The First and Second Commandments of the Church
The early Christians assembled for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Hey there, welcome back to another episode of All About My Catholic Faith. I'm so very blessed to have my son Christopher join me again today for this podcast episode, so how you doing Christopher?
It was a long day at school, you know, but I’m doing just fine! How are you doing?
I'm doing absolutely great! It's a wonderful day, especially when I can be with you and even better when I can talk about the Catholic Faith. Christopher, I know you haven't been able to join me except for the last couple episodes so I’m glad you're here. For the benefit of anyone else who may not have listened to all the previous podcasts episodes, I’ll wanna give a brief rundown of where we've been.
We've actually been through a lot already, and it all started with the first lesson with the purpose of man's existence and then we went on to talk about God and His Perfections. The next area that we talked about was the unity and Trinity of God and then we rolled right into God’s creations and the angels. After that, we talked about the creation and the fall of mankind with Adam and Eve’s original sin, and unfortunately, we had to talk about actual sin. In the weeks after that we talked about the Incarnation and the Redemption and then we talked about the Holy Spirit and Grace. We then talked about the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit and then we started talking about the Catholic Church. The next week we talked more specifically about the Catholic Church and about the four marks of the Church. The week after that we talked about the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins and then after that, we talked about the resurrection and life everlasting.
So all the lessons we've been talking about are based on the Baltimore Catechism which is a catechism that was taught to children and young teens back in, you know, all the way up until let's say maybe 1970 or so when the church stopped using the Baltimore Catechism and started using other forms of catechizing our youth.
So all those lessons that I just recapped were from part 1 of the Baltimore Catechism which was about the Creed. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to those episodes, you can find them where you are listening to us now, or at our website, AllAboutMyCatholicFaith.com.
The next section of the Baltimore Catechism talks about the commandments so we started talking about the two great Commandments and then we talked about the first of the Ten Commandments of God, “Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.” That led us right into a talk about honoring the saints, relics, and images. Then we started talking about the rest of the Ten Commandments until we wrapped that up last week with talking about the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th Commandments of God.
This week and next week we're going to talk about the Commandments of the Catholic Church herself. This week we're going to talk about the first and second of those commandments and then next week we'll talk about the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th commandments of the Catholic Church.
So, Christopher, I’d like to give and the other listeners some questions to think about as we go through the lesson, alright?
Sure, what do you got?
The first question is what did the Jews do on the Sabbath day?
The next question, what did the Jews do on big feasts?
And the next question to think about during this lesson is what change did Jesus make?
Before we can talk about the Church giving us actual commandments after the Ten Commandments, we need to find out why and how the Catholic Church was given the authority to even give us any commandments or laws. The Catholic Church has the right to make laws because Jesus gave the Church that authority. Jesus did that. In St. Matthew's gospel chapter 16 verse 19 when he said, “I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” By saying this, Jesus was telling Peter and the Apostles that they had the keys to Heaven. Having the keys meant they had the authority to make rules to help all of us out. Just like you having the keys to your house. With you having the keys to your house you have all the power and authority of who you want to let in. You make the rules because it’s your house, and you have the keys. Jesus gave the keys to the Church to St Peter and his Apostles. That’s why and how the Catholic Church has the power and authority to make rules and laws to teach us what Jesus taught.
Jesus wanted the Apostles to teach things that he taught in order to bring everybody in his Church, the Catholic Church, to Heaven to be with him forever, for all eternity.
Here's a quick Bible reading from The Acts of the Apostles chapter 2, verse 42.
They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.
So, we hear in this verse that the early followers of the Church were learning and teaching and breaking bread and praying. How did this all start? Before we get into this lesson let's see what the first two Commandments of the Catholic Church actually are. The first commandment of the Catholic Church is for everyone to assist at Mass on all Sundays and holydays of obligation. The second commandment of the Church is to fast and abstain on the days appointed. We'll talk a little bit more about those in just a moment.
Do you know how the Mass started?
Student: I think so, but I’m not 100% sure.
Jesus and most of his followers were Jewish. The Jewish people worshipped God in a very special way by doing sacrifices, fasting, praying, and doing good deeds. On The Jewish Sabbath, which remember was Saturday, they always went to the synagogue to pray and sing hymns and to hear the teaching about God and how to live a holy life. On the special feasts, they would often go to the Temple in Jerusalem to take part in the great sacrifices that were being offered to God. When Jesus started teaching, he told his followers that there would be a change in the way things were being done.
