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The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Three: The Will of God, First Commandment ^ | 2002 | Pocket Catholic Catechism

Posted on 11/10/2009 9:06:27 PM PST by Salvation

Part Three:  The Will of God

First Commandment

Table of Contents    

The Golden Calf The wording of the First Commandment is exactly the same in Exodus and in Deuteronomy.
I am Yahweh, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
You shall have no gods except me (Exodus 20:1-3; Deuteronomy 5:6-7).

There follow after this statement of the First Commandment, several verses of prohibition against carved images. The Latin Rite of the Catholic Church considers these verses an explanation of the first precept.

You shall not make yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything in heaven or on earth beneath or in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, Yahweh, your God, am a jealous God and I punish the father’s faults in the sons, the grandsons and the great-grandsons of those who hate me; but I show kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:4-6).

Centuries of Catholic commentary find two levels of meaning in the First Commandment: the expressed and the implied, and on both levels there is a positive declaration or command, and a negative prohibition.

Yahweh a Jealous God

God identifies Himself as Yahweh, which is also rendered as “Lord” or “Adonai.” In the pre-Christian Greek translation, the title was understood to mean “He who is” and the Latin Vulgate explains it to mean “I am who am.” By implication, therefore, Yahweh is the Being who simply is. He never came into existence because He always was. By further implication, He is the One who brings all other beings into existence because He is their Creator.

The word “jealous,” when applied to God, means that He wants to be recognized for who He is, and does not want any creature to be given the honors which are due to the Creator.

That is why God forbids anyone or anything to be worshipped as though it were divine. The Bible makes constant reference to the gods of the Gentiles. And pre-Christian history shows how widespread was polytheism or the worship of many gods and goddesses.

The basic issue was not so much a question of numbers, but rather that there is only one God. The focus of the First Commandment is that there is only one Necessary Being, who cannot not exist. Everything else in the universe exists only because He brought it and keeps it in existence.

The worship of any creature by paying it divine homage is a lie. There are no other gods. There is only one God. He demands to be recognized for who He is: the One Being from whom all other beings receive their existence, and by whom they are constantly sustained.

It is only logical that He will punish those who refuse to honor Him as their God, and shows kindness to those who love Him by keeping His commandments.

The prohibition of carved images should be seen against this background. What is really forbidden is not carved images as such. It is the worship of creatures, which can be represented in images, instead of worshipping the invisible God, who cannot be depicted in pictures or carved in wood or stone.

Adoration, Prayer and Sacrifice

Underlying the First Commandment is the duty to practice the virtue of religion. This is the moral virtue which disposes us to give God the worship He deserves. He is our Creator and Lord; therefore, we owe Him submission. He is our Destiny; therefore, we owe Him our love.

Adoration.  Only God deserves to be adored, because only God is the First Cause of the universe from whom everything came and on whose almighty power everything depends. As our Creator, we owe Him the adoration of obedience to His laws.

But God is also to be adored because He is the One for whom we were made. He wants to give us Himself, finally, in eternal happiness in heaven. We should, therefore, adore Him also with our selfless love, desiring to be united with Him, even as He wants to be united with us.

If the adoration of obedience means total submission to the almighty will of God, the adoration of love means total generosity in giving ourselves beyond the demands of justice, to the One who loves us with an everlasting love.

The principal way that we adore God is by prayer and sacrifice.

Prayer.  The voluntary response to the awareness of God’s presence is prayer. When we pray, we are doing what God mainly wants us to do in life: He wants us to communicate with Him. When we pray we are doing several things:

  • We become mentally aware of God’s presence.

  • We respond to this awareness by raising our minds and hearts to God.

  • We talk to God, sharing our thoughts and desires with Him.

Our prayerful conversation with God may take on any one of several forms. We may adore God by telling Him we recognize that He is Lord and we are the creatures of His hands. We may adore God by telling Him we love Him with our whole heart. We may thank God for all the blessings He has bestowed on us and on others. We may beg for His mercy for the sins we and others have committed against Him. And we may ask Him for the graces that we and others need to reach the heavenly beatitude for which we were made.

Implied in every form of prayer is the adoration of obedience and love.

Sacrifice.  The highest form of prayer is sacrifice. This is the willing surrender of something precious to God. As with adoration, there are two basic forms of sacrifice. There is the sacrifice of submission. Here we give up some creature that we like in order to express our total dependence on God’s will. There is also the sacrifice of love. Here we surrender something pleasant in order to please the God whom we love.

Sacrifice presumes there are precious things in life: our bodily strength and life, material possessions and acceptance by others, emotional health and physical comfort, friends and the company of congenial persons. All of these, in different ways, God either will or may take away. And we are as pleasing to Him as we are willing to give them up, according to His mysterious will.

The soul of sacrifice is internal surrender. We not only let go of some creature that God is removing – or wants us to remove – but we let go with our hearts. We surrender our free wills freely to the will of God. Why? Because then we show that we really love Him, not only in words which are easy, but in action, which is hard. And the hardest action we can perform is to let go of our self-will.

