The First Commandment: You shall not make for yourself an idol

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever!

The Ten Commandments are the basis of our Christian morality and our moral behavior. The commandments are God’s divine laws, unchangeable, given for humanity’s sake once and forever. Therefore, the importance of explaining them, studying them and remembering them should be obvious to every Christian.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in my last article I explained the First Commandment in general as well as in its theological context (Who is my God?). In this article I will reflect on the second part of the First Commandment: You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth (Exodus 20, 2-5). We refer to this part of the First Commandment as Pastoral (How do I believe in my Lord?).

This part of the First Commandment strictly prohibits us from creating an idol of any kind. An idol is biblically defined as a created image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. An idol is something that distracts a person from our living God. Something that invites affection and passion. Something a person can serve, given the time or the money.

When a person makes an idol for himself, he overlooks — perhaps abandons — Almighty God. When a person creates, worships and serves an idol, he commits one of the greatest mortal sins — Idolatry, which can vary in kind.

A Catholic, for example, is guilty of idolatry when he practices other religions such as Buddhism, Freemasonry or New Age; when he practices divinations, fortune-telling, sortilege, etc. A person also creates an idol when he serves himself as a cult of his own “I.” Some examples of “I” idols include deriving pleasures for the body; living only for money, career and riches; and stark addictions to gambling, sports, computer games, internet or even to social media.

Why do people have so many idols?

Why do people create idols that detract them from God?
For them, in my opinion, the problem lies in their faith and in how they believe in God. Without God at the center of their lives, they resort to adoring and revering false gods. Sadly, it has become a great crisis of spiritual faith in today’s world and in our country.

Sadly, many Catholics do not attend liturgy/mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation. They stay at home to relax from an exhausting workday or work week. Yet their fatigue does not prevent them from going to sporting events, the beach, swimming pools, golf courses, restaurants and other recreational venues.

Sadly, some Catholics quit the church entirely or switch to another “religious community,” such as nondenominational churches.

Sadly, some Catholics believe neither in the significance of the Holy Eucharist nor the Holy Mystery of Confession.

Sadly, some Catholics attend church only on Christmas and Easter. Only for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Only during a time of crisis, such as 9/11.

Many Catholics offer different excuses for spurning church. They say they do not like a pastor, a bishop or a cardinal. They say the Catholic Church has become old-fashioned. They say church rules do not have any meaning in today’s modern world. Yes, some people always are looking for an excuse to not attend church.

But read some of these excuses! You mean their faith depends on a pastor, a bishop or a cardinal? Really? Faith is a very intimate and personal relationship with God, and I have a great responsibility for sharing that faith and instilling that faith among my parishioners!

When we pray the Apostles Creed, we pray “I believe” in God, the Father Almighty! “I believe” in Jesus Christ who suffered, was crucified and is risen from the dead! “I believe” in the Virgin Mary! “I believe” in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Creator of Life! “I believe” in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church! This is what we believe! This is the basis of our faith! And no person or idol can separate us from God if we practice that hearty faith daily.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us have a great responsibility for maintaining our faith, one that requires constant care and attention. If our hearts do not burn with love for God, it could turn us to suffer an emptiness only to be replaced by idols such as money, sports, gambling and the occult.

Our faith depends on the attention we give it. Ask yourselves: How often do I read the Holy Bible? How often do I pray? How often do I attend the Divine Liturgy, especially on Sundays and holy days? How often do I receive the Most Precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ? How often do I go to confession? The answers to these questions could mean the difference in growing your faith or losing it.

Let me offer a special message to all parents and grandparents. You have a great responsibility in shaping the faith of your children and grandchildren. The family is the first church, a place where all meet God for the first time. The family is the church where all members can grow in faith and in holiness.

Priests meet with their parishioners for about one hour per week (if we are lucky) and have a chance to speak with them for only 10 to 12 minutes during their homilies. Perhaps for a few minutes during the post-liturgy social. The rest of the time is left to family gatherings, work and school weeks, vacations, children’s events, etc.

Therefore, priests must rely on parents and grandparents to teach children and grandchildren how to pray and to educate them on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Please do not think the children will learn everything during ECF classes. The family is the first classroom of catechism classes and of the faith.

Dear parents and grandparents, please be a good example of strong faith, of living a sincere spiritual life, of frequently making a fervent confession and attending church. Please pray together. Do not be indifferