Dear friends in Christ:
A few weeks back, you may recall that I wrote about the Precepts of the Church.
The Precepts of the Church
- You shall attend Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
- You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
- You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter Season.
- You shall keep holy the Holy Days of Obligation.
- You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.
- The faithful have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to their ability.Th
In the United States, a seventh precept is often added: You shall obey all the laws and teachings of the Church in regards to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2041-3) teaches us that these are the indispensable minimum in our lives as Catholics. For most of us, we seldom ever settle for the minimum in anything. We generally want the best and the most in everything from hamburger meal deals to our salaries and pensions to the cars we drive and the homes we live in. So why is it that we are so often willing to settle for the least or bare minimum when it comes to our relationship with the Lord and living our Catholic Faith?
I am always astonished when it comes to the miracles of Jesus. I love the miracle stories for they give us a beautiful insight into the personality of Jesus. From the very first miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee (Jn 2:1-12), Jesus revels something of himself and his love for us. We are all familiar with how they ran out of wine at the wedding feast and Jesus, at the behest of the Blessed Mother, saves the day by miraculously turning water into wine. As astonishing as the miracle is, the quality and quantity of the miraculous wine are likewise astonishing. The gift is not just simply wine, it is the choicest of wine. The gift is not merely a gift of some wine but is a superabundance of wine, 120 gallons! That’s 600 bottles of wine! That’s a lot of wine! In this and the other miracle stories (think the multiplication of loaves and fish), Jesus shows himself as being extravagant, going all out and overboard. He is absolutely lavish in his gift giving! Of course, the greatest gift he gives us is himself. He gives us his body and blood in the Eucharist and on the cross! One might reasonably wonder where Jesus got this attitude of extravagant, lavish gift giving from. The answer is simple – His Heavenly Father!
God the Father does not hold back either when it comes to gift giving. He gives us life, he gives us creation, he gives us every good thing and he gives us the supreme gift of his Only Begotten Son! And together God the Father and God the Son give us the gift of God the Holy Spirit. And the gifts keep on coming. No one can say that the Holy Trinity practices restraint in their giving of love or their love of giving! So the question that is before us is this, “How do we think God wants us to give of ourselves?” The minimum that we are capable of giving? If Jesus gives himself totally and completely, to what degree do we think he wants us to give of ourselves to him? The bare minimum, the least, enough to get by?
The Precepts of the Church with the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes help us and form us in following God and in learning how to give ourselves in love. They are the starting point, not the end. They are the side lines, not the goal line. They keep us in bounds so we can keep moving towards the goal of experiencing the lavish graces, happiness and joy that God wants us to have.
To experience God’s abundant love and mercy more fully, we must in turn love him with abandon! Our attitude must be that of Christ (Phil 2:5). God wants us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength! As Jesus gives to us, he also wishes and desires to receive the gift of our love and the gift of our lives!
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately