GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER

by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

The Ten Commandments...Burdens or Blessings?

If there is any word that our Blessed Mother of Medjugorje has said more often than any other word..."Pray!" Look at the message for July 25th. She has also asked us to work for peace, to fast, to ask God every day to increase our Faith. In these times we need to increase our Faith! Yet she also said that if she were to say one word to us, it would be..."conversion." What does she mean? I'm Catholic. Do I need conversion? Does everyone need conversion? Even the Pope? Just what does our precious Mother mean when she tells ALL her children to convert?

First of all, I do not believe that our Blessed Mother is saying that every person MUST become a Catholic. (Although, I personally wouldn't mind that!) The Church has always taught that salvation is not limited to Catholics...that even persons who have never heard of Jesus could still be saved under certain conditions. So when Our Lady asks us to convert...what does she mean?
The word "to convert" means "a changing...an alteration." An electrical "converter," for example, will change a higher electrical voltage to a lesser one so that your shaver or blow-dryer doesn't "blow." The catalytic "converter" on your car changes the pollutant exhaust fumes to non-pollutant ones (at least to a degree.)
So "to convert" means a changing and what Our Lady is really concerned about here is not electrical or catalytic converters, but what makes us "tick"...our hearts. She is saying that ALL of us...everyday...need a change of heart; we need, every day, to make choices for God and the things of God. We need trans-formation. From the greatest sinner, to the holiest person, each day we are being called by our Heavenly Mother to MAKE CHOICES FOR GOD and THAT WHICH RELATES TO GOD, to let go of attachments to sin, to let go of our pride...our unwillingness to forgive, our grudges, our resentments, our uncharitableness, our angers, our laziness, our impurities. In other words, she is asking us to let go of that which is contrary to the Will of God and surrender ourselves and "choose" that which is the Will of God for us...that which will pave our road to Heaven.
Tell me something. Do you like having people around you who are stubbornly rebellious against you? I would be willing to bet that the more serious their rebelliousness, the less you like them in your company. Do you really think God will have in His Almighty Presence for eternity those who rebel against Him? Forget it! His angels will clean that bunch out, for sure. No one gets into Heaven who knowingly and willingly, and, in a grave matter, dies rebelling against God. "God is so good, He would never send anyone to hell," you say? I'm not sure either that God sends anyone to hell. I believe people send themselves there by the "choices" they make in this life...choices contrary to the Will of God.
So Our Lady is quite clear. She is our MOTHER! She wants us to be saved. What good mother wants her child to be lost? The simple fact is that we will be saved by doing the Will of God. How do we know what that is? For starters, we have the TEN COMMANDMENTS. God Himself gave them to us. How much more clearly could He tell us? "They are burdens," you say? WRONG-O!!! If you see the Ten Commandments as burdens, then you do not see the reality in which God gave them to us. Actually, the Ten Commandments were given to us by God as GUIDELINES FOR OUR HAPPINESS. That's right!! God, in His infinite love for us, knew that if we follow a path in a contrary manner, we would be unhappy, miserable.
I see this unhappiness, this misery all around. Don't you? Because of promiscuity, AIDS is a real problem today, isn't it? I know how to stop AIDS...by giving God and His Laws rightful recognition and obedience. Why am I not hearing enough talk about the value of ABSTINENCE? Do you realize what is happening today? People are "stuck" in the mind-set that to be happy, they have to do what THEY want. But are they really happy? I see drugs, crime, theft, arson, violence, greed, blatant homosexuality, pedophilia, deception, false accusations...and the offenders are still miserable. It's like being so dirty that they really don't realize how dirty they are! Because of adultery, selfishness, greed, and more there are many broken homes, aren't there? Are they happy? Where's the fun in rejection...in being treated as not-loved?!? The plain simple truth is that the reason for the MISERY of the world today is because man has put HIMSELF at the center of the world, has cried out to God like the bad angels, "NON SERVIAM!"..."I WILL NOT SERVE!" And where is man for it? Happy? Forget that! People are more miserable today than perhaps ever in the history of mankind...whether they are rich or poor. No wonder Our Lady begs us to pray...to become aware once again that GOD IS A NECESSARY PART OF OUR LIVES and that listening and obeing Him will bring us true happiness. It's not working the way man has planned for himself today, is it? Prayer opens doors of Heaven so that grace and enlightenment can be given to us.

On occasion my father, years ago, would say: "The devil is loose." How much moreso that is today. Satan has succeeded in convincing so many that PRIDE or REBELLIOUSNESS against God is what will bring happiness to humankind. Oh, really? Where did it get the devil? Pride rebels against God. It says, "I will not serve." Where is lucifer and his cohorts for saying that? A rebellious sinner says, "I will not serve." A saint says, "O God, I would be so honored if you would allow me to serve you. Yes, God. Yes, God. Yes!" A sinner says "No!" to God; a sinner striving to be a saint says: "YES!" Please note...Our Lady always said "Yes!" to God. Jesus always said "Yes" to His Father. Can people honestly believe that they can know a better way to behave? When man thinks he "has it made" by rebelling against God and embracing the world, he is the biggest fool.
We are now experiencing the result of poor Catholic instruction in our schools. The idea of "love, love" or "joy, joy" is fine, but they are fruits. The "foundation" must first be built...like..."Who made me? Who is God? Why did God make me?" The answer to that, of course, is: "To know HIm, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, so that I could be happy with Him forever in the next." God desires our happiness. Since He is the One Who made us, He knows every fiber of our being and what will make us happy and what will make us miserable. He did not give us the Ten Commandments to burden us but rather so that we would be happy...so that we would avoid misery.

If, by chance, today you still feel that God's Laws are burdens, then I beg you to go to Our Lady. Ask her to wrap you in her mantle...to help you avoid sin. I beg you to go to confession. Within that Sacrament we not only receive forgiveness of our sins but also we receive sacramental graces to cope with temptations and the trials of our lives, if we mention them within the Sacrament. I'm not saying that the Sacrament of Penance is a wonderful help to be happy. With all my heart I wish you the peace of God...which is having a right relationship with Him. Have that and you will be happy! God's commandments are a sign of His great love and care for us. They indeed are great blessings!