that what we swear to be true, and that there be a sufficient cause for taking an oath.
Q. 1232. What is a vow?
A. A vow is a deliberate promise made to God to do something that is pleasing to Him.
Q. 1233. Which are the vows most frequently made?
A. The vows most frequently made are the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, taken by persons living in religious communities or consecrated to God. Persons living in the world are sometimes permitted to make such vows privately, but this should never be done without the advice and consent of their confessor.
Q. 1234. What do the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience require?
A. The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience require that those who make them shall not possess or keep any property or goods for themselves alone; that they shall not marry or be guilty of any immodest acts, and that they shall strictly obey their lawful superiors.
Q. 1235. Has it always been a custom with pious Christians to make vows and promises to God?
A. It has always been a custom with pious Christians to make vows and promises to God; to beg His help for some special end, or to thank Him for some benefit received. They have promised pilgrimages, good works or alms and they have vowed to erect churches, convents, hospitals or schools.
Q. 1236. What is a pilgrimage?
A. A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place made in a religious manner and for a religious purpose.
Q. 1237. Is it a sin not to fulfill our vows?
A. Not to fulfill our vows is a sin, mortal or venial, according to the nature of the vow and the intention we had in making it.
Q. 1238. Are we bound to keep an unlawful oath or vow?
A. We are not bound, but, on the contrary, positively forbidden to keep an unlawful oath or vow. We are guilty of sin in taking such an oath or making such a vow, and we would be guilty of still greater sin by keeping them.
Q. 1239. What is forbidden by the second Commandment?
A. The second Commandment forbids all false, rash, unjust, and unnecessary oaths, blasphemy, cursing, and profane words.
Q. 1240. When is an oath rash, unjust or unnecessary?
A. An oath is rash when we are not sure of the truth of what we swear; it is unjust when it injures another unlawfully; and it is unnecessary when there is no good reason for taking it.
Q. 1241. What is blasphemy, and what are profane words?
A. Blasphemy is any word or action intended as an insult to God. To say He is cruel or find fault with His works is blasphemy. It is a much greater sin than cursing or taking God's name in vain. Profane words mean here bad, irreverent or irreligious words.
Q. 1242. What is the third Commandment?
A. The third Commandment is: Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day.
Q. 1243. What are we commanded by the third Commandment?
A. By the third Commandment we are commanded to keep holy the Lord's day and the holydays of obligation, on which we are to give our time to the service and worship of God.
Q. 1244. What are holydays of obligation?
A. Holydays of obligation are special feasts of the Church on which we are bound, under pain of mortal sin, to hear Mass and to keep from servile or bodily labors when it can be done without great loss or inconvenience. Whoever, on account of their circumstances, cannot give up work on holydays of obligation should make every effort to hear Mass and should also explain in confession the necessity of working on holydays.
Q. 1245. How are we to worship God on Sundays and holydays of obligation?
A. We are to worship God on Sundays and holydays of obligation by hearing Mass, by prayer, and by other good works.
Q. 1246. Name some of the good works recommended for Sunday.
A. Some of the good works recommended for Sunday are: The reading of religious books or papers, teaching Catechism, bringing relief to the poor or sick, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, attending Vespers, Rosary or other devotions in the Church; also attending the meetings of religious sodalities or societies. It is not necessary to spend the whole Sunday in such good works, but we should give some time to them, that for the love of God we may do a little more than what is strictly commanded.
Q. 1247. Is it forbidden, then, to seek any pleasure or enjoyment on Sunday?
A. It is not forbidden to seek lawful pleasure or enjoyment on Sunday, especially to those who are occupied during the week, for God did not intend the keeping of the Sunday to be a punishment, but a benefit to us. Therefore, after hearing Mass we may take such recreation as is necessary or useful for us; but we should avoid any vulgar, noisy or disgraceful amusements that turn the day of rest and prayer into a day of scandal and sin.
Q. 1248. Are the Sabbath day and the Sunday the same?
A. The Sabbath day and the Sunday are not the same. The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, and is the day which was kept holy in the old law; the Sunday is the first day of the week, and is the day which is kept holy in the new law.
Q. 1249. What is meant by the Old and New Law?
A. The Old Law means the law or religion given to the Jews; the New Law means the law or religion given to Christians.
Q. 1250. Why does the Church command us to keep the Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath?
A. The Church commands us to keep the Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath because on Sunday Christ rose from the dead, and on Sunday He sent the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles.
