(Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31, Luke 10:27)
Beatitudes (CCC, 1716)
Corporal Works of Mercy (CCC, 2447)
Ten Commandments (CCC, 2084)
Spiritual Works of Mercy (CCC, 2447)
Theological Virtues (CCC, 1813)
Cardinal Virtues (CCC, 1805)
Virtues harness the good energy within us. They are habits we develop over time to help us make good decisions. Like mastering skills in any sport, virtues capitalize on the abilities God has already placed within us. When you first learned to shoot a basket, to dribble a soccer ball, or to master a swimming stroke, someone had to show you the technique. As you practiced the basics, it became more natural, and you were able to advance to more complicated skills. When virtues become natural to us, we don’t always have to think about the mechanics of moral decision making.
The cardinal virtues come with being human, regardless of religious belief. Jesus was a model for living the four virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude. As you develop these four virtues in your life, you become a person of a moral character. To have character means that you do the right thing, even under difficult circumstances.
Prudence is the opposite of being impulsive. Acting impulsively is okay when you are two years old. It may even be appropriate in certain settings that call for creativity or spontaneity. But making moral decisions impulsively can get you into trouble. Prudence requires that you approach moral problems with a degree of caution. Also called wise judgment, prudence relies heavily on our reason. In fact, Saint Thomas Aquinas called it “right reason in action” (CCC, number 1806). Prudence helps you to stop and think before you act.
Justice is the virtue concerned with giving both God and neighbor what is their due. It is the habit of thinking about the needs of others as much as your own needs and acting on what you know to be fair. It takes determination and dedication to be a just person. The Scriptures take justice a step further than fairness: justice is about loving your neighbor. Fairness is doing an equal share of work; justice is doing more because someone else can’t.
Temperance is about balance in your life. You know that stress, greed, or sickness comes from too much of a good thing. The pleasures in life must be balanced with moderation. Too much play isn’t good; neither is all work and no play. Exercise is good for our bodies; too much can lead to an obsession. Food is another pleasure we must learn to balance. Good food nourishes our bodies and gives us pleasures; too much leads to obesity, too little and we develop an eating disorder. People must learn to drink in moderation or they will experience the tragedy of alcoholism. The virtue of temperance is about self control in all areas of our lives.
Fortitude is the moral virtue that strengthens us to overcome obstacles to living morally. It is easy to be good when we have no direct temptation in our lives. When you are not feeling the ecstasy of being in love, the Church’s teaching on premarital sex makes perfect sense. If you are not angry, non violence is a worthy ideal. But when you are in the heat of the moment, whether it is sexual passion, anger, or some other strong feeling, fortitude gives you strength to overcome the temptation.
You must practice these virtues even when they don’t come naturally. If you persevere, eventually they will become a more natural way of life for you. The good news is that God is with us in the struggle to live virtuous lives. With God building our efforts through divine grace, the cardinal virtues will bring our moral lives to a higher level of integrity.
Titles and Symbols of the Holy Spirit
The Catechism describes some of the common titles and names for the Holy Spirit. These can help us understand the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the world. The title that Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John is Advocate (see 14:16, 15:26, 16:7), translated from the Greek word Paraclete. (Some Bibles translate it as “helper” or “comforter.”) Advocate literally means “someone who stands by your side.” In a court of law, an advocate is someone who takes your side, who pleads your case. As our Advocate, the Holy Spirit takes our side, helps us defend our belief in Jesus, and supports us in living out our faith in word and deed.
In the letters of Saint Paul, we also find other titles and descriptions for the Holy Spirit: the promise of the Spirit (see Galatians 3:14), a spirit adoption (see Romans 1:15), the Spirit of Christ (see Romans 8:9), the Spirit of the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 3:17), and the Spirit of God (see Romans 8:14). In First Peter is the title spirit of glory (see 4:14). All these make it clear that the early Christians clearly identified the Holy Spirit with the work of God the Father and Jesus Christ.
The Catholic Church also uses a number symbols to identify the work of the Holy Spirit. Some of the following symbols and symbolic actions may be familiar, but others are probably new to you:
Water. Water signifies the Holy Spirit’s actions in Baptism. “For in the one Spirit we are all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). And in John 7:37-39, Jesus directly associates the Spirit with the living water that satisfies spiritual thirst.
Fire. Fire signifies the vibrant and transforming energy of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire upon the Apostles at Pentecost, and they were transformed into courageous witnesses for Christ.
A cloud and light. In the Old Testament, God often appeared as a fire or light within a dense cloud (see Exodus 40:38, Ezekiel 1:4). These two images together symbolize that the Holy Spirit reveals, yet also keeps hidden, the glory of God. In the New Testament, clouds play a role in Jesus’ baptism, Transfiguration, and Ascension.
A dove. In all four Gospels, at Jesus’ baptism the Spirit descends on him in the form of a dove. This is why in Christian art, a dove often symbolizes the Holy Spirit.
Anointing. As part of our sacramental rites, to be anointed with oil symbolizes that the power of the Holy Spirit is being poured out on the person. The word Christ means “the one anointed by God’s Spirit.” Now Jesus Christ pours his Spirit out on all those who are baptized and confirmed.
Laying on hands. Jesus healed the sick and blessed children by laying his hands on them (see Mark 10:16). People received the Holy Spirit when the Apostles laid hands on them (see Acts of the Apostles 8:17)
Through wisdom, the wonders of nature, every event in history, and all the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning and purpose. The wise person sees where the Spirit of God is at work and is able to share that insight with others. Wisdom is the fullest expression of the gifts of knowledge and understanding.
Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (CCC, 1831)
Wisdom. Through wisdom, the wonders of nature, every event in history, and all the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning and purpose. The wise person sees where the Spirit of God is at work and is able to share that insight with others. Wisdom is the fullest expression of the gifts of knowledge and understanding.
