Baltimore Catechism 3

< prev THE LESSONS next >
< prev Lesson 16 next >
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
The First Commandment of God


 * Q. 198. What is the first commandment of God?
A. The first commandment of God is: I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.


 * The first commandment forbids idolatry that is, offering to a creature the supreme worship due to God alone. Idolatry is sinful because God alone has a right to supreme worship as the Creator and Preserver of all things. The first commandment also forbids us to ascribe to a creature any of the attributes that belong to God alone.

 * > "Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth" (Exodus 20:3-4).


 * Q. 199. What are we commanded by the first commandment?
A. By the first commandment we are commanded to offer to God alone the supreme worship that is due Him.


 * > "And Jesus answered and said to him, 'It is written, "The Lord thy God shalt thou worship, and him only shalt thou serve" ' " (Luke 4:8).

 * > "For from him and through him and unto him are all things. To him be the glory forever, amen" (Romans 11:36).


 * Q. 200. How do we worship God?
A. We worship God by acts of faith, hope, and charity, and by adoring Him and praying to Him.


 * We worship God by an act of faith when we firmly assent to the truth of God's revelation, on the word of God revealing, who can neither deceive nor be deceived. We worship God by an act of hope when we firmly trust that God who is all-powerful and faithful to His promises, will in His mercy give us eternal happiness and the means to obtain it.

 * We worship God by an act of charity when we love God above all things for His own sake and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. We adore God by acknowledging His infinite excellence, our complete dependence upon Him, and our total subjection to His will. We pray to God by lifting up our minds and hearts to Him. 24

 * of faith, hope, charity, adoration, and prayer may be internal or external. They are internal when they are only in our mind or heart; they are external when they are manifested outwardly by signs or words. External worship is an outward manifestation of our internal convictions and sentiments.

 * External worship is necessary because we are bound to render to God the homage of our bodies and because it serves to preserve, increase, and express internal worship. Man is composed of body and soul, and the body can and does aid the soul in its operations. We are moved to be more devout in our internal acts of worship by sacred music, art, public and private recitation of prayers, and the ceremonies of the liturgy.


 * Q. 201. What does faith oblige us to do?
A. Faith obliges us: first, to make efforts to find out what God has revealed; second, to believe firmly what God has revealed; third, to profess our faith openly whenever necessary.


 * God, whose power and knowledge are infinite, can reveal supernatural truths to man. Every man who knows or suspects that he does not profess the religion revealed by God is under the obligation of seeking it and, when he has found it, of embracing it.

 * Whoever has attained the use of reason must make an interior act of faith: first, when he comes to the knowledge of divine revelation or becomes certain of a dogma of the Church; second, when he, having rejected the errors of infidelity or heresy, recognizes the obligation of believing the Catholic religion; third, when an act of faith is necessary to resist temptations against faith, or another virtue; fourth, often during life.

 * A Catholic is bound to profess his faith openly: first, whenever the honor due to God requires it; for example, when his failure to profess his faith openly would be equivalent to a denial of faith; second, when the good of his neighbor requires it.

 * > "Therefore, everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I in turn will disown him before my Father in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33).

 * > "For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and that of the Father and of the holy angels" (Luke 9:26).

 * > "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; he who is unbelieving towards the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" (John 3:36).

 * > "This is 'The stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.' Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:11-12).

 * > "For with the heart a man believes unto justice, and with the mouth profession of faith is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10).

 * > "For we in the Spirit wait for the hope of justice in virtue of faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision is of any avail, nor uncircumcision, but faith which works through charity" (Galatians 5:5-6).

 * > "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not from yourselves, for it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).

 * > "And without faith it is impossible to please God. For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder to those who seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

 * > See Scripture, question 77, John 3:16; question 158, Mark 16:15-16.


 * Q. 202. What does hope oblige us to do?
A. Hope obliges us to trust firmly that God will give us eternal life and the means to obtain it.


