Elements of Basic Catholic Belief


Brief Statement of Christian Doctrine.

 The text of the Apostle's Creed, The Nicene Creed and The Athanasian Creed. CCC 192.


The Ten Commandments of God.

Exodus 20:1-17.

1. I AM the Lord thy God, who brought I thee out of the land of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above) or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them : I am the Lord thy God, mighty) jealous, visiting the iniquities of fathers upon their children, unto the third and fourth generation of those that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of those that love me, and keep my commandments.

"This commandment forbids:

* Polytheism and idolatry, which divinizes creatures, power, money, or even demons.

* Superstition which is a departure from the worship due to the true God and which also expresses itself in various forms of divination, magic, sorcery and spiritism.

* Irreligion which is evidenced: in tempting God by word or deed; in sacrilege, which profanes sacred persons or sacred things, above all the Eucharist; and in simony, which involves the buying or selling of spiritual things.

* Atheism which rejects the existence of God, founded often on a false conception of human autonomy.

* Agnosticism which affirms that nothing can be known about God, and involves indifferentism and practical atheism." Compendium of the Catechism.

[These links take you to the catechetical treatment of this commandment, current Catholic Catechism (1994), Baltimore (1891), Council of Trent (1566).]

2. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that shall take the Name of the Lord his God in vain.


"One shows respect for the holy Name of God by blessing it, praising it and glorifying it. It is forbidden, therefore, to call on the Name of God to justify a crime. It is also wrong to use the holy Name of God in any improper way as in blasphemy (which by its nature is a grave sin), curses, and unfaithfulness to promises made in the Name of God.

A false oath is forbidden because one calls upon God who is truth itself to be the witness to a lie." Compendium of the Catechism.

[current, Baltimore, Trent]

3. Remember that thou keep Holy the Sabbathday. Six days shalt thou labour, and shalt do all thy works; but on the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work on it, thou, nor thy eon, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy beast, nor the stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.

"Jesus recognized the holiness of the Sabbath day and with divine authority he gave this law its authentic interpretation: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath" (Mark 2:27).

Christians keep Sunday and other days of obligation holy by participating in the Eucharist of the Lord and by refraining from those activities which impede the worship of God and disturb the joy proper to the day of the Lord or the necessary relaxation of mind and body. Activities are allowed on the Sabbath which are bound up with family needs or with important social service, provided that they do not lead to habits prejudicial to the holiness of Sunday, to family life and to health. " Compendium of the Catechism..

[current, Baltimore, Trent]

4. Honour thy father and thy mother,. that thou mayest be long-lived upon the land which the Lord thy God will give thee.

"Children owe respect (filial piety), gratitude, docility and obedience to their parents. In paying them respect and in fostering good relationships with their brothers and sisters, children contribute to the growth in harmony and holiness in family life in general. Adult children should give their parents material and moral support whenever they find themselves in situations of distress, sickness, loneliness, or old age."

"Parents, in virtue of their participation in the fatherhood of God, have the first responsibility for the education of their children and they are the first heralds of the faith for them. They have the duty to love and respect their children as persons and as children of God and to provide, as far as is possible, for their physical and spiritual needs...' Compendium of the Catechism.

[current, Baltimore, Trent]

5. Thou shalt not kill.

"The fifth commandment forbids as gravely contrary to the moral law:

* direct and intentional murder and cooperation in it;

* direct abortion, willed as an end or as means, as well as cooperation in it. Attached to this sin is the penalty of excommunication because, from the moment of his or her conception, the human being must be absolutely respected and protected in his integrity;

* direct euthanasia which consists in putting an end to the life of the handicapped, the sick, or those near death by an act or by the omission of a required action;

* suicide and voluntary cooperation in it, insofar as it is a grave offense against the just love of God, of self, and of neighbor. One's responsibility may be aggravated by the scandal given; one who is psychologically disturbed or is experiencing grave fear may have diminished responsibility." Compendium of the Catechism.

[current, Baltimore, Trent]

6. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

"Grave sins against chastity differ according to their object: adultery, masturbation, fornication, pornography, prostitution, rape, and homosexual acts. These sins are expressions of the vice of lust. These kinds of acts committed against the physical and moral integrity of minors become even more grave." Compendium of the Catechism.
[current, Baltimore, Trent]

7. Thou shalt not steal.

"Above all, the seventh commandment forbids theft, which is the taking or using of another's property against the reasonable will of the owner. This can be done also by paying unjust wages; by speculation on the value of goods in order to gain an advantage to the detriment of others; or by the forgery of checks or invoices. Also forbidden is tax evasion or business fraud; willfully damaging private or public property ; usury; corruption; the private abuse of common goods; work deliberately done poorly; and waste." Compendium of the Catechism.
[current, Baltimore, Trent]

8. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

"The eighth commandment forbids:

* false witness, perjury, and lying, the gravity of which is measured by the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims;

* rash judgment, slander, defamation and calumny which diminish or destroy the good reputation and honor to which every person has a right;

* flattery, adulation, or complaisance, especially if directed to serious sins or toward the achievement of illicit advantages.

