Reflections On The Journey 

Subtitle

Meditations

Reflections From Faye

view:  full / summary

Bearing False Witness

Posted on January 11, 2021 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (1)

This week I am looking at the eighth of the Ten Commandments, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” This is yet another commandment which deals with respect for others.

 

The Bible says in many places that God is the source of all truth. And in Jesus Christ, the whole of God’s truth has been made manifest. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) If we wish to be Christians and walk with Jesus, we must live the truth. We must not be ashamed of testifying to the truth of Jesus, but we are also bound to adhere to the truth about all things, including others.

 

Offenses against the eighth commandment include perjury, false witness, slander and outright lying. Especially damaging are lies which harm another person’s reputation.

 

Many will argue there can be varying degrees of this sin. True! The Catechism states that the gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by the victim. (CCC 2484). Therefore, a lie can be a venial or a mortal sin. “Little white lies,” for example, are usually minor truth-stretches said to cover something up or ease the sting of a situation and would probably be classified as a venial sin. However, repeated little white lies can lead to big lies. And I know because it has happened to me. For me, it is best to avoid ALL lies, and I’m working on this.

 

Unfortunately, many people do not know the real truth, even though they think they do. We cannot know what motives lie behind another’s words or actions – we can only see what’s on the surface, and even that may be obscured. We so easily jump to conclusions about events and people, especially when those people disagree with our own position.

 

It is so easy to say things which may not be true, especially in journalism and on social media. We have a right to hold opinions about people or political parties, or have viewpoints about topics, yet too often we blindly repeat things we are told that mesh with or promote our views without thinking. Or we go way beyond that and deliberately slander another person. Even though the things we say may be true, it’s easy to word them in such a fashion as to damage a person’s reputation. But we have an obligation to be fair and respectful towards everyone.

 

Yes, God does tell us to correct another person when they are wrong. But He also says to do it in a kind way. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken by any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1)

 

Remember the old adage “if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all?” That’s a good piece of advice, and one I try to follow. When I do feel compelled to pass on some information, it is important that I do some fact-checking before passing it on. Often words and phrases are taken out of context or massaged to make a different meaning than the original, and too many times I’ve repeated something that sounded true but later turned out to be false. This is one reason why I now seldom comment on or forward posts which accuse others of something. If I cannot verify something is completely true, I shouldn’t say it myself. And even if it is true, if the way the message is stated is defamatory, I should not pass it on.

 

In reviewing the eighth commandment, some questions you may want to ask yourself are: Have I avoided lies, gossip and slander? Do I carefully consider what I say to others about the truth before I say it, and if I do say something, am I careful about how I say it? Have I avoided judging others, especially without knowing all the facts? Have I forgiven those who have offended me?

 

The Devil is often called the “Father of Lies,” and for good reason. He will try to get you to believe things that are not true, which can lead you to sin. But he also wants you to believe anything that will keep you from turning to God. This week, I encourage you to look at any lies that may have overtaken you. Take them to God and ask forgiveness. And ask for grace to help you avoid those lies. Become an advocate for truth!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Stealing

Posted on January 4, 2021 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

We are beginning a new year, and I pray it will hold improvement over last year. I also hope that it finds you well. It is a time for many to make new resolutions, and I hope that the reviews I have made over the past several weeks of some of the Ten Commandments have caused you to look at possible changes to your life for 2021.

 

Today’s topic is the seventh of the Ten Commandments, which reads “You shall not steal.” Ah, finally a commandment that is a little easier to address than the last few!

 

God has asked humans to be stewards of His creation. Everything on earth was created by God, and I only get to borrow them for my lifetime. Of course, I do have a right to have personal property, like my house, car, and clothing. But this does not do away with the original gift of the earth for the whole of mankind. (CCC 2403) I cannot take earthly items with me when I die. I will leave this earth with nothing, just as I came onto this earth with nothing.

 

This seventh commandment addresses unjustly taking and keeping things. We are prohibited from taking things that do not belong to us. Robbing another person, looting during a riot and damaging other people’s property are examples of sinning against this commandment. This commandment requires respect, justice and charity in the care of earthly goods and the fruit of man’s labor.

