The 6th Commandment

“You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Mt 5:27-28

The 6th commandment is not just some arbitrary rule that is imposed on you. Rather, it’s a prescription of how to live your best life. To practice the virtue of temperance is to live a chaste life. A life where you are not dominated by thoughts and actions of sex. You’ll be miserable if you hop from bar to bar, looking for a one-night stand. A meaningless life, dominated by sex will never be enough to fill the emptiness you will feel.

Imagine the scene, where the young man is enticed by the beautiful woman. She beckons for him and he resists because he loves another. Finally, the young man has a change of expression and one of determination and succumbs to his desires. Men and women have a choice, to master their passions or be enslaved to them. You can live a life of free choice or you can be moved by blind impulses.

Let’s say in the example above, the young man succumbs to his desires and is unfaithful, but his young bride never finds out. Is it ok then? There are two issues with this thought and first and foremost, is that nothing you do is unseen to the Lord. Nothing will go unpunished in a sinful life. The second is that you, yourself, know of your unfaithfulness. Even if you can’t express it, you know that you’ve failed. The demons in your head are in and they will continue to whisper to you, louder and louder; you are not free, but enslaved to the master of lies. Only through the sacrament of reconciliation and repentance can you find your burden eased.

In baptism, we are all called to live a chaste life. A life of chastity is a life of mastery over self and allows you to appreciate the integrity of another rather than reducing a person to their sexual function. The 6th commandment is not just about NOT committing adultery, but rather, its about loving one’s neighbor. The commandment is about the integrity of the person.

Not too often do you hear of the word chastity or chase other than as part of some joke (think chastity belt). Much like how today, we hear pride as a good thing to have, but when the good is bad (chase) and the bad is good (pride) do we know the devil is at work trying to trick us. “Chasity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being.” CCC2337. When you are free from the desire, you can know yourself better, live a better and holy life and have a better relationship with your God, who loves you.

In the 6th commandment, at first, you see quiet simply that you must be faithful to your spouse. As you dig more, you come to realize that the 6th commandment is about, once again, love. It’s about the respect and integrity you must acknowledge about your fellow man. As we are drawn more and more closely to God and His love, we can live both a moral and free life but also an unflappable life in knowing God’s love always wins out.

Thank you for reading this blog today! God bless!

The 7th Commandment

“You shall not steal” Deuteronomy 5:19

Again, a seemingly straightforward commandment, yet more complex than one might at first assume. In a competition, the fastest or strongest are called victor. The best wins the game and takes the prize. In life though, the stronger man can take another’s property, but the theft is unjust. Christianity calls for a society where there is a respect for the ownership of property and goods, where the strongest can’t just take for him or herself.

When we start talking about possessions, we must realize that those possessions are given to us from God, who declared man the stewards of the Earth and all of her possessions. As good stewards, we must take proper care of our keep and order them to God and our fellow neighbor.

Violations of the rule are nuanced, but clear all the same. One cannot steal nor can he deliberately keep borrowed goods or those found. Imagine you see a man pull his hand out of his pocket and a $20 bill falls out – you should alert the man, not take the found prize. Also, it is a violation of the 7th commandment to take advantage of hardship, exploiting another’s misfortune. Purposely doing shoddy work in an effort for profit, at the expense of another, is also wrong.

Needless waste of goods, willful destruction of goods and tax evasion are all also violations. Imagine we discover a new world and you are first to land there – it is inappropriate for you to section off half the world as your own.

Gambling in excess is also a violation and can lead to enslavement if caution is not taken.

Slavery is obviously wrong but also fits into a violation of the seventh commandment because it exploits another for personal gain. To use another, unduly, is to unjustly exploit another for the accumulation of goods or money. You would be, in effect, stealing the time and energy of another for your personal gain.

One must rely on prayer, contemplation and a moral compass to discern the seventh commandment. It is just to pay a man a fair wage to perform a service but at what point does a wage become unfair? One must use his or her best judgment with many contemplations.

Animals are also God’s creation and should be treated as such. The use of animals for clothing and food is good, but causing animals to unduly suffer is a violation of the 7th commandment. Also, exploitation or unnecessary destruction of animals is wrong. Also, using animals for science is permitted, so long as it is necessary for the common good of man and good care is taken.

