Catechism of the Catholic Church / Part Three: Life In Christ
Section Two - The Ten Commandments
Chapter One - You Shall Love The Lord
Your God With All Your Heart, And With All Your Soul, And With All Your
Jesus summed up man's duties toward God in this saying: "You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all
your mind."1 This immediately echoes the solemn call: "Hear,
O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD."2
God has loved us first. the love of the One God is recalled in the first of the
"ten words." the commandments then make explicit the response of love
that man is called to give to his God.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of
the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not
make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven
above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the
earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.3
It is written: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you
I. "You Shall
Worship the Lord Your God and Him Only Shall You Serve"
God makes himself known by recalling his all-powerful loving, and liberating
action in the history of the one he addresses: "I brought you out of the
land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." the first word contains the
first commandment of the Law: "You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall
serve him.... You shall not go after other gods."5 God's first
call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him.
The one and true God first reveals his glory to Israel.6 The revelation
of the vocation and truth of man is linked to the revelation of God. Man's
vocation is to make God manifest by acting in conformity with his creation
"in the image and likeness of God":
There will never be another
God, Trypho, and there has been no other since the world began . . . than he
who made and ordered the universe. We do not think that our God is different
from yours. He is the same who brought your fathers out of Egypt "by his
powerful hand and his outstretched arm." We do not place our hope in some
other god, for there is none, but in the same God as you do: the God of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.7
"The first commandment embraces faith, hope, and charity. When we say
'God' we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and
just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words
and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty,
merciful, and infinitely beneficent. Who could not place all hope in him? Who
could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has
poured out on us? Hence the formula God employs in the Scripture at the
beginning and end of his commandments: 'I am the LORD.'"8
Our moral life has its source in faith in God who reveals his love to us. St.
Paul speaks of the "obedience of faith"9 as our first
obligation. He shows that "ignorance of God" is the principle and
explanation of all moral deviations.10 Our duty toward God is to
believe in him and to bear witness to him.
The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with
prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There
are various ways of sinning against faith:
Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God
has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to
hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the
faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated
doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.
Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent
to it. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which
must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate
doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian
faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion
with the members of the Church subject to him."11
When God reveals Himself and calls him, man cannot fully respond to the divine
love by his own powers. He must hope that God will give him the capacity to
love Him in return and to act in conformity with the commandments of charity.
Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of
God; it is also the fear of offending God's love and of incurring punishment.
The first commandment is also concerned with sins against hope, namely, despair
By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in
attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God's
goodness, to his justice - for the Lord is faithful to his promises - and to
There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own
capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or
he presumes upon God's almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his
forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit).
Faith in God's love encompasses the call and the obligation to respond with sincere
love to divine charity. the first commandment enjoins us to love God above
everything and all creatures for him and because of him.12
One can sin against God's love in various ways:
- indifference neglects or refuses to reflect on divine charity; it fails to
consider its prevenient goodness and denies its power.
- ingratitude fails or refuses to acknowledge divine charity and to return him
love for love.
- lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can
imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.
- acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from
God and to be repelled by divine goodness.
- hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness
it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and
II. "Him Only Shall You Serve"
The theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity inform and give life to the
moral virtues. Thus charity leads us to render to God what we as creatures owe
him in all justice. the virtue of religion disposes us to have this attitude.
Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to
acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of
everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. "You shall worship
the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve," says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.13
To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the
"nothingness of the creature" who would not exist but for God. To
adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the
Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is
his name.14 The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on
himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world.
The acts of faith, hope, and charity enjoined by the first commandment are
accomplished in prayer. Lifting up the mind toward God is an expression of our
adoration of God: prayer of praise and thanksgiving, intercession and petition.
Prayer is an indispensable condition for being able to obey God's commandments.
" (We) ought always to pray and not lose heart."15
It is right to offer sacrifice to God as a sign of adoration and gratitude,
supplication and communion: "Every action done so as to cling to God in
communion of holiness, and thus achieve blessedness, is a true
Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual
sacrifice: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken
spirit...."17 The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced
sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of
neighbor.18 Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: "I
desire mercy, and not sacrifice."19 The only perfect sacrifice is
the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father's
love and for our salvation.20 By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice
we can make our lives a sacrifice to God.
