February 16, 2001
volume 12, no. 47

Acute Awareness in Examining Our Consciences
part eight

    Several installments in these pages over the past few months have been presenting an examination of conscience. They can be found in the archives of this website. I encourage you to print these articles out and refer to them for helping you make a good confession. My reference is a booklet entitled: "A Contemporary Adult Guide to Conscience for the Sacrament of Confession" by Father Richard J. Rego.

    Today, let us consider the Tenth Commandment: “Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.” To “covet” means to desire inordinately. It certainly is not wrong to desire things that we are permitted to have. We all need food, shelter, and clothes. However, to desire anything that we are not morally permitted to have or to desire anything to the point that we would be willing to sin in order to secure it, is sinful and can often be mortally sinful and we must confess these before going to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church reads: "The sensitive appetite leads us to desire pleasant things we do not have, e.g., the desire to eat when we are hungry or to warm ourselves when we are cold. These desires are good in themselves; but often they exceed the limits of reason and drive us to covet unjustly what is not ours and belongs to another or is owed to him." (Paragraph 2535)

    "The Tenth Commandment forbids greed and the desire to amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids avarice arising from a passion for riches and their their attendant power. It also forbids the desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal goods." (Paragraph 2536) To desire what someone has as long as one can obtain it by just means is not a sin. For example, if your neighbor has a new car and you would very much like to have one like it, and you can afford to purchase one, you have not sinned. However, if you desire your neighbor’s car to the point that you would steal it, if you could, or destroy it because you can’t have it, you have sinned in a grave way and must confess this before receiving Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

    "The Tenth Commandment forbids envy which is a “sadness at the sight of another’s goods and the immoderate desire to acquire them for oneself, even unjustly. When it wishes grave harm to a neighbor it is a mortal sin." So reads the Cathecism of the Catholic Church. (Paragraph 2539)

    St. Augustine considered envy a diabolical sin. He said: “From envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his prosperity.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out other examples of sins against the Tenth Commandment. "...merchants who desire scarcity and rising prices, who cannot bear not to be the only ones buying and selling so that they themselves can sell more dearly and buy more cheaply; those who hope that their peers will be impoverished, in order to realize a profit either by selling to them or buying from them... physicians who wish disease to spread; lawyers who are eager for many important cases and trials." (Paragraph 2537)

    So, dear reader, we conclude a good, though not totally COMPLETE study and examination of the Ten Commandments. One would have to write 10 times as much on each Commandment to do more justice to each one, but you have been given a fair amount. Here is hoping that these pages will assist you in helping you prepare for a good confession this Lent so that the upcoming Easter will be the happiest yet for you.

    God bless you!

Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

For past columns by Sister Lucy, see GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER Archives

February 16, 2001
volume 12, no. 47
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