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The Ten Commandments (1)

On Mount Sinai, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, written on two stone tablets (Ex. 20:1-17, 24:12). These are summed up in the Two Great Commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind [the first three commandments] . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself [the last seven commandments]" (Matt. 22:37-39). For the sake of brevity, the church has abbreviated the Ten Commandments, and Tradition renders them the following way:

1. "I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me." We sin against this commandment when we offer adoration to anyone or anything other than God (CCC 2113) It is also sinful to make a creature our supreme source of joy, truth, or morality. We violate this commandment also by sinning against faith, hope, or charity, by which we adore God. Sins against faith include heresy (denying an article of the Catholic faith), apostasy (repudiating Christianity), indifference (the idea that one religion or church is as good as another), and ingratitude or lukewarmness (failing to acknowledge the love of God and to return that love) (CCC 2089, 2094). Sins against hope include presumption (believing that one will be saved by his own efforts, without the help of God, or by God, without his own efforts; CCC 2092), and by despair (when one does not believe God will give him the grace necessary for salvation; CCC 2091). Sins against charity include envy, sloth, and scandal (giving bad example; CCC 2094). Superstition–attributing powers to objects and formulas (CCC 2111) and Divination, which includes charms, spells, fortune telling, mediums, the ouija board, astrology, and many other practices (CCC 2116) are also forbidden. Sacrilege (mistreating sacred people, places, and things, including the sacraments; CCC 2120), and simony (buying or selling what is sacred; CCC 2121) are further violations of this commandment. Atheism (denying the existence of God; CCC 2125) and Agnosticism (believing that God may exist but is unknowable; CCC 2127) are sinful philosophical systems.

2. "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain." Every time we say God's name, or the name of a holy person or thing, we must say it with reverence, and not in anger or as part of an expression (CCC 2143). We are also forbidden to make an oath (calling on God to witness the truth of what we say; ie. "I swear to God", "With God as my witness") without good reason (CCC 2149), or an oath that is not truthful (the sin of perjury; CCC 2152). It is also forbidden to break a vow (a promise made to God, that involves something pleasing to God; CCC 2102), to curse another (calling down evil upon them; ie. "May you go to hell"), or to commit blasphemy (insulting God and other holy people or things; CCC 2148).

3. "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath Day." The Christian Sabbath is Sunday, and on that day, Catholics must assist at Mass, although the Saturday evening anticipation Mass also fulfils the obligation (CCC 2180). Besides this, Catholics should devote more time to prayer and spiritual reading on Sunday, which has also traditionally been a day devoted to performing the works of mercy (such as visiting the sick; CCC 2186). Catholics must refrain from all servile work (physical labor; CCC 2185), and housework that could be done on other days, though those in some occupations (medicine, law enforcement, etc.; CCC 2187) must work. It is wrong for Catholics to co-operate in such work, such as Sunday shopping (CCC 2195). Sunday is a day of rest, and can be made a day of recreation, but it would be wrong to engage in recreational activities to a point where the other Sunday obligations are not met.

Catholic Tracts


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