In many circumstances, the Christian is called to make promises to God. Baptism
and Confirmation, Matrimony and Holy Orders always entail promises. Out of
personal devotion, the Christian may also promise to God this action, that
prayer, this alms-giving, that pilgrimage, and so forth. Fidelity to promises
made to God is a sign of the respect owed to the divine majesty and of love for
a faithful God.
"A vow is a deliberate and free promise made to God concerning a possible
and better good which must be fulfilled by reason of the virtue of
religion,"21 A vow is an act of devotion in which the Christian
dedicates himself to God or promises him some good work. By fulfilling his vows
he renders to God what has been promised and consecrated to Him. the Acts of
the Apostles shows us St. Paul concerned to fulfill the vows he had
The Church recognizes an exemplary value in the vows to practice the
Mother Church rejoices that she has within herself many men and women
who pursue the Savior's self-emptying more closely and show it forth more
clearly, by undertaking poverty with the freedom of the children of God, and
renouncing their own will: they submit themselves to man for the sake of God,
thus going beyond what is of precept in the matter of perfection, so as to
conform themselves more fully to the obedient Christ.24
The Church can, in certain cases and for proportionate reasons, dispense from
vows and promises25
The social duty of religion and the right to religious freedom
"All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and
his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know
it."26 This duty derives from "the very dignity of the human
person."27 It does not contradict a "sincere respect"
for different religions which frequently "reflect a ray of that truth
which enlightens all men,"28 nor the requirement of charity, which
urges Christians "to treat with love, prudence and patience those who are
in error or ignorance with regard to the faith."29
The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and
socially. This is "the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of
individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of
Christ."30 By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward
enabling them "to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and
mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they]
live."31 The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in
each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the
worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic
Church.32 Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the
Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular
over human societies.33
"Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be
restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters
in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due
limits."34 This right is based on the very nature of the human
person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which
transcends the temporal order. For this reason it "continues to exist even
in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and
adhering to it."35
"If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil
recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional
organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to
religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well."36
The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error,
nor a supposed right to error,37 but rather a natural right of the
human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from
external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural
right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way
that it constitutes a civil right.38
right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only
by a "public order" conceived in a positivist or naturalist
manner.39 The "due limits" which are inherent in it must be
determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the
requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in
accordance with "legal principles which are in conformity with the
objective moral order."40
III. "You Shall Have
No Other Gods Before Me"
The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has
revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion.
Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion
is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.
Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this
feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g.,
when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices
otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of
sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior
dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.41
The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe
in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture
constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, (of) silver and gold, the
work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not
see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make
them are like them; so are all who trust in them."42 God, however,
is the "living God"43 who gives life and intervenes in
Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant
temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man
commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God,
whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race,
ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and
mammon."44 Many martyrs died for not adoring "the
Beast"45 refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects
the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with
Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. the commandment to
worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless
disintegration. Idolatry is a perversion of man's innate religious sense. An
idolater is someone who "transfers his indestructible notion of God to
anything other than God."47
God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound
Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of
Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy
curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of
All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons,
conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil"
the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading,
interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse
to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last
analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers.
They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers,
so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others
- even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely
contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be
condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they
have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also
reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the
Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called
traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the
exploitation of another's credulity.
God's first commandment condemns the main sins of irreligion: tempting God, in
words or deeds, sacrilege, and simony.
Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by
word or deed. Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the
Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act.49 Jesus opposed Satan
with the word of God: "You shall not put the LORD your God to the
test." 50 The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds
the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt
about his love, his providence, and his power.51
Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other
liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God.
Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for
in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for
Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things.53 To
Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the
apostles, St. Peter responded: "Your silver perish with you, because you
thought you could obtain God's gift with money!"54 Peter thus held
to the words of Jesus: "You received without pay, give without
pay."55 It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods
and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in
God. One can receive them only from him, without payment.
minister should ask nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the
offerings defined by the competent authority, always being careful that the
needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments because of their
poverty."56 The competent authority determines these
"offerings" in accordance with the principle that the Christian
people ought to contribute to the support of the Church's ministers. "The
laborer deserves his food."57
"Many . . . of our contemporaries either do not at all perceive, or
explicitly reject, this intimate and vital bond of man to God. Atheism must
therefore be regarded as one of the most serious problems of our
The name "atheism" covers many very different phenomena. One common
form is the practical materialism which restricts its needs and aspirations to
space and time. Atheistic humanism falsely considers man to be "an end to
himself, and the sole maker, with supreme control, of his own
history."59 Another form of contemporary atheism looks for the
liberation of man through economic and social liberation. "It holds that
religion, of its very nature, thwarts such emancipation by raising man's hopes
in a future life, thus both deceiving him and discouraging him from working for
a better form of life on earth."60
Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the
virtue of religion.61 The imputability of this offense can be
significantly diminished in virtue of the intentions and the circumstances.
"Believers can have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To
the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or
present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social
life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God
and of religion."62
Atheism is often based on a false conception of human autonomy, exaggerated to
the point of refusing any dependence on God.63 Yet, "to acknowledge
God is in no way to oppose the dignity of man, since such dignity is grounded
and brought to perfection in God...."64 "For the Church knows
full well that her message is in harmony with the most secret desires of the
Agnosticism assumes a number of forms. In certain cases the agnostic refrains
from denying God; instead he postulates the existence of a transcendent being
which is incapable of revealing itself, and about which nothing can be said. In
other cases, the agnostic makes no judgment about God's existence, declaring it
impossible to prove, or even to affirm or deny.
Agnosticism can sometimes include a certain search for God, but it can equally
express indifferentism, a flight from the ultimate question of existence, and a
sluggish moral conscience. Agnosticism is all too often equivalent to practical
IV. "You Shall Not
Make For Yourself a Graven Image . . ."
The divine injunction included the prohibition of every representation of God
by the hand of man. Deuteronomy explains: "Since you saw no form on the
day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware
lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of
any figure...."66 It is the absolutely transcendent God who
revealed himself to Israel. "He is the all," but at the same time
"he is greater than all his works."67 He is "the author
Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the
making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate
Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the
Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical
council at Nicaea (787) justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of
icons - of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the
saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new
"economy" of images.
The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment
which proscribes idols. Indeed, "the honor rendered to an image passes to
its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person
portrayed in it."70 The honor paid to sacred images is a
"respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone:
Religious worship is not
directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their
distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. the movement
toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose
image it is.71
2133 "You shall love the
Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your
strength" (⇒ Deut 6:5).
2134 The first commandment summons
man to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him above all else.
2135 "You shall worship
the Lord your God" (⇒ Mt 4:10). Adoring
God, praying to him, offering him the worship that belongs to him, fulfilling
the promises and vows made to him are acts of the virtue of religion which fall
under obedience to the first commandment.
2136 The duty to offer God
authentic worship concerns man both as an individual and as a social being.
2137 "Men of the present
day want to profess their religion freely in private and in public" (DH
2138 Superstition is a
departure from the worship that we give to the true God. It is manifested in
idolatry, as well as in various forms of divination and magic.
2139 Tempting God in words or
deeds, sacrilege, and simony are sins of irreligion forbidden by the first
2140 Since it rejects or
denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the first commandment.
2141 The veneration of sacred
images is based on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. It is not
contrary to the first commandment.
THE SECOND COMMANDMENT
You shall not take the name of
the Lord your God in vain.72
You have heard that it was
said to the men of old, "You shall not swear falsely. . But I say to you,
Do not swear at all.73
I. The Name of the Lord is Holy
The second commandment prescribes respect for the Lord's name. Like the first
commandment, it belongs to the virtue of religion and more particularly it
governs our use of speech in sacred matters.
Among all the words of Revelation, there is one which is unique: the revealed
name of God. God confides his name to those who believe in him; he reveals
himself to them in his personal mystery. the gift of a name belongs to the
order of trust and intimacy. "The Lord's name is holy." For this
reason man must not abuse it. He must keep it in mind in silent, loving
adoration. He will not introduce it into his own speech except to bless,
praise, and glorify it.74
Respect for his name is an expression of the respect owed to the mystery of God
himself and to the whole sacred reality it evokes. the sense of the sacred is
part of the virtue of religion:
Are these feelings of fear and
awe Christian feelings or not? . . . I say this, then, which I think no one can
reasonably dispute. They are the class of feelings we should have - yes, have
to an intense degree - if we literally had the sight of Almighty God; therefore
they are the class of feelings which we shall have, if we realize His presence.