 

But the commandment goes beyond this. We must not use any of our resources inappropriately or wastefully. We are obligated to keep all promises and contracts made, and those promises must be fair and just. And we are obliged to give our employees just and fair wages and reasonable working conditions. Our world resources are meant for everyone, and the unfair distribution of them (food, water, land, etc.) is also a sin against this commandment.

 

And finally, if we sin against this commandment, we are obligated to make restitution.

 

Some of you may be aware that the Catholic Church has a “preferential option for the poor.” What this means is that the Church has made it a duty to work for the needs of the poor – and if you look at history, much good has been done by the Church. Many hospitals and educational institutions have been established by religious orders all over the world to help those who are less fortunate. That’s not to say that the church has solely been focused on the poor – I am well aware that many church leaders have amassed riches for themselves or for the church, and many church leaders have behaved poorly towards others. But a main thrust of Church efforts continues to be improving conditions for all people, despite the failings of many of her members.

 

So how have I done on this commandment? I admit that years ago I did have a problem with stealing things that did not belong to me. It started innocently when I was a child – I took cookies my mother told me not to take! That was minor, of course. But later as an adult, during the time I was a single mother and money was tight, a few things from work found themselves at my home. I “justified” this by saying they would not miss the items and I needed them. Fortunately, I realized later that this was wrong, and I did return things that I could.

 

Looking back at this time in my life, I now have much empathy for the many people who live in poverty. Faced with very real needs but not enough resources, many folks can be sorely tempted to take things they need to survive. Sadly, an unjust distribution of our world’s resources has contributed to many sins against this commandment.

 

I have failed in this commandment in other ways, too. Over the years I have made promises I have not kept. I have wasted my money on unnecessary things. Sometimes it has been hard for me to share the resources I have with others, especially during the times when my own resources were limited. Like with the other commandments, the main solution for my sins against the seventh commandment has been to go to confession as well as make restitution when I could for my wrongs.

 

It’s hard for me to “clean out” and give away unneeded things, but I am working on this as a resolution for the new year - check my personal Facebook page over the next several weeks for items I am giving away! I also am donating time to help people who are in need. I know I am still not perfect here, but I am improving!

 

This week I invite you to ask yourself a few of these questions: Am I a good steward of God’s creation? Have I avoided stealing? Do I respect others and make promises and contracts that are fair and just, and do I keep them? Have I made restitution for wrongs I have committed? Do I help those who need assistance? Reviewing these questions may help you see if you are failing in keeping the seventh commandment.

 

May looking at this commandment bring you blessings this week.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2021 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Chastity

Posted on December 28, 2020 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

We are now a few days after Christmas – I hope you were able to spend some time with loved ones during the holidays, even if it was only via phone or a video chat. Family is so important!

 

Continuing my review of the Ten Commandments, I am looking this week at the sixth commandment which says: You shall not commit adultery. The Bible states at the beginning that God created humans in His own image, “male and female He created them.” God blessed the man and woman, telling them “Be fruitful and multiply.” (Gen. 1:27-28)

 

God gave us the gift of sexuality. The Catechism says that sexuality affects all aspects of the human person in the unity of his body and soul, especially the capacity to love and procreate. (CCC 2332) Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. (CCC 2335).

 

But God did not give us sensuality and sex merely for our own enjoyment, although that is a lovely side effect! He gave us the beautiful gift of sex to allow us to create a special union with another human of the opposite sex and co-create with Him by increasing the number of His children here on earth.

 

In this commandment, God calls all people to be chaste. When a man and a woman marry and are open to the gift of life, they can enjoy the gift of sexuality with each other. But they still must remain chaste – in other words, they must remain faithful to their spouses and not to allow others to come between them and God. Persons who are not married are also called to be chaste - they must guard their gift of sexuality, saving it for a future marriage, or perhaps to live a completely chaste life.

 

Remaining chaste, either in a marriage or as a single person, requires self-mastery. People cannot allow their passions to overcome them. And oh, this is difficult! Like probably most people on earth, I have been pulled quite strongly by passion, and yes, I have failed to remain chaste in different ways over the years. Self-mastery is a long and exacting work. It has taken me years to even get close to achieving it, and I’m not fully there yet. At every stage of my life I have faced challenges, and immoral desires continue to be something I must work hard to control.