Jesus gave his followers new ceremonies and a new sacrifice. Jesus explained this to them with a story that you can read in the Gospel of St. Luke, chapter 5, verse 38. He told them that what he was giving them new was like giving them new wine. Jesus told everybody that this new wine must be put into new fresh wineskins. A wineskin is an old fashioned thermos or bottle made out of animal skin. That's what people put their wine in to keep it fresh so they could drink as they were walking through the hot desert or whatever they were doing. The problem is, is that if you put fresh, new wine into an old worn-out wineskin, the wineskin could burst open and all that wonderful wine could spill onto the ground. Jesus was saying that the new wine was the new way that he wanted the people in his church to start worshipping, and the new skin was going to be his Church. Instead of pouring new wine into the old wineskin he was going to pour his new wine or his new way, into a new wineskin, his new Church, the Catholic Church. Pentecost Sunday is when the Catholic Church officially started when the Apostles began going out and preaching and teaching the ways of Jesus and showing us all how to make it to heaven. Jesus also gave the Apostles explicit instructions on how to celebrate Holy Communion. We’ll talk more about that next week.
On Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit came down to give the Apostles the power and the knowledge to continue forever and ever preaching and teaching the way of Jesus. Jesus told them that his church will continue forever all the way until the end of time and that nothing would stop it not even the greatest evil from the Devil. That’s very comforting to know that if you're in the Catholic Church, you are in the very Church that Jesus started which has continued now, unbroken, through the bishop's, all the way back to St. Peter and all the way back to Jesus Christ himself.
Jesus told his followers that the new Church, the new way of doing things, would be similar to what they were used to doing in their Jewish celebrations, but it would be new. A new wineskin.
The Sacrifice of the Mass is our greatest celebration. It happens every Sunday and on every holy day of obligation. Actually, it takes place every single day in most places throughout the world. The Sacrifice of the Mass that we go to every Sunday is actually a continuation of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross on Good Friday when he was crucified. Because of his crucifixion, we must sacrifice and go at least once a week on Sunday, to Holy Mass. I don’t really see it as a sacrifice to go to Mass. I truly look forward to going to worship Jesus. Remember we are commanded to do this in the Third Commandments to keep holy the Lord’s day. This was not only a rule for the Jews but also is a rule for the followers of Jesus. We must go to Mass every Sunday and all the holy days of obligation. This again is to show that we are willing to share in the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on Calvary.
Student: If we don’t go to Mass on Sunday or holy days, is this really a sin? Good question. The answer is yes. If you miss Mass on Sunday or holy day of obligation because it's your own fault then it is considered a sin. Not only is this considered a sin, but also a very serious sin which is a mortal sin since it directly breaks one of the Ten Commandments. Remember if a person dies with any mortal sins that have not been confessed and forgiven, they may go to hell. You certainly don't want to have any mortal sins on your soul or conscious whenever you die because remember Hell is definitely the hottest place and you don't want to go there.
The Church has a wonderful thing called confession where we can go to the priests and be absolved or forgiven of all of our sins that we have committed. If we go to confession regularly then we will always be able to keep our soul in a state of grace. We’ll talk more about the Sacrament of Confession in a later lesson, but remember to go to confession often, because none of us know when that day will be here that we die. We don’t want to die without notice with unforgiven mortal sins on our soul. The best reason though, not to have sin or mortal sin on your soul is because you truly love Jesus.
Student: Can you talk about the holy days of obligation that we have?
Sure! There are currently six holy days of obligations in the United States. They are Christmas Day, the day Jesus was born; Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, which is a special day that we celebrate Mary being the mother of Jesus, who is God, which makes Mary the Mother of God. Ascension Thursday is the next holy day and is 40 days after Easter when Jesus rose back to Heaven to join his Father. In August every year, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary. This is the day that the Blessed Virgin Mary was taken, body and soul into heaven at the time that she died. The next holy day of obligation is November 1st which is All Saints Day. This is the day after Halloween. You may not know, but if you do that's great, Halloween means All-Hallows-Eve or The eve before All Saints Day. The last holy day of obligation is the Immaculate Conception in December which is the celebration and the remembrance of the day that Mary was conceived in her mother's womb without any sin. Everyone else in the world, except Jesus of course, was born in a state of sin because of the original sin of Adam and Eve.
On these holy days, we are required and obliged to go to Mass. Sometimes a bishop in a particular country or area of the country will say that a particular holy day may be moved from its regular day to the closest Sunday. When this happens then on that Sunday we will have specific readings that pertain to that holy day. Remember on holy days we should go to Mass and stay away from very hard and servile work the same as we should be doing on Sundays.
Student: Thanks, that helps. I guess I’m ready for you to talk about fast and abstinence if that’s alright?
Alright, here we go!
