Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Back-to-Basics Lenten Resolutions

By Fr. Jerry Pokorsky ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 19, 2024

Although the full content of the divine mysteries is beyond the reach of reason alone, we have the privilege of devising tools to organize God’s revelation to enhance our faith. Mother Claudia—the Philadelphia Immaculate Heart of Mary sister who died in 1993—designed the “Catechism Clock” to teach children the Catholic vocabulary. Even a child can grasp the language of faith and enter the sacred mysteries.

The concept is simple. Cluster the Church’s vocabulary around the 12 hours of the clock: one God, two natures in Jesus, three persons in one God, etc. The comprehensive pedagogical simplicity provides opportunities to organize our prayer and make back-to-basics Lenten resolutions:

One. God is one and has no beginning and end. He creates. In obedience to Jesus, we enter into the divine mysteries. Don’t allow the world, the flesh, and the devil to distract us from worshipping God.

Two. Jesus has two natures. Mary’s fiat and the Incarnation wed His divinity with His humanity. In Jesus, God and man, heaven and earth, faith and reason, religion and science are reconciled. The Incarnation affirms that faith—and reason (and religion and science)—are distinct realities but perfectly compatible. Adhere to our faith in Jesus and expand our understanding of all creation.

Three. God reveals He is Three Persons in One God. The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father—both with infinite perfection and perfect unity. The infinite response of love is the Holy Spirit. Matrimony—Catholic or non-Catholic—reflects the generous love of the Blessed Trinity. Children are—by God’s grace—the expression of marital love. Resolve to love one another within our families with the love of the Trinity.

Four. The Creed identifies four distinguishing marks of the Church. The Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. Although we, the members, are sinful, the Church will forever be holy. The Church is the universal means of salvation because Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Even unbelievers may be unwitting members in their sincere quest for truth. We love the Church as we love Mary, the sinless mother of the Church and the spotless Bride of Christ. Peter—even with his failures and sins—is the model of the Catholic hierarchy. Do not allow the sins of the hierarchy to distract us from our love for Holy Mother Church and her sacraments.

Five. Perfect contrition—hating sin because it offends God—removes mortal sin outside of confession. But we cannot know if our sorrow reaches perfection. The Sacrament of Penance consoles us with the certainty of forgiveness. A good confession has five parts. We examine our conscience against God’s law. We acknowledge our sorrow for our sins. We resolve to avoid sin in the future. We confess our sins to a priest who hears confession on behalf of Jesus. We accept the penance that the priest assigns. Celebrate confession with integrity and rejoice in peace of soul.

Six. The Catholic Church has six traditional precepts or laws. We fulfill the Third Commandment by attending Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation. We fast and abstain on the appointed days. We confess our sins at least once a year. We receive Holy Communion during Easter time. We contribute to the support of the Church. We observe the laws of the Church concerning matrimony. Abide by the precepts of the Church and form a good family and culture.

Seven. We encounter Jesus in the sacraments. The sacraments elevate and permeate the pattern of life (birth, maturity, nourishment, healing, governance, and death). We are born again in Baptism. Confirmation strengthens us and fully incorporates us into the Church. Jesus feeds us in the Eucharist. Penance restores us to God’s favor after sin. Bishops and priests govern the Church in Holy Orders. Man and woman rule their families in Holy Matrimony. We prepare to meet God with Extreme Unction (Anointing of the Sick). Live a joyous sacramental life.

Eight. The eight Beatitudes give us a portrait of Jesus and crown a life of virtue: the poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and those who suffer persecution for their virtue. The vision of the Beatitudes humbles us with their splendor. Use the Beatitudes to examine our conscience and overcome arrogance and spiritual complacency.

Nine. In a vision, Our Lord promised St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that those who receive Holy Communion on nine consecutive First Fridays and the Sacrament of Penance will not die in God’s displeasure. Avoid presumption and strive to attain this and similar pious goals to instill virtue lasting a lifetime.

Ten. Violations of the Ten Commandments offend God. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and forgives our sins. Although confession has profound therapeutic effects, it is not psychological therapy. Sins disfigure human nature, God’s handiwork, but they first offend God’s holiness. Do not provoke the wrath of God by violating His Commandments and, through obedience, become an incarnation of His holiness.

Eleven. Judas was a close friend of Jesus. He betrayed Jesus, and the Twelve Apostles dwindled to eleven. Even though we are close to Jesus, His Church, and His hierarchy—and even if we are devoted to Mass attendance—we dare not presume His mercy. Abide by God’s Commandments and remain an apostle in good standing.

Twelve. The Twelve Apostles (with Mattias replacing Judas) replaced the Twelve Tribes of Israel and raised the Church above all tribes and nations. We do not have a multicultural Church that accentuates tribal differences. Honor the Catholic Church that rises above all tribes and nations with Jesus as Lord and Savior.

The comprehensive unity of the Catechetical Clock offers us a beautiful vision of the Catholic faith. Even a child can outwit the arrogant ignorance of members of the Church who scoff at the basic catechism.

Thank you, Mother Claudia.

Fr. Jerry Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington who has also served as a financial administrator in the Diocese of Lincoln. Trained in business and accounting, he also holds a Master of Divinity and a Master’s in moral theology. Father Pokorsky co-founded both CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations deeply engaged in authentic liturgical renewal. He writes regularly for a number of Catholic websites and magazines. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: mary_conces3421 - Feb. 20, 2024 8:59 PM ET USA

    This is a great catechetical aid. There's one problem, however. The second (revised) edition of the Catechism discusses only five Precepts of the Church; the sixth is omitted.