Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Third Sunday of Lent—7 March A.D. 2010

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments


Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Saint Thomas Aquinas

[Ordinary of the Mass]
[English Mass Text]
[Latin Mass Text]
[Lenten Observance]

[Saint Thomas Aquinas
(Catholic Encyclopedia)]

    Since it is Lent, I want to urge all of you to make the effort to attend Mass a few days during the week in addition to the Sundays.  Be aware that we making the Stations of the Cross before Mass on Friday evenings, and that we have Mass a little bit later in the morning on most Wednesdays—consult the Parish Bulletin.  If you really just cannot make it to the weekday Masses, I would suggest at least reading the Epistle and Gospel each day in your Missal—the Lenten Masses offer a variety of Scripture readings that you will not hear during the rest of the year.

    Were today not a Sunday, it would be the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest scholars and Doctors of the Catholic Church.  Born near Naples, son of the Count of Aquino, he joined the Dominican friars in 1244.  His family kidnapped and imprisoned him, trying to turn him away from his vocation, but he rejoined the Dominicans in 1245.  He was ordained a priest in 1250, and taught primarily at the University of Paris.  He wrote a large number of theological works, the best known among them being his Summa Theologica.

    Saint Thomas is also known for his music, primarily in the pieces he composed for the Office of Corpus Christi.  Every Catholic has heard the hymn Tantum Ergo Sacramentum, which we sing at Benediction; his Adoro Te Devote is another, well known.  His music has the advantage of being relatively easy to sing, while conveying a first class theology in its lyrics.

    The saintly Pope Leo XIII proclaimed that the teachings of Saint Thomas were to be the norm for all Catholic higher education, both for those studying for the priesthood and for the laity.  We can think of Saint Thomas as one of our patron saints against the Modernism that has corrupted so‑called “Catholic” theology for the past half century.  There is no flexible or wavering truth, no dialogue or dialectic in the Catholic teachings of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

    But I have digressed here, so let me briefly comment on what Saint Paul had to say in this mornings epistle, and how what he said relates to the ninth and tenth Commandments.

 “Immorality and every uncleanness, or covetousness, 
let it not even be named among you ... as becomes the saints.”

    The excerpt read today from St. Paul's epistle to the Ephesians is intended to teach us a valuable lesson in our Lenten preparation for Easter.  He is telling us that, not only must we abstain from sin, but we must even refrain from giving serious thought to sin.

    Sin is not only, or even primarily, in the physical action of wrongdoing.  If we had to name a single, essential, component of sin, it would be in the intention to sin.  Remember that we are created with free will, so that we can voluntarily love God, and give glory to Him.  Withholding this free act of the will—allowing it to run counter to the will of God is the essence of all sin.

    Remember that some of the angels fell from grace.  And the angels are purely spiritual beings, not given to any sort of physical activity—their sin had to be completely in the will.  What we are saying is that it is as wrong to rehearse in the mind how one might sin, and to take delight from that rehearsal.

    None of this, of course, is new.  And, even two-thousand years ago, it was not new with Saint Paul.  If we look to the Old Testament, we see that God's Commandments included specific prohibitions of “covetousness.”  Even though we have a sixth Commandment which prohibits adultery, and a seventh Commandment which prohibits theft; God knew it necessary to include a ninth and a tenth Commandment, which forbid us from “Coveting our neighbor's wife,” and from “Coveting our neighbor's goods.”

    If anything is new, it is the attempt by modern society to deny the reality of these Commandments.  In the media, if someone wants to poke fun at the Sacrament of Confession or at traditional Catholicism, they often joke about penitents confessing “impure thoughts, or desires.”  They do so, trying to make believe that there is no such thing as sin anyway; and that it would be the height of foolishness to confess mere thought when no action has taken place.

    They come at the problem backwards, claiming that “there is no sin if no one is hurt”;  totally ignoring the spiritual, and psychological, and sociological harm caused by sin; and ignoring God's right to be obeyed.

    The same folks will often try to tell you that chastity is impossible; that fornication and adultery are normal behavior for physically healthy young people.  After they turn their minds into cesspools of impure thought, they wonder why they keep getting dirty!

    There is another interesting twist proposed by the Modernists—one against we should all be forewarned.  The Modernist, as usual, tries to turn the tables on us, taking something that is true, and then building a falsehood around it:  He starts out by agreeing with us, “Yes, sin must contain an act of the will.”  But, then he goes on to say that, “there is no sin, unless we positively intend to offend God by our act of the will.”  And, of course, he goes on to explain that very few people really have anything against God, as to want to hurt Him—therefore, sin is a very rare phenomenon!

    The Modernist is certainly wrong—not because he recognizes the importance of the will in all moral decisions—but because he fails to realize that even a negative act of the will denies the honor and glory due to God.  That is to say:  I don't have to purposefully hate God to sin—If I am simply too lazy, or too self centered to follow His Commandments, I have still used my will against Him.  And if I use my free will in a way that is not in conformity with the will of God, I have sinned.

    This is not to say that all thoughts are evil if they concern matters which are forbidden to us.  Often thoughts spring up into our conscious mind with no effort on our part.  Often temptation seems to come out of nowhere.  Remember, please, that temptation is not a sin—it is giving into temptation that is sinful—taking delight from the thoughts which tempt us, nurturing and entertaining them.

    But we should take precautions to minimize our temptations.  We are obligated to avoid the unnecessary occasions of sin—the persons, places, and things which are likely to give rise to temptation.  In this connection, we might be particularly careful about the material which we read or view, and association with immodest persons.  Literature, videos, or people who glorify a pleasure filled life, filled with material possessions, and sensual behavior, should be avoided.

    This issue of sin, and sinful thought, and the occasion of sin is one with which we must deal.  A positive effort is required.  An intention must be made to ignore and avoid the ways of the world, and the snares of the Modernists.

    As St. Paul tells us, we must not join with “the children of disobedience... We were once darkness, but now we are light in the Lord.  Walk then as children of light, for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and justice and truth.”



[1]   Epistle: Ephesians v: 1-9,


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