The most perfect sacrifice we can offer is the Sacrifice of the Mass, in which we join our self-surrender with that of Christ, who offers Himself and us to the heavenly Father.

Moreover, since we believe that God became man, we are to adore Jesus Christ, who is true God. We are to pray to Him as our God. We are to sacrifice ourselves for Him, because He is God, and like Him, because He became man to show us how the human will should surrender itself to the God of love.

Sins of Irreligion

There is a correct sense in which the First Commandment contains the nine other commandments that follow. Anyone who is sincerely trying to live out the First Commandment is living out the whole Decalogue.

For this reason, we can say that sins against the First Commandment are beyond counting. Every sin is an offense against God, who has a right to our obedience and a claim to our love. Consequently, every sin, at root, is an offense against the First Commandment.

However, there are certain sins that the history of Christian morality has come to associate as more directly against the First Commandment. They are idolatry and superstition, tempting God, sacrilege, and simony. A general name for these is irreligion which is contrary to the primary virtue prescribed by the First Commandment, namely, the virtue of religion.

Idolatry.  The word “idolatry” means the worship of idols. It is the sin of giving divine honors to a creature. In the early Church, the followers of Christ were put to death for refusing to worship idols, even externally. Modern secularism is idolatry in practice. Money and pleasure, sex and power, science and the media can all be idolized. The key to protecting oneself from practical idolatry is always to use creatures according to the will of God. They are to be means of reaching Him and never an end in themselves.

Satanism is a form of idolatry. Widely practiced under various names among polytheists who worship evil deities, it has become prevalent in western countries. Modern Satanism believes in two creator gods, one good and the other evil. Satanists venerate what Christians call Lucifer.

Superstition.  Although various practices are called superstitions, strictly speaking superstition is unseemly or unbecoming worship of God.

This unbecoming worship may be the result of false devotion or of a tendency to magic. As false devotion, superstition has one feature in common. A person is concerned that unless certain external practices are performed, like multiplication of prayers, God will be displeased. When superstition tends toward magic, it associates God’s blessings with the veneration of unapproved objects or belief in unverified revelations or the performance of unauthorized ritual.

Tempting God.  This is the sin of doing or omitting something in order to test one of God’s attributes, especially His love, wisdom, or power.

An explicit tempting of God is done when a person deliberately puts God to the test. Such would be telling God to work a miracle as a person throws himself over a cliff; or an atheist boasting that if there is a God, “let Him strike me dead.” These are grave crimes.

But implicit tempting of God is more common. Thus it is tempting God to expect Him to provide the grace we need to fulfill our duties in life without prayer.

Sacrilege.  Violation of a sacred person, place, or object is sacrilege. Also called desecration, it is a grave sin that has been many times condemned in the Bible, especially in the Second Book of Maccabees and the letters of St. Paul.

Implied in the sin of sacrilege is the divine precept of treating whatever belongs to God as something holy. Desecration is, therefore, an insult to God. St. Paul condemns sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion (I Corinthians 11:27-29).

Simony.  Named after Simon Magus (Acts 8:18) who tried to buy spiritual powers from St. Peter, simony is the sacrilege of buying or selling what is spiritual in return for money. It is forbidden by the divine law. Thus to promise prayers in exchange for money is simony. To give or obtain ecclesiastical authority in exchange for some material grant is simony.

The Church recognizes the right to receive an offering for some spiritual service, as a personal gift to the one who performs the service. Mass stipends are permissible, but carefully regulated by Church law.

The Sacrifice of the Old Covenant

Copyright © 2002 Inter Mirifica
Pocket Catholic Catechism

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholic; catholiclist; commandments
Continuing the series on the Commandments.
1 posted on 11/10/2009 9:06:29 PM PST by Salvation
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To: nickcarraway; Lady In Blue; NYer; ELS; Pyro7480; livius; Catholicguy; RobbyS; markomalley; ...
**I am Yahweh, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no gods except me (Exodus 20:1-3; Deuteronomy 5:6-7). **

Catholic Discussion Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic Discussion Ping List.

2 posted on 11/10/2009 9:09:48 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: All
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith (Introduction)
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part One: The Apostles’ Creed, The Basic Profession of Faith
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part 1: The Apostles’ Creed, “I Believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth"
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part 1: The Apostles’ Creed: “And in Jesus Christ, His Only Son, Our Lord”
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part One: The Apostles' Creed: “ Who Was Conceived by the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary”

The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part One: The Apostles’ Creed: “Suffered Under Pontius Pilate, was Crucified, Died, and was Buried”
The Esstentials of the Catholic Faith, Part One: The Apostle's Creed: He Descended into Hell. On the Third Day He Rose Again from the Dead
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part One: The Apostles’ Creed: “He Ascended into Heaven, and is Seated at the Right Hand of God, The Father Almighty”
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part 1: The Apostles’ Creed: “From Thence He Shall Come to Judge the Living and the Dead”
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part 1: The Apostles’ Creed, “ I Believe in the Holy Spirit”