Q. 1251. Do we keep Sunday instead of Saturday holy for any other reason?
A. We keep Sunday instead of Saturday holy also to teach that the Old Law is not now binding upon us, but that we must keep the New Law, which takes its place.
Q. 1252. What is forbidden by the third Commandment?
A. The third Commandment forbids all unnecessary servile work and whatever else may hinder the due observance of the Lord's day.
Q. 1253. What are servile works?
A. Servile works are those which require labor rather of body than of mind.
Q. 1254. From what do servile works derive their name?
A. Servile works derive their name from the fact that such works were formerly done by slaves. Therefore, reading, writing, studying and, in general, all works that slaves did not perform are not considered servile works.
Q. 1255. Are servile works on Sunday ever lawful?
A. Servile works are lawful on Sundays when the honor of God, the good of our neighbor, or necessity requires them.
Q. 1256. Give some examples of when the honor of God, the good of our neighbor or necessity may require servile works on Sunday.
A. The honor of God, the good of our neighbor or necessity may require servile works on Sunday, in such cases as the preparation of a place for Holy Mass, the saving of property in storms or accidents, the cooking of meals and similar works.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 33
LESSON THIRTY-THIRD: From the Fourth to the Seventh Commandment
Q. 1257. What is the fourth Commandment?
A. The fourth Commandment is: Honor thy father and thy mother.
Q. 1258. What does the word "honor" in this commandment include?
A. The word "honor" in this commandment includes the doing of everything necessary for our parents' spiritual and temporal welfare, the showing of proper respect, and the fulfillment of all our duties to them.
Q. 1259. What are we commanded by the fourth Commandment?
A. We are commanded by the fourth Commandment to honor, love and obey our parents in all that is not sin.
Q. 1260. Why should we refuse to obey parents or superiors who command us to sin?
A. We should refuse to obey parents or superiors who command us to sin because they are not then acting with God's authority, but contrary to it and in violation of His laws.
Q. 1261. Are we bound to honor and obey others than our parents?
A. We are also bound to honor and obey our bishops, pastors, magistrates, teachers, and other lawful superiors.
Q. 1262. Who are meant by magistrates?
A. By magistrates are meant all officials of whatever rank who have a lawful right to rule over us and our temporal possessions or affairs.
Q. 1263. Who are meant by lawful superiors?
A. By lawful superiors are meant all persons to whom we are in any way subject, such as employers or others under whose authority we live or work.
Q. 1264. What is the duty of servants or workmen to their employers?
A. The duty of servants or workmen to their employers is to serve them faithfully and honestly, according to their agreement, and to guard against injuring their property or reputation.
Q. 1265. Have parents and superiors any duties toward those who are under their charge?
A. It is the duty of parents and superiors to take good care of all under their charge and give them proper direction and example.
Q. 1266. If parents or superiors neglect their duty or abuse their authority in any particular, should we follow their direction and example in that particular?
A. If parents or superiors neglect their duty or abuse their authority in any particular we should not follow their direction or example in that particular, but follow the dictates of our conscience in the performance of our duty.
Q. 1267. What is the duty of employers to their servants or workmen?
A. The duty of employers to their servants or workmen is to see that they are kindly and fairly treated and provided for, according to their agreement, and that they are justly paid their wages at the proper time.
Q. 1268. What is forbidden by the fourth Commandment?
A. The fourth Commandment forbids all disobedience, contempt, and stubbornness towards our parents or lawful superiors.
Q. 1269. What is meant by contempt and stubbornness?
A. By contempt is meant willful disrespect for lawful authority, and by stubbornness is meant willful determination not to yield to lawful authority.
Q. 1270. What is the fifth Commandment?
A. The fifth Commandment is: Thou shalt not kill.
Q. 1271. What killing does this commandment forbid?
A. This commandment forbids the killing only of human beings.
Q. 1272. How do we know that this commandment forbids the killing only of human beings?
A. We know that this commandment forbids the killing only of human beings because, after giving this commandment, God commanded that animals be killed for sacrifice in the temple of Jerusalem, and God never contradicts Himself.
