SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
Q. Has the church power to make laws binding in conscience ?
Q. For what reason ?
A. First, because the Scriptures say, all superiors are to be obeyed; Rom. xiii. 2. Secondly, if the civil magistrate has that power, with more reason the church may pretend to it. Thirdly, because the Scriptures command obedience to the church ; Matt, xviii. 17.
Q. It is sufficient to obey the law of nature, and God's law. What need then is there of obeying the laws of the church ?
A. Both the law of nature and the law of God demand obedience to all superior powers. Again, human laws, both civil and ecclesiastical, specify obedience, as to particulars of time, place, and persons, which the law of God mentions commonly in general. Besides, if we do not obey the church, we are not entirely obedient to God: for according to the word of God, whosoever despiseth the church, despiseth God himself: Luke x. 16. Therefore we must obey the precept of the church.
Q. Is it a sin to break any of the church precepts?
A. Yes; because God commands us under pain of damnation to obey the church; for our Saviour enjoins us to look on every one, who will not hear and obey the church, as a heathen and a publican. Matt, xviii. 17. And as they who break the just laws of a kingdom offend God and deserve punishment; so they who oppose the church's laws, offend God, and deserve punishment. They " who resist power, resist the ordinance of God; and they who resist, bring damnation to themselves." Rom. xiii. 2.
Q. How many are the precepts of the church ?
A. Chiefly six, relating to holy-days, fasting, confession, communion, tithes, and marriage.
Q. Which is the first precept of the church ?
A. It concerns the keeping of holy-days.
Q. What are holy-days ?
A. They are days consecrated and set apart for the practice of religious duties.
Q. Has the church authority to ordain the keeping of feasts or holy-days ?
A. Yes, she has; for Christ's church is no way inferior to the synagogue, which ordained and kept many, which Christ himself approved, when he kept the dedication of the temple; Deut. xvi. Lev. xxiii. Maca. iv. Job x. 22. She has the example of the church in the apostles' days, which translated the solemnity of the Sabbath to Sunday, and appointed the feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide. St. Clement (who was St. Peter's disciple) records in his eighth book of the apostolical constitutions, that the apostles ordered the celebrating St. Stephen's and other of their fellow apostles' days, after their death ; Acts xv. 41. And we read that St. Paul went through Syria, and Cilicia, confirming the churches; Acts xvi. 4. Commanding them to observe the precepts of the apostles, and of the seniors or ancients. And accordingly we keep the feasts commanded by the church. Protestants themselves command many, but they keep few, and as they please.
Q. For what ends in particular were holy-days appointed ?
A. To return thanks to God for some remarkable favor, and to preserve it in our memory. As, namely, Sunday, to return thanks for the creation, preservation, and providing us with all necessaries, and conveniences. As also, because^ Christ rose again and sent down the Holy Ghost on that day.
Q. Why are holy-days appointed for saints ?
A. First, to return thanks to God, for the favor he has done to mankind, by making them instruments of his glory, by their doctrine and good example ; and therefore we celebrate their nativity, death, and any other remarkable passage of their lives.
Q. What is the principal end of these commemorations ?
A. That we may invoke their assistance, and make good resolutions to imitate their example, where we find it applicable to our circumstances ; and to fill our souls with holy desires and longings after that blessed state they now enjoy in heaven.
Q. Why have we no command or instance in the Scriptures to celebrate those feasts ?
A. We are advised by the Scriptures, to do any thing that tends to God's glory, and our own spiritual profit; nor is there any occasion of a particular precept for that purpose. Besides, the old Scripture mentions holy^days, without any command from God; Exod. xxiii. Numb. xxix. and from the beginning of the new law, Sundays and other days, were appointed by the church, without any express mention in the Scriptures. It is sufficient that we are commanded to hear and obey the church in religious practices.
Q. What is forbidden, and commanded by this precept?
A. The obligations are the same with those of Sundays, viz.: Hearing mass, abstaining from servile works, and spending the day in religious duties, as reading good books, going to confession and communion, etc. Yet dispensations for laboring are more easily granted; but still mass is to be heard, and the church must judge of the reason for dispensing.