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
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."
"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."
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
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!