The Ten Words

Catechism classes can be intriguing. The CCD teacher was asking the boys whether they knew the Ten Commandments. One of the boys was very frank and he answered “No, Miss. My dad said that I do not have to know them because they are doing away with them anyway!”

And perhaps they already did! Ted Turner, once CNN owner, made headlines when he said the Ten Commandments were obsolete. “We’re living with outmoded rules. The rules we’re living under are the Ten Commandments, and I bet nobody here even pays much attention to them, because they are too old. When Moses went up on the mountain, there were no nuclear weapons, there was no poverty. Today, the Ten Commandments wouldn’t go over. Nobody around us likes to be commanded. Commandments are out.”

Today many believe that there are no moral absolutes. As the Pope keeps telling us, the majority hold to a philosophy of moral relativism. How many times we hear statements like… ‘What’s right for you may not be right for me’, ‘If it feels good do it’, ‘Here anything goes’, ‘Nothing is right or wrong, there are just different opinions’? There is no absolute truth. You are entitled to your truth and I am entitled to mine!

Society has invented ten different commandments. First: God doesn’t exist. Second: let us make other gods, let us adore the golden calf, money, the idols of the world. Third: you will not keep the feasts, so many work on Sundays.

Fourth: to honor your father and your mother is to put them in a nice nursing home, with television and every other comfort. Instead of honoring father and mother, we find fighting and bickering against father and mother, an idea based on cheap psychology that we need to grow up and be independent of all restrictions. So now we have the internal cancer of the destruction of the family.

Fifth: Do not kill. Instead, we live in a ‘civilized’ society that – like Pharaoh – wants to eliminate life. For this reason we make laws that justify murder – abortion and euthanasia. Terrorists and politicians rationalize murder and killing as a means to implant some new kind of society.

Sixth: Do not fornicate. How ridiculous! Go to a psychologist, and he will probably tell you that all your traumas come from the fact that you are sexually repressed and you do not fornicate. I was reading recently in a magazine that sexual self gratification is the best medical prescription for single people!

Seventh: “Do not steal, do not desire the goods of others.” Come on! Everybody does it nowadays! Moreover humanity advances and progresses thanks to the class struggle, as Marx says. On the contrary, Scripture says that what makes humanity progress is love, that the engine of life is love. The universe advances thanks to the fact that God is Love.

God gave us a path of life on which to walk. He spoke to us and gave us Ten Words of love. “I am the Lord your God, who made you come out of the land of Egypt, from the situation of slavery: you will not have other gods before me… You will not pronounce the name of the Lord in vain… Honor your father and your mother… Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal …”

The Catechism daringly and truthfully tells us, “The gift of the Commandments is the gift of God himself and his holy will…. The Decalogue… the ‘ten words’ point out the conditions of a life freed from the slavery of sin.”

They are really the axis of the universe. They are a road that leads to fulfillment: ‘If you love the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply’…” Basically, He is telling us, Do this and you will live.

Regrettably because of our legalistic mentality we have transformed these Ten Words into laws and precepts that we must fulfill or otherwise God will punish us.

And we forgot the basic principle through which God deals with us. Both God and nature give us permission not to be perfect. Let us not be too hard on ourselves and others. Let us treat ourselves gently! Everyone falls short. God doesn’t keep us from falling and failing, but redeems us when we do fall.

Fear not, we are all inadequate, thanks be to God!


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.