Throughout school, from high school and beyond, there always seemed to be someone who raised their hand and asked, ‘Will this be on the test?’ Students often begin a semester by glancing through the syllabus to discover what they’ll have to do in order to pass the course with a decent grade. In a busy world, with so many obligations and responsibilities, folks often find themselves asking, ‘What is the bare minimum I can do and get by?’ What’s the minimum credit card or mortgage payment I can make? How many days of work can I miss without getting in trouble? This is a somewhat common way of thinking these days.
Of course, this is never the best approach to anything – just getting by won’t really let us grow or accomplish much of anything. But it can be helpful to know what the absolute minimum is so we can be sure to never fall below those basic expectations; and when times are tough and things are especially busy, we can plan to always at least accomplish the basics.
The Church outlines something very much like the bare minimum for us in something called the Precepts of the Church. These summarize the absolute minimum of what it means to live the Christian life as a member of the Catholic Church. People are sometimes surprised to discover they may not be even meeting the minimum expectations of being a good Catholic – often that can help explain why their spiritual life is suffering, or why they don’t feel fulfilled in their parishes.
How are you doing at meeting (and hopefully exceeding) these bare minimums of being a practicing Catholic? If you find your faith stale or stalling, check to see if you’re investing in the life of faith at least enough to prioritize meeting these ‘minimums’; we can’t expect faith to be alive in our lives, transforming our hearts, and leading us on the path of authentic discipleship if we’re not at least hitting these basic targets.
1 – Attend Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation; and refrain from servile labor on those days.
2 – Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) at least once a year.
3 – Receive Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
4 – Observe days of fasting & abstinence established by the Church.
5 – Provide for the needs of the Church by sharing your time, talent, and treasure.