 

 

God not only created sexuality, but He created the family unit to allow for the furthering of His people. Beginning with Adam and Eve, families have been an integral part of society. Just yesterday we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family, the blessed family consisting of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

 

This commandment is a difficult one for many people. Much of our culture today does not recognize the value of the family nor of chastity. The media brazenly portrays immoral relationships as being the right or best thing to do, and these relationships have become commonplace. Passion and personal fulfillment are valued above the sacredness of marriage, family and even life. There are so many offenses against family and chastity: lustful thoughts, masturbation, fornication, pornography, rape, acting on homosexual tendencies and prostitution are some of the more common offenses. Most of these practices close the sexual act to the gift of life and often end up hurting one or more of the persons involved.

 

I do understand there are many situations regarding sexuality which are very challenging. And I’m sure some of you reading this will be angered by some of the words on this subject. You may ask: why did God give us such strong desires and then forbid us to act on them? That’s an excellent question, and one I’d like to ask God, too. I suspect that the devil’s influence is partly responsible. Yet I do believe that God created us to follow His laws regarding the family and chastity, even when it is very difficult to do so.

 

I have needed to address the sixth commandment in confession several times. Although I haven’t gotten the answer as to why God allows me to have impure desires, I have felt the grace of His forgiveness when I acknowledge my sin. The desires have lessened and I have more strength to try again to live a chaste life.

 

Although it may be difficult, I encourage you this week to think in depth a little bit about this sixth commandment. Some questions you may want to ask yourself are: Have I lived my sexuality with Godly joy and dignity, avoiding sexual intimacy outside of marriage? Have I avoided using the entertainment media unwisely and irresponsibly? Have I done anything with my sexuality that has hurt myself or another person? Do I value the family?

 

Although living this commandment may not be easy, may you find blessing in chastity this week.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Christmas Begins With Christ

Posted on December 24, 2020 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (3)

Today is Christmas Eve! The angels are rejoicing, for tonight “unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” May you and your families find peace and joy during this blessed Christmas celebration.

 

My gift for you is the following poem, titled “Christ Is Born.”

 

Christ Jesus is coming; we now celebrate!

He’s coming to save us, to drive away hate.

Rejoicing, the angels announce He is born,

In stable so lowly, on Bethlehem morn.

So meek and so lowly, the Babe lies in sleep;

The shepherds come visiting with lowly sheep.


 

In fine clothes, the wise men come too in the night;

Star shining majestic above marks the site.


 

Be near us, Lord Jesus, come into our hearts;

Oh, let us adore you, our love to impart.

Renewed now, we wake to a bright, brand new day,

Now ready to live as your children today.

 

© 2020 Faye Heffele


 

Have a blessed Christmas!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

You Shall Not Kill

Posted on December 21, 2020 at 9:00 AM Comments comments (3)

Here we are in the final week of Advent, leading up to the birth of Jesus at Christmas! It is a celebration of life, as Jesus came down to earth to die and therefore save us humans! So in a way, it is very appropriate to talk about the next commandment in the series, the fifth commandment, which is “You shall not kill.”

 

Killing another human being, one of God’s children, is tantamount to killing a loved family member. Human life is sacred, because from the beginning it involved the creative action of God. In the Old Testament, way back in the beginning in Genesis, Cain killed his brother Abel. Abel’s blood spilled onto the earth, and God said to Cain “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” (Gen. 4:10)

 

The Old Testament always considered blood as a sacred sign of life. Deliberate taking of another’s life is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being. Accidental killing, or killing in self-defense is different, but any other deliberate killing is murder and a violation of this commandment.

 

Sadly, our society has legitimized killing of certain people. Often these killings are made in the name of convenience – we get rid of someone who is unwanted, who is different from us, or who gets in the way of our own lifestyle. Euthanasia of sick or elderly persons is a deliberate act of killing, as is abortion. Contraception, especially when a conceived fetus may die, is also a sin. We are stewards of our lives and the lives of all others. We are morally responsible to live our lives as best we can until the time of natural death, and to help others do the same.