A sin committed against truth demands reparation if it has caused harm to others." Compendium of the Catechism.

[current, Baltimore, Trent]

9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife.

"The ninth commandment requires that one overcome carnal concupiscence in thought and in desire. The struggle against such concupiscence entails purifying the heart and practicing the virtue of temperance.

The ninth commandment forbids cultivating thoughts and desires connected to actions forbidden by the sixth commandment." Compendium of the Catechism.

[current, Baltimore, Trent 9&10]

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, nor his servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his.

"This commandment, which completes the preceding commandment, requires an interior attitude of respect for the property of others and forbids greed, unbridled covetousness for the goods of others, and envy which is the sadness one experiences at the sight of another's goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself.

Jesus calls his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone. Detachment from riches &endash; in the spirit of evangelical poverty &endash; and self-abandonment to divine providence free us from anxiety about the future and prepare us for the blessedness of the "poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mathew 5:3)." Compendium of the Catechism.

 [current, Baltimore]


The Six Precepts of the Church.

1. To hear Mass on Sundays, and all Holydays of obligation.

2. To fast and abstain on the days commanded. [Baltimore catechims on 1 & 2.]

3. To confess our sins at least once a year.

4. To receive the Blessed Eucharist at Easter.

5. To contribute to the support of our Pastors.

6. Not to solemnize marriage at the forbidden times; nor to marry persons within the forbidden degrees of kindred, or otherwise prohibited by the Church; nor clandestinely.

 [Baltimore Catechsim on 3rd to 6th precepts.]


Seven Sacraments.


Matt. 28:19

current catechism, Baltimore, Trent


Acts 8:17

current catechism, Baltimore, Trent


Matt. 26:26-28. Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor 11:23-26. And see especially John 6:50-57.

current catechism, Baltimore, Trent


John 20: 23.

current catechism, Baltimore, Trent

Extreme Unction

(Sacrament of the Sick)

James 5:14. See also Mark 6:12-13.

current catechism, Baltimore, Trent

Holy Orders

Luke 22:19 "Do this in remembrance of me." See also, Acts 13:2-3, Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 4:14 and Acts 14:22 NAB and footnote #5; Rheims: "ordained to them priests"

current catechism, Baltimore, Trent

[Note that the minor orders are now supressed under Vatican II.]


Matt. 19:6.

current catechism, Baltimore, Trent


The Three Theological Virtues: Faith - Hope - Charity.
Sec. 1826 CCC

"1. The three theological virtues are manifested in the following manner:

The effect produced by the virtue of Faith is to make us believe in the existence of God and in his divine perfections.
The effect of the virtue of Hope is to make us look for eternal salvation from God, as well as the means that are necessary for its attainment.
The virtue of Charity causes us to find satisfaction in God, and to seek to please Him by keeping His commandments.

2. These virtues are fitly termed theological, because God Himself is their object, their motive, and their Author.

God is the object of faith; that is to say, we believe what God has revealed, and all that has reference to God Himself, to His being', His attributes, His works and His will. God is the motive of faith, for we believe that which He has revealed because He is omniscient and the highest truth. God is the object of hope; for we hope for eternal happiness after death, to see God and enjoy Him forever. God is the motive of hope, for we hope for eternal felicity because He is almighty, most bountiful, and faithful to His promises. God is the object of charity, for all our love centers in Him. God is the motive of charity, since we love Him because He is supreme beauty and sovereign goodness. God is also the Author of the three theological virtues, as the following reasons demonstrate:

3. We receive the three theological virtues to render us capable of performing good works simultaneously with sanctifying grace.

