Hi, my name’s Father Mike Schmitz, and this is Ascension Presents. So a number of years ago one of our students, she’s a young woman. She had a friend, she invited her friend to go with her to Mass off campus because school wasn’t in session, it was summertime So she drove this young man to the cathedral and on the way there—he was raised Catholic—on the way there She said, “You know, if you aren’t a practicing Catholic … “… you can’t receive Holy Communion unless you go to confession first.”, and he was like, “Wait, what? “What, what? I was raised Catholic.” And she’s like, “Yeah, but you’re not a practicing Catholic.” And so then when school started like the next week he came to Mass and afterwards he said, “I have some questions,” and his big question was this, “What is it to be a practicing Catholic?” I thought that’s a great question so we started meeting and talking about what it is to be a practicing Catholic. So what does the Church say it is to be a practicing Catholic? What is it to say I’m not just Catholic in name only, but you know, it’s a part of my everyday life? Well a couple things: the Church says, well, we have to, you know, observe the ten commandments We have to assent to Church teaching and then the third thing is to do our best to follow the five precepts of the Catholic Church. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church I think starting in article 2041 or paragraph 2041 talks about these five precepts of the Church. Now what it says is that these precepts are the indispensable minimum or another translation is the very necessary minimum for life. Basically the Church is kind of saying that if these aren’t there that life connected with Jesus, connected with the Church, it’s not there. I don’t know if you know this but like I think like something like ninety percent of Americans believe that there’s some kind of God. So ninety percent of Americans, ninety percent of Americans, are theists. And yet most of us, the way we live our lives, we’re practical atheists like we’re practicing atheism, because why? because we often make decisions not in light of this God that we claim exists. So these five precepts of the Church—the very necessary minimum, the indispensable minimum are basically just, are you alive? Are you connected to the Church? Here’s number one: Going to Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, so every single Sunday a practicing Catholic has to go to Mass and every holy day of obligation. That might sound incredibly overwhelming or demanding, but that’s roughly, I don’t know … I’m bad at math …
sixty-five hours of church every year That’s it. That’s it—the indispensable minimum, the requirement is just go to Mass every Sunday and every holy day of obligation. So it’s not overwhelming. Number two is: Go to confession at least once a year. Go to confession at least once a year. That’s what we’re called to do. Number three is receive Holy Communion at least once every year, during the Easter season. what had happened in the past is actually the … at one point people are staying away from Holy Communion because they thought the Holy Eucharist is too holy and I’m too unholy, I could never possibly receive Holy Communion, I can never possibly be in a state where I’m worthy, I can have worthy reception of Holy Communion, even if I’ve just gone to Confession, there’s something wrong. So they would stay away from Holy Communion So at one point, the pope had to say, listen, one of the precepts: you have to receive Holy Communion at least once a year during the Easter season. Why? Because Jesus loves you. He gives us the Eucharist to feed us because he wants intimacy and communion with us. Number four is observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence. Now, this is incredible. So days of penance are Fridays throughout the whole year. Days of abstinence are Fridays throughout Lent and and Ash Wednesday, these are abstinence, means we avoid meat. The two days of fasting—we only have two days of fasting in the entire 365-day calendar year—that’s Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. And that fasting is what? It’s, you know, have two small meals and one meal regular sized meal that doesn’t exceed the size of the two small meals combined. You think about this: that’s not very demanding because if you live in the Western World or developed world, developed countries, your fast day could still be more food than most people in the rest of the world eat on a normal day, so just observe those days of fasting and abstinence. And the fifth precept of the Catholic Church is to provide for the material needs of the Church according to your ability. It doesn’t even say, provide for the material needs of the Church by giving ten percent of your income. It says, according to your ability. Whatever you can do just help the Church out. Now think about that. I remember when I came upon these, I talked about them. At one point this man wrote me a letter saying like, that’s ridiculous, this is crazy, that might be fine for some monk on a mountaintop somewhere but for regular human beings, no one could possibly do this. I’m thinking, wait, these are the minimum requirements. This is the Church being absolutely super generous on what it means to be a practicing Catholic, not just a nominal Catholic,
but one who lives their faith out. Now I was talking to this man about this and he was like, OK. And we walked through this whole kind of story.
And actually in the course of this, talked about the story of the gospel and the story of the Church and the story of Jesus Christ calling him to live in the Church to live up, rise up to this and actually transcend this, so he started praying, started being part of a Bible study. By the end of that year he had entered seminary This June, this man is going to be ordained a priest for our diocese. His friend, she could have said, I’m embarrassed, I don’t want to, I don’t want to tell him that he can’t receive Holy Communion if he hasn’t been going to Mass. So I’ll just be quiet. You know what would have happened? Nothing. Because she was willing to in love just speak the truth to her friend, this man in like days from today will be ordained a priest of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church and he will give us the Eucharist and he will give God’s reconciliation through confession And this man, already, he’s holy already. He’s just like, it’s incredible to see the transformation in this man’s life. I can’t imagine how many people he will lead to heaven because his friend was willing to say, “Hey, by the way, I don’t want to be rude, but if you’re not a practicing Catholic, you can’t receive Holy Communion.” And that prompted him to ask these questions If you’re asking the question, I think it also means that God has a plan for your life just like he has a plan for my buddy’s life, my future brother-in-orders’ life. From all of us here at Ascension Presents,
my name is Father Mike. God bless.