 

The Catechism states that the fifth commandment involves respect for the dignity of all persons. Anyone who uses power at his disposal to harm a human being can be guilty of violating this commandment. Persons who do any kind of physical harm or torture to themselves or to another, those who withhold reasonable care such as food and shelter to others, and those who kidnap people or hold them hostage are not showing proper respect for people. Even the neglect of one’s personal health can be a sin under the fifth commandment, such as falling into an addiction or suicide.

 

Scientists too may be guilty of sins against the fifth commandment. Experiments involving people or body parts must truly be for the good of humankind and must show utmost respect for the human body. I have heard that some abortions are done to harvest fetal tissue to use for research, and if this is true, even though there may be a good that comes out of it, the means to the end was wrong.

 

This is a tricky commandment when we look at it deeply. Often the temptation to violate this commandment comes from anger or a desire to profit. Deliberate hatred toward others is a sin as bad as killing them. Violence in most forms, including war (unless in self-defense) is another violation of this commandment. It’s so easy to fall into sin in this way, as anger is a common human emotion. But unchecked, anger can lead to violence.

 

Some questions you may ask yourself when reviewing this commandment are: Have I avoided judging others and purposely thinking evil thoughts about them? Have I caused harm to anyone, especially in anger or because something was inconvenient for me? Have I caused others to sin by encouraging them in evil practices?

 

Thankfully I have not killed anyone or done bodily harm to anyone, but I have violated this commandment numerous times. I used contraception for a time. I have lashed out in anger at others. I have had bad thoughts about people more times than I want to recall. But the key for me to overcome these sins was once again (you guessed it) confession. As a frail human being, I was not able to change my ways until I received God’s grace.

 

I suspect some of you reading this blog post may disagree with my thoughts on the sacredness of life and what leads to sin under the fifth commandment. But regardless of what you think about this post, I still encourage you this week to look at your own life and see how well you have been keeping the fifth commandment. Think seriously about what it means to harm another person. If you have fallen short, it’s not too late to seek forgiveness for your sin and work to improve your life.

 

Four days from today will be Christmas! We celebrate God at this most sacred holiday – a God who willingly came down to earth to be one of us, who experienced everything that a human being experiences in life, and who came to die to save us. God came in the person of a tiny human life. Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, became powerless as a little baby and had to be sheltered and cared for by loving parents. Mary and Joseph did everything they could to honor and respect their Son as they helped Him to grow and thrive. And we, poor humans, are Jesus’ brothers and sisters! Let us strive to live lovingly with all our brothers and sisters as part of God’s great family.

 

I wish you and your families a very merry and joyous Christmas!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Honoring Others

Posted on December 14, 2020 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (1)

I am continuing my review of the Ten Commandments. Commandments four through ten relate to love of neighbor and these are summarized by Jesus’ “second” commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” True love does no wrong to any neighbor.

 

The fourth of the Ten Commandments is “Honor your father and mother.” It stems from the fact that we should honor our parents to whom we owe our life and who have cared for us and hopefully have handed on to us the knowledge of God.

 

Although at first glance this commandment seems to focus solely on children’s relationship to their parents, in reality it goes way beyond this. It also concerns ties to extended family - all of our elders, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and other ancestors are included. But also included are those persons who act in the place of parents – those people holding positions of legitimate authority in our lives. This includes, but is not limited to, teachers, employers, and government leaders.

 

According to the Catechism, marriage and the family are the basis of this commandment. Marriage of a man and a woman is ordered by God toward procreation and ensuring the safe survival of our human species. “In creating man and woman, God instituted the human family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Its members are persons equal in dignity.” (Catechism 2203)

 

The family is the original social unit. The family is the community in which children can learn moral values, knowledge of God and how to function in society. Therefore, parents provide a key role in the upbringing of children. Parents have the duty to provide loving guidance to their children. Children in turn have the responsibility to love and honor their parents. And society has a duty to honor families and to assist them in their responsibilities.

 

In examining how well you heed this commandment you can ask yourself the following questions: Have I shown special respect to my parents, my elders, and those in positions of legitimate authority over me? Have I avoided judging others and purposefully thinking evil thoughts about them?

 

Most people have struggled with this commandment over the years. As a teenager, I know I felt that my parents were sometimes being “unfair” by not allowing me to do certain things I wanted to do or setting an early curfew. But as I got older I began to realize that they really did love me and they set these limits to help guide me to become strong in my faith and become a responsible, caring woman.


As my parents grew older and became ill, it fell to me to provide care for them when I could. As a parent myself with a full-time job, I was unable to provide 24/7 care for them, but I did try to ensure that others were available who could care for their needs. I know I was not perfect, but I did try to honor my parents.

 

However not everyone grows up with a loving father and mother, as we all well know. Neglect and abuse by trusted family members and other key persons in society have traumatized many people, and as a result it is hard for them to understand and honor this commandment.


Today, my struggle with this commandment has to do with people in society who hold leadership positions. Persons involved in America’s recent governmental elections unfortunately provided fodder for many of the masses to fall short in their honor of people. I was dismayed at the barrage of mud-slinging that occurred on all sides during the days leading up to the election - few people seemed to give respect to those already in elected positions or those running to fill a spot. And even now, after the elections are over, many people still harbor anger and resentment towards people in leadership positions, and even political parties in general, and I’m still seeing it on both sides of the fence.

 

Sadly, I too was pulled into the fray several weeks ago, with negative thoughts towards certain candidates running rampant at times through my mind, and I admit I voiced some of those thoughts to others. Fortunately, I finally realized that I was not obeying the fourth commandment, and that my attitude was not only sinning against God and God’s children, but also causing anxiety and upset for me too.

 

So I went to confession to get help. The grace I received in that small room with the priest acting in the place of Jesus was incredible! It helped to release the pull of this sin, and I began to be more charitable in my thoughts towards others. It became much easier to respect people even if I did not agree with them.

 

This week I urge you to look at the fourth commandment a little deeper than you have looked before. Look not just to how you treat your parents, but how you treat others, especially those in leadership positions. If you are having trouble honoring some of God’s children, I suggest taking the time to go to confession and ask God for help. Confession is a beautiful gift from God – one that can help you shed sins and make it easier for you to live as God intended. May you be blessed as we move one week closer to Christmas.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Keep Holy The Lord's Day

Posted on December 7, 2020 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Today I am reviewing the third of the Ten Commandments, which is “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.” Exodus 20:8-19 says this: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days a week you shall labor and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work.”

 

For the Jewish people, the sabbath was traditionally on Saturday. However, Christ’s resurrection was on Sunday, the “first day of the week.” So for Christians, “Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.” (Catechism 2177) Therefore we recognize Sunday as the traditional day of rest associated with the third commandment.

 

From the beginnings of Christianity, we see how the practice of Christian assembly on the sabbath became one of the most important aspects of faith. Back then people met in homes, and now today we have church buildings to use for our assemblies. Regular Sunday worship does fulfill the moral component of this commandment, and participation in mass is an excellent way to reverence God and keep His day holy. Of course in these days of covid-19, many churches have suspended services, others are doing only on-line, and others have a mixture of in-person and online live-streaming, so there are still opportunities to participate in Sunday worship.

 

I realize that is not practical for most people to avoid all work on Sundays. Many people have jobs requiring work on this day, such as health care workers and policemen, and we need to prepare food to feed our families and care for our family members. And these things are ok, as they do not hinder our worship of God.

 

But most of us fail to observe a true day of rest on Sunday. Sporting events occur, we go shopping (and not just for essentials), and we do many other things that detract us from honoring God. It is so sad to me that many sporting tournaments occur on weekends, and people often end up missing church due to their commitment to the sport.

 

So the questions I can ask myself about the third commandment are: Do I attend church on Sunday if at all possible, and offer my worship to God? Have I avoided unnecessary work and focus on rest and leisure?

 

Although I do make every effort to attend mass every week, even when traveling, I still break the third commandment regularly. My husband and I used to go out for breakfast after attending mass. Is that really necessary? No, and I can find all kinds of reasons to “justify” doing it! However, now that restaurants are closed for dine-in, it is easier to plan meals at home on Sundays.