When the Holy Spirit enters into the soul, He transforms the powers of the mind, so that it can rise to God with greater facility. When He comes and imparts to us sanctifying grace, a light shines in our heart that awakens faith and hope (2 Cor. iv. 6), and a fire is ignited, that kindles a flame of charity (Rom. v. 5). This action of the Holy Ghost within the soul is called the infusion of the three theological virtues. The three theological virtues are infused into the soul (Council of Trent, 6, ch. 7). The infusion of these virtues has a similar effect as have the rays of the sun in imparting light and warmth to the atmosphere. God does not force these virtues upon us; the freedom of the will is in no wise interfered with. The power of exercising the three theological virtues is imparted in Baptism (CCC 1266), and if it be lost, it is given again in the Sacrament of Penance. As the seed lies dormant in the bosom of the earth, until, under the influence of sun and rain, it germinates and grows, so the three theological virtues at first lie dormant in the soul of the child until he attains the use of reason, and through the action of grace and religious instruction they are developed and come to sight (in works). The baptized child resembles one who is asleep, who possesses the power of sight, but sees nothing, until he awakens from sleep and makes use of that power. So the power to exercise faith, hope, and charity are latent in the soul of the child, until with the use of reason they are brought into play, and their existence is made apparent.

4. We ought to make acts of the three theological virtues frequently in the course of our life, especially before approaching the sacraments and at the hour of death.

The means of making acts of the three theological virtues is to place before the mind the object and the motive of these virtues. In doing so, it is well not to employ the usual formula, but to express one's self in one's own words. Every time we make the sign of the cross, utter a prayer, or do a good deed, we make implicitly at least, an act of one or more of these virtues." Rev. Francis Spirago, The Catechism Explained, Tan Books (1899) p. 442-43. Imprimatur, +Patrick J. Hayes, Archbishop of NY, Oct. 18, 1921.

The Four Cardinal Virtues. Sec. 1805 CCC

Prudence - Justice - Fortitude - Temperance.

1. Prudence is the capacity of the mind to grasp, or comprehend, the good things of eternity and the means of attaining them. Through prudence we distinguish what is human from what is divine. The prudent Christian's thoughts are on gaining eternity. St. Thomas Aquinas said prudence is the eye of the soul. Without the light of the eye we cannot find our way nor without prudence can we discern the path to heaven. Without the eye we cannot make full use of our limbs, nor can we practice virtue correctly. [It is something like spiritual common sense.] Its opposite is a worldly wisdom or wisdom of the flesh that brings temporal advantage or sensual enjoyment, but this is the wisdom of foolishness. (1 Cor. 3:19; NIV). [CCC 1835 "Prudence disposes the practical reason to discern, in every circumstance, our true good and to choose the right means for achieving it."]

2. Justice enables us to willingly walk the narrow path of the commandments; the just man dreads the slightest deviation from it. The just man gives every one his due; to God, he gives worship, to proper authority, obedience, to subordinates, fairness, and to all, the love Christ commanded. ["CCC 1807 (T)he just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct..." And see, CCC 1836.]

3. Through temperance a person uses the good things of life to the extent needed for attainment of heaven. He does not eat or drink more than needed to support life, preserve health, and fulfill responsibilities. The temperate person does not strive with excessive eagerness after honors, pleasures, or sensual enjoyments. [CCC 1838 "Temperance moderates the attraction of the pleasures of the senses and provides balance in the use of created goods."] [Editor's note: this is not to say that pleasure, or fun, is wrong. It isn't! Often we need merely to indulge in moderation, an idea that is increasingly foreign to people today. The catechism says we are to avoid excess. See, CCC 2290. It has often been recommended to people who wish to grow spiritually to give up things that are not wrong so as to separate ourselves from worldly things that do not help us on our journey to heaven, and to do penance for past wrongs done to the others.]

 4. Fortitude enables a person to make sacrifices willingly for the sake of the Kingdom of God. He who possess the virtue of fortitude does not allow himself to be intimidated by ridicule, threats, or persecution. He is ready to suffer even death. He patiently endures all the afflictions that come upon him. He is like a diamond that no stone can break. Fortitude is more strikingly displayed in bearing great suffering than in undertaking great achievements, for suffering is more difficult than doing. "No saint was ever a coward. The holy martyrs showed fortitude in its highest degree." Rev. Francis Spirago, The Catechism Explained, Tan Books (1899) p. 444-46. Imprimatur, +Patrick J. Hayes, Archbishop of NY, Oct. 18, 1921. ["CCC 1837 Fortitude ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good."]

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost. Isa 11: 2-3. CCC 1831.