Q. 1273. What are we commanded by the fifth Commandment?
A. We are commanded by the fifth Commandment to live in peace and union with our neighbor, to respect his rights, to seek his spiritual and bodily welfare, and to take proper care of our own life and health.
Q. 1274. What sin is it to destroy one's own life, or commit suicide, as this act is called?
A. It is a mortal sin to destroy one's own life or commit suicide, as this act is called, and persons who willfully and knowingly commit such an act die in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of Christian burial. It is also wrong to expose one's self unnecessarily to the danger of death by rash or foolhardy feats of daring.
Q. 1275. Is it ever lawful for any cause to deliberately and intentionally take away the life of an innocent person?
A. It is never lawful for any cause to deliberately and intentionally take away the life of an innocent person. Such deeds are always murder, and can never be excused for any reason, however important or necessary.
Q. 1276. Under what circumstances may human life be lawfully taken?
A. Human life may be lawfully taken:
- In self-defense, when we are unjustly attacked and have no other means of saving our own lives;
- In a just war, when the safety or rights of the nation require it;
- By the lawful execution of a criminal, fairly tried and found guilty of a crime punishable by death when the preservation of law and order and the good of the community require such execution.
Q. 1277. What is forbidden by the fifth Commandment?
A. The fifth Commandment forbids all willful murder, fighting, anger, hatred, revenge, and bad example.
Q. 1278. Can the fifth commandment be broken by giving scandal or bad example and by inducing others to sin?
A. The fifth commandment can be broken by giving scandal or bad example and inducing others to sin, because such acts may destroy the life of the soul by leading it into mortal sin.
Q. 1279. What is scandal?
A. Scandal is any sinful word, deed or omission that disposes others to sin, or lessens their respect for God and holy religion.
Q. 1280. Why are fighting, anger, hatred and revenge forbidden by the fifth commandment?
A. Fighting, anger, hatred and revenge are forbidden by the fifth commandment because they are sinful in themselves and may lead to murder. The commandments forbid not only whatever violates them, but also whatever may lead to their violation.
Q. 1281. What is the sixth Commandment?
A. The sixth Commandment is: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Q. 1282. What are we commanded by the sixth Commandment?
A. We are commanded by the sixth Commandment to be pure in thought and modest in all our looks, words, and actions.
Q. 1283. It is a sin to listen to immodest conversation, songs or jokes?
A. It is a sin to listen to immodest conversation, songs or jokes when we can avoid it, or to show in any way that we take pleasure in such things.
Q. 1284. What is forbidden by the sixth Commandment?
A. The sixth Commandment forbids all unchaste freedom with another's wife or husband; also all immodesty with ourselves or others in looks, dress, words, and actions.
Q. 1285. Why are sins of impurity the most dangerous?
A. Sins of impurity are the most dangerous:
- Because they have the most numerous temptations;
- Because, if deliberate, they are always mortal, and
- Because, more than other sins, they lead to the loss of faith.
Q. 1286. Does the sixth Commandment forbid the reading of bad and immodest books and newspapers?
A. The sixth Commandment does forbid the reading of bad and immodest books and newspapers.
Q. 1287. What should be done with immodest book and newspapers?
A. Immodest books and newspapers should be destroyed as soon as possible, and if we cannot destroy them ourselves we should induce their owners to do so.
Q. 1288. What books does the Church consider bad?
A. The Church considers bad all books containing teaching contrary to faith or morals, or that willfully misrepresent Catholic doctrine and practice.
Q. 1289. What places are dangerous to the virtue of purity?
A. Indecent theaters and similar places of amusement are dangerous to the virtue of purity, because their entertainments are frequently intended to suggest immodest things.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 34
LESSON THIRTY-FOURTH: From the Seventh to the End of the Tenth Commandment
Q. 1290. What is the seventh Commandment?
A. The seventh Commandment is: Thou shalt not steal.
Q. 1291. What sin is it to steal?
A. To steal is a mortal or venial sin, according to the amount stolen either at once or at different times. Circumstances may make the sin greater or less, and they should be explained in confession.
Q. 1292. Is stealing ever a sacrilege?
A. Stealing is a sacrilege when the thing stolen belongs to the Church and when the stealing takes place in the Church.
Q. 1293. What sins are equivalent to stealing?
A. All sins of cheating, defrauding or wronging others of their property; also all sins of borrowing or buying with the intention of never repaying are equivalent to stealing.
