Following The Ten Commandments


#1

This is my first post in the Discussion Forums. Please do not think I’m challenging Catholic Doctrine when I ask questions about the logic behind them-- I have found The Church’s logic to be excellent in such matters and that’s why I’m here. To me, one of the best ways to learn Doctrine is to understand the logic/reasoning behind it.

So here goes!

The overall Protestant view of the Ten Commandments is that no one can possibly keep them-- the idea was that God was demonstrating that it was virtually impossible to be Holy without his assistance. Often, I’ve heard a paraphrase of the New Testament that says the Ten Commandments are a “School Master” that leads us to accept the sacrifice of Christ and trust on Him to pay the price for our sins.

In the book “This Is The Faith” by Canon Francis Ripley, it says that

Since the Ten Commandments represent God’s law for all men, they are possible for all men to observe successfully. God would not make laws that it is impossible to observe. Moreover, God always gives those graces necessary to observe the Commandments. Not only is it possible for all men to observe them; it is necessary and obligatory for them to do so.

So my question is… how many people here can say that they’ve gone just one day without breaking one of the Ten Commandments? On reading what all of them entail, I can’t see how that’s possible. (With the exception of Saints, etc.)

I do know, of course, that one can go to Confession and clear up the penalties of sin, but the author quoted above is actually stating that it’s possible for a devout Catholic to keep all of the commandments.

Did I misunderstand The Church’s position?

P.S. The words in bold in the above quote were the author’s, not mine.


#2

Since we would say that Mary (fully human) would have certainly kept all the commandments, at all times, it must be possible for all humans. That certainly doesn’t mean all humans will endeavor to.

I can say that trying always will yield better results. :smiley:


#3

Wouldn’t you consider that a special case? I understood that she was born without sin?
If so, then not all of us have that particular advantage… :slight_smile:

Absolutely agreed! :thumbsup:


#4

I hear you, but we also see Christ’s suffering in the Passion and we are all called to exactly the same prayerful forgiveness and acceptance of God’s will, so…

I rather prefer how Scott Hahn addresses the difficulty of our task. God calls us to something that is humanly impossible. That is why he gives us the Son, because with the Son nothing is impossible. I find this more logical than God never calls us to more than we can do. Of course he does! We give him our weakness and He gives us His strength. After all, without God we can do nothing.

I think likely what Ripley means is that with God, man can keep all 10 always.


#5

I believe it is possible, but only if you have perfect faith. You have to have absolute trust in God to protect you from temptations, no doubts whatsoever. Saints show it is possible, but only a few will ever achieve this. For the rest of us, it is a lifelong goal. We must follow them to the best of our ability, constantly striving to improve every single day. The better you become, the slower your progress though. The strong believer sees his flaws all the more clearly than the newly baptized. The more you study the faith, the more you see how far away from perfection you really are.


#6

I agree-- but if that’s the case then why is it that none of us can do it? Now I’m not counting Saints here-- just us regular people.

If a member of this forum posted that he had gone a week without sinning/breaking the commandments, would anyone believe him? I don’t think so, but whadda I know? :shrug:

Of course, my resources are limited here so I can’t yet read what other authors say-- I can only assume that Mr. Ripley knows what he’s talking about since the book has been accepted by the Church in general. The 1951 version even had an Imprimatur.

I do have a pamphlet form Our Sunday Visitor which says:

God’s Word has provided us with the Ten Commandments for examining our consciences…

Now that seems more in line with the idea that the Law brings us to our knees by the very fact that we cannot keep it (and thus be perfect).

I really want to understand this.

If anyone has other resources they could point me to… online or quote?


#7

I think it’s given maybe as a guide to strive towards even if it takes our whole life to accomplish it. It shows us what God wants from us even though He knows how hard it is for us to accomplish. It’s still a good guide of what NOT to do. I think a person could achieve it if they really put their mind, soul and body into it. It’s difficult but possible. :slight_smile: I think it’s our culture that makes it hard to keep them too. If I were stuck alone on a deserted island I think I, and anyone else in that situation would be able to keep all 10 commandments. :slight_smile: With no access to modern life and no outside influences I think a person could if they really tried. So it IS possible. :wink:


#8

I’ve gone backpacking and for days at a time wouldn’t see anyone or anything civilized. But I still said a bad word when I hit my thumb! I don’t think I’d pass the test even on a deserted island… :o


#9

Well, that depends on what word exactly you used. If you took the Lord’s name in vain, you would have broken a commandment. But to merely use coarse/foul language does not actually break any of the ten commandments (unless it’s aimed abusively at someone). Which isn’t to say it isn’t wrong.

The ten commandments are the big sins. There are other sins that aren’t specifically covered in them.


#10

@underacloud:

After reading your comments, it occurred to me that the way Catholics view the Ten Commandments might be different from the way the Protestants view them. This was confirmed when I read this from the book I mentioned above:

We use profane words when we speak in a light or jocose way of God or holy things. Much language of today comes under this heading, e.g. the frequent use of the word “Hell.”

