January 12, 2001
volume 12, no. 12
Acute Awareness in Examining Our Consciences
part three

    Last week my article presented an examination of conscience over the Fourth and Fifth Commandments. Though I shall continue with the examination, I refer you to the two previous articles as found in the archives, if you have not read them. 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 Fr. Richard J. Rego.

    Today I will dwell entirely on the Fifth Commandment. I do so because the Fifth Commandment incorporates so many aspects that we may not have thought of without a thorough examination of conscience. This commandment is also important in light of the fact that next week we begin Respect Life Week with the March for Life in Washington D.C. to remember the unborn for abortion has become the most hideous offense against this hallowed command "Thou Shalt Not Kill."

  • Have I participated, in any way, in the grave sin of euthanasia, that is, mercy-killing?

  • Have I, in any way, directly contributed to withholding from someone the essential requirements needed to sustain human life for the purpose of euthanasia?

        For example, have I withheld food or water from someone in order to hasten their death? No one is ever obliged is use “extraordinary means” to sustain life. With the rapid progress of medical technology, however, exactly what constitutes “extraordinary means” becomes more and more difficult to define. It is clear, nevertheless, that one must provide the basic necessities of life to those under His care.

  • Have I unjustly wounded or struck another?

  • Have I borne hatred or malice toward another?

  • Have I attempted suicide or seriously entertained thoughts of suicide?

        Remember that objectively, suicide is a mortal sin. Subjectively, however, what the state of a person’s mind may have been at the time of the act, only God knows. The Second Vatican Council’s document, Gaudium et Spes lists various sins which are opposed to life itself such as “murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful self-destruction (suicide), whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as dangerous working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons.”

        Racial prejudice is a false conception that there exists a biologically determined superiority of one’s own race or ethnic group with respect to other people. It denies the equal dignity of all members of the human family and blasphemes the Creator. Jesus said that EVERYONE is my neighbor.

        The Second Vatican Council had this to say about discrimination in any form: “All men are endowed with a rational soul and are created in God’s image; they have the same nature and origin and, being redeemed by Christ, they enjoy the same divine calling and destiny; there is a basic equality between all men and it must be given ever greater recognition. “Undoubtedly not all men are alike as regards physical capacity and intellectual and moral powers. But forms of social or cultural discrimination in basic personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language or religion, must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.”

  • Have I been guilty of the sin of Racism?

  • Have I discriminated against others because of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion?

    Next week, dear reader, we shall begin an examination over the Sixth Commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery." God bless you!

Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

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

January 12, 2001
volume 12, no. 12
Sister Mary Lucy Astuto's GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER column

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