Q. 1294. In what other ways may persons sin against honesty?
A. Persons may sin against honesty also by knowingly receiving, buying or sharing in stolen goods; likewise by giving or taking bribes for dishonest purposes.
Q. 1295. What are we commanded by the seventh Commandment?
A. By the seventh Commandment we are commanded to give to all men what belongs to them and to respect their property.
Q. 1296. How may persons working for others be guilty of dishonesty?
A. Persons working for others may be guilty of dishonesty by idling the time for which they are paid; also by doing bad work or supplying bad material without their employer's knowledge.
Q. 1297. In what other way may a person be guilty of dishonesty?
A. A person may be guilty of dishonesty in getting money or goods by false pretenses and by using either for purposes for which they were not given.
Q. 1298. What is forbidden by the seventh Commandment?
A. The seventh Commandment forbids all unjust taking or keeping what belongs to another.
Q. 1299. What must we do with things found?
A. We must return things found to their lawful owners as soon as possible, and we must also use reasonable means to find the owners if they are unknown to us.
Q. 1300. What must we do if we discover we have bought stolen goods?
A. If we discover we have bought stolen goods and know their lawful owners we must return the goods to them as soon as possible without demanding compensation from the owner for what we paid for the goods.
Q. 1301. Are we bound to restore ill-gotten goods?
A. We are bound to restore ill-gotten goods, or the value of them, as far as we are able; otherwise we cannot be forgiven.
Q. 1302. What must we do if we cannot restore all we owe, or if the person to whom we should restore be dead?
A. If we cannot restore all we owe, we must restore as much as we can, and if the person to whom we should restore be dead we must restore to his children or heirs, and if these cannot be found we may give alms to the poor.
Q. 1303. What must one do who cannot pay his debts and yet wishes to receive the Sacraments?
A. One who cannot pay his debts and yet wishes to receive the Sacraments must sincerely promise and intend to pay them as soon as possible, and must without delay make every effort to do so.
Q. 1304. Are we obliged to repair the damage we have unjustly caused?
A. We are bound to repair the damage we have unjustly caused.
Q. 1305. What is the eighth Commandment?
A. The eighth Commandment is: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Q. 1306. What are we commanded by the eighth Commandment?
A. We are commanded by the eighth Commandment to speak the truth in all things, and to be careful of the honor and reputation of every one.
Q. 1307. What is a lie?
A. A lie is a sin committed by knowingly saying what is untrue with the intention of deceiving. To swear to a lie makes the sin greater, and such swearing is called perjury. Pretense, hypocrisy, false praise, boasting, etc., are similar to lies.
Q. 1308. How can we know the degree of sinfulness in a lie?
A. We can know the degree of sinfulness in a lie by the amount of harm it does and from the intention we had in telling it.
Q. 1309. Will a good reason for telling a lie excuse it?
A. No reason, however good, will excuse the telling of a lie, because a lie is always bad in itself. It is never allowed, even for a good intention to do a thing that is bad in itself.
Q. 1310. What is forbidden by the eighth Commandment?
A. The eighth Commandment forbids all rash judgments, backbiting, slanders, and lies.
Q. 1311. What are rash judgment, backbiting, slander and detraction?
A. Rash judgment is believing a person guilty of sin without a sufficient cause. Backbiting is saying evil things of another in his absence. Slander is telling lies about another with the intention of injuring him. Detraction is revealing the sins of another without necessity.
Q. 1312. Is it ever allowed to tell the faults of another?
A. It is allowed to tell the faults of another when it is necessary to make them known to his parents or superiors, that the faults may be corrected and the wrong doer prevented from greater sin.
Q. 1313. What is tale-bearing, and why is it wrong?
A. Tale-bearing is the act of telling persons what others have said about them, especially if the things said be evil. It is wrong, because it gives rise to anger, hatred and ill-will, and is often the cause of greater sins.
Q. 1314. What must they do who have lied about their neighbor and seriously injured his character?
A. They who have lied about their neighbor and seriously injured his character must repair the injury done as far as they are able, otherwise they will not be forgiven.
