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334 • Part III. Christian Morality: The Faith Lived

In addition to presenting the foundations for Christian morality,


Catechism of the Catholic Church

includes a section on the

Precepts of the Church. These are rules set in the context of a

moral life, bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory

character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authori-

ties is meant to encourage on the part of the faithful the indis-

pensable foundations for their lives as Catholics. The precepts are

as follows:

You shall attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of

Obligation. Sunday, the day of the Resurrection, should be

treated differently from the other days of the week. We do

that in making the day holy by attending Mass and refraining

from doing unnecessary work. Holy Days of Obligation, when

we celebrate special feasts of Jesus, the Blessed Mother, and

the saints, should be marked in the same way.

You shall confess your sins at least once a year. This obliges

in particular those who are conscious of serious sin. Regular

reception of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation

helps to prepare us not only to receive the Eucharist but also

to continue the process of conversion begun in Baptism.

You shall receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist at least dur-

ing the Easter season. In the United States, this extends from

the First Sunday of Lent to Trinity Sunday. Because the Holy

Eucharist is both the source and summit of life for all in the

Church, the Church teaches that every member for his or her

own good must receive Communion minimally at least once

a year.

You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and absti-



is refraining from food or drink to some


(SEE CCC, NOS. 2041-2043)