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Baltimore Catechism (1891)
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A. We, in a sense, may worship strange gods by giving up the salvation of our souls for wealth, honors, society, worldly pleasures, etc., so that we would offend God, renounce our faith or give up the practice of our religion for their sake.
A. The honor which belongs to God alone is a divine honor, in which we offer Him sacrifice, incense or prayer, solely for His own sake and for His own glory. To give such honor to any creature, however holy, would be idolatry.
A. We must serve God in the form of religion He has instituted and in no other, because heaven is not a right, but a promised reward, a free gift of God, which we must merit in the manner He directs and pleases.
A. We attribute to a creature a perfection which belongs to God alone when we believe it possesses knowledge or power independently of God, so that it may, without His aid, make known the future or perform miracles.
A. Those who make use of spells and charms, or who believe in dreams, in mediums, spiritists, fortune-tellers, and the like, sin against the first Commandment, because they attribute to creatures perfections which belong to God alone.
A. Spells and charms are certain words, by the saying of which superstitious persons believe they can avert evil, bring good fortune or produce some supernatural or wonderful effect. They may be also objects or articles worn about the body for the same purpose.
A. Agnus Deis, medals, scapulars, etc., which we wear about our bodies, are not charms, for we do not expect any help from these things themselves, but, through the blessing they have received from the Church, we expect help from God, the Blessed Mother, or the Saint in whose honor we wear them. On the contrary, they who wear charms expect help from the charms themselves, or from some evil spirit.
A. In all our devotions and religious practices we must carefully guard against expecting God to perform miracles when natural causes may bring about what we hope for. God will sometimes miraculously help us, but, as a rule, only when all natural means have failed.
A. Dreams are the thoughts we have in sleep, when our will is unable to guide them. It is forbidden to believe in them, because they are often ridiculous, unreasonable, or wicked, and are not governed by either reason or faith.
A. God did frequently in the Old Law make use of dreams as a means of making known His Will; but on such occasions He always gave proof that what He made known was not a mere dream, but rather a revelation or inspiration. He no longer makes use of such means, for He now makes known His will through the inspiration of His Church.
A. Mediums and spiritists are persons who pretend to converse with the dead or with spirits of the other world. They pretend also to give this power to others, that they may know what is going on in heaven, purgatory or hell.
A. Another practice very dangerous to faith and morals is the use of mesmerism or hypnotism, because it is liable to sinful abuses, for it deprives a person for a time of the control of his reason and will and places his body and mind entirely in the power of another.
A. Fortune tellers are imposters who, learning the past, or guessing at it, pretend to know also the future and to be able to reveal it to anyone who pays for the knowledge. They pretend also to know whatever concerns things lost or stolen, and the secret thoughts, actions or intentions of others.
A. By believing in spells, charms, mediums, spiritists and fortune tellers we attribute to creatures the perfections of God because we expect these creatures to perform miracles, reveal the hidden judgments of God, and make known His designs for the future with regard to His creatures, things that only God Himself may do.
1. Because it is wrong to expose ourselves to the danger of sinning even though we do not sin; 2. Because we may give scandal to others who are not certain that we go through mere curiosity; 3. Because by our pretended belief we encourage these impostors to continue their wicked practices.
A. We have many means of learning the Christian doctrine: In youth we have Catechism and special instructions suited to our age; later we have sermons, missions, retreats, religious sodalities and societies through which we may learn. At all times, we have books of instruction, and, above all, the priests of the Church, ever ready to teach us. God will not excuse our ignorance if we neglect to learn our religion when He has given us the means.
A. Such instruction should be given to those who ask it of us in a kind and Christian spirit, without dispute or bitterness. We should never attempt to explain the truths of our religion unless we are certain of what we say. When we are unable to answer what is asked we should send those who inquire to the priest or to others better instructed than ourselves.
1. Atheists, who deny there is a God; 2. Deists, who admit there is a God, but deny that He revealed a religion; 3. Agnostics, who will neither admit nor deny the existence of God; 4. Infidels, who have never been baptized, and who, through want of faith, refuse to be baptized; 5. Heretics, who have been baptized Christians, but do not believe all the articles of faith; 6. Schismatics, who have been baptized and believe all the articles of faith, but do not submit to the authority of the Pope; 7. Apostates, who have rejected the true religion, in which they formerly believed, to join a false religion; 8. Rationalists and Materialists, who believe only in material things.
A. The denial of only one article of faith will make a person a heretic and guilty of mortal sin, because the Holy Scripture says: "Whosoever shall keep the whole law but offend in one point is become guilty of all."
A. An article of faith is a revealed truth so important and so certain that no one can deny or doubt it without rejecting the testimony of God. The Church very clearly points out what truths are articles of faith that we may distinguish them from pious beliefs and traditions, so that no one can be guilty of the sin of heresy without knowing it.
A. Persons who are members of the Church neglect to profess their belief by living contrary to the teachings of the Church: that is, by neglecting Mass or the Sacraments, doing injury to their neighbor, and disgracing their religion by sinful and scandalous lives.
A. A want of Christian courage chiefly prevents persons who believe in the Church from becoming members of it. They fear too much the opinion or displeasure of others, the loss of position or wealth, and, in general, the trials they may have to suffer for the sake of the true faith.
A. Our Lord says of those who neglect the true religion for the sake of relatives or friends, or from fear of suffering: "He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me"; also: "And whosoever does not carry his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple."
A. Some give as an excuse for neglecting to seek and embrace the true religion that we should live in the religion in which we were born, and that one religion is as good as another if we believe we are serving God.
1. It is false and absurd to say that we should remain in error after we have discovered it; 2. Because if one religion is as good as another, Our Lord would not have abolished the Jewish religion, nor the apostles have preached against heresy.
A. They who fail to profess their faith in the true Church in which they believe cannot expect to be saved while in that state, for Christ has said: "Whosoever shall deny me before men, I will also deny him before my Father who is in heaven."
A. We are obliged to make open profession of our faith as often as God's honor, our neighbor's spiritual good or our own requires it. "Whosoever," says Christ, "shall confess me before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven."
A. God's honor, our neighbor's spiritual good, or our own good requires us to make an open profession of our faith as often as we cannot conceal our religion without violating some law of God or of His Church, or without giving scandal to others or exposing ourselves to the danger of sinning. Pious practices not commanded may often be omitted without any denial of faith.
1. By putting off confession when in a state of mortal sin; 2. By delaying the amendment of our lives and repentance for past sins; 3. By being indifferent about the number of times we yield to any temptation after we have once yielded and broken our resolution to resist it; 4. By thinking we can avoid sin without avoiding its near occasion; 5. By relying too much on ourselves and neglecting to follow the advice of our confessor in regard to the sins we confess.
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