WEEK THREE: The Moral Life (Life in Christ)
DAY 2: What’s Your Secret? (The Commandments, Beatitudes, and Virtues)
Did you ever try to find out if someone was planning a surprise party for you or try to find out what kind of gift they may have gotten you for your birthday or Christmas? It’s not easy to pry a secret out of someone!
Thankfully, we have a God who does not keep secrets. In fact, God is quite the opposite. God is all about revealing. One of the things that God revealed to his people Israel is the Decalogue—the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, we often think of the 10 Commandments as restrictive. In truth, the Commandments FREE us to love as God wants us to.
Think about it this way. If you want to learn how to excel at a certain skill or sport, you may ask someone with more experience to coach you. In turn, that person offers you specific advice and strategies: “don’t do this,” “avoid doing that,” “be sure you always do the following…” In a sense, we can think of the advice that we are given as rules that we need to follow if we want to excel in that area. These rules guide us and actually free us to excel at something. In the same way, God has given us rules to follow—the Ten Commandments—to help us achieve the goal of remaining in relationship with him. The Ten Commandments don’t limit our behavior as much as they free us to live as God wants us to live.
To help us live the spirit of these commandments more fully, Jesus also gave us the Beatitudes…not so much rules as they are a mindset. Being a good Christian is not just standing still and saying, “Look, I’m not breaking any commandments!” It is an active sharing of God’s love with others. The Beatitudes put us in the right frame of mind to share this love, difficult as that may be. One warning about the Beatitudes, however – they are counterintuitive! That means that they go against accepted thinking! The message is clear: happiness is found in how God thinks, not in how we think!
Finally, in order to live according to the Commandments and the Beatitudes, the Church gives us virtues to practice. Think of the virtues as good habits to practice. The more we practice them, the more they will become second nature to us.
As Catholics, we don’t have to go searching for some great secret to a deeper relationship with God. God has revealed to us, through the Ten Commandments and through Jesus Christ, who is the incarnation of the Law of Love, how we are to live in order to remain in grace, in relationship with him. God’s Law of Love is a gift that enables us to live a life that is blessed with God’s presence.
Reflection Questions: Choose one of the following questions and share your thoughts with your fellow retreatants by adding your comments in the comments box below this post.
- When did you try to pry a secret out of someone? When did you try to keep a secret from someone else?
- What does it mean that God does not keep secrets?
- How can laws set us free?
- Why do you think the people of Israel were so thankful to receive the Ten Commandments after being led out of slavery?
- Which of the Commandments do you think our society is most in need of following?
- Why might we call the Beatitudes the “counterintuitive commandments?”
- Which of the seven virtues would you like to be better at practicing?
Thank you, good and gracious God, for the gift of your Law of Love and for revealing the Kingdom in our midst. Thank you for not keeping secrets and for showing us how we are to live in order for us to remain in close relationship with you. Help me to love you above all else and to love my neighbors, especially when that gets challenging. Likewise, help me to be a loveable neighbor so that others may not find in me an obstacle to a deeper relationship with you. Amen.
- Up the Ladder
- Loving God with Whole Mind and Heart
- Eight Attitudes
- The Beatitudes’ Promise
- Virtues and Vice
CCC References: 1716-1728, 1803-1845, 2052-2557
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I hope you’re enjoying our online summer retreat, Preparing for a Year of Faith! Take a few minutes each day at your convenience to “gather” here on my blog as we seek to add some flavor to our faith lives by deepening our understanding of the truths of our faith as given to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.