In proportion as we believe that He is present, we shall have them; and not to
have them, is not to realize, not to believe that He is present.75
The faithful should bear witness to the Lord's name by confessing the faith
without giving way to fear.76 Preaching and catechizing should be
permeated with adoration and respect for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The second commandment forbids the abuse of God's name, i.e., every improper
use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, but also of the Virgin Mary and all the
Promises made to others in God's name engage the divine honor, fidelity,
truthfulness, and authority. They must be respected in justice. To be
unfaithful to them is to misuse God's name and in some way to make God out to
be a liar.77
Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in
uttering against God - inwardly or outwardly - words of hatred, reproach, or
defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one's
speech; in misusing God's name. St. James condemns those "who blaspheme
that honorable name [of Jesus] by which you are called."78 The
prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ's Church, the
saints, and sacred things. It is also blasphemous to make use of God's name to
cover up criminal practices, to reduce peoples to servitude, to torture persons
or put them to death. the misuse of God's name to commit a crime can provoke
others to repudiate religion.
Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself
a grave sin.79
Oaths which misuse God's name, though without the intention of blasphemy, show
lack of respect for the Lord. the second commandment also forbids magical use
of the divine name.
[God's] name is great when
spoken with respect for the greatness of his majesty. God's name is holy when
said with veneration and fear of offending him.80
II. Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain
The second commandment forbids false oaths. Taking an oath or swearing is to take
God as witness to what one affirms. It is to invoke the divine truthfulness as
a pledge of one's own truthfulness. An oath engages the Lord's name. "You
shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him, and swear by his
Rejection of false oaths is a duty toward God. As Creator and Lord, God is the
norm of all truth. Human speech is either in accord with or in opposition to
God who is Truth itself. When it is truthful and legitimate, an oath highlights
the relationship of human speech with God's truth. A false oath calls on God to
be witness to a lie.
A person commits perjury when he makes a promise under oath with no intention
of keeping it, or when after promising on oath he does not keep it. Perjury is
a grave lack of respect for the Lord of all speech. Pledging oneself by oath to
commit an evil deed is contrary to the holiness of the divine name.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained the second commandment: "You
have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not swear falsely,
but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not
swear at all.... Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than
this comes from the evil one."82 Jesus teaches that every oath
involves a reference to God and that God's presence and his truth must be
honored in all speech. Discretion in calling upon God is allied with a
respectful awareness of his presence, which all our assertions either witness
to or mock.
Following St. Paul,83 The tradition of the Church has understood Jesus'
words as not excluding oaths made for grave and right reasons (for example, in
court). "An oath, that is the invocation of the divine name as a witness
to truth, cannot be taken unless in truth, in judgment, and in
The holiness of the divine name demands that we neither use it for trivial
matters, nor take an oath which on the basis of the circumstances could be
interpreted as approval of an authority unjustly requiring it. When an oath is
required by illegitimate civil authorities, it may be refused. It must be
refused when it is required for purposes contrary to the dignity of persons or
to ecclesial communion.
III. The Christian Name
The sacrament of Baptism is conferred "in the name of the Father and of
the Son and of the Holy Spirit."85 In Baptism, the Lord's name
sanctifies man, and the Christian receives his name in the Church. This can be
the name of a saint, that is, of a disciple who has lived a life of exemplary
fidelity to the Lord. the patron saint provides a model of charity; we are
assured of his intercession. the "baptismal name" can also express a
Christian mystery or Christian virtue. "Parents, sponsors, and the pastor
are to see that a name is not given which is foreign to Christian
The Christian begins his day, his prayers, and his activities with the Sign of
the Cross: "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit. Amen." the baptized person dedicates the day to the glory of God
and calls on the Savior's grace which lets him act in the Spirit as a child of
the Father. the sign of the cross strengthens us in temptations and
God calls each one by name.87 Everyone's name is sacred. the name is
the icon of the person. It demands respect as a sign of the dignity of the one
who bears it.
The name one receives is a name for eternity. In the kingdom, the mysterious
and unique character of each person marked with God's name will shine forth in
splendor. "To him who conquers . . . I will give a white stone, with a new
name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives
it."88 "Then I looked, and Lo, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb,
and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his
Father's name written on their foreheads."89
2160 "O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth" (⇒ Ps
2161 The second commandment
enjoins respect for the Lord's name. the name of the Lord is holy.
2162 The second commandment
forbids every improper use of God's name. Blasphemy is the use of the name of
God, of Jesus Christ, of the Virgin Mary, and of the saints in an offensive way.
2163 False oaths call on God
to be witness to a lie. Perjury is a grave offence against the Lord who is
always faithful to his promises.
2164 "Do not swear
whether by the Creator, or any creature, except truthfully, of necessity, and
with reverence" (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 38).