God has recognized us as stewards of the earth and are entrusted with its goods. Each and every gift should be ordered toward God. When Cain’s offering to God was from the least of his goods, hoarding his fruits for himself, God encouraged Cain to avoid his overt sinful pride. Cain didn’t appreciate the gifts received and put himself as the center, confusing himself as the giver. When we view our gifts as from solely our efforts, without appreciating the giver of all life, we can put an overabundance on the gifts rather than the giver. A dependence of the goods of the world will only lead to a restless heart. When you order the goods towards God, family and your neighbor, you can better find rest. If you worry over your goods, even to the point of exploitation of others or theft, you become enslaved to the earth and its sin.

 

Thanks be to God and His good gifts.

The 8th Commandment

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Exodus 20:15

How often have you thought this commandment was fairly straightforward? Don’t spread gossip about your neighbor and don’t lie. Most people would say, they don’t lie, but would most say they don’t get involved in gossip?

The 8th commandment is actually much more than what not to do (lie) but rather, what to do, tell and live the truth.

“So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” John 18:37

We are called to adhere to this commandment by speaking the Truth, and that Truth is that Jesus is our Lord, our God and our Savior. To deny this statement, is to deny the Truth, violating this commandment. Not only must we speak the Truth about Jesus, we must live it too. We must strive to live the truth as well as speak it. Our actions and are deeds should be shaped by the Truth. In all societies, we respect truthfulness and we rely on truth in our dealings. Life is hard when there is rampant distrust. As good Catholics, we must strive for living the Truth to testify to it.

If you do not bear truthfulness, in grave situations, you violate the truth to a greater degree. When you deny the Truth of the Lord, you rob someone of hearing the truth that saves.

Regarding every day matters, I hope it is obvious that truthfulness must have discretion. Not all truth must be shared. In many cases, the truth would only harm and in those instances, it is not necessary to speak the truth. If you know something embarrassing that happened, you are not obliged to share that truth or imagine you are at a dinner party, and the host asks how are the meatballs, it is not appropriate to tell him they are dry and tasteless.

Rash judgement also speaks to the truth. When someone gives you their opinion, its best to assume the best and ask for clarification if it differs. Often, many people speak from their heart about some touchy subjects and its important to try and understand their rationale, even if you disagree. How much better would any political or religious discussion be if you assumed that the person’s heart was in the right place, even if he or she is wrong?

Identifying objections to another’s faults, without purpose also violates the truth. Constructive criticism is important, but if it is delivered only to harm, then it does not align with truth. Silence and or discretion should be sought to protect others.

Truth that is scandalous should also be avoided in sharing. When you are taken into confidence about a sensitive subject, that confidant’s subject should end with you. How easy would it be to then take another into that same confidence? For example, “I’m going to tell you something I heard, but you can’t repeat it…” often a recipe for disaster.

I’m often told that in life you just need to be a nice person and if you are a nice person, you don’t need a Church or a religion. The 8th Commandment might seem obvious and that nice people know it, but I don’t know of one person in this world that has mastered the 8th Commandment (me included). I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit in their life from the Church instructing oneself to the 8th Commandment.

The Church calls us to live a better more truthful life. We strive to adhere to this life as the Bible prescribes and the Church teaches. Happy learning!

God Bless!

The 9th Commandment

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.” Exodus 20:17. This is also restated in Deuteronomy 5:21.  As we discussed previously, the 9th and 10th commandment are linked with a call to NOT desire for both your neighbor’s goods and his wife.  The 9th commandment deals with the desire for another man’s wife and vice versa, a woman to desire another woman’s husband. 

Jesus reinforces this commandment in Matthew 27:28 “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

So, what is wrong with thoughts, they are seemingly harmless.  Clearly, if you stop and think, there are harmful thoughts.  Thoughts of envy, thoughts of greed, thoughts of hatred all diminish your quality of life.  If you are consumed with thoughts of revenge on someone who wronged you, you will find yourself unhappy and miserable.  You could be led to actually hurting the person who wronged you but more than likely, you will hurt those around you with your unpleasant disposition.

