Lesson 41 – Commandments

Peace be to you.

Law and Love:

Have you ever been guilty of speeding?  If you were, when you came into the garage after exceeding the speed limit, did you ever bend your head over the steering wheel and weep?  Did you ever shoot game out of season?  Did it ever cause you great remorse?


It is very obvious that here there is a breaking of the law and there is not just exactly the same kind of feeling that follows the breaking of the law as there is that follows the wounding of someone that we love.  We have been insisting all along that the standard and norm of our morality is not just the law but a person, not something that is prohibitive but rather charity and love.  That is why some people will feel greater sorrow for sin than others.  It all depends on how much we love.


Suppose you cannot sing.  Suppose you could not carry a key on a ring and you were put into a choir where everyone else could sing. You hit a false note; the director of the choir would look at you with a very sour face. All of the other singers would turn toward you and give you a dirty look. Why is it that they act that particular way to you? It is because they feel that discord much more than you do.  You are not musical enough to appreciate it, but they are.


So, too, there are some people who do not appreciate the Love and the Mercy of God and therefore they are not so much inclined to feel a regret as those who have just a vague concept of deity. I do not mean to say that they are without blame. Just as there was a reality of you giving a wrong note.

I only say that where there is a love of Christ, there is- first of all -a refusal to do anything that would wound Him and, secondly, when we do hurt Him, we feel a greater contrition and sorrow.


That is the difference between law and Love, between sin in the natural order and sin in the Supernatural order.



Just let me give you a few more differences to explain it.

  • When we are governed solely by law, when we are not in a state of Grace, and when we do wrong we have a sense of guilt.
  • When, however, we are in a state of Grace and we sin seriously, we have a sense of pollution, of shame, of defilement.

The difference between the two is very much like the remorse of Cain or Judas compared to the remorse of the prodigal son who said he had sinned against his father. 

  • Then, too, in the natural order, we are apt to have a fear of temporal punishments,
  • Whereas in the Supernatural order of Grace we are governed by a sense of the Holiness of God.


Another difference is that in the natural order our sorrow very often extends only to some sins, and particularly the more shameful ones, not always to such sins as avarice, selfishness, but when we are penetrated by the Spirit of Christ, then we even are sorry for our bad motives, for our evil thoughts, anything that inspires a bad action.

The final difference:  in the natural order, the grief for a fault or a sin is often vanishing and temporary, as it was in the case of the judge who heard Paul.


Remember sacred scripture says something that is indeed very striking: “The dog goes back to his vomit.” (Proverbs 26:11)  Sometimes sinners go back to their sin, simply because they were not penetrated with a keen sense of the reality of sin. But if, however, we live in the Supernatural order, then there is an enduring conviction of sin.  Then we become very much like Peter who said he so much regretted his sin that he had furrows in his cheeks from the tears that he shed in denying our Blessed Lord. 



Our aim then, is to imitate the life of Christ Himself:-“W.W.J.D.”

Now this does not mean that we have to be born in a stable, that we have to visit Egypt, that we have to dispute with our teachers at the age of 12, or that we have to change water into wine or go to a wedding at the age of 30. No!

It means that each of us is to do what Christ himself would have done in our place. We are not to copy Christ as, for example, a student will copy a great master in an art gallery. We are, rather, as we said, to have the Spirit of Christ in us.  This being understood, we now come back to the law that should govern all of our moral life. We repeat it because it is so important.





Law that should govern all of our moral life

Our blessed Lord said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and thy whole mind. This is the greatest of the commandments. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”  (Mark 12:29-31)


Notice that all the ten commandments were summed up in Love and you never can have love except by and through a person who is opposite you.  Now who is the person who is opposite you? God and neighbor. That is why when we are in love with someone we speak of our love.

  • As we said before, namely, there is a bond uniting the two of us so that the basis of moral life is an earthly Trinity. Just as there is in heaven the Trinity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, so on earth there is a Trinity of moral relations:
  • I, thou, and God.

***  Just as there is a dialogue between me and you and God, so there is the eternal dialogue of Love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. ***


Our Blessed Lord, the night of the Last Supper, spoke of the Heavenly Trinity as the model of this earthly Trinity of Love. These were His words. He was talking about how He revealed the Father’s Love to us and He said to His Heavenly Father, “ that the Love Thou has bestowed on Me, may dwell in them, and I, too, may dwell in them.” (John 17:26)

You observe, therefore, that the norm of our love of neighbor is not just the love that we have for ourselves, but the Love that Christ has for us, that is the foundation of love.