2165 In Baptism, the
Christian receives his name in the Church. Parents, godparents, and the pastor
are to see that he be given a Christian name. the patron saint provides a model
of charity and the assurance of his prayer.
2166 The Christian begins his
prayers and activities with the Sign of the Cross: "in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."
2167 God calls each one by
name (cf ⇒ Isa 43:1).
THE THIRD COMMANDMENT
Remember the sabbath day, to
keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh
day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any
The sabbath was made for man,
not man for the sabbath; so the Son of Man is lord even of the
I. The Sabbath Day
The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the sabbath:
"The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the
In speaking of the sabbath Scripture recalls creation: "For in six days
the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested
the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed
Scripture also reveals in the Lord's day a memorial of Israel's liberation from
bondage in Egypt: "You shall remember that you were a servant in the land
of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with mighty hand and
outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath
God entrusted the sabbath to Israel to keep as a sign of the irrevocable
covenant.95 The sabbath is for the Lord, holy and set apart for the
praise of God, his work of creation, and his saving actions on behalf of
God's action is the model for human action. If God "rested and was
refreshed" on the seventh day, man too ought to "rest" and
should let others, especially the poor, "be refreshed."96 The
sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of
protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money.97
The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the
sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this
day.98 He gives this law its authentic and authoritative
interpretation: "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the
sabbath."99 With compassion, Christ declares the sabbath for doing
good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing.100 The
sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God.101
"The Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."102
II. The Lord's Day
This is the day which the LORD
has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.103
The day of
the Resurrection: the new creation
Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week."104
Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection
recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following
the sabbath,105 it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's
Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of
all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:
We all gather on the day of
the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first
day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this
same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.106
fulfillment of the sabbath
Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows
chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces
that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth
of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship
under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there
prefigured some aspects of Christ:107
Those who lived according to
the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath,
but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his
The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in
the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular
worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all."109
Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its
rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his
The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of
the Church's life.
"Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of
the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of
obligation in the universal Church."110
"Also to be observed are the day of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus
the Ascension of Christ,
the feast of the Body and Blood of Christi,
the feast of Mary the Mother of God,
her Immaculate Conception,
the feast of Saint Joseph,
the feast of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints."111
This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the
apostolic age.112 The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful
"not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage
Tradition preserves the memory
of an ever-timely exhortation: Come to Church early, approach the Lord, and
confess your sins, repent in prayer.... Be present at the sacred and divine
liturgy, conclude its prayer and do not leave before the dismissal.... We have
often said: "This day is given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day
that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."114
"A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on
a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is
entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan
bishop."115 It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered
together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. the parish initiates the
Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it
gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ's saving doctrine;
it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:
You cannot pray at home as at
church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to
God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of
minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the
The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely:
"On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to
participate in the Mass."117 "The precept of participating in
the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a
Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding
The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian
practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the
Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for
example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own
pastor.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a
Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a
testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. the
faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together
they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one
another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
because of lack of a sacred minister or for other grave cause participation in
the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible, it is specially recommended
that the faithful take part in the Liturgy of the Word if it is celebrated in
the parish church or in another sacred place according to the prescriptions of
the diocesan bishop, or engage in prayer for an appropriate amount of time
personally or in a family or, as occasion offers, in groups of
A day of
grace and rest from work
Just as God "rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had
done,"121 human life has a rhythm of work and rest. the
institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to
cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.122
On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are to refrain from
engaging in work or activities that hinder the worship owed to God, the joy proper
to the Lord's Day, the performance of the works of mercy, and the appropriate
relaxation of mind and body.123 Family needs or important social
service can legitimately excuse from the obligation of Sunday rest. the
faithful should see to it that legitimate excuses do not lead to habits
prejudicial to religion, family life, and health.
The charity of truth seeks
holy leisure - the necessity of charity accepts just work.124
Those Christians who have leisure should be mindful of their brethren who have
the same needs and the same rights, yet cannot rest from work because of
poverty and misery. Sunday is traditionally consecrated by Christian piety to
good works and humble service of the sick, the infirm, and the elderly.
Christians will also sanctify Sunday by devoting time and care to their
families and relatives, often difficult to do on other days of the week. Sunday
is a time for reflection, silence, cultivation of the mind, and meditation
which furthers the growth of the Christian interior life.