Understanding. The gift of understanding is the ability to comprehend how a person must live her or his life as a follower of Jesus. Through the gift of understanding, Christians realize that the Gospel tells them not just who Jesus is but also who we are. The gift of understanding is closely related to the gifts of knowledge and wisdom.
Right Judgment. The gift of right judgment is the ability to know the difference between right and wrong and then to choose what is good. It helps us to act on and live out what Jesus has taught. In the exercise of right judgment, many of the other gifts—especially understanding, wisdom, and often courage—come into play in the Christian’s daily life.
Courage. The gift of courage enables us to take risks and to overcome fear as we try to live out the Gospel of Jesus. Followers of Jesus confront many challenges and even danger—the risk of being laughed at, the fear of rejection, and, for some believers, the fear of physical harm and even death. The Spirit gives Christians the strength to confront and ultimately overcome such challenges.
Knowledge. The gift of knowledge is the ability to comprehend the basic meaning and message of Jesus. Jesus revealed the will of God, his Father, and taught people what they need to know to achieve fullness of life and, ultimately, salvation. The gift of knowledge is closely related to the gifts of understanding and wisdom.
Reverence. Sometimes called piety, the gift of reverence gives the Christian a deep sense of respect for God. Jesus spoke of his Father, God, as Abba, a very intimate name similar to daddy or papa. Through the gift of reverence, we can come before God with the openness and trust of small children, totally dependent on the One who created us.
Wonder and Awe. The gift of wonder and awe in the presence of God is sometimes translated as “the fear of the Lord.” Though we can approach God with the trust of little children, we are also often aware of God’s total majesty, unlimited power, and desire for justice. A child may want to sit on the lap of his loving Father, but sometimes the believer will fall on her knees in the presence of the Creator of the universe.
Fruits of the Holy Spirit (CCC, 1832)
Four Marks of the Catholic Church (CCC, 750)
Seven Catholic Sacraments (CCC, 1210)
Precepts of the Church (CCC, 2042-2043)
Holy Days of Obligation
Regulations on Fasting and Abstinence
The Catholic Church requires its members to observe certain dietary rules—fasting and abstinence—to recognize and mark the importance of particular days during its liturgical year, as well as to express penance for personal sin. The regulations apply as follows:
Generally, the laws of fasting require that on the designated days the person eat just one full meal and two smaller meals, and avoid eating between meals. Abstinence laws require that the person avoid meat altogether;
The regulations governing abstinence from meat apply to all Catholics age fourteen and older. Adults who have completed their eighteenth year until the beginning of their sixtieth year are bound by the regulations that govern fasting. Pregnant women and sick people are excused from the regulations.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both fasting and abstinence; all the other Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence only.
In addition, the Church encourages its adult members to observe some form of penance, perhaps including some kind of fast and abstinence, on all Fridays throughout the year.
The Church also calls for fasting prior to receiving Communion during the Mass. In this case, the fast helps us prepare our minds and hearts for the great gift of the Eucharist by doing something physical to help focus our attention. Church law calls for us to avoid all food and drink, with the exception of water and medicine, for one hour before receiving Communion. Again, this regulation does not apply to sick people or others for whom such restrictions would jeopardize health.
Order of the Mass (CCC, 1346)
Liturgy of the Word
Liturgy of the Eucharist
The Bible is all around us. People hear Scripture readings in church. We have Good Samaritan (Luke 10) laws, welcome home the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), and look for the Promised Land (Exodus 3, Hebrews 11). Some biblical passages have becomeme popular maxims, such as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12)," "Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20:15), and "love thy neighbor" (Matthew 22:39).
Today's Catholic is called to take an intelligent, spiritual approach to the bible
Consists of the first two thirds of the Bible, a total of 46 books. The Old Testament is the story of Israel’s struggle to be faithful to the Covenant and to understand God who had chosen them. We divide the Old Testament into the following four sections:
Pentateuch – first five books of the bible, called the Torah by the Jews. Included in these books are the stories of creation and of the nation of Israel. It also includes the law given to the Israelites by God. Books that are included are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Historical Books – These books tell the story of the Israelites form their entry into the Promised Land until the Exile: Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Ruth, Esther, Lamentations, Judith, Tobit, Baruch, 1 & 2 Maccabees.
Wisdom Books – These books are Israelite reflections of faith and God’s relationship with humanity. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Wisdom (of Solomon).
Prophets - The writings of the people of who God inspired to counsel and confront people and kings. Major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
Through Jesus, God made a new covenant with humanity. Based on the earlier covenant with Israel, this new covenant invites all humanity to become part of God’s Chosen People through faith in Jesus. The 27 books of the New Testament are as follows:
Gospel – four portraits and collections of stories and sayings of Jesus.
Matthew, Mark, Luke (synoptic gospels) and John
Acts of the Apostles – the story of the early Christian Church after the Ascension of Jesus; not a complete history of apostolic Christianity.
Letters – Written by early Christians that show us the problems and concerns of the early Church.
Thirteen Pauline Epistles – letters attributed to Paul and named after the community or person to whom the letter is addressed.
Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, First and Second Timothy, Titus and Philemon. The author of Hebrews (really a long sermon rather than a letter; interprets Jesus in light of the Old Testament; neither the author nor the audience is explicitly mentioned; anonymous).
Seven Catholic Epistles: attributed to other apostles; written to broader audiences
("catholic" = "general, universal"): Addressed to the entire universal church.
James, First and Second Peter, First, Second, and Third John, and Jude
Revelation (Apocalypse) - Addressed to people experiencing persecution and questioning the truth of their faith. Revelation offers hope that God’s deliverance will come as promised. Extensive use of symbols and images that early readers would have readily understood (apocalyptic writing)