Precepts of the Church - minimum to be Catholic

Does anybody else find something bewildering in the five precepts of the Church i.e.

  1. You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation and rest from servile labour.
  2. You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
  3. You shall receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist at least once a year, during the Easter season.
  4. You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
  5. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
    (p197 I Believe - A Little Catholic Catechism)

If you take this as a ‘minimum’ for being a Catholic, essentially you would confess once, receive the Eucharist once and go to 51 Sunday masses without receiving the Eucharist (as you would probably not be in a state of grace for the rest of the year), but still be a ‘good’ Catholic.
As a Catholic you would no doubt find yourself somewhere between this minimum, and an ideal state where you confess your sins every day, attend Mass every day, and receive the Eucharist every day.
I just find that when I think about this, I think about :
People who can’t get to Mass every week,
People receiving the Eucharist week after week without being in a state of grace,
People who haven’t fasted in years,
People who haven’t confessed in years, etc
but still consider themselves Catholic because they believe in the fundamental truths of the faith.

Should being Catholic be more about trying to reach the ideal goal in your own way, in your own situation, and what is in your heart and soul rather than being hung up about counting sins, or counting the times you missed Mass or confession, or whether you’re matching up to the people around you?
(I’m not advocating changing any rules or dogma, just wondering about the way that people think about these things and apply them to their lives and their faith.)
Tim

I don’t understand what you are really asking. With regards to the receiving Eucharist at least once a year, there was a problem (middle ages i think?) with people never receiving Eucharist because they never felt themselves worthy even after confession. The Church established that rule to encourage them to partake. When you speak of the people who can’t get to mass every week, i am wondering if you mean homebound elderly or disabled people. In this case there are ministers to the homebound who take them the body and blood so they are still communing with the rest of Christ’s Church. If you mean people who are just too busy, i would ask you to reconsider how reasonable it is to give at LEAST one hour a week to the Lord. People who are “too busy” to attend mass probably need to cut out some extra curriculars. If it is a job thing, you can either insist to your boss that you receive time to fulfill your obligation (I think they have to at least consider it, by law) or request a dispensation from your pastor to regularly attend at a different time to fulfill the obligation. Many people in the military, for example, must do this. With regards to the people who receive often in a state of mortal sin, it just goes to show that people can go through the motions and LOOK like good Catholics and still fail our Lord miserably. If you suspect or know of someone who does this, pray for them, but do not lose heart. And unfortunately, most Catholics are ignorant that they must fast or do penance EVERY Friday, so i guess that is a mitigating circumstance to their culpability. Their educators should have done their jobs. Anyhow, if you partake in these very minimal guidelines, the hope is that it will be enough to draw you closer to the Lord and you will want to do more, like a daily rosary, etc. God knows everyone is in a different place on their path to Him and He appreciates whenever you have opened yourself up enough to His grace to want to add something more. In short, the Catholic faith totally leaves room for you to get to God in your own way on your own time. But if they asked nothing of anyone, what would be the point? If you look at other “modern” churches that don’t believe that anything is a sin and don’t tell people that it’s even important to attend church once a week, they are losing members every year. When you ask nothing of people, you get nothing. Christ’s church aims to bring you closer to His level by taking you out of your comfort zone. He doesn’t mean for His rules to be impossible for anyone, but He knows without them, people wouldn’t take faith seriously. Sorry this is so windy, but i hope somewhere in here is something that helps.

[quote=timcath]If you take this as a ‘minimum’ for being a Catholic, essentially you would [snip] but still be a ‘good’ Catholic.
[/quote]

Not really. You would have barely fulfilled the minimum requirements. That’s not “good” - that’s marginal. In school, that would be a D-minus.

I just find that when I think about this, I think about :
[folks who do not fulfill the precepts]
but still consider themselves Catholic because they believe in the fundamental truths of the faith.

There may be some who think this way, but one of the fundamental truths of the Faith is that Catholics are expected to obey the precepts of the Church (which, as you have pointed out, are hardly severe).

Should being Catholic be more about trying to reach the ideal goal in your own way, in your own situation, and what is in your heart and soul

Red Alert! No, I am not gonna make this stuff up. When it comes to the “ideal goal” (ie, my spiritual salvation), I will stipulate that the Church, established by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, might know a little more about spiritual affairs than I do.

As a Catholic, I promise to do what the Church expects of me (just as I would do as an employee of a company or a member of a soccer team). I think I ought to at least honor my promises to the best of my ability.

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