Another point.

These two commandments, love God and love neighbor, we said sum up the ten commandments. The ten commandments refer to love of God and love of neighbor.

And in between the first three and the last six comes the fourth:  Honor thy father and thy mother.  And God put this in between the two, love of God and neighbor, because the parents in the home take the place of God. And obedience to parents is a very high form of justice. It is related not only to neighbor but also to God. When, therefore, we disobey God, we are in some way offending against one of the first three commandments, about adoring God, keeping holy His name, keeping holy the Sabbath.


Now we are not so much concerned here with telling you about sins, about the vices you have to avoid. What interests us is to increase in you the love of God; in other words, to construct a positive, moral, strong imitation of Christ.

Construct a positive, moral, strong imitation of Christ

Oh, we will mention the sins in passing, but you will find these sins for your examination of conscience in the particular catechism which we have recommended and you will also find them in any prayer book where there is an examination of conscience.


Now this is not a complete enumeration of sins against the first three commandments, but they are some of them:

Anyone would violate the general commandment of love of God, or the first three, the old law,

  • if he would refuse to recognize God as Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier,
  • if there was a hatred of God,
  • failure to worship,
  • failure to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation,
  • if there was a rebellion against God for the trials and crosses

He permitted; if there were such things as idolatry, superstition, blasphemy, cursing, sacrilege, loss of faith, presumption, despair, dishonoring the Sunday and the like.

  But we are not just to avoid these sins. 

We really must know why should we worship God. Why should we honor Him?  Why is His name Holy? If we understand this, the first commandment, to love God with our whole mind and our whole soul, then perhaps we will not fall into any of these sins.  That is what we are going to explain.


How do you think of God? 

Do you think of Him as someone on a throne who sulks, and who pouts and gets angry if you do not go to mass on Sunday? Or if you blaspheme, do you think it makes Him unhappy when you do not pay any attention to Him? Or do you think that He is a kind of a benevolent grandfather who’s indifferent to what you do, who likes to see you go places and do things and have a good time, regardless of how you do it? No, God is not like either picture or the other. Does He lose something when we do not worship Him?  Of course not – we do!


First, why worship God? What is worship? 

Worship is a contraction of worth-ship. It is the manifestation of the worth in which we hold another person. Worship is a sign of value. You applaud, for example, an actor on a stage. You may applaud an athlete and when you do so, you are putting a value on his worth.  Every time a man takes off his hat to a lady, he is worshipping her.


Now what does it mean to worship God? 

It means to acknowledge in some way His Power, His Goodness, and His Truth.  If you do not worship God, what do you worship? Nine times out of ten, it will be yourself. If there is no God, then you are a god and if you are a god, I am an atheist, because I cannot believe in that kind of a god. The basic reason today why there is so little worship of God is because man denies he is a creature. Without a sense of dependence, there can be no worship. That’s the definition of worship.

  • Now, why should you worship God? You have a duty to worship God, not because He will be unhappy if you do not, but because you will be unhappy.


Let me prove that to you.

Suppose you are a father. Your little boy brings to you at Christmas time a little ten-cent knife that he bought. Do not you value that little knife more than a box of very fine cigars from your insurance agent? If you are a mother and you have a little girl, have you not often received a handful of yellow dandelions from your little daughter and have they not pleased you more than a number of roses from a dinner guest? Do these trivialities make you any richer? Do you need them? Do you need that knife? Do you need the dandelions? Would you be imperfect without them?  No, they are no use to you. Well, why then do you love them? Because your children are worshipping you. Because they are acknowledging your love and your goodness and by doing so they are perfecting themselves. In other words, they are developing along the lines of love rather than hate, thankfulness rather than ingratitude and service rather than disloyalty.


  • They are becoming more perfect children and more happy children.


Now just as you do not need that little knife or those dandelions, neither does God need your worship.

But if their giving is a sign of your worth in your children’s eyes, then are not prayer, adoration, worship, a sign of God’s worth in our eyes? If you do not need your children’s worship, why do you think God needs yours? If their worship is for their perfection, not yours, then may not your worship of God be not for His perfection but yours

Worship is your opportunity to express devotion, dependence and love, and in doing so you make yourself happy




A lover does not give gifts to the beloved because she is poor.  He gives gifts to her because she is already in his eyes possessed of all gifts. And the more he loves, the poorer he thinks his gifts are. If he gave her a million, he would still think he had fallen short. If he gave everything, it would still not be enough.


Proportion between our gift and our love    

One of the reasons we take price tags off of our gifts is not because we are ashamed of what we paid for them but because we do not wish to establish a proportion between our gift and our love. When, therefore, a man gives a young woman gifts, his gifts do not make her more precious, but they make him less inadequate. By giving, he is no longer nothing. The gift is his perfection, not hers. Worship, in like manner, is our perfection, not God’s. To refuse to worship is to deny a dependence that makes us independent. 


Worship is to us what blooming is to a rose. To refuse worship would be like a rose cutting itself off from the sun and the earth, or a student denying that history could teach him anything. To withhold admiration from one who deserves it is a sign of a jealous, conceited mind. Down deep in his heart, a man who refuses to worship God knows that he is not the Creator. He even knows that he could not be godless if there were no God.


God made you to be happyHe made you for your happiness, not His. God would still be perfectly happy if you never existed. God has no need of love for his sake, for there is nothing in you of and by yourself which makes you loveable to God. As a matter of fact, most of us poor creatures are very lucky if we receive any affection from human beings.


Why is it that God finds us loveable?

It is because He put some of His Love into us. That is how we are to find everyone else loveable, too, when we put some of our love into them and they become loveable. God does not love us, therefore, for the same reason we love others. We love others because we need. We live in poverty. Someone has to supply our lack.  But God does not love us because He needs us. He Loves us because he put some of His Love into us. That is why we are valued. When, therefore, God asks us to love Him with our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole soul, it is because He wants us to be happy.


God love you.  

1. In today’s lesson on – Commandments what stood out the most to you?


2. Why do you think Bishop Sheen gave the subtitle “The Loveable is Adorable” to this lesson?


3. How would you explain to someone seeking a deeper understanding of why God gave us the Commandments ?


4. Now that you have learned more about – Commandments what changes do you think this will have in your daily life?

2083. “Jesus summed up man’s duties toward God in this saying: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'[Mt 22:37 ; cf. Lk 10:27:’. . . and with all your strength.’ 2 Deut 6:4 ./A> .] This immediately echoes the solemn call: ‘Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.'[Deut 6:4 .]
God has loved us first. The love of the One God is recalled in the first of the ‘ten words.’ The commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God.

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.[Ex 20:2-5 ; cf. Deut 5:6-9 .]
It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'[Mt 4:10 .]”

2084. “God makes himself known by recalling his all-powerful loving, and liberating action in the history of the one he addresses: ‘I brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.’ The first word contains the first commandment of the Law: ‘You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him…. You shall not go after other gods.'[Deut 6:13-14 .] God’s first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him.”
2085. “The one and true God first reveals his glory to Israel.[Cf. Ex 19:16-25 ; Ex 24:15-18 .] The revelation of the vocation and truth of man is linked to the revelation of God. Man’s vocation is to make God manifest by acting in conformity with his creation ‘in the image and likeness of God’:
There will never be another God, Trypho, and there has been no other since the world began . . . than he who made and ordered the universe. We do not think that our God is different from yours. He is the same who brought your fathers out of Egypt ‘by his powerful hand and his outstretched arm.’ We do not place our hope in some other god, for there is none, but in the same God as you do: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.[St. Justin, Dial. cum Tryphone Judaeo 11, 1: PG 6, 497.]”
2086. “‘The first commandment embraces faith, hope, and charity. When we say ‘God’ we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent. Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us? Hence the formula God employs in the Scripture at the beginning and end of his commandments: ‘I am the LORD.”[Roman Catechism 3, 2,4.]”

1776. “‘Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment…. For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God…. His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.'[GS 16.]”
1777. “Moral conscience,[Cf. Rom 2:14-16 .] present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil.[Cf. Rom 1:32 .] It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking. ”
1778. “Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law:
Conscience is a law of the mind; yet (Christians) would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise…. (Conscience) is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.[John Henry Cardinal Newman, ‘Letter to the Duke of Norfolk,’ V, in Certain Difficulties felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching II (London: Longmans Green, 1885), 248.]”