Thoughts, driven by lessons, either learned first hand or assumed, can dictate your actions.  If you had a boss that once wronged you, if you let that lesson impact your next experience with your new boss, you will not likely have a good relationship, hurting your career.  For example, if your old boss stole your ideas and presented them to others as his own, if you carry those lessons forward, you may be less likely to share ideas with your new boss, hurting your career by being overly secretive, protective and defensive. 

Thoughts can hurt you, if they are inconsistent with God’s will.  By stealing your mind away from immoral thoughts of desire, you can more freely think clearly and appropriately.  If you let the desires of flesh consume you, you will never be happy because desires of the flesh and sexual pleasure is not enough to make one’s heart at ease; only the love of God can ease your heart. 

For all of time, pornography has been shunned and widely rejected by society.  Today, we are inundated with pornography on any media device and the evil one himself wants us to believe pornography is harmless.  Why are Christians and Jews so against pornography – because they’ve read and studied the 9th Commandment and know it harms oneself.  Pornography stands as an obstacle to purity of heart and lets in damaging thoughts.  Today, we are free to allow unhealthy thoughts, but we are far from free, rather, we become trapped.  Freedom of desire is to be sought so we can be truly free. 

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8.  The 6th Beatitude challenges us to clean our heart and mind.  By purifying your thoughts, you will hear God and know better His will. 

Purity of heart should be desired.  As you work towards adhering to the 9th Commandment, freeing your mind from thoughts of desire, you are better able to see your fellow man and woman as who they truly are, a child of God. 

Purity of the heart brings freedom.  You are no longer enslaved to your desires, but clearly see the dignity of the person.  It is erroneous to want to be free from God, where you are immodest in thought and behavior, only to find yourself trapped in sin and far from God and His love. 

God Bless!

The 10th Commandment

The 10th Commandment is really wrapped into the 9th Commandment stated as, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female salve, nor his ox or ass, nor anything else that belongs to him.” Exodus 20:17
Through history, we have broken this commandment into 2, and the 10th is best stated as, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” Really, while one verse, the commandments should be separated here into two as they do concern two separate issues, one of desire for another’s spouse and one of their possessions. Today, we address your neighbor’s goods. Obviously, neighbor is used loosely here and doesn’t mean the persons that live on either side of you, but refers to those you know.
Covet is not a word thrown around much today, but is defined as “yearn to possess or have (something).” If my neighbor drives a fine car and it makes me jealous, I’m not harming anyone, right? Thoughts don’t have substance, but thoughts do two major things. First, thoughts of jealously hurt me, and God loves me and he doesn’t want me to be hurt; I am unsettled and unhappy when I have feelings of jealousy. So while at first, it appears that God has made a seemingly overly restrictive law around what I can and can’t think, what He has actually done is tried to protect me from me. God doesn’t want me worrying and obsessing over what others have and I have not.
The second thing a thought can do that can cause harm is if it’s allowed to grow. A thought starts out as something small, but given time, it can grow and lead to action. If my friend across town has a lot of expensive toys and my thoughts are consumed with of jealously, I could over extend my credit line trying to keep up (with the Jones) him or I could actually steal the items. Equally bad, I could begin to slander his name in an attempt to bring him down a notch on my perceived social scale. I could start to speculate to others that while my friend has lots of toys it is because he’s a selfish jerk; now, in addition to breaking the 10th Commandment, I’ve broken the 8th as well, more to come on the 8th.
I have a friend I went to college with that was vacationing on the French Riviera last year. At first, I couldn’t believe that the kid I knew in college, who drank and smoked way too much and was always in a bad mood, was now sipping wine on the Mediterranean coast. I quickly though changed my thought to one of happiness for him. I was glad to see that he had done well and was on a seemingly very cool vacation. I don’t actually know if he’s happy, but he sure seems interesting to me and I don’t have any reason to believe he’s not happy. The fact that my college friend is more successful than me doesn’t change anything with regard to me and my accomplishments.
The 10th Commandment seeks to ease my soul and my worry. It seeks to tell me, don’t worry that your college friend has more money and toys than you. God loves me and He wants what is best for me, so He gives me this commandment, and I’m better for it as should you.
Stay tuned for the 9th Commandment post.

God Bless!