 

I also have found myself regularly shopping and attending unnecessary events on Sundays. Yet there is no reason for me to shop on Sunday – I have six other days of the week to do that! I am happy that some businesses have taken a stand and are regularly closed on Sunday – good for them! It’s a good reminder to me that Sundays are important, and I still have six days of the week that I can patronize these businesses. Yesterday, I realized I needed several grocery items, but I decided there was no harm in my waiting one more day to go shopping.

 

This commandment is a challenge for many people to keep, especially now that during the pandemic we are limited in the ways we can enjoy time with family and friends, which for many people used to be a regular Sunday occurrence. And I often have to bring up my failure to keep the Sabbath holy during my confessions. I need to continue to look closely at my activities on Sunday and try to ensure I am avoiding the unnecessary “work” as much as possible.

 

This week I challenge you to look at the third Commandment a little more closely and assess whether or not you are truly keeping the sabbath holy in your life. If you are having trouble with doing unnecessary things on Sunday, perhaps you can focus more on fitting this “work” into the other six days of the week. Whatever you do, I hope that you find yourself moving closer to God and finding a blessing in His presence.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Honoring God

Posted on November 30, 2020 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The second of the Ten Commandments is “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” This commandment involves honoring God.

 

At first glance, this commandment seems to be about using God’s name incorrectly or swearing, and this is true. God asks us to have respect for Him and His Name. Therefore we are forbidden to utter any bad things against God. It also means that if we should ever make a promise which includes a reference to God, we are obligated to keep that promise. A person commits perjury when he makes a promise which he has no intention of keeping.

 

Each of us has a name, lovingly bestowed upon us by our parents. We are reminded by scripture that God calls each of us by name. Using a person’s name in a good way is a sign of respect for that person. Those people who I know by name are closer to me than those people who I do not know by name, and it’s harder for me to hate a person who I know than a nameless stranger. And the same goes for God.

 

In reviewing how well I keep this commandment I can ask myself: Have I sworn inappropriately? Have I avoided making commitments using God’s name that I fail to keep?

 

This commandment has been somewhat easier for me to keep than the first commandment. However, I can still recall times when I have been so angry that I have sworn inappropriately.

 

When I catch myself swearing, I believe the best thing I can do is immediately offer a prayer of sorrow to God for the mistake. Then at my next confession I will reiterate my sorrow and ask for God’s grace to help me overcome this failure. I also have now tried to incorporate a new word to use when I am angry and am tempted to swear. “Bananas!” seems to work well for me!

 

This week I challenge you to look at the second Commandment a little more closely and assess whether or not you are truly keeping God’s name holy in your life. Try saying God’s name lovingly and with great reverence. Practicing this can help you remember to keep God’s name holy. And If you are having trouble with swearing, perhaps you can think of another word to substitute. Whatever you do, I hope that you find yourself moving closer to God and finding a blessing in His presence.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Love The Lord Your God

Posted on November 23, 2020 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Today I begin my detailed review of the Ten Commandments, one at a time. The first commandment is “I am the Lord your God: You shall not have strange gods before me.” Written slightly differently, the Catechism says “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”

 

I believe that there is one God. God is unique, there is no other. He is the author of creation, and His name is I AM WHO I AM. God created me and everything around me. And I am nothing compared to God. There is no way that I can understand how God thinks or acts! But I know that I believe, through faith, and I trust that God is a good and loving God who cares for me and for all creation.

 

God created various things including humans and “saw that it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31) Therefore I know that all creation, and especially humanity, is very good.

 

God expected the first humans Adam and Eve living in the garden to love Him, yet with Satan’s encouragement they decided they did not love God above all else. They sinned and fell from God’s grace. Yet that doesn’t change the fact that God created all of humanity to love and honor Him. That is what the first commandment says.

 

Through the thousands of years of human history, man has created several other gods – inanimate objects, mythological beings and more – and man has placed these things above God. Yet none of these “gods” can hold a candle to the one, true God.

 

It is through faith that we believe in God. This first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith and to reject everything that is opposed to it. And we must hope that God will give us the capacity to love Him and to act in conformity with his commandments.

 

I may say, “Okay. I believe in God. And sure, I love Him. So how could I sin against this commandment?”

 

We can sin against this commandment in several ways: When we doubt in God; when we are not grateful for all that God has given to us; or when we put other things (such as work or game-playing) above God.

