A Summary of Christian Faith and Practice.
I. What every Christian Must Believe.
EVERY Christian must believe that there is one God, and no more than one God: that God is a pure Spirit, the Lord and Maker of heaven and earth, who has neither beginning nor end, but is always the same; who is everywhere present; knows and sees all things; can do all things whatsoever He pleases; and is infinite in all perfections.
2. Every Christian is bound to believe that in one God there are three distinct Persons, perfectly equal, of the same substance, and having the same nature: the Father, who proceeds from no one; the Son, who is born of the Father before all ages; and the Holy Ghost, who proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son as from one principle; and that the three Persons are all equally eternal, equal in wisdom and power, and are all three one and the same Lord, one and the same God.
3. We must believe that God created the angels to be with Him for ever, and that one part of them fell from God by sin, and became devils. That God also created Adam and Eve, the first parents of all mankind, and placed them in the earthly Paradise, from whence they were justly banished for the sin they committed in eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree; and that by this transgression of Adam we are all conceived and born in sin, and must have been lost for ever, if God had not sent us a Saviour.
4. We are bound to believe in the Saviour of all mankind, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, true God and true man; perfect God from all eternity, equal to His Father in all things; and perfect man, from the time of His coming down from heaven for us, having a body and soul like ours.
5. We must believe that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, who had been long foretold by the prophets, was, at God's appointed time, by the power of the Holy Ghost, without having any man for His father, conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary; whom God had prepared for this wonderful Maternity in a wonderful manner: in that by a singular grace and privilege, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, she was in the first instant of her conception preserved free from every taint of original sin. Of her, who is Blessed among Women for evermore, was born our Lord—she still remaining a pure virgin. During the time of His mortal life Jesus Christ founded the Christian religion; and then offered Himself a Sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, by dying upon a cross, to obtain mercy, grace, and salvation for us; and that neither mercy, nor grace, nor salvation can, or ever could, since Adam's fall, be obtained except through the mediation of the Son of God.
6. We must believe that Jesus Christ, after He died and was buried, arose on the third day from death to life, never to die again; and that, for the space of forty days, He was pleased, at different times, to manifest Himself to His disciples, and then ascended into heaven in their sight; where, as God-man, He continually intercedes for us. Thence He sent down the Holy Ghost upon His disciples, to abide with them for ever, as He had promised, and to guide them and their successors into all truth.
7. We must believe the Catholic or Universal Church of Christ, of which He is the perpetual Head, and His Spirit the perpetual Guide; which is founded upon a rock, and is ever victorious over all the powers of earth and hell. The Church is always One, in all its members professing one faith, in one communion, under one chief pastor, called the Pope, succeeding St. Peter, to whom Christ committed His whole flock. The Church is always Holy, in teaching a holy doctrine, in inviting all to a holy life, and in the eminent holiness of many of its children. It is Catholic, or Universal, for it subsists in all ages, and teaches all nations, and maintains all truth. It is Apostolic, for it derives its doctrine, its communion, its orders, and its mission, by an uninterrupted succession, from the Apostles of Christ.
8. With the Catholic Church the Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, were deposited by the Apostles, It is the guardian and interpreter of them, and the judge of all controversies relating to them. The Scriptures, thus interpreted, together with the traditions of the Apostles, are to be received and admitted by all Christians for the rule of their faith and practice.
9. We must believe that when the Pope speaks "ex cathedra"—i.e., when, in discharge of his office of Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, he defines, in virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church—he is endowed, by the Divine assistance promised to him in Blessed Peter, with that Infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be furnished, in defining doctrine of faith or morals. And therefore such definitions of the Pope are irreformable of themselves, and not in virtue of the consent of the Church.