Wisdom, Fortitude, The fear of the Lord

Understanding, Knowledge,

Counsel, Piety

[• "The gift of wisdom, by detaching us from the world, makes us relish and love only the things of heaven.
• The gift of understanding helps us to grasp the truths of religion as far as is necessary.
• The gift of counsel springs from supernatural prudence, and enables us to see and choose correctly what will help most to the glory of God and our own salvation.
• By the gift of fortitude we receive courage to overcome the obstacles and difficulties that arise in the practice of our religious duties.
• The gift of knowledge points out to us the path to follow and the dangers to avoid in order to reach heaven.
• The gift of piety, by inspiring us with a tender and filial confidence in God, makes us joyfully embrace all that pertains to His service.
• Lastly, the gift of fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread, above all things, to offend Him." Catholic Encyclopedia, Holy Spirit.]
The Twelve Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
 Sec. 1832 CCC
old terminology
newer terminology
Charity, Longanimity, Fidelity,

Joy, Goodness, Modesty,

Peace, Benignity, Continency,and

Patience, Mildness, Chastity.

charity, joy, peace,

patience, kindness, goodness,

generosity, gentleness, faithfulness,

modesty, self-control, chastity

(See Gal 5:22-23.)


The Spiritual Works of Mercy.
See sec. 2446-2448 CCC. See also CCC 1473.


To counsel the doubtful,

To forgive offences,

To instruct the ignorant,

To bear wrongs patiently,

To admonish sinners,

To comfort the afflicted,

To pray for the living and the dead.


The Corporal Works of Mercy.
To feed the hungry,

To give drink to the thirsty,

To clothe the naked,

To harbour the harbourless,

To visit the sick,

To visit the captive, and

To bury the dead.

 Catholic Encyclopedia on the Works of Mercy.

The Eight Beatitudes. - Matt. 5:1-12.

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

2. Blessed are the meek; for they shall possess the land.

3. Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted.

4. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice; for they shall be filled.

5. Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.

6. Blessed are the clean of heart; for they shall see God.

7. Blessed are the peacemakers ; for they shall be called the children of God.

8. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


The Seven Deadly Sins and the opposite Virtues.
See capitol sins in sec. 1866 of the CCC, and see Types of Sin.













Brotherly love,



Sins against the Holy Ghost.

Presumption of God's Mercy -

Despair -

[Dispair has sometimes been associated with suicide. However the church says in the catechism at section: "2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives."]

Impugning (to oppose) the known truth [See Erroneous Judgment, and formation of conscience]-

[CCC"2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."]

Envy at another's spiritual good -

["There is, however, a kind of envy which is accounted among the most grievous sins, viz. envy of another's spiritual good, which envy is a sorrow for the increase of God's grace, and not merely for our neighbor's good. Hence it is accounted a sin against the Holy Ghost, because thereby a man envies, as it were, the Holy Ghost Himself, Who is glorified in His works." St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica.]

Obstinacy in sin - [CCC1037 God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end."]

Final impenitence.

["CCC 1864 'Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.'... There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit... Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss. "]


Sins crying to Heaven for Vengeance.
Sec. 1867 of the Catholic Catechism.

Wilful murder [Gen. 4:10] - The sin of Sodom - Oppression of the poor - Defrauding labourers of their wages [Deut. 24:14].

[Editor's note: The sin of Sodom may refer to more than the usual, popular, interpretation. The town's people did not accord the respect and help to travelers normally required of people in their time and culture. Contrast their attitude with the earlier treatment given by Abraham to these same travelers in Gen 18:1-8. In addition, they were attempting rape (cf. Gen. 19:9). All the townspeople seemed so devoid of the love, honor and respect due to others, especially the alien or stranger among them, that their attitudes and actions called out to God for Justice. Ezek. 16:49 "This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy." For more see the Sin of Sodom.]


Nine ways of being accessory to another's Sin.
See sec. 1868 CCC.


By counsel - By command - By consent

By provocation - By praise or flattery

By concealment - By partaking - By silence - By defence of the ill done.


Three Eminent Good Works.

(CCC 1969 Acts of Religion.)

Alms-deeds or works of mercy - Prayer - Fasting.


The Evangelical Counsels.

Voluntary poverty - Chastity - Obedience.

[CCC "915 Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple..." "CCC 944 The life consecrated to God is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church."]


The Four last Things to be remembered.

Death - Judgment - Hell - Heaven.

See the Baltimore Catechism on the Last Things.

Virtue | Grace | Chief Commandments: love | Christian self love

A Short Catechism on Prayer | Catholic belief

Incense | Holy Water | Pray with the Saints | Church Bells | Vestments | Holy Oils | Candles | Help the Poor | Scripture on Almsgiving

From The Key of Heaven, author unknown, pp. 16-22. Published by Grainy Bros. Imprimatur 1906. The imprimatur would only apply to the original text. Any copyrighted material is used in reliance on 17USC107.

 CCC = Catechism of the Catholic Church

Sacred Heart Parish
Awaken to prayer.
Index to all parish web pages.