The Essentials of the Catholic Faith,Part 1: Apostles’ Creed: "The Holy CatholicChurch: The Communion of Saints”
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part One: The Apostles’ Creed: “The Forgiveness of Sins”
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part One: The Apostles’ Creed: “The Resurrection of the Body”
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part One: The Apostles’ Creed: “Life Everlasting”

The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Two: Channels of Grace, The Sacraments
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Two: Channels of Grace, Baptism
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Two: Channels of Grace, Confirmation
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Two: Channels of Grace: The Eucharist
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Two: Channels of Grace, Penance

The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Two: Channels of Grace, Anointing of the Sick
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Two: Channels of Grace, Holy Orders

The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Three: The Will of God, Christian Morality
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Three: The Will of God, The Ten Commandments
The Essentials of the Catholic Faith, Part Three: The Will of God, First Commandment

3 posted on 11/10/2009 9:13:00 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation


I just finished this article. I did not want to hijack your thread so I am sending it to you privately. It is amazing lately that God is putting on my heart to write about most of the things you are posting...He must really want to get the info out. If you feel it is relevant, please feel free to post it. Thanks for all you do in your posting. Your articles are informative and help me stretch and grow my faith!


I am the Lord, Thy God, Thou shall have NO other Gods before me. The first commandment. The big Kahuna. If you stop for a moment and look at the 10, they are listed in a sort of heirarchy of importance. Not that any are more or less violatable than the next, they all made the top 10, but God always has a reason for every word in Scripture, and how it affects our lives if we obey or disobey His will. Lets look at the 10 as a whole.

1. I am the Lord, thy God, Thou shall have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shall not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.
3. Remember to keep the Lords day Holy.
4. Thou shall honor thy Father and thy Mother
5. Thou shalt not kill
6. Thou shalt not commit adultry
7. Thou shalt not steal
8. Thou shalt not bear false witness
9. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors goods

The first 3 deal directly with our relationship to God himself. These are the top priority on Gods list, and the one at the very top deals with His pre eminence overall. The second 3 deal with our bodies. It is how each of us, personally, honor God with ourselves. We were created by the union of our parents in their cooperation with Gods miracle of life. Our bodies ARE their bodies in that sense. The last 4 deal with our actions toward fellow human beings. It is a measuring tool to deal with behavior.

As if these were in any way ambiguous, Jesus gave us 2 commandments that summed them up perfectly. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your body, and love thy neigbor as thyself. All the other commandments rest on these. In keeping these two, we are keeping the whole of Gods law, since it would require us to put God at the forefront of our lives in all aspects, and to do nothing to our fellow man that we would not want done to us.

There is another reason for the heirarchy of the commandments. By violating the first, it reduces and eventually eliminates the reasons for keeping the rest. Think about it. If we do not do homage to God because he is God, what is left to do? To replace Him with a false idol-which would mean literally anything that we love more than God, would send the rest of the commandments into oblivion. Why not take the Lords name in vain? Why keep the Lords day holy? Who cares if I honor my parents? What difference does it make if I kill, cheat, steal or lie? Who is going to judge me?

When we replaced God with money, power, sex, and whatever else fills our hearts and minds, we actually replaced God with ourselves. We made ourselves our own god, and decided what was worthy of our worship. What takes the place of Church on Sunday for you? A softball game? Surfing? Football? Work? Shopping? What things keep you from your prayer life, or Scripture? In less than 200 years, a country that was founded by God fearing men on Christian principles has replaced those values in favor of hedonism and greed. We have become worshippers of the American Idol.

Just what are we teaching our children? Most kids today cannot answer even the most basic questions about God. They cannot name the last 2 presidents. They have no idea how to complete the most basic math problem (just try to watch them make change if their cash register is down!) Yet, they know all about the latest Hollywood gossip, they can send 10,000 text messages a month, and know the difference between a fake and real Coach handbag! They will spend $150.00 on a pair of shoes, but balk at donating their time for charity. The amount of children who are being raised with values such as these is staggering, and the ones being raised with Christian values is small. Society has now reaped what it has sown in this degredation of morality. The decedant lifestyle, the entitlement mentality has wrought unimaginable pain on our country. The excessive greed and pursuit of the idol of money and decadence has brought its promised fruit of pain and suffering to our country.

It is time for people to look deep within themselves and answer serious questions about their part in this decline of Christian values and return their hearts, minds, bodies and souls to their Creator. If you truly love your children, then be a parent and teach them, through your actions, the values that are instrumental to your faith. The majority of people in this country claim Christianity as their faith. If the majority would return to living it instead of paying lip service, we would repair the damage caused to our country and return to our place issued at our nations founding- the shining city on a hill. Until then, we are destined to decline. We cannot worship the creation and expect the Creators blessing.

4 posted on 11/11/2009 9:40:24 AM PST by wombtotomb
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