 * An act of hope must be made: first, when a person comes to a knowledge of God's existence and his own destiny, namely, eternal happiness in heaven; second, when it is necessary to resist temptations against the virtue of hope or some other virtue; third, after the virtue of hope is lost by a sin opposed to it, that is, by despair or presumption; fourth, often during life.

 * > "Paul, a servant of God and apostle of Jesus Christ, in accordance with the faith of God's elect and the full knowledge of the truth which is according to piety, in the hope of life everlasting which God, who does not lie, promised before the ages began-" (Titus 1:1-2).


 * Q. 203. What does charity oblige us to do?
A. Charity obliges us to love God above all things because He is infinitely good, and to love our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God.


 * An act of charity must be made: first, when a person comes to the realization of the duty of loving God above all things and his neighbor as himself for the love of God; second, when temptation can be overcome only by an act of charity; third, at the hour of death; fourth, often during life.

 * See Scripture, question 189, Matthew 22:35-40.


 * Q. 204. How can a Catholic best safeguard his faith?
A. A Catholic can best safeguard his faith by making frequent acts of faith, by praying for a strong faith, by studying his religion very earnestly, by living a good life, by good reading, by refusing to associate with the enemies of the Church, and by not reading books and papers opposed to the Church and her teaching.


 * Q. 205. How does a Catholic sin against faith?
A. A Catholic sins against faith by apostasy, heresy, indifferentism, and by taking part in non-Catholic worship.


 * Apostasy is the complete abandonment of the Christian faith by those who have been baptized.

 * Heresy is the refusal of baptized persons, retaining the name Christian, to accept one or more of the truths revealed by God and taught by the Catholic Church. If this refusal is voluntary and obstinate, it is formal heresy; if it is involuntary, it is material heresy.

 * Indifferentism is the error of those who hold that one religion is as good as another and that all religions are equally true and pleasing to God, or that one is free to accept or reject any or all religions.

 * Those take part in the worship of non-Catholics who join in the irreligious services. Attendance at non-Catholic religious services, provided no part is taken in such worship, is allowed for a sufficiently grave reason, for example, presence at a non-Catholic funeral or a marriage ceremony for social reasons.

 * Infidelity is also a sin against faith. It is the unbelief of those to whom the truths of faith have been sufficiently proposed but who nevertheless deliberately refuse to accept them.

 * > Apostasy: See Scripture, question 201, Matthew 10:32-33.

 * > Heresy: "I know that after my departure fierce wolves will get in among you and will not spare the flock. And from among your own selves men will rise speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30).

 * > Infidelity: See Scripture, question 107, John 3:5, question 158, Mark 16:15-16.


 * Q. 206. Why does a Catholic sin against faith by taking part in non-Catholic worship?
A. A Catholic sins against faith by taking part in non-Catholic worship because he thus professes belief in a religion he knows is false.


 * > "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life' " (John 14:6).

 * > "Pilate therefore said to him, 'Thou art then a king?' Jesus answered, 'Thou sayest it; I am a king. This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice' " (John 18:37).


 * Q. 207. What are the sins against hope?
A. The sins against hope are presumption and despair.


 * Q. 208. When does a person sin by presumption?
A. A person sins by presumption when he trusts that he can be saved by his own efforts without God's help, or by God's help without his own efforts.


 * > "Nay I do not even judge my own self. For I have nothing on my conscience, yet I am not thereby justified" (1 Corinthians 4:4).

 * > "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12).

 * > "For he is not approved who commends himself, but he whom the Lord commends" (2 Corinthians 10:18).


 * Q. 209. When does a person sin by despair?
A. A person sins by despair when he deliberately refuses to trust that God will give him the necessary help to save his soul.


 * > "Then Judas, who betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, 'I have sinned in betraying innocent blood ...' And he hung the pieces of silver into the temple, and withdrew; and went away and hanged himself with a halter" (Matthew 27:3-5).

 * > "My dear children, these things I write to you in order that you may not sin. But if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just; and he is a propitiation for our sins, not for ours only but also for those of the Whole world" (1 John 2:1-2).

 * > "May no temptation take hold of you but such as man is equal to. God is faithful and will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).


 * Q. 210. What are the chief sins against charity?
A. The chief sins against charity are hatred of God and of our neighbor, envy, sloth, and scandal.


 * When a person hates another, he wishes him evil or rejoices in his misfortune. One who hates God wishes evil to befall Him, if that were possible, or wishes grievous sins to be committed, or rejoices in sin as an insult to God. Hatred of God is the most grievous offense against Him and is always a mortal sin.

 * A person who hates his neighbor wishes him harm or rejoices when evil befalls him. To wish a neighbor serious harm is a mortal sin; for example, to wish another's damnation. To wish a neighbor a slight evil or to hold a slight aversion for him is a venial sin. It is not a sin to wish some temporal misfortune to overtake another in order that he may be converted or cease to do harm. Nor is it sinful to wish another's death, under the condition that it be in accord with God's will; for example, to wish a person's death so that he will be relieved of great suffering, or because he is a menace to society or is likely to inflict grave harm on an innocent person, or because he deserves death by reason of crime.

 * Envy is sadness at another's good fortune which is considered to be detracting from one's own excellence. Sadness at another's prosperity is not envy when it is caused by a neighbor's using his advantage to harm us, or when another is unreasonably and unjustly preferred to us. 25

 * Sloth is distaste for spiritual things because their attainment requires much labor. 26

 * Scandal is any word, act, or omission that is in itself evil or has the appearance of evil and which can be the occasion of another's sin. Scandal may be given even though no sin follows. A person who has already determined to sin or a person who cannot be led into sin cannot be scandalized. Scandal is direct when a word, act, or omission is intended to lead another to sin. Scandal is indirect when it is foreseen that one's word, act, or omission is likely to be the occasion of another's sin, even though such is not intended.

 * > Envy: "Charity does not envy" (1 Corinthians 13:4).

 * > Sloth: "But we want every one of you to show to the very end the same earnestness for the fulfillment of your hopes; so that you may become sluggish but imitators of those who by faith and patience will inherit the promises" (Hebrews 6:11-12).

 * > "Be not slothful in zeal; be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

 * > Scandal: "Woe to the world because of scandals! For it must needs be that scandals come, but woe to the man through whom scandal does come!" (Matthew 18:7).


 * Q. 211. Besides the sins against faith, hope, and charity, what other sins does the first commandment forbid?
A. Besides the sins against faith, hope, and charity, the first commandment forbids also superstition and sacrilege.


 * Q. 212. When does a person sin by superstition?
A. A person sins by superstition when he attributes to a creature a power that belongs to God alone, as when he makes use of charms or spells, believes in dreams or fortune-telling, or goes to spiritists.


 * Superstition is by its nature a mortal sin, but it may be venial either when the matter is slight or when there is a lack of full consent to the act. Often this sin is not mortal when there is question of certain popular superstitions, for example, belief in unlucky days and numbers, or when superstitious acts are performed as a joke without any serious thought of attributing divine powers to a creature, or when these acts are performed for amusement.

 * > "Neither let there be found among you anyone that ... consulteth soothsayers, or observeth dreams and omens. Neither let there be any wizard, nor charmer, nor anyone that consulteth pythonic spirits, or fortune tellers: or that seeketh the truth from the dead. For the Lord abhorreth all these things: and for these abominations he will destroy them" (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).27


 * Q. 213. When does a person sin by sacrilege?
A. A person sins by sacrilege when he mistreats sacred persons, places, or things.