Q. 1315. What is the ninth Commandment?
A. The ninth Commandment is: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.
Q. 1316. What are we commanded by the ninth Commandment?
A. We are commanded by the ninth Commandment to keep ourselves pure in thought and desire.
Q. 1317. What is forbidden by the ninth Commandment?
A. The ninth Commandment forbids unchaste thoughts, desires of another's wife or husband, and all other unlawful impure thoughts and desires.
Q. 1318. Are impure thoughts and desires always sins?
A. Impure thoughts and desires are always sins, unless they displease us and we try to banish them.
Q. 1319. What is the tenth Commandment?
A. The tenth Commandment is: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods.
Q. 1320. What does covet mean?
A. Covet means to wish to get wrongfully what another possesses or to begrudge his own to him.
Q. 1321. What are we commanded by the tenth Commandment?
A. By the tenth Commandment we are commanded to be content with what we have, and to rejoice in our neighbor's welfare.
Q. 1322. Should we not, then, try to improve our position in the world?
A. We should try to improve our position in the world, provided we can do so honestly and without exposing ourselves to greater temptation or sin.
Q. 1323. What is forbidden by the tenth Commandment?
A. The tenth Commandment forbids all desires to take or keep wrongfully what belongs to another.
Q. 1324. In what does the sixth commandment differ from the ninth, and the seventh differ from the tenth?
A. The sixth commandment differs from the ninth in this, that the sixth refers chiefly to external acts of impurity, while the ninth refers more to sins of thought against purity. The seventh commandment refers chiefly to external acts of dishonesty, while the tenth refers more to thoughts against honesty.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 35
LESSON THIRTY-FIFTH: On the First and Second Commandments of the Church
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: 1.1. To hear Mass on Sundays and holydays of obligation. 2.2. To fast and abstain on the days appointed. 3.3. To confess at least once a year. 4.4. To receive the Holy Eucharist during the Easter time. 5.5. To contribute to the support of our pastors. 6.6. 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. 7.
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:
- Feast of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8th);
- Christmas (Dec. 25th);
- Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord (Jan. 1st);
- Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord (forty days after Easter);
- Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Aug. 15th); and
- 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.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 36
LESSON THIRTY-SIXTH: On the Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Commandments of the Church
Q. 1349. What is meant by the command of confessing at least once a year?
A. By the command of confessing at least once a year is meant that we are obliged, under pain of mortal sin, to go to confession within the year.
Q. 1350. Should we confess only once a year?
A. We should confess frequently, if we wish to lead a good life.
Q. 1351. Should we go to confession at our usual time even if we think we have not committed sin since our last confession?
A. We should go to confession at our usual time even if we think we have not committed sin since our last confession, because the Sacrament of Penance has for its object not only to forgive sins, but also to bestow grace and strengthen the soul against temptation.
Q. 1352. Should children go to confession?
A. Children should go to confession when they are old enough to commit sin, which is commonly about the age of seven years.
Q. 1353. What sin does he commit who neglects to receive Communion during the Easter time?
A. He who neglects to receive Communion during the Easter time commits a mortal sin.
Q. 1354. What is the Easter time?
A. The Easter time is, in this country, the time between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday.
Q. 1355. When is Trinity Sunday?
A. Trinity Sunday is the Sunday after Pentecost, or eight weeks after Easter Sunday; so that there are fourteen weeks in which one may comply with the command of the Church to receive Holy Communion between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday.
Q. 1356. Are we obliged to contribute to the support of our pastors?
A. We are obliged to contribute to the support of our pastors, and to bear our share in the expense of the Church and school.
Q. 1357. Where did the duty of contributing to the support of the Church and clergy originate?
A. The duty of contributing to the support of the Church and clergy originated in the Old Law, when God commanded all the people to contribute to the support of the temple and of its priests.
Q. 1358. What does the obligation of supporting the Church and school imply?
A. The obligation of supporting the Church and school implies the duty of making use of the Church and school by attending religious worship in the one and by giving Catholic education in the other; because if the Church and school were not necessary for our spiritual welfare we would not be commanded to support them.
Q. 1359. Does the fifth commandment of the Church include the support only of our pastors and the Church and school?
A. The fifth commandment of the Church includes the support also of our holy father, the Pope, bishops, priests, missions, religious institutions and religion in general.