Dad’s, waste time with your family

“And I regularly asked fathers if they played with their children; if they had the courage to have the love to waste time with their children.  The answer wasn’t good, eh!  The majority would say: “But, I can’t because I have so much work to do…’ And the father was absent from that child that was growing up and didn’t play with him, he didn’t waste time with him.”  Pope Francis

Last Saturday, I had a plan.  It was a nice day and I like to drink my coffee and eat my breakfast on our screened in porch while reading.  I got together my breakfast and sat down.  The kids weren’t up yet and my wife was out running a road race.

My children typically like to get up, watch something and eat their breakfast – a good hour of time spent.

My plan was to run a quick 4 miles on the treadmill when the kids got up, while they watched their show.  As I sat and ate, my son woke and came out on the porch.  For the next hour, he told me his thoughts on the Marvel movies, we took 3 on-line quizzes to discover what our Marvel weapon should be (mine was Dr Strange’s Eye of Agamotto ???), which Marvel Hero we are most like (Thor) and which Marvel villain we are most like (can’t remember).

Well, I didn’t get my run in.  I thought about asking my son to go watch a show or tell him I wanted to exercise.  Pope Francis’ words did echo in my brain and I decided to waste time with him.

The Father loves us.  As Fathers, we are called to love, like the Father.  When we pass to the next realm, we hope we recognize the Father by saying, “I know you, your love was with me all the while.”

I’m not looking for a clap on the back, I don’t always get things right, but I just want to reflect on a moment in time when I got something right.  I wanted to do my thing, but I choose my son instead.  I choose to waste time with my family.

Waste time with your family.

God Bless

The Ark is Mary

To Moses, by God’s very word: “You shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high.  Plate it inside and outside with pure gold, and put a molding of gold around the top of it.”   Exodus 25:10-11

The Lord has the Ark made of pure gold and spends a few chapters explaining how the Ark is to be made pure, flawless and blessed.  Later in Exodus, the dwelling that Moses erects to house the Ark is often covered, or overshadowed, by the cloud of the Lord.

In the Gospel according to Luke, Chapter 1:35, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”  Like God overshadowed His Ark, God will overshadow His new Ark, Mary.

The Ark contained the word of God, and Mary now contains the Word of God in Jesus, becoming the new Ark.

Remember that God was very specific in the creation of the Ark, having it made pure.  No less than 5 Chapters are dedicated to the making of the Ark.  Knowing the pains God takes to purify His Ark to house the Ten Commandments, it only stands to reason that His new Ark, Mary, would also be pure prior to Her housing the Word of God, Jesus.  This is a major reason Catholics believe in Mary’s purity and her Immaculate Conception, because the Ark is made pure and Mary is the new Ark.

The Ark continues to have significance as David takes great pains to secure it and it continues to bless him while in his possession.

David sets out to Judah to retrieve the Ark to bring it to Jerusalem but while transporting the Ark, it begins to tip and a man name Uzzah reaches out to steady the Ark.  Because Uzzah believes he can steady the Ark, rather than God protect it, God strikes Uzzah dead.  David now fears the Ark and leaves it in the hill country of Judah with a man named Obededom.

“The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obededom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed Obededom and his whole house.”  2 Sam 6:11

Mary, after she is with child, in haste rushes to her cousin Elizabeth who lives in the hill country of Judah and remains with her for three months.  The parallel with the Ark is gaining ground here, as the Ark was in the hill country of Judah and remained for three months, just like Mary travels to Judah for three months.

As David brings the Ark into Jerusalem, he dances before the Ark.  “Then David, girt with linen apron, came dancing before the Lord with abandon as he and all the Israelites were brining up the ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and to the sound of the horn.”  2 Sam 6:14-15

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  Luke 1:41-42 The child with Elizabeth is John the Baptist and John here, like David before, dances (or leaps) before the Ark with abandon.

Turning to John in the book of Revelations Chapter 11:19 to 12:1-2 we get to the final point of Mary as the Ark.  “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.  There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm.  A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.” 

“She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.” Rev 12:5

Clearly, its Mary John speaks of, who is with child that is destined to rule all the nations.  John notes he sees the Ark and directly after noting the Ark, he sees Mary.  Mary is the new Ark – she is significant.

God Bless!