The Ten Commandments and the Virtues ~ Part 1, 1-5
November 18, 2015 • 101 Views • 1 Like • 0 Comments
The Ten Commandments
and The Virtues
In this review I would like to take a look at the Ten Commandments and how they are intertwined with each other as well as the virtues. “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts but to give the best of himself” (CCC, #1803). It is true that when selfishness (pride) is acted upon, then Humility is lost at least for the time being. It is also true that when Humility is lost and pride sets in, all of the other virtues are if not lost, at least affected in a negative fashion. I offer you now the 1st through the 5th commandments of Almighty God
1st commandment – 5th commandment
I am the Lord your God, you shall have no false gods beside me.
With this commandment God was telling Moses that He is the only one true God and the Israelites were to stop worshiping idols made of gold, cement and things of the like. These kinds of pagan gods are lifeless and can do nothing for the salvation of humankind. Should we entertain these false gods which are lifeless, then we too become lifeless whereas we no longer have God in our life. I offer to you the book of Psalms; chapter 135, vs. 15-18. "The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths but speak not; they have eyes but see not; They have ears but hear not; no breath is in their mouths. Their makers shall be like them, all who trust in them." When we take a look at today's society we must ask what would be the false gods in our life. Quite simply, it would be anything that takes the place of our God and or anything that would put God second instead of first. For example, let us think about the times when we idolized someone or something. When we put these people or objects at a higher position than God, we have now succumbed to idolatry. As a result of this, not only have we put our salvation at risk but we have also turned away from the virtues. Some of these virtues are Faith, Hope and Love, the theological virtues. Since we have turned our back on God we can truly say we no longer have Faith, we have lost our Hope and we do not Love him. We have also lost Humility because we have allowed pride to take over ourself by choosing to put God second.
Let us look now at what other commandment we may have broken since we broke the 1st commandment. Because God desires us to worship and adore him and him alone, the very fact that idolatry has taken place, we now took something from God that duly belonged to him, that is, our act of worship. While we did not steal in the true sense of the word, we did indeed not give to God what is truly His. While God does not need our worship and God does not depend on us, the very fact that He is our God and we are His people means that we should give to God what is God's.
You shall not take the Lord's name in vain.
With this commandment we speak of the very thing we call bad language, particularly when it is using Gods name in an inappropriate way. When someone takes God's name in vain, it includes the usage of his name in a damning way. For example when we say 'God damn you' or 'damn you God' and anything else that would fit this criterion. Also, we must consider language that we have learned from others such as 'Oh God'. This too while it is not using Gods name in a damning way, it still is using Gods name in an inappropriate way and must not be used. When we break this commandment we are not only breaking the second commandment but we are breaking the first as well. We are using this language as something that we put before God, hence we are degrading his name. By using this kind of profanity, we are certainly showing a lack of the virtues of Justice, Wisdom (Prudence) and Moderation (Self-Control), the Cardinal Virtues. We also lack a bit of Humility. We know this because we have become very prideful with the use of Gods name in a degrading way.
Remember to keep holy the Sabbath
In the book of Genesis we read that God created the world in six days and then he rested on the seventh. Right from the very beginning God has set precedence by his very action of resting on the seventh day. We too must keep the Lords day holy. Holy Mother Church has always pressed that we fulfill our Sunday obligation by attending mass. This can be done either by going to church on Saturday evening or Sunday. But the Church not only requires us to go to Sunday mass regularly, but also on the Holy Days of Obligation. These days are as follows: All Sundays of the year; The Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, Jan.1st ; Ascension Thursday, 40 days after Easter; The Assumption, August 15th ; All Saints Day, November 1st ; The Immaculate Conception, December 8th ; and Christmas, December 25th . These are days that we are obliged to go to mass because they honor Jesus and Mary in a particular way as well as all the saints in our church. If it be the case that we miss mass on these days for no just cause, then we commit serious sin and must go to confession.