Sanctifying Sundays and holy days requires a common effort. Every Christian
should avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from
observing the Lord's Day. Traditional activities (sport, restaurants, etc.),
and social necessities (public services, etc.), require some people to work on
Sundays, but everyone should still take care to set aside sufficient time for
leisure. With temperance and charity the faithful will see to it that they
avoid the excesses and violence sometimes associated with popular leisure
activities. In spite of economic constraints, public authorities should ensure
citizens a time intended for rest and divine worship. Employers have a similar
obligation toward their employees.
In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should
seek recognition of Sundays and the Church's holy days as legal holidays. They
have to give everyone a public example of prayer, respect, and joy and defend
their traditions as a precious contribution to the spiritual life of society.
If a country's legislation or other reasons require work on Sunday, the day
should nevertheless be lived as the day of our deliverance which lets us share
in this "festal gathering," this "assembly of the firstborn who
are enrolled in heaven."125
2189 "Observe the
sabbath day, to keep it holy" (⇒ Deut
5:12). "The seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the
Lord" (⇒ Ex 31:15).
2190 The sabbath, which
represented the completion of the first creation, has been replaced by Sunday
which recalls the new creation inaugurated by the Resurrection of Christ.
2191 The Church celebrates
the day of Christ's Resurrection on the "eighth day," Sunday, which
is rightly called the Lord's Day (cf SC 106).
2192 "Sunday . . . is to
be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal
Church" (⇒ CIC, can. 1246 # 1). "On
Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate
in the Mass" (⇒ CIC, can. 1247).
2193 "On Sundays and
other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound . . . to abstain from
those labors and business concerns which impede the worship to be rendered to
God, the joy which is proper to the Lord's Day, or the proper relaxation of
mind and body" (⇒ CIC, can. 1247).
2194 The institution of
Sunday helps all "to be allowed sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate
their amilial, cultural, social, and religious lives" (GS 67 # 3).
2195 Every Christian should
avoid making unnecessary demands on others that would hinder them from
observing the Lord's Day.
1 ⇒ Lk
10:27:". . . and with all your strength."
⇒ Deut 6:4.
3 ⇒ Ex 20:2-5; cf.
⇒ Deut 5:6-9.
4 ⇒ Mt 4:10.
5 ⇒ Deut 6:13-14.
6 Cf. ⇒ Ex 19:16-25;
7 St. Justin, Dial. cum Tryphone Judaeo 11, 1: PG 6, 497.
8 Roman Catechism 3, 2,4.
9 ⇒ Rom 1:5;
⇒ Rom 1:18-32.
11 ⇒ CIC, can. 751: emphasis added.
12 Cf. ⇒ Deut 6:4-5.
13 ⇒ Lk 4:8; Cf.
⇒ Deut 6:13.
14 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:46-49.
⇒ Lk 18:1.
16 St. Augustine, De civ Dei 10, 6 PL 41, 283.
17 ⇒ PS 51:17.
18 Cf. ⇒ Am 5:21-25;
⇒ Isa 1:10-20.
19 ⇒ Mt 9:13;
⇒ Hos 6:6.
20 Cf. ⇒ Heb 9:13-14.
⇒ CIC, can. 1191 # 1.
22 Cf. ⇒ Acts
18:18; ⇒ 21:23-24.
23 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 654.
24 LG 42 # 2.
25 Cf. ⇒ 1196-1197.
26 DH 1 # 2.
27 DH 2 # 1.
28 NA 2 # 2.
29 DH 14 # 4.
30 DH 1 # 3.
31 AA 13 # 1.
32 Cf. DH 1.
33 Cf. AA 13; Leo XIII, Immortale Dei 3, 17; Pius XI, Quas
primas 8, 20.
34 DH 2 # 1.
35 DH 2 # 2.
36 DH 6 # 3.
37 Cf. Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum 18; Pius XII AAS 1953,
38 Cf. DH 2.
39 Cf. Pius VI, Quod aliquantum (1791) 10; Pius IX, Quanta cura 3.
40 DH 7 # 3.
41 Cf. ⇒ Mt 23:16-22.
42 ⇒ Ps 115:4-5,
8; cf. ⇒ Isa
44:9-20; ⇒ Jer 10:1-16;
⇒ Dan 14:1-30;
⇒ Wis 13:
1- ⇒ 15:19.
43 ⇒ Josh 3:10;
⇒ Ps 42:3; etc.
⇒ Mt 6:24.
