What do Catholics consider keeping the commandments?

Hi. I’m a conservative Lutheran wrestling with Catholic theology and almost home, I think, but the matter of keeping the commandments is giving me trouble. Trent, in Justification, says: “Canon 18. If anyone says that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace,[121] impossible to observe, let him be anathema.”

Now, what does this mean exactly? Is it referring only to outward keeping of the commandments? Jesus said even hate or calling one’s brother a fool is murder. Does it refer to God counting the obedience as perfect because of Christ? (It doesn’t say so.) Does it mean it is possible to be a completely sinless person in this life? I can’t recall where but it seems that the Catholic Church teaches that nobody can completely free the flesh from the inclination to sin (concupiscence.)

Any answers or links to other answers would greatly be appreciated.

Of course Trent was combating Protestantism, and so makes emphatic statements to the effect that with Grace IT IS possible to keep the commandments. That is all.

You are ready to talk to a priest I think. Why not?

That is…not terribly helpful. Are you saying that Trent exaggerated? If by emphasis you mean mentioning one aspect of the Gospel to the exclusion of other aspects, which aspects would you say Trent excluded?

Also, I have talked to a priest, but I’m not going to stop using the great resources here just because of that. :slight_smile:

I think they were trying to say that with God’s grace, we CAN keep the Commandments. (As opposed to saying there is NO way we can help ourselves but to break the Commandments.)

We are all born with Original sin, and when we are baptized, the sin is removed. Our souls are cleansed. But the effects of Original sin remain, namely darkness of intellect and weakness of will. That makes it easier to sin, but it doesn’t compell us to sin beyond our abilities when bolstered by God’s grace.

I’m gonna try and take a stab at this and see if it helps (though I am no expert)

The Council of Trent is pretty straightforward in what it says, keeping the commandments is possible. At the time the council of Trent was occuring there was a wave of thought that no one can obey God’s commands therefore either no one is saved or everyone is, this of course led to an idea that everyone is saved because its impossible to be good.

But just as it is possible for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle (for nothing is impossible for God) so too it is possible to keep his commands (with the grace of God).

Jesus told us to “be perfect” as our heavenly Father is perfect, and God does not “command impossibilities”

I recommend reading Chapter XI The Observance of the Commandments and the Necessity and Possibility thereof, written during this same council. It talks about how

I’m sure you have a copy of it but here’s a link

ewtn.com/library/councils/trent6.htm

Sorry if this didn’t help at all, I may not have understood your question. I am not very well versed in the councils.

**Jesus taught us;

“Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” (Mt 19:17)**

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!

mark

When I read the OP I was immediately reminded of a protestant bible study I attended where, whenever the topic of moral laws came up, someone would quickly say “It’s impossible to keep the law”, and everyone would nod in agreement, and agree that only grace and faith could justify a person. There was also an undercurrent of “We can’t keep the law, so it’s not that important to try”.

So, I was delighted to see the Catholic statement, from the Council of Trent, which directly addresses the issue! I think that my experience in the protestant bible study explains what the council was addressing.

Now, what does this mean exactly? (1) Is it referring only to outward keeping of the commandments? Jesus said even hate or calling one’s brother a fool is murder. (2) Does it refer to God counting the obedience as perfect because of Christ? (It doesn’t say so.) *(3) *Does it mean it is possible to be a completely sinless person in this life? I can’t recall where but it seems that the Catholic Church teaches that nobody can completely free the flesh from the inclination to sin (concupiscence.)

(Numbers added by me).

That is a very insightful and well framed question!

(1) In Catholicism the commandments of God are contained in the ten commandments, which are the natural law written in the heart of man, and apply to all people. Jesus’ command for inner, as well as outer, observance also apply. In confession we are as much obliged to confess evil thoughts as evil deeds.

So, we must keep the whole of the commandments. Jesus makes this possible through the work of the Holy Spirit and the sacraments, and we cooperate with grace through prayer and good works. (ie. “infused righteousness”)

Numerous scripture passages apply here, including those already cited in this thread

(2) No. That sounds like protestant “imputed righteousness”. I don’t know whether Catholicism gives some weight to “imputed righteousness”, but it certainly does not replace the need for personal sinlessness, in thought and action.

(3) I hope someone else can answer this! Catholics believe that a person can achieve, with God’s grace, sanctity in this life, however I’ve wondered myself what happens to the last traces of concupiscience, and why even saints keep confessing right to the end of their lives. To me it is mainly an academic issue, as I know that my mission now is to act and pray as if sanctity were possible. I’ll think about the last traces of concupiscience when I get there!

Of course, purgatory is the remedy for our failure to be perfect in this life.

This command of Jesus was one of the major issues which unsettled me as a protestant, and kept challenging me, and I only saw it being meaningful in Catholicism.

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