10. We must believe that Jesus Christ has instituted in His Church seven Sacraments, or mysterious signs and instrumental causes of Divine Grace in our souls: Baptism, by way of a new birth, by which we are made children of God, and cleansed from sin; Confirmation, by which we receive the Holy Ghost, by the imposition of the hands of the successors of the Apostles: the blessed Eucharist, which feeds and nourishes our souls with the Body and Blood of Christ, really present under the forms of bread and wine, or under either of them; Penance, by which penitent sinners are absolved from their sins, by virtue of the commission given by Christ to His ministers; Extreme Unction, which wipes away the remains of sin, and arms the soul with the grace of God in the time of sickness; Holy Orders, by which the ministers of God are consecrated; and Matrimony, which, as a sacred sign of the indissoluble union of Christ and His Church, unites the married couple in a holy bond, and imparts to them a grace suitable to that state.
11. We must believe that Jesus Christ has also instituted the great Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood in remembrance of His Passion and Death. In this Sacrifice, called the Mass, He is mystically immolated every day upon our altars, being Himself both Priest and Victim. This Sacrifice is the principal worship of the New Law, in which, and by which, we unite ourselves to Jesus Christ; and with Him and through Him we adore God in spirit and truth; give Him thanks for all His blessings; obtain His grace for ourselves and the whole world, and pardon for all our sins; and pray for the living and the dead.
12. We must believe that there is, in the Catholic or Universal Church of God, a Communion of Saints, by means of which we communicate with all holy persons and in all holy things. We communicate with the Saints in heaven, as our fellow-members under the same head, Christ Jesus; we give thanks to God for His gifts to them, and we beg a share in their prayers. We communicate with all the saints upon earth in the same Sacraments and Sacrifice, and in a holy union of faith and charity. And we also communicate with the faithful who have departed this life in a more imperfect state,—and who by the law of God's justice are for a while in a state of suffering,—by offering prayers and alms and sacrifice to God for them.
13. We must believe that, by the full concession of Christ, there ever resides in the Church the active power of forgiving sin, and of granting Indulgences for the remission of the temporal punishments of sin; which may be applied to the souls both of the living and of the dead who have died friends of God and in the peace of Christ.
14. We must believe also the necessity of Divine Grace, without which we cannot make so much as one step towards heaven; and that all our good and all our merits are the gift of God; that Christ died for all men, and that His grace does not take away or oppress our free will.
15. We must believe that Jesus Christ will come from heaven at the last day to judge all men; that all the dead, both good and bad, shall arise from their graves, and shall be judged by Him according to their works; that the good shall go to heaven with Him, body and soul, to be happy for all eternity in the enjoyment of the Sovereign Good; and that the wicked shall be condemned, both body and soul, to the torments of hell.
II. What every Christian Must Do.
EVERY Christian, in order to attain life everlasting, must worship God as his first beginning and last end. This worship is to be rendered, first, by Faith, which makes both the understanding and the will humbly adore and embrace all those truths which God has taught, however obscure and incomprehensible they maybe to our weakness. Secondly, by Hope; which honors the infinite power, goodness, and mercy of God, and the truth of His promises; and upon these grounds raises the soul to an assured expectation of mercy, grace, and salvation, through the merits of Jesus Christ. Thirdly, by Charity; which teaches us to love God with our whole hearts, for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves, for God's sake. Fourthly, by the virtue of Religion; the chief acts of which are adoration, praise, thanksgiving, oblation of ourselves to God, sacrifice, and prayer; which ought to be the daily employments of a Christian soul. We must flee all idolatry and all false religions; also superstition, under which name are comprehended all manner of divinations, all fortune-telling, all witchcraft, charms, spells, observations of omens, dreams, etc. All these things are heathenish, and contrary to the worship of the true and living God, and to that entire dependence which a Christian soul ought to have on Him. But we must devoutly honor the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, the Holy Angels, and the Saints reigning in Glory; whose intercessions we shall always most profitably invoke. We should likewise duly reverence all sacred emblems and pious memorials of our Lord and His Saints, and honor the relics of God's servants whom Holy Church has canonized.
