The precepts of the Church are duties that the Catholic Church requires of all the faithful and are found listed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2041-2043). Last week the first three were detailed.
The fourth precept of the Church is “You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.” Fasting and abstinence, along with prayer and almsgiving, are powerful tools in developing our spiritual life. Today, the Church requires Catholics to fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and to abstain from meat on the Fridays during Lent. On all other Fridays of the year, we may perform some other penance in place of abstinence.
The fifth precept of the Church is “You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.” The Catechism notes that this “means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.” In other words, we don’t necessarily have to tithe (give ten percent of our income), if we can’t afford it; but we should also be willing to give more if we can. Our support of the Church can also be through donations of our time, and the point of both is not simply to maintain the Church but to spread the Gospel and bring others into the Church, the Body of Christ.
And for those who thought traditionally the precepts of the Church numbered seven instead of five, here are the other two precepts: To obey the laws of the Church concerning Matrimony; and to participate in the Church’s mission of Evangelization of Souls. Both are still required of Catholics, but they are no longer included in the Catechism’s official listing of the precepts of the Church. (8:15)