Fr. Martin Fuchs´s sermon on 11th February 2018, Prague, Czech republic
At the beginning of Lent, I would like to draw your attention to some obligations that every member of the Catholic Church has to know; however, since the Second Vatican Council they are more and more forgotten.
I must point out that these are not only recommendations but obligations, even if most of the Catholics do not care about them nowadays.
The Sanctification of the Lord’s day
The universal Church law obliges all the faithful to attend the Sunday services and the Holy Mass on feast days and to avoid servile works on these days. The sanctification of the Lord’s day is a heavy obligation.
Nowadays we cannot observe this law according to the Canon Law because we are not to attend the New Mass. But we have to attend the Tridentine Rite as often as we can or to pray at least at home, if we haven’t any other opportunity.
Unfortunately, the sanctity of the Lord’s day is heavily threatened even by non-Catholic laws and a lot of people are forced to work on these days without necessity and they are prevented from attending the Holy Mass.
Sunday is the day of the Lord, Sunday is a shadow of the happiness of Heaven. That is why people dress in better clothes and have better meals than on workdays.
Easter Holy Communion
Every faithful reaching the age of reason is obliged to confess all mortal sins at least once a year and to receive the Holy Communion in the Easter time. The Easter time varies from country to country, from place to place but normally this obligation should be fulfilled between Ash Wednesday and Trinity Sunday. (The Fourth Council of Lateran, 1215)
Fast and Abstinence
On a fast day it is allowed to eat once so that you can say: I have eaten enough. On an abstinence day you are not allowed to eat meat.
Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are fast and abstinence days. (Canon 1251, CIC 1917)
All Fridays of the year – except the Fridays which fall together with a high feast such as for example Christmas – are abstinence days.
All the faithful are bound to fast from the age of 18 till 60.
And all faithful are obliged to have abstinence from the age of 14 until the end of life. (Canon 1252)
The Sacrament of Matrimony
“The marriage is a legal contract between a man and a woman for an undivided and indivisible community of life.“ (Roman Catechism II/8)
Jesus Christ has made this contract a sacrament; means by which he gives holy grace to the spouses.
This contract is valid if it is made in front of the Catholic parish priest and two witnesses and if it is concluded freely without a separating marriage obstacle.
If these conditions are not complied, the sacrament is invalid.
A mere civil marriage is not a sacrament. One who lives in such a marriage has to be considered a public sinner. He/she cannot receive other sacraments.
Catholics can marry validly – even if they marry a non-Catholic – but only in front of the lawfully authorized priest, not in front of a non-Catholic minister!
A marriage contract “ratum et consummatum“, which means “concluded validly followed by marital acts“ can be terminated only by death.
During the marital life neither of the two counterparties can make another marital contract even if a civil court has pronounced the divorce. A new marriage is only possible if in front of an ecclesiastical court the poof is given that the first marriage was invalid from the beginning.
Catholics who refuse the sacrament of matrimony and who want to live in a concubinage or who make a new marital contract in front of the civil authority live in a mortal sin.
They are punished with the following penalties by the Church:
- They are excluded from receiving sacraments. In danger of life they can receive sacraments provided that they arrange their relationships in front of the Church. If they cannot marry because of an existing marriage, they must promise that they will finish their forbidden relationship.
- They cannot be godfather or godmother on the occasion of baptism or confirmation.
- They cannot be buried by a Catholic priest and even a public funeral service is forbidden if they have not given a sign of repentance. This repentance must be expressed by the correction of their marital relationship – or if this is not possible because of an existing marital contract, they have to give a written promise in front of two witnesses that they will finish their forbidden relationship.
The Catholic Church does not allow their faithful to marry a non-Catholic or an apostate because of the danger for their faith. She allows such marriages only for serious reasons and only under the condition that the non-Catholic partner promises by the contract to the Catholic partner that he or she can freely exercise his/her faith, that he or she can baptize and educate all their children in the Catholic faith.
The parents are obliged to baptize and educate their children in the Catholic faith.
All faithful should consider it as an unmerited great grace of Our Lord to belong to the Catholic Church. To leave the Church or to lose the faith are the heaviest sins.
One is excommunicated by the Catholic Church if:
- He/she has married in front of a non-Catholic minister.
- He/she does not baptize and educate his/her children in the Catholic faith.
- She is guilty of abortion or he is guilty by recommending abortion or making abortion as a doctor or as a nurse.
It is a divine and an ecclesiastical commandment for all the faithful having reached the age of reason to receive the Holy Communion in danger of life.
Even children can and should receive the Holy Communion if they can distinguish the Holy Communion from plain food.
The relatives of a seriously ill person have the great responsibility to call a priest to provide the necessary sacraments.
One who is in danger of life due to his age or illness should receive the Extreme unction.
Our Lord has instituted this sacrament to strengthen our soul and through our soul also our body. Because of the age or illness our soul becomes weak. It must get new strength. And when the soul has new strength it influences also the body. That is why we often realize that somebody comes out of danger of life and regains health.
But the Extreme unction helps us – and this is the special sacramental grace – to fight against the devil’s temptations.
This sacrament is a completion of the sacrament of penance similarly to the confirmation which is a completion of the sacrament of baptism.
The Extreme unction removes all what is still present after confession, all venial sins, all penalties and all inclinations to sin.
Call for a traditional priest because after the Second Vatican Council this sacrament is often administered with oil of another plant not the olive oil. That makes the sacrament at least doubtful.
The Funeral in the Catholic Church
Only those who died in peace with the Catholic Church can have a funeral provided by her.
According to the old Canon Law, the funeral must be refused to the following people:
- All who have publicly given up the Catholic faith and who have joined a non-Catholic religions such as Adventists, Lutherans, Jehovah’s Witnesses etc.
- All who belong to the sect of Freemasons or any other group prohibited by the Catholic Church.
- All who have committed suicide unless they have done it in mental derangement.
- All who have arranged orally or by contract a cremation of their body if they have not cancelled this agreement in front of two witnesses or by a self-made written declaration.
- All who lived publicly in sin. Public sinners are considered those who did not attend the Sunday services and did not receive the holy sacraments or who refused the sacraments before death.Furthermore those who have married in front of the civil authority or in front of a non-Catholic minister or who lived in concubinage. But if they have received the holy sacraments or have called at least a priest, they can have the Catholic funeral because they have shown repentance.
All the faithful had been informed about these prescriptions and laws of the Catholic Church before the last Council. They express and protect the Catholic faith!
Let us follow them and pass them to those who do not know about them. We really love other people if we lead them to Jesus Christ. Amen.