Monday, January 17, 2005
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, where you lived as slaves. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make yourself carved images or any likeness of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy.
RCIA tonight is Chapter 20: "The First Three Commandments" in Michael Pennock's "This is our Faith." The main sins against the first three commandments are things like heresy (the denial of a truth of the Christian faith), apostasy (the total denial of Christ and the Christian faith), schism (the refusal to accept the authority of the pope and a refusal to be in union with other Christians). The text also says we should not be presumptuous and think we can obtain salvation on our own without God's grace and conversion. The opposite is also true: we should not despair and think we cannot obtain salvation or forgiveness of our sins. Of course, the first commandment also condemns false gods, superstition, idolatry, divination, magic, atheism (as if they care) and agnosticism.
A note about images. Catholics often take heat from iconoclasts, especially muslims, for prayers to Mary and other saints and from the statues that adorn our churches. The Catechism, though, makes it clear that we are to worship and adore God alone. Mary and the saints, we venerate (regard with profound respect). The Second Council of Nicaea in 787 made it clear that representational art is fine and good and helps in the spreading of the gospel.
Pennock goes on to say that its OK to take a vow (you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain), that's not "in vain" unless you don't plan to keep that vow. Blasphemy (cursing of defying God) and cursing using God's name are sinful.
Keeping the sabbath holy is interesting. Pope John Paul II recognizes the importance of Sports, but also clearly understands that Sports conflict with Church on Sunday. When I was growing up and attending public school in rural Indiana, practices or games on Sunday were unthinkable. A coach would have found himself all on his own if he or she would have called a Sunday practice or a Sunday game. Today, this happens all the time. If it isn't sports that takes peoples' attention on Sunday, then it's going to the mall or to movies, etc. This is something that has really changed in my lifetime. Sundays used to be a time to gather for church and perhaps a family meal... now such things are nearly impossible to organize among all the schedules that never stop, nor wait for a moment's breath.