2041. “The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor: ”
2042. “The first precept (‘You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.’) requires the faithful to participate in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community gathers together on the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord.[Cf. CIC, cann. 1246-1248; CCEO, can. 881 # 1, # 2, # 4.]
The second precept (‘You shall confess your sins at least once a year.’) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.[Cf. CIC, can. 989; CCEO, can. 719.]
The third precept (‘You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.’) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.[Cf. CIC, can. 920; CCEO, cann. 708; 881 # 3.]”
2043. “The fourth precept (‘You shall keep holy the holy days of obligation.’) completes the Sunday observance by participation in the principal liturgical feasts which honor the mysteries of the Lord, the Virgin Mary, and the saints.[Cf. CIC, can. 1246; CCEO, cann. 881 # 1, # 4; 880 # 3.]
The fifth precept (‘You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.’) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts; they help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.[Cf. CIC, cann. 1249-1251; CCEO, can. 882.]
The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his abilities.[Cf. CIC, can. 222.]”
1974. “The evangelical counsels manifest the living fullness of charity, which is never satisfied with not giving more. They attest its vitality and call forth our spiritual readiness. The perfection of the New Law consists essentially in the precepts of love of God and neighbor. The counsels point out the more direct ways, the readier means, and are to be practiced in keeping with the vocation of each:
(God) does not want each person to keep all the counsels, but only those appropriate to the diversity of persons, times, opportunities, and strengths, as charity requires; for it is charity, as queen of all virtues, all commandments, all counsels, and, in short, of all laws and all Christian actions that gives to all of them their rank, order, time, and value.[St. Francis de Sales, Love of God 8, 6.] ”
1822. “Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. ”
1823. “Jesus makes charity the new commandment.[Cf. Jn 13:34 .] By loving his own ‘to the end,'[Jn 13:1 .] he makes manifest the Father’s love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.’ And again: ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.'[Jn 15:9, 12 .]”
1824. “Fruit of the Spirit and fullness of the Law, charity keeps the commandments of God and his Christ: ‘Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.'[Jn 15:9-10 ; cf. Mt 22:40 ; Rom 13:8-10 .]”
1825. “Christ died out of love for us, while we were still ‘enemies.'[Rom 5:10 .] The Lord asks us to love as he does, even our enemies, to make ourselves the neighbor of those farthest away, and to love children and the poor as Christ himself.[Cf. Mt 5:44 ; Lk 10:27-37 ; Mk 9:37 ; Mt 25:40, 45 .]
The Apostle Paul has given an incomparable depiction of charity: ‘charity is patient and kind, charity is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Charity does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.'[1 Cor 13:4-7 .]”
1826. “‘If I . . . have not charity,’ says the Apostle, ‘I am nothing.’ Whatever my privilege, service, or even virtue, ‘if I . . . have not charity, I gain nothing.'[1 Cor 13:1-4 .] Charity is superior to all the virtues. It is the first of the theological virtues: ‘So faith, hope, charity abide, these three. But the greatest of these is charity.'[1 Cor 13:13 .]”
1827. “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by charity, which ‘binds everything together in perfect harmony’;[Col 3:14 .] it is the form of the virtues; it articulates and orders them among themselves; it is the source and the goal of their Christian practice. Charity upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love.”
1828. “The practice of the moral life animated by charity gives to the Christian the spiritual freedom of the children of God. He no longer stands before God as a slave, in servile fear, or as a mercenary looking for wages, but as a son responding to the love of him who ‘first loved us’:[Cf. 1Jn 4:19 .]
If we turn away from evil out of fear of punishment, we are in the position of slaves. If we pursue the enticement of wages, . . . we resemble mercenaries. Finally if we obey for the sake of the good itself and out of love for him who commands . . . we are in the position of children.[St. Basil, Reg. fus. tract., prol. 3 PG 31, 896 B.]”
1829. “The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is friendship and communion:
Love is itself the fulfillment of all our works. There is the goal; that is why we run: we run toward it, and once we reach it, in it we shall find rest.[St. Augustine, In ep. Jo. 10, 4: PL 35, 2057.] “

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