Sunday, July 28, 2013

Beyond the 10 Commandments: Practical Aids for the Spiritual Life

During Lent and Holy Week we are exposed to some of the most fundamental statements of our faith: The 10 Commandments (also known as the 10 Words or Decalogue) and the Baptismal Covenant. In the spirit of these foundational texts, and as resource for living them out, here are some other time-tested tools for living the Christian faith in daily life.

The Seven Capital Virtues

Humility: To live in right relationship with God and others; to be grounded in reality
Charity: Generosity through knowledge that all we have is a gift from God
Chastity: practicing a life of purity, free from corruption of self or others
Patience: a life of peacefulness and actions promoting peace
Temperance: practicing self-control and moderation, judging prudently
Kindness: charity, compassion, and friendship with an unselfish heart
Diligence: fortitude and steadfastness in work and service with personal integrity

The Seven Capital Sins

Pride: The lack of humility befitting a creature of God
Greed: too great a desire for money or worldly goods
Lust: impure and unworthy desire for some created thing or experience
Anger: unworthy irritation and lack of self-control
Gluttony: the habit of eating or drinking too much
Envy: jealousy of some other person’s perceived happiness
Sloth/Accidie: the choice to avoid God’s claim on our life to worship God and serve others.

Nine Ways of Participating in Another’s Sin

At the Great Vigil of Easter we definitively renounced “Satan, all evil powers, and all sinful desires.” The Christian must struggle in an unseen inner battle with these forces throughout life, as well as with the sinfulness around us. The following is a list of tools Christians may use to bring this wider struggle to consciousness. Each of these actions or omissions is a form of direct participation in what we have renounced before God:

By counsel (encouraging others to sin)
By command (using one’s position or authority to make others sin)
By consent (agreeing to the initiation of sinful action)
By provocation (egging another on to sin or making conditions right for sin)
By praise or flattery (encouraging another’s sin through emotional manipulation)
By concealment (hiding a sin so it may be committed freely)
By partaking (sharing in the sin, thus giving license and approval)
By silence (not speaking or acting in appropriate ways against sin)
By defense of the sin committed (actively trying to turn sin into a blessing)

The Chief Aids to Penitence

These are the elements of living the Gospel life (based on Christ’s own teaching in the Sermon on the Mount):

Performance of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy

The Chief Spiritual Works of Mercy

Those actions tend the spiritual needs of others; the first three may require special instruction; the final four are the obligation of all Christian faithful.

To instruct those without spiritual knowledge
To counsel those afflicted by doubt
To admonish those committing sin
To comfort the sorrowful
To suffer wrongs patiently
To forgive injuries
To pray for the living and the dead

The Chief Corporal Works of Mercy

Those actions that tend to the bodily needs of others, expressing God’s love and the justice of the Kingdom

To feed the hungry
To give drink to the thirsty
To clothe the naked
To ransom captives
To shelter the homeless
To visit the sick
To bury the dead

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit

These gifts are given in Baptism and strengthened in Confirmation.

Fear of God

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

These are the characteristics (derived from Sacred Scripture) of people who are living in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. If one experiences growth in these areas—however small—one is truly showing forth the fruits of the Kingdom. If these characteristics are diminishing or absent, it means we are living according to the “spirit of the world.”


The Theological Virtues

These three virtues are provided by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 as the bedrock characteristics of all true Christian theology and practice.

Charity (Love)

The Principal Feasts

To be observed by participation by a Christian in the Holy Eucharist (all parishes should make every effort to observe each of these); if your parish does not observe a Principal Feast, you should encourage the priest in charge to do so, or attend a neighboring parish that does.

Easter Day
Ascension Day
The Day of Pentecost
Trinity Sunday
All Saints’ Day—Nov. 1 (or the Sunday following)
Christmas Day—Dec. 25
The Epiphany—Jan. 6

The Sunday Obligation

Each Sunday is a Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ. A Christian should observe each Sunday by participation in the Holy Eucharist whenever possible, the exception being an absence worthy of a blessing (sickness, travel, performance of a work of mercy, &c.). When unable to attend the Sunday Eucharist, it is advised that a person make a Spiritual Communion.

Fast Days (BCP p. 17)

The Church recognizes the following days of absolute fast (excepting for health reasons):
Ash Wednesday
Good Friday

Days of Special Devotion

The following days are observed by special acts of discipline and

Ash Wednesday and the other weekdays of Lent and of Holy Week,
except the feast of the Annunciation.

Good Friday and all other Fridays of the year, in commemoration of the
Lord’s crucifixion, except for Fridays in the Christmas and Easter
seasons, and any Feasts of our Lord which occur on a Friday.

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