Q. 1360. What is the meaning of the commandment not to marry within the third degree of kindred?
A. The meaning of the commandment not to marry within the third degree of kindred is that no one is allowed to marry another within the third degree of blood relationship.
Q. 1361. Who are in the third degree of blood relationship?
A. Second cousins are in the third degree of blood relationship, and persons whose relationship is nearer than second cousins are in closer degrees of kindred. It is unlawful for persons thus related to marry without a dispensation or special permission of the Church.
Q. 1362. Are there other relationships besides blood relationship that render marriage unlawful without a dispensation?
A. There are other relationships besides blood relationship that render marriage unlawful without a dispensation, namely, the relationships contracted by marriage, which are called degrees of affinity, and the relationship contracted by being sponsors at Baptism, which is called spiritual affinity.
Q. 1363. What should persons about to marry do, if they suspect they are related to each other?
A. Persons about to marry, if they suspect they are related to each other, should make known the facts to the priest, that he may examine the degree of relationship and procure a dispensation if necessary.
Q. 1364. What is the meaning of the command not to marry privately?
A. The command not to marry privately means that none should marry without the blessing of God's priests or without witnesses.
Q. 1365. What sin is it for Catholics to be married before the minister of another religion?
A. It is a mortal sin for Catholics to be married before the minister of another religion, and they who attempt to do so incur excommunication, and absolution from their sin is reserved to the bishop.
Q. 1366. What is the meaning of the precept not to solemnize marriage at forbidden times?
A. The meaning of the precept not to solemnize marriage at forbidden times is that during Lent and Advent the marriage ceremony should not be performed with pomp or a nuptial Mass.
Q. 1367. What is the nuptial Mass?
A. The nuptial Mass is a Mass appointed by the Church to invoke a special blessing upon the married couple.
Q. 1368. Should Catholics be married at a nuptial Mass?
A. Catholics should be married at a nuptial Mass, because they thereby show greater reverence for the holy Sacrament and bring richer blessings upon their wedded life.
Q. 1369. What restrictions does the Church place on the ceremonies of marriage when one of the persons is not a Catholic?
A. The Church places several restrictions on the ceremonies of marriage when one of the persons is not a Catholic. The marriage cannot take place in the church; the priest cannot wear his sacred vestments nor use holy water nor bless the ring nor the marriage itself. The Church places these restrictions to show her dislike for such marriages, commonly called mixed marriages.
Q. 1370. Why does the Church dislike mixed marriages?
A. The Church dislikes mixed marriages because such marriages are frequently unhappy, give rise to many disputes, endanger the faith of the Catholic member of the family, and prevent the religious education of the children.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3 - Lesson 37
LESSON THIRTY-SEVENTH: On the Last Judgment and the Resurrection, Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven
Q. 1371. When will Christ judge us?
A. Christ will judge us immediately after our death, and on the last day.
Q. 1372. What is the judgment called which we have to undergo immediately after death?
A. The judgment we have to undergo immediately after death is called the Particular Judgment.
Q. 1373. Where will the particular judgment be held?
A. The particular judgment will be held in the place where each person dies, and the soul will go immediately to its reward or punishment.
Q. 1374. What is the judgment called which all men have to undergo on the last day?
A. The judgment which all men have to undergo on the last day is called the General Judgment.
Q. 1375. Will the sentence given at the particular judgment be changed at the general judgment?
A. The sentence given at the particular judgment will not be changed at the general judgment, but it will be repeated and made public to all.
Q. 1376. Why does Christ judge men immediately after death?
A. Christ judges men immediately after death to reward or punish them according to their deeds.
Q. 1377. How may we daily prepare for our judgment?
A. We may daily prepare for our judgment by a good examination of conscience, in which we will discover our sins and learn to fear the punishment they deserve.
Q. 1378. What are the rewards or punishments appointed for men's souls after the Particular Judgment?
A. The rewards or punishments appointed for men's souls after the Particular Judgment are Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.
Q. 1379. What is Hell?
A. Hell is a state to which the wicked are condemned, and in which they are deprived of the sight of God for all eternity, and are in dreadful torments.
Q. 1380. Will the damned suffer in both mind and body?
A. The damned will suffer in both mind and body, because both mind and body had a share in their sins. The mind suffers the "pain of loss" in which it is tortured by the thought of having lost God forever, and the body suffers the "pain of sense" by which it is tortured in all its members and senses.
