Commandments, the Five

Commandments, The Five, or COMMANDMENTS OF THE CHURCH, certain rules of the Roman Catholic Church which, within the last three centuries, have been considered to be as obligatory on the laity as the commandments of the decalogue. These five commandments are generally stated as follows:

1. To keep holy the obligatory feast-days;

2. Devoutly to hear mass on Sundays and feast-days;

"Commandments, The Ten." topical outline.

3. To observe the days of fast and abstinence;

4. To confess to the priest at least once a year (at Easter) (Conc. Lat. IV, Can. 21);

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

5. To partake of the sacrament at least once a year, towards Easter. As these different rules have no common origin in the regulations of the Church, and are not even taken from the Catechismus Romanus, it is not to be wondered at that they have undergone several modifications. Among other variations, it has been a general practice to join the fourth and fifth commandments together, and to replace the fifth by "Not to marry at certain prohibited times." Others have made various alterations. Bellarmine includes the paying of tithes among the commandments of the Church, whilst some of the French catechisms, unable to include all the rules under the five heads, have added a sixth, yet without reaching their object. In the United States the "commandments" are enjoined in the following form:

1. The Catholic Church commands her children, on Sundays and holydays of obligation, to be present at the holy sacrifice of mass, to rest from servile works on those days, and to keep them holy.

2. She commands them to abstain from flesh on all days of fasting and abstinence, and on fast-days to eat but one meal.

3. She commands them to confess their sins to their pastor at least once a year.

4. She commands them to receive the blessed sacrament at least once a year, and that at Easter, or during the paschal time.

5. To contribute to the support of their pastor.

6. Not to marry within the fourth degree of kindred, nor privately without witnesses; nor to solemnize marriage at certain prohibited times.

We have said that these commandments are as obligatory for the Romanist layman as the commandments of God. The Council of Trent has dogmatically settled the point (Sess. VI, De Justif. Can. 20). The Protestant opposition to this great wrong was commenced by such writings as Luther's De captivitate Babylonica and Zwingle's Von Erkiesen und Fryheit der Spysen. The Evangelical Confessions express the same opposition, as, for instance, the Augustana, in the articles XV, XVII, XXVI, the Helvetica in 23, 24, and 27, Tetrapol. cap. 7, 8, 9, 10. The clearly-expressed protestation contained in these passages does in no way seek to overthrow the dutiful obedience commanded towards pastors and rulers (Heb 13:17), or towards decency and order (1Co 14:40), and the power of government held by the Church in the persons of its constituted organs. All this is entirely different from the commandments established by the Romish hierarchy in opposition to the Word of God, as expressed in Col 2:16,18,20-23; Mt 15:17; 1Ti 4:1-4; 1Co 8:8; 1Co 7:6; 1Co 3:21; Mr 2:23; Ga 4:9-11. The old plea constantly presented by the Romish apologists, that the doctrine of the commandments of the Church has its foundation in the power of the keys and in the commandments of God himself, is of no weight. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 4:644; Wetzer u. Welte, Kirch.-Lex. 4:344.

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