The Commandments of God — as explained by Father Connell’s ‘The New Baltimore Catechism No.3, published by Benzinger Brothers, Inc. in 1943:
The commandments of God were given by God Himself to Moses on Mount Sinai when the Jewish people were on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Our Lord (Jesus Christ) gave us two commandments and said that ‘on these two commandments depends the whole law’ (Matthew Chapter 22 verses 37-40):
- first, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and with thy whole strength; and
- second, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.These were not new commandments which Our Lord gave. Men were bound by them from the beginning of the world, but when Christ gave them they were new in the sense that they had been forgotten by most men, and also in the sense that Christ’s teachings provided new reasons for loving God and our neighbor.These two commandments contain the whole law of God because God’s law is made up of obligations toward God Himself, ourselves and our neighbor; and if we truly love God and our neighbor as ourselves, we shall faithfully fulfill all these obligations.To love God, our neighbor, and ourselves we must keep the commandments of God and of the Church, and perform the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
The ten commandments belong to the natural law and could be known by human reason, except the third. The third commandment belongs to the natural law, in as far as the natural law obliges us to devote some time to the special worship of God; but it is a positive law (a law only known to us by revelation) in as far as God chose one day in every seven for the special worship, the seventh day of the week, or Saturday.
Apart from the third, the law of Christ contains the ten commandments; moreover Our Lord emphasized them and gave us a clearer knowledge of their meaning and importance.
Under the law of Christ the third commandment still exists in as far as it obliges us to devote some time to the special worship of God; but it has passed away in as far as it commanded the observance of the Sabbath, or Saturday, as a day of special worship because this was a ceremonial law, and the ceremonial laws of the Jews ceased when the Christian religion was established.
The commandments of God are these ten:
- I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.
- Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
- Remember thou keep holy the Lord’s day.
- Honor thy father and thy mother.
- Thou shalt not kill.
- Thou shalt not commit adultery.
- Thou shalt not steal.
- Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.
- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods.We should not be satisfied merely to keep the commandments of God, but should always be ready to do good deeds, even when they are not commanded.Our Saviour especially recommends, that is not strictly commanded by the law of God, the observance of the Evangelical Counsels: voluntary poverty, perpetual chastity (suitable to one’s state in life) and perfect obedience.
Question: What are those men and women called who observe the Evangelical Counsels and form orders, (societies, communities) or congregations, living in monasteries or convents? Answer: They are called ‘religious’.
Any Catholic who has the necessary abilities of body and of soul to observe the rules of a religious order, (society, community) or congregation and wishes to serve God in the ‘religious state’ has good reason to believe that he or she is eligible for a religious vocation.
One who thinks that he or she has a religious vocation should pray fervently for divine guidance, (remain in a state of sanctifying grace by frequent use of Sacramental Confession, frequently visit the Blessed Sacrament and perform Eucharistic Adoration, fast), read some good books on the religious state (and on the lives of saints), and consult an experienced confessor.
Question: How does the enumeration of the ten commandments differ in the Catholic Church from that followed by most protestants? Answer: The enumeration of the ten commandments differs in the Catholic Church from that followed by most protestants in this respect: What is the first commandment for Catholics is divided into two commandments by protestants, while the ninth and tenth commandments of Catholics form only one commandment for protestants, so that our commandments from the second to the ninth are numbered on higher by protestants.