2. We must reverence the name of God and His truth by a religious observance of all lawful oaths and vows, and by carefully avoiding all false, rash, or unjust oaths, and blasphemies.
3. We must dedicate some notable part of our time to His divine service; and, more especially, consecrate to Him those days which are ordered by His Church to be sanctified or kept holy.
4. Under God, we must love, reverence, and obey our parents, and other lawful superiors, spiritual and temporal; and observe the laws of the Church and State: as also we must have a due care of our children, and of others that are under our charge, both as to their souls and their bodies.
5. We must abstain from all injuries to our neighbor's person, by murder or any other violence; and from all hatred, envy, and desire of revenge; as also from spiritual murder, which is committed by drawing him into sin, by words, actions, or bad example.
6. We must abstain from all uncleanness in thoughts, words, or actions.
7. We must not steal, cheat, or any other way do wrong to our neighbor in his goods and possessions; we must give every one his own, pay our debts, and make restitution for all damages which we have caused through our fault.
8. We must not wrong our neighbor in his character or good name, by calumny, detraction, or rash judgment; or in his honor by reproaches or affronts; or rob him of his peace of mind, by scoffs or contempt; or of his friends, by carrying stories backwards and forwards. In all such cases, whosoever wrongs his neighbor is obliged to make reparation or satisfaction.
9, 10. As we are commanded to abstain from all deeds of lust and injustice, so are we also strictly obliged to restrain all desires of these kinds, and to resist the irregular motions of concupiscence. So far the Ten Commandments of God; which are a short abridgment of the whole eternal and natural law, which admits of no dispensation.
Every Christian is, moreover, bound to keep the commandments of God's Church.
1. We must sanctify Sundays and Holydays of Obligation by devout attendance at Holy Mass, and by resting from servile work.
2. We must strictly observe those days of fasting and abstinence appointed by ecclesiastical authority.
3. We must humbly confess our sins at least once a year to a Priest having competent jurisdiction—i.e. approved by the Bishop of the Diocese.
4. We must be careful to make our Easter Duty, by receiving Holy Communion at some time during the interval between the first Sunday in Lent and Trinity Sunday.
5. According to our means we must contribute to the support of those who minister to us in spiritual things.
6. We must not marry non-Catholics, or any one related to us within the fourth degree of kindred; we must not marry clandestinely, or solemnize marriage within the prohibited times.
Prayers which every Christian should Know by Heart.
IN nomine Patris, ✠ et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
IN the name of the Father, ✠ and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
PATER NOSTER, qui es in cœlis, sanctificetur nomen tuum: adveniat regnum tuum: fia t voluntas tua, sicut in cœlo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie: et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem: sed libera nos a malo. Amen.
OUR FATHER, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name: Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread: and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation: but deliver us from evil. Amen.
AVE, Maria, gratia plena; Dominus tecum: benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Jesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.
HAIL, Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
CREDO in Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem cœli et terræ; et in Jesum Christum, Filium ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum: qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus; mortuus, et sepultus. Descendit ad inferos; tertia die resurrexit a mortuis; ascendit ad cœlos, sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis; inde venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos. Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, Sanctam Ecclesiam Catholicam, Sanctorum communionem, remissionem peccatorum, carnis resurrectionem, vitem æternam.
I BELIEVE in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
CONFITEOR Deo omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ, Sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, (et tibi, Pater,) quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, onines Sanctos, (et te, Pater,) orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
I CONFESS to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and to all the Saints, (and to you, Father,) that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the Saints, (and you, Father,) to pray to the Lord our God for me.
Misereatur nostri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis nostris, perducat nos ad tam æternam.
May Almighty God have mercy upon us, and forgive us our sins, and bring us unto life everlasting.
Indulgentiam, ✠ absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum, tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus. Amen.
May the Almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, ✠ absolution, and remission of our sins. Amen.
The Gloria Patri, or Lesser Doxology.
GLORIA Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum.
GLORY be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.