Catholics would do well to remember that they very easily give scandal by the careless use of bad language. It is one of the things most noticed by non-Catholics, who are far less particular about other and more serious matters than they are about the language they use.

And I have to admit— coming from a mostly Protestant background, he’s right.


#11

Scripture tells as that we must keep the commandments.

And behold one came and said to him: Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?

Who said to him: Why asketh thou me concerning good? One is good, God. But if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.

He said to him: Which?

And Jesus said: Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness.
Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

The young man saith to him: All these I have kept from my youth, what is yet wanting to me?

Jesus saith to him: If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come follow me.

Is keeping the commandments possible? Christ did not say that the man had failed to keep the commandments. The man only failed to go above and beyond by selling all his property (not part of the Ten Commandments). Now, if the message were that it is impossible to keep the commandments (so Jesus had to be a vicarious law-keeper in our stead), this would have been a good teaching moment to teach this in a clear way (e.g. “You cannot enter into life because your works are evil”). This teaching is present across Scripture, Old and New Testaments, and unless we assume that the Bible doesn’t clearly and explicitly teach the Gospel (but in fact regularly appears to teach some kind of “counterfeit, Catholic works-righteousness” without clarification), then I think the standard Protestant reading is difficult.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church both talk about this point.

scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2.htm
cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/trent/tcomm00.htm

I think you will find that when you are reading Scripture and not trying to force it into a Protestant lens, the logic will make more sense. Consider your example of the law as a school master. Is the job description of a school master to instruct children and bring them to a mastery of the material being taught or is it to give the children material they could not possibly ever come even close to mastering and leaving them crippled with trauma by constantly punishing them for something they were incapable of doing? Paul may have had the second idea in mind–school was stricter back in those days–but the argument from the epistle is that the Law was to bring God’s people to a mastery of the law (the spirit of the law) rather than to cause them to flunk out of school.


#12

I think Paul’s statement from 1 Corinthians 10:13 may be relevant: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.. God offers grace for us to overcome every temptation.


#13

I agree that Mary is a special case but then you have people like st Francis of assissi who was fully into following not only the ten commandments but all Jesus’ words. Or st rosa De la who spent hours repenting and doing penance over venial sins. I don’t think any human besides Mary can say they have followed the commandments to each word but there areany like st Rosa De Lima, st Francis, st john bosco, the holy priest of ads, Bernadette suburious, the Fatima children who were pretty close.

Now the difference between all of them and us is that not only they believe is possible tofollow jJesus but they knew it is hard and requires sacrifice and they made an active choice of sacrificing every thing for Jesus. Most people are either too attached too comfortable or don’t like to sacrifice themselves hence the mentality that it can not be done.


#14

I agree that Mary is a special case but then you have people like st Francis of assissi who was fully into following not only the ten commandments but all Jesus’ words. Or st rosa De la who spent hours repenting and doing penance over venial sins. I don’t think any human besides Mary can say they have followed the commandments to each word but there areany like st Rosa De Lima, st Francis, st john bosco, the holy priest of ads, Bernadette suburious, the Fatima children who were pretty close.

Now the difference between all of them and us is that not only they believe is possible tofollow jJesus but they knew it is hard and requires sacrifice and they made an active choice of sacrificing every thing for Jesus. Most people are either too attached too comfortable or don’t like to sacrifice themselves hence the mentality that it can not be done.


#15

Those Old Testament “ten commandments” don’t seem too, too difficult to follow…it’s the other 603 I have trouble with.

The ones I find most challenging:

–not to dwell permanently in Egypt. Deut. 17:16
–don’t sell (the captive woman) into slavery. Deut. 21:14
–not to bow down before a smooth stone. Lev. 26:1
–The rapist must marry his victim if she is unwed — Deut. 22:29
–Not to benefit from an ox condemned to be stoned — Ex. 21:2
–Must not eat raisins — Num. 6:3
–The court must judge the damages incurred by a goring ox — Ex. 21:28
–Purchase a Hebrew slave in accordance with the prescribed laws — Ex. 21:2
–Not to muzzle an ox while plowing — Deut. 25:4
–The courts must hang those stoned for blasphemy or idolatry — Deut. 21:22
–Destroy the seven Canaanite nations — Deut. 20:17

…and, the one that says not to eat shellfish.

I don’t know many men who can keep this one:

Men must not shave the hair off the sides of their head — Lev. 19:27
Men must not shave their beards with a razor — Lev. 19:27

But this one here is very useful, especially in Manhattan:

Make a guard rail around flat roofs — Deut. 22:8

.


#16

I assure you that many men would much prefer to keep the second group, only they are prohibited by the law of their employer or the law of their wives. If we are being serious, most of the laws are not difficult to observe and many Jews still observe them this day to the best of their ability. If you have tried to keep these laws and struggled, I would be interested to hear your stories.


#17

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