The second commandment of the Church is that we should fast and abstain on the days that are designated. A fast is a day in which you give up some of your food. This is a sign of sacrifice, well, it’s actually a real sacrifice we make because it may cause you to be more hungry than normal. On a fast day, you may have one full meal and your other two meals combined shouldn’t be any larger than the total of one meal. Everyone who is in the Catholic Church who is at least 18 years old and not yet 60 years old and in good health should obey the rules of fasting on these special days.
Student: OK, I have some time yet before I have to fast, but can I if I want to?
You sure can. Anyone can observe the fast days. I would talk to your parents before you fast, but since I am your parent, I’m good with that!
A day of abstinence means on that day we should not eat meat. During every Friday during Lent, you should not eat meat. We do not eat meat on Fridays during Lent to show Jesus that we are willing to give up something that is very good that we like for love of him. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert with only bread and water. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday. We are not called to live only on bread and water, but our abstinence of meat on Fridays during Lent is our way to sacrifice as Jesus did in the desert. The rules for abstinence applies to those who have been baptized and are 14 years of age and older.
You look like you may have a few questions.
Student: You said that the Mass is a sacrifice and that we continue the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. Does that mean that he’s being sacrificed again, at every Mass?
Not exactly. We have the Sacrifice of the Mass to remember and to continue the sacrifice that Jesus did on the cross at Calvary. This doesn’t at all mean that Jesus is being sacrificed again, and again at every Mass, instead we are taking part in the very same sacrifice from 2000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. That is just one thing that makes the Mass so awesome. We are placed right there, at the foot of the cross with his mother and the Apostle, St. John.
Student: That does sound pretty awesome.
Student: Does the Church make laws without Jesus's help?
No, Jesus helped the Church by sending the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and their successors, the bishops of today’s Church. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the Church has always been and always will be protected from officially teaching us anything that goes against the will of God. So you can be confident in everything that the Church teaches you.
Student: If we go to Mass only on some Sundays, are we obeying the law of the Church?
Absolutely not. If we only go some Sundays we are disobeying the laws of the Church and the laws of God. We must go to Mass every Sunday and every holy day of obligation unless we just can't make it because we are too sick or for other extraordinary reasons.
Student: Can you tell me the six holy days again?
Sure, the holy days of obligation, in which we are to go to Mass are: Christmas Day, December 25th; Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, January 1st; Ascension Thursday, which is 40 days after Easter: The Assumption of Mary, August 15th, All Saints Day, November 1st, and The Immaculate Conception on December 8th.
Student: On a day of fasting, how many meals can we eat?
On a fast day, only one full meal can be eaten and the other two meals that you eat should be equal to or less than the total that you would eat in one full meal, so basically we should only be eating about one meal and then up to a second meal.
Student: You said that the first commandment of the Church was that we should assist at Mass on every Sunday and holydays of obligation. How can I do that if I’m not an altar server or in the choir?
Awesome, that’s a really awesome question! Assisting at Mass doesn't actually mean that you have to be an usher or an altar server, or be in the choir. It means that you should pay close attention to what is happening at Mass, and to read along or pray along with the priest during the Mass. We’ll talk in more detail about the Mass in later lessons. The Mass that was celebrated throughout the entire world prior to 1965 or so, is the Latin Mass, or the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. That Mass is prayed nearly entirely in Latin, the official language of the Church. Even with the priest praying in Latin, we can still all follow along by watching closely to what’s going on, reading along in the missal, and answering the priest with the appropriate responses. The same goes for the new form of the Mass, called the Novus Ordo Mass. We should still be following along closely to what the priest is doing and praying, and saying the parts of the Mass that are designated for us. Again, we’ll talk more about the Mass, including the Latin Mass in future lessons. I just started going to the Latin Mass at our parish a couple months ago. I read a book by Scott Hahn a few years ago, called the Lamb’s Supper, where he said the Mass is the closest we can get to Heaven while we are here on Earth. When you go to the Latin Mass, and especially a High Mass, you definitely feel like you’re in the presence of God and all the angels and saints. You don’t just feel that the angels and saints are really there present at every Mass.
Let's hear a little bit more from the Bible. This will reinforce everything that we've been talking about in the lesson. This reading will be from the Gospel of St. Luke chapter 2, vs 41-42. This is about Jesus at the Feast of Passover.
Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.
Here's another short reading from the Gospel of St Luke chapter 5 verses 37 and 38. This reading is about Jesus replacing the old sacrifice and ceremonies with the new.
Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins.
Next week we’ll continue our lesson talking about the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Commandments of the Catholic Church.
Remember to go to Mass this Sunday and every week. God Bless You and we will talk again next week.
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