Q. 1381. What is Purgatory?
A. Purgatory is the state in which those suffer for a time who die guilty of venial sins, or without having satisfied for the punishment due to their sins.
Q. 1382. Why is this state called Purgatory?
A. This state is called Purgatory because in it the souls are purged or purified from all their stains; and it is not, therefore, a permanent or lasting state for the soul.
Q. 1383. Are the souls in Purgatory sure of their salvation?
A. The souls in Purgatory are sure of their salvation, and they will enter heaven as soon as they are completely purified and made worthy to enjoy that presence of God which is called the Beatific Vision.
Q. 1384. Do we know what souls are in Purgatory, and how long they have to remain there?
A. We do not know what souls are in Purgatory nor how long they have to remain there; hence we continue to pray for all persons who have died apparently in the true faith and free from mortal sin. They are called the faithful departed.
Q. 1385. Can the faithful on earth help the souls in Purgatory?
A. The faithful on earth can help the souls in Purgatory by their prayers, fasts, alms, deeds; by indulgences, and by having Masses said for them.
Q. 1386. Since God loves the souls in Purgatory, why does He punish them?
A. Though God loves the souls in Purgatory, He punishes them because His holiness requires that nothing defiled may enter heaven and His justice requires that everyone be punished or rewarded according to what he deserves.
Q. 1387. If every one is judged immediately after death, what need is there of a general judgment?
A. There is need of a general judgment, though every one is judged immediately after death, that the providence of God, which, on earth, often permits the good to suffer and the wicked to prosper, may in the end appear just before all men.
Q. 1388. What is meant by "the Providence of God"?
A. By "the Providence of God" is meant the manner in which He preserves, provides for, rules and governs the world and directs all things by His infinite Will.
Q. 1389. Are there other reasons for the general judgment?
A. There are other reasons for the general judgment, and especially that Christ Our Lord may receive from the whole world the honor denied Him at His first coming, and that all may be forced to acknowledge Him their God and Redeemer.
Q. 1390. Will our bodies share in the reward or punishment of our souls?
A. Our bodies will share in the reward or punishment of our souls, because through the resurrection they will again be united to them.
Q. 1391. When will the general resurrection or rising of all the dead take place?
A. The general resurrection or rising of all the dead will take place at the general judgment, when the same bodies in which we lived on earth will come forth from the grave and be united to our souls and remain united with them forever either in heaven or in hell.
Q. 1392. In what state will the bodies of the just rise?
A. The bodies of the just will rise glorious and immortal.
Q. 1393. Will the bodies of the damned also rise?
A. The bodies of the damned will also rise, but they will be condemned to eternal punishment.
Q. 1394. Why do we show respect for the bodies of the dead?
A. We show respect for the bodies of the dead because they were the dwelling-place of the soul, the medium through which it received the Sacraments, and because they were created to occupy a place in heaven.
Q. 1395. What is Heaven?
A. Heaven is the state of everlasting life in which we see God face to face, are made like unto Him in glory, and enjoy eternal happiness.
Q. 1396. In what does the happiness in heaven consist?
A. The happiness in heaven consists in seeing the beauty of God, in knowing Him as He is, and in having every desire fully satisfied.
Q. 1397. What does St. Paul say of heaven?
A. St. Paul says of heaven, "That eye hath not seen. nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man what things God hath prepared for them that love Him." (I. Cor. ii., 9.)
Q. 1398. Are the rewards in heaven and the punishments in hell the same for all who enter into either of these states?
A. The rewards of heaven and the punishments in hell are not the same for all who enter into either of these states, because each one's reward or punishment is in proportion to the amount of good or evil he has done in this world. But as heaven and hell are everlasting, each one will enjoy his reward or suffer his punishment forever.
Q. 1399. What words should we bear always in mind?
A. We should bear always in mind these words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: "What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul, or what exchange shall a man give for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then will He render to every man according to his works."
Q. 1400. Name some of the more essential religious truths we must know and believe.
A. Some of the more essential religious truths we must know and believe are:
- That there is but one God, and He will reward the good and punish the wicked.
- That in God there are three Divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these Divine Persons are called the Blessed Trinity.
- That Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, became man and died for our redemption.
- That the grace of God is necessary for our salvation.
- That the human soul is immortal.