 

Let’s look at how we show our love to our human family and friends. We usually value family members and friends more highly than we do our acquaintances or people we have not met. We make time for our family and friends. We get together, we talk, we share meals, and we ask each other for help. And we typically value these people freely, just because we love them.

 

Do we also love and honor God in the same way? I might ask myself: how much time do I spend with God? Do I take time for conversation with God in adoration or prayer (and more than just asking for help)? Do I regularly attend mass? Do I take time to read and study God’s word and other theological documents? Do I place time with God above time with other things?

 

To be honest, I don’t always love God the way I should. I find myself spending way too much time scrolling through Facebook or playing games and not enough time studying His Word. I do make it a priority to attend mass, and I have a scheduled adoration time each week, but sometimes my daily prayers get delayed or shortened. I easily get sidetracked when studying God’s word. In these little ways I am not loving God as I should, and I am breaking the first and most important commandment.

 

When I catch myself in these failures, I must make a choice. I could choose to ignore these failures. However, if I do, chances are I will find myself continuing to ignore God and moving further and further away from Him. I believe the better choice is to acknowledge I have sinned, go to confession, and try to live better, to love God more fully, and move myself closer to God. I can schedule time on my calendar each day for prayer and spiritual reading!

 

This week I challenge you to look at the first Commandment a little more closely and assess whether or not you are truly loving God in the best way possible. Try to spend more time with him, especially in prayer. Perhaps you might experiment with some Adoration time. Whatever you do, I hope that you find yourself moving closer to God and finding a blessing in His presence.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

The Ten Commandments

Posted on November 16, 2020 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

What do the Ten Commandments mean to you?

 

Today I’m going to start a series of blogs which are a little different from my usual offering. I feel a call to personally review the Ten Commandments and how well I am obeying them, so over the next several weeks I will cover each one in detail for myself as well as for you. However, I reserve the right to intersperse other topics in between the commandments when I feel a call to do that!

 

The Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses thousands of year ago – it has been estimated that this occurred around 1450-1440 BC. These commandments were a guide for the Israelites on how to live, and they apply equally to us today. The commandments are spelled out in Old Testament Scripture in Exodus 20:2-17 and again in Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Later, Jesus reiterated the importance of these commandments when he repeated them in the Gospels (Matthew 19:18-19 and Mark 10:19).

 

There are a few different versions of the Ten Commandments, but I will follow the traditional Catechetical formula which is here:

 

1. I am the Lord your God: You shall not have strange gods before me.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

3. Remember to keep holy the Lord’s day.

4. Honor your father and your mother.

5. You shall not kill.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

7. You shall not steal.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

 

Jesus also summarized these commandments for us. When a Pharisee asked Him which is the greatest commandment, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) These two “modified” commandments summarize the spirit of the entire Old Testament.

 

The Catechism groups the Ten Commandments into two parts. The first three commandments relate to the summary commandment to love God, and the final seven relate to the summary commandment to love our neighbor. So as I understand it, to love God and to love our neighbor is all we need to do to live as healthy Christians!

 

Ah, if only it were that easy…..

 

When I first learned the Ten Commandments as a child, it was easy for me to gloss over them and think that, well of course, I honor all ten. But when I began to look deeper at each commandment during my adult life, I found that it is not as cut-and-dried as I thought. If you have ever looked at a detailed list of questions from an examination of conscience, or read sections 2052 through 2550 from the Catechism, you will understand what I mean. There are many nuances to each of these commandments, and if we are not careful we may easily be fooled into thinking that we don’t break them when in fact we do, and on a regular basis.

 

In the coming weeks I will address each commandment individually, recording some information about each commandment (such as discussions from the Catechism and questions from the examination of conscience) and I will add my own thoughts and experiences. But I want to let you know that some of the content I will post may rankle some of you, and you may disagree with my comments. That’s okay! My hope is that you will learn something that you were not aware of previously, and that you may be prompted to ponder a bit about how you think and act in relation to God’s commands. I will welcome comments from you, and if you’d like to discuss anything with me further, I’d love to do so.

 

As we proceed toward the celebrations of Thanksgiving and Christmas, may you find blessings in your preparations!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 


Rss_feed