 * To mistreat a person consecrated to God in the clerical or religious state of life is a personal sacrilege. The violation of places dedicated to divine worship by the public authority of the Church, for example, churches and chapels, is a local sacrilege. The misuse or violation of sacred things for example, the sacraments, the Holy Scriptures, or objects consecrated or blessed for divine worship or devotion, as chalices and statues, etc., is a real sacrilege. Sacrilege, of its nature, is a grievous sin, but it may be venial either because the matter is slight or because there is lack of full consent to the act.

 * > "They have set thy sanctuary ablaze, they have profaned the dwelling of thy name on the earth. They said in their heart: 'Let us destroy them all together; burn ye all God's sanctuaries in the land' " (Psalm 73:7-8).




 * Many persons believe that in order to lead a good life one has only to act justly and charitably toward his fellow men. Such persons do not realize that the most important of man's obligations are those toward his Creator. The chief of these obligations are those laid down in the first three commandments. The first commandment prescribes our fundamental duty as creatures-the adoration of God-and forbids those things that are opposed to it.

 * To obey the first commandment we must especially practice those virtues which have God Himself as their immediate object, the theological virtues. We should frequently make acts of these virtues. Although every practical Catholic, without thinking expressly of these virtues, makes acts of faith, hope and charity when he performs his religious duties, such as attendance at Mass, the reception of the sacraments, prayer, etc., it is advisable for every-one to make acts of the theological virtues in a more express manner at certain times. The most convenient occasion is when we say our night prayers.

 * Sins against the first commandment are very common nowadays. Besides the great multitude of persons who deliberately reject belief in God and Christ, there are many who will not accept the Catholic religion, even though they see the force of the arguments the Catholic Church presents to show that it is the true Church of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Many of these persons are moved by the thought of the difficulties and the sacrifices that are connected with the Catholic religion, such as the stricter observance of the moral code, confession, and the laws of fast and abstinence. These persons often try to justify themselves with the statement that one religion is as good as another; but this is ridiculous, because there can be only one true religion, and surely false religions cannot be as good as that which is true.

 * Unfortunately, there are even Catholics who violate the first commandment-some by sins against hope and charity, some even by sins against faith. It is true, there are few Catholics who after being instructed in their religion, go so far as to doubt or deny any of the Church's teachings. Even those unfortunate persons who leave the Catholic Church are generally led to make this decision, not by difficulties concerning the faith but by desire of worldly success or the intention of marrying a divorced person, or some other unworthy material motive. But there are Catholics who are more or less seriously addicted to superstitious practices, such as avoiding thirteen at table, reading tea-leaves, knocking on wood, etc. Some even engage in more serious superstitious practices, such as consulting fortune tellers or spiritistic mediums. These practices are a violation of the first commandment of God, inasmuch as they attribute to created things powers that God reserves to Himself.

 * The most important truths of revelation, which every-one should know explicitly as a means of salvation, are these four: (1) God exists; (2) God rewards the good and punishes the wicked; (3) God is one in nature and three in Persons; (4) The second Person of the Holy Trinity became man and died for our salvation, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

 * Catholics should be on their guard against the sin of sacrilege, such as the lack of proper reverence in church, jokes concerning the Bible or other sacred things, disrespectful use of holy water or blessed medals, etc. Generally such sins are only venial; but a person is guilty of the mortal sin of sacrilege when there is a question of the unworthy reception of a sacrament. By far the worst example of this kind is the unworthy reception of the Holy Eucharist.

 * RESOLUTION: Resolve to avoid carefully anything which would involve even a slight sin of superstition or sacrilege.

 * Complete Exercises For Lesson 16





 * (Join correctly the parts of the sentences in Columns I and II, by placing the right key letter in the proper parentheses):


 * Column I


 * Apostasy is (...).

 * Heresy is (...).

 * Infidelity is (...).

 * To wish one's neighbor serious harm (...).

 * A slight irreverence in church (...).

 * A Catholic is never allowed (...).

 * External worship is of no value (...).

 * A Catholic must profess his faith (...).

