A Guide to Living the Catholic Basics

The fourth and final installment of the Register’s annual Advent guides to the Catholic faith.


This week, we offer the final of our four guides to being Catholic. By making copies, or finding extra copies online, we can spread the faith in the way Pope Benedict asked. Here are his words to us from his recent U.S. trip:

“Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs?

“Is it consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching, or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death?

“Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.”

Precepts of the Church

You shall ...

• attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and remain free from work or activity that could impede the sanctification of such days.

• confess your sins at least once a year.

• receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.

• observe the days of fasting [Ash Wednesday; Good Friday] and abstinence [Fridays] established by the Church.

• help to provide for the needs of the Church.

Season 1 Advent, starting four Sundays before Christmas, is a time to prepare for Christmas. Use it as a time to invite people to return to church.

Season 2 Christmas season lasts until the Baptism of the Lord in January. Make a New Year’s resolution to better follow the precepts of the Church.

Season 3 Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday to Palm Sunday. Start a new practice: daily Rosary or daily Mass.

Season 4

Easter season is longer than Lent because Christ’s resurrection is the basis of our faith. All year, each Sunday recalls Easter. Reserve Sundays only for your family.

Season 5 Ordinary Time includes May, the month dedicated to Mary; October, the month of the Rosary; and November, the month of the dead. Get a Catholic calendar and follow special feast days.

The Ten Commandments

1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange gods before me.

2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

3. Remember to keep holy the LORD’S day.

4. Honor your father and your mother.

5. You shall not kill.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

7. You shall not steal.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Quick Tip

Books to Own: The Bible (get a Catholic edition), the Catechism of the Catholic Church (available through several publishers, first released in the 1990s), the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2005’s shorter Vatican Catechism in question-and-answer format).

Quick Tip

Authors to try: Fulton Sheen, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Mother Teresa (books on her sayings), Scott Hahn, Karl Keating and Peter Kreeft.

Quick Tip

Family planning using moral (and effective) new methods (not rhythm) means a woman won’t feel used or suffer side effects, and a man will be less inclined to think of her as a sex object and take more responsibility for the consequences of sex. To learn more:


(800) 307-7685

Quick Tip

The poor are very close to Christ, and he will judge us on how we serve them.

Volunteer: Contact your local parish or local Knights of Columbus.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

The Christmas Life

Want the four joys of Christmas to last all year? They can.

Receiving Gifts

A life of Mass, confession and prayer will bring you frequent gifts — and happy surprises about yourself, your loved ones and the world we love. Guaranteed.

Giving Gifts

There are many loving sacrifices in the Christian life: in our time, money, sexuality and good deeds. Experience the incomparable joy of self giving year-round.

Family Happiness

Families are joyful when Christ is the reason for our gathering. Prayer and faith transform family life in every season.

The Life of Jesus

The story of the humble Savior fills us with joy each year. His life has many stories to inspire us — enough to fill every day of the year.

Answers to your questions:

Catholics United

for the Faith


(800) 693-2484

Catholic Information Services


(203) 772-2130

Catholic Answers


(619) 387-7200

Content: National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)