There is also another factor that comes into play when we do not keep the Sabbath holy. This is when we do not take the time necessary time for resting on the Sabbath. While it is true that some people must work on Sunday in order to make ends meet, it is also true then that this is necessary work. However, not all work is necessary. We should then, take the time to rest and give this day to God.
At this time I would like to show how by not keeping the Sabbath holy we not only break this commandment but also through pride we have broken the first commandment as well because we have placed other reasons or events higher than God. Because of our pride we now lack Humility. At this time it would be important to look at the virtue of Obedience. This virtue comes into play when we do attend our obligation by going to mass. Should we not, we then have become disobedient and no longer express the likeness to Christ.
Honor thy Mother and Father
We were all taught when growing up that we need to do as our parents tell us to do. We were also probably told that we need to listen to what our grandparents say as well. This is in part what this commandment really means. However, it does not end there. While we are to listen to our parents and grandparents, this commandment also means that we are to listen to any person who has authority over us in some capacity or another. For example, for those who have been baptized, we also have a set of God parents who also have the role of helping us grow and mature as we reach our adult life. We are also to respect any person whom our parents put in charge of us. This could be a babysitter, maybe even a teacher, the priest, sister and the good brother(s) and any other person whom our parents deem to be in charge. By not paying any attention to these people just because they are not our parents would be a direct abuse against the forth commandment of God.
It is a matter of fact that when and if we do not give the due respect to our parents by way of purposefully walking away from them while they are speaking to us, talking back to them, yelling or raising our tone to them, we are breaking this commandment as well. When we break this commandment we also break the first commandment because we have now placed our pride above our parents and above God. So what does this mean to us? Quite frankly when we put down our parents because of peer pressure, it is the idea that I must look good to my friends that has now become a false god. When I am not obedient to the priest or anybody who is in charge, I now have not been obedient to the first commandment and thus I have put the vice of pride in place of God. I have now lost the virtue of Charity and Humility because I did not give the respect to those in charge when I should have. I have lost the virtue of Love by my deliberate act of disobedience. I lost the virtue of Patience or otherwise, I would not have acted the way I did.
Thou shall not kill
When God told Moses on Mount Sinai that Thou Shall Not Kill, He meant this in a very concrete and an abstract way. When I say concrete I mean that we are not to take another human beings life for any reason at all. But, it also means that when we use substances that can cause physical injury or even death, then this too is an abuse against the 5th commandment of God. Another way that this commandment is abused is when our actions put ourselves and other peoples lives at risk. For example, someone who smokes puts there life and others at risk of getting cancer. Another example is when we drive too fast and we put others around us as well as ourselves in danger of death because of our speed. These are what I call abstract abuses against the 5th commandment. Another abstract example is abortion. Abortion is plain out murder!!!! Just because we cannot see the unborn child does not in any means disqualify it as being a human being alive inside the mother's womb. Euthanasia is also an abuse against the 5th commandment of God. Some might say that because this person cannot function well in society, then it is time to end it and put them to death. This is murder and is not what God intended for his people.
When we break the 5th commandment we are not just breaking this commandment, but we are breaking the 1st commandment as well. This is done out of pure pride and selfishness. Once we decide that we have the right to take another life, we have then abandoned God and put the act of killing in his place. We have now made this selfish act more important than God Himself. We have no concept of what it means to embrace the virtue of Humility. The virtue of Justice has also been ignored. Because we have taken a life of another, we have not allowed that person to live to the fullest of their life. We have then accepted the sins of ingratitude, cruelty, and disobedience. This indeed shows how we have been unjust towards the other person.
Because we have taken a life that does not belong to us, we have not only killed someone but we have also stolen something that was not ours, the life from another person that rightfully did not belong to us. So not only have we broken the 5th and the 1st commandments of God but we have broken the 7th commandment as well.
Brother Matthew Levis O. de M.
~the good brother~