 * Idolatry is sinful (...).

 * We make an act of faith when we believe revealed truth (...).


 * Column II


 * To take active part in non-Catholic religious services.

 * Because God who revealed it can neither deceive nor be deceived.

 * The complete abandonment of the Christian faith by a baptized person.

 * Is a venial sin.

 * The refusal of a baptized person, retaining the name of Christian, to accept one or more of the truths revealed by God and taught by the Catholic Church.

 * The unbelief of one to whom the faith has been sufficiently proposed.

 * Because the true God alone has the right to supreme worship.

 * Is a mortal sin.

 * When the good of his neighbor requires it.

 * Is a mortal sin.



 * Answer the questions orally or them as your teacher may direct):


 * Titus, a fallen-away Catholic, is urged by his wife Lulu to make the parish mission. He angrily replies: "I don't need the mission! I'm okay as I am. I don't harm or injure anyone, I'm a sober and honest man, and I mind my own business! Let me alone!" What important obligations are being neglected by Titus? In what commandments are they contained?

 * As creatures, what is our most fundamental duty? Which of the commandments orders us to fulfill that duty?

 * Joseph's night prayer is generally very short. Tired out from the work and the play of each day, he kneels alongside his bed, blesses himself, says one Our Father and one Hail Mary, then goes to bed. What recommendation would you make to him that will becomingly lengthen his night prayer and help him more perfectly fulfill the duty placed on him by the first commandment?

 * Benjamin, a Jewish boy, Aquinas, a Catholic boy, and Adrian, a protestant boy are sitting around their campfire discussing religion. Benjamin goes to his synagogue four or five times a year; Aquinas never misses Mass of obligation; Adrian's attendance at Sunday service is about 50%. "After all, we all worship the same God," says Bennie, "so it doesn't make much difference to what church we belong!" "That's what I think, too!" chimes in Adrian. Should Aquinas be "liberal" and agree with his two companions? Why not?

 * Eduarda, Diana, and Maude sing in the choir at High Mass. Before Mass they talk pretty freely among themselves about worldly matters; sometimes they disturb the priest while he is reading the Gospel, making the announcements, or preaching his sermon. Occasionally they annoy members of the congregation by their silly antics. Lately the organist reprimanded Maude for reading the Sunday comics during the sermon. Express your opinion about these improprieties.

 * Brendan, fourteen years old, spending the summer at a camp with his brother Tommy, aged ten, misses Mass on Sunday through laziness, realizing at the same time that because of his bad example, Tommy will also miss Mass. How many and what sins has Brendan committed?

 * Ronald, a good friend of yours, but an indifferentist all his life, has only five minutes to live. No priest is available. He asks you to make a Catholic out of him before he dies. Tell us what instruction you will give him before you baptize him, and what prayer, or prayers, you will say with him, after your hurried instruction is completed.

 * Jonathan thinks that if a person reads the "Sunday Visitor" or the diocesan paper regularly such a person will be a well-instructed practical Catholic. His sister Hannah claims that it is better to listen in regularly to the Catholic programs over the radio, especially the Catholic Hour on Sunday evenings. In a paragraph of from 100 to 125 words tell us what you think of both opinions, and add your own.

 * Bertram, a Catholic, is visiting New York City for the first time. On a sightseeing trip he goes to the Episcopalian Cathedral of St. the Divine. Although a service is going on, he moves about quietly, looking at the various objects of interest. Has he committed a sin against faith? Explain your answer.

 * Flora, a member of the Book-of-the-Month Club, reads each book as it is delivered to her home. Some of these books are most unfavorably reviewed by our Catholic publications as endangering faith and morals. Advise Flora as to whether or not she should renew her membership.

 * Jasper is an infidel; Launcelot, an apostate; Algernon, a heretic. What has each done to incur such a title? Against what virtue, and against what commandment has each one sinned?


< prev THE LESSONS next >
< prev Lesson 16 next >