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Beacon Of Light… Examination Of Conscience: The Second Commandment

September 15, 2020 Frontpage No Comments


(Editor’s Note: Fr. Richard D. Breton Jr. is a priest of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn. He is currently the parochial vicar of St. Andrew Parish in Colchester and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Lebanon. He received his BA in religious studies and his MA in dogmatic theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.)

  • + + Greetings! I hope this column find you all doing well! As we continue our examination of conscience, I want our readers to know I have been praying for you. As we make this examination of conscience let us pray for each other. Prayer is a critical part of our lives as Catholic Christians. Oremus Pro Invicem! Let us pray for each other!
    In last week’s column we examined the First Commandment. Our reflection touched upon who God is, as well as how we should honor God and Him alone. The First Commandment is the foundation of all the other Commandments.
    Today we move on the Second Commandment: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” It makes sense, then, that if we are to honor the Lord with our whole heart, mind and soul, we should also honor His holy name. Each one of us is known by our name. This is important because it denotes who we are. In the same way, God has revealed His name to us as, I AM WHO AM, and we must respect His name.
    Just as the Lord revealed His name to us through Moses and the Israelite people, in Baptism we are presented to the Lord by our name. In the first moments of the Sacrament of Baptism, our parents are asked to present us by our name to the Lord. They are asked: “What name do you give your child?” (Order of Baptism of Children, p. 35).
    Because our name denotes who we are, there is an expectation that our name be respected. Sometimes that doesn’t happen! Often when we are younger, we experience name-calling and get picked on by other children.
    When I was little I had very bad eyes and wore very thick glasses. I was often called bottle-caps because my glasses were so thick. This was not nice, and it hurt my feelings. The Holy Name of God must be respected just as we want our name respected.
    How do we fail in living this Commandment? What are some examples?
    Have I used the name of God in cursing or blasphemy? Sometimes life can get the best of us and we get frustrated. Sometimes in this frustration we can fall into the temptation of using the Holy Name of the Lord inappropriately. Often, we may hear people say: Oh my God! This should be avoided. Saying Oh My Gosh is much better.
    Failing to keep vows or promises that I have made to God is another offense against this Commandment. In our prayers we often ask God for help within certain misfortunes in our lives. Sometimes we bargain with the Lord. This bargaining involves promising to do something, if God comes through and answers or provides for our needs. We must make sure we are committed to keeping the promises we have made before God. Jesus, we trust in you!
    Today’s society is full of confusion and chaos. Sadly, this confusion and chaos has also infiltrated into the Church. Some, within the Church, are misleading the faithful in living the faith. This leads to speaking about the faith, the Church, the saints, or sacred things with irreverence, hatred, or defiance.
    Holy Mother Church is Holy! Holy Mother Church is perfect, because, she was created by God Himself. Whenever we speak ill about the faith, the Church, the saints, or sacred things we disobey this Commandment. By doing so we are hurting our soul and relationship with God!
    Have I watched television or movies, or listened to music that treated God, the Church, the saints, or sacred things irreverently? Today many of these forms of media show disrespect to God. I am amazed at how much of today’s music is full of language that disrespects God, and yet, our young people are listening to this! I wonder if parents take the time to listen to the music of their children. If not, please do! The souls of our children depend on it!
    Have I used vulgar, suggestive, or obscene speech? Today vulgar, suggestive, and obscene language is everywhere. We hear it in the workplace and everywhere else we go. The greatest concern, however, is that it has become part of family life. Children are following the example of their parents who speak like this frequently.
    I can remember growing up and getting soap put in my mouth for using these types of words. We need to clean up the mouths of today’s society with holy words and prayers.
    Have I belittled others in my speech? It’s easy for us to fail in loving our neighbor. Maybe it’s our boss at work? Oh, we don’t like the boss, so we talk about the boss to co-workers. We also see this in the Church. How many times have we talked about our priests? We may not like a priest’s style, so we talk among other parishioners about our priests. Maybe the priests are preaching the truth about the faith and we struggle with that teaching.
    Instead of going and seeing the priest directly, we talk behind his back and complain to others. Remember the adage: If you don’t have anything nice to say, then, don’t say it at all. Remember, instead of belittling someone, shouldn’t we pray for them instead?
    Have I behaved disrespectfully in Church? Whenever we come to church, we enter the house of God and walk on holy ground. Every church is consecrated and set aside as a sacred place. Whenever we show disrespect, we fail in living this Commandment. Things like excessive talking in church before and after Mass, leaving Mass early right after Communion, answering our cell phone or using our cell phone in church are examples of this.
    Another big example is disrespect to the Blessed Sacrament in residing in church. So often people walk by the Tabernacle and make no sign of reverence in acknowledging Jesus’ presence in church. Also, are we respectful in receiving Holy Communion? Do we receive Jesus reverently either on our tongue, or in our hand by making a throne to receive the King? Remember every time we are in church, we need to respect God’s house, the same way we would want someone to respect our own homes.
    Have I misused places or things set apart for the worship of God? There are many religious articles that are part of our daily life. Crucifixes, rosaries, statues, the Bible, and even sacred vessels of the Mass all need to be respected. Sadly, many people have forgotten that these articles are not just ordinary; they are extraordinary! They are meant to raise our minds to the Lord.
    I remember going to bless a person’s house and seeing the Bible was being used on the floor as the support for a missing leg on a small table. I asked the person to remove the Bible and replace it with something else. The person was a bit miffed because I would not bless the house until the Bible had been put in a most prominent place.
    Have I blamed God for my failings? Taking responsibility for our actions is the sign of a good person. Sometimes, however, we fail in this regard. When life gets tough or downright unbearable, we often find ourselves blaming others for our struggles.
    Often God is the person we place at the center of this blaming game. We forget that often our own actions contribute to the struggles that we blame on others. I remember when I was little and I got in trouble, I would try to blame the neighbor for whatever happened. My mother would always say: “I don’t care about what the neighbor did. I care only about what you did.”
    What was our part in the action or situation? God doesn’t make things happen; He has given us free will to choose how we live our lives.
    Now that we have examined the Second Commandment, remember to add this to last week’s column on the First Commandment. Don’t forget to take 10 to 15 minutes at the end of our day to see where we fell and where we succeeded. As we make this examination of conscience together, we are slowly progressing in the spiritual life.
    Remember, St. Ignatius and St. Francis de Sales are both journeying with us. We pray that through their intercessions we may move one step closer to becoming saints.
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