45 Cf. ⇒ Rev
46 Cf. ⇒ Eph
47 Origen, Contra
Celsum 2, 40: PG 11, 861.
48 Cf. ⇒ Deut 18:10;
⇒ Jer 29:8.
49 Cf. ⇒ Lk
50 ⇒ Deut 6:16.
51 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 10:9;
52 Cf. ⇒ CIC, cann. 1367;
53 Cf. ⇒ Acts 8:9-24.
54 ⇒ Acts 8:20.
55 ⇒ Mt 10:8; cf. already
⇒ Isa 55:1.
56 ⇒ CIC, can. 848.
57 ⇒ Mt 10:10; cf.
⇒ 2 Cor
9:5-18; ⇒ 1 Tim 5:17-18.
58 GS 19 # 1.
59 GS 20 # 2.
60 GS 20 # 2.
61 Cf. ⇒ Rom 1:18.
62 GS 19 # 3.
63 Cf. GS 20 # 1.
64 GS 21 # 3.
65 GS 21 # 7.
66 Deut 4:15-16.
67 ⇒ Sir 43:27-28.
68 ⇒ Wis 13:3.
69 Cf. ⇒ Num 21:4-9;
3:14-15; ⇒ Ex 25:10-22;
⇒ 1 Kings 6:23-28;
St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto 18, 45: PG 32, 149C; Council of Nicaea II:
DS 601; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1821-1825; Vatican Council
II: SC 126; LG 67.
71 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 81, 3 ad 3.
⇒ Mt 5:33-34.
74 Cf. ⇒ Zech 2:13;
John Henry Cardinal Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons V, 2 (London:
Longmans, Green and Co., 1907) 21-22.
76 Cf. ⇒ Mt 10:32;
⇒ 1 Tim 6:12.
77 Cf. 1 ⇒ Jn 1:10.
78 ⇒ Jas 2:7.
79 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 1369.
80 St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. in monte 2, 5, 19: PL 34, 1278.
81 ⇒ Deut 6:13.
82 ⇒ Mt 5:33-34,
83 Cf. ⇒ 2 Cor 1:23;
⇒ Gal 1:20.
84 ⇒ CIC, can. 1199 # 1.
85 ⇒ Mt 28:19.
⇒ CIC, Can. 855.
87 Cf. ⇒ Isa 43:1;
⇒ Jn 10:3.
88 ⇒ Rev 2:17.
89 ⇒ Rev 14:1.
90 ⇒ Ex 20:8-10; cf.
⇒ Deut 5:12-15.
91 ⇒ Mk 2:27-28.
92 ⇒ Ex 31:15.
93 ⇒ Ex 20:11.
94 ⇒ Deut 5:15.
95 Cf. ⇒ Ex 31:16.
96 ⇒ Ex 31:17; cf.
97 Cf. ⇒ Neh 13:15-22;
⇒ 2 Chr 36:21.
98 Cf. ⇒ Mk 1:21;
⇒ Jn 9:16.
⇒ Mk 2:27.
100 Cf. ⇒ Mk 3:4[ETML:C/].
101 Cf. ⇒ Mt 12:5;
⇒ Jn 7:23.
102 ⇒ Mk 2:28.
103 ⇒ Ps
104 Cf. ⇒ Mt 28:1;
24:1; ⇒ Jn 20:1.
105 Cf. ⇒ Mk 16:1;
⇒ Mt 28:1.
Justin, I Apol. 67: PG 6, 429 and 432.
107 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 10:11.
108 St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magn. 9, 1: SCh 10, 88.
109 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II 122, 4.
110 ⇒ CIC, can. 1246 # 1.
⇒ CIC, can. 1246 # 2: "The conference of bishops can abolish
certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday
with prior approval of the Apostolic See."
112 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:42-46; ⇒ 1 Cor 11:17.
113 ⇒ Heb 10:25.
114 Sermo de die dominica 2 et 6: PG 86/1, 416C and 421C.
115 ⇒ CIC, can. 515 # 1.
116 St. John Chrysostom, De incomprehensibili 3, 6: PG 48, 725.
117 ⇒ CIC, can. 1247.
118 ⇒ CIC, can. 1248 # 1.
119 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 1245.
120 ⇒ CIC, can. 1248 # 2.
121 ⇒ Gen 2:2.
122 Cf. GS 67 # 3.
123 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 120.
124 St. Augustine, De civ. Dei 19, 19: PL 41, 647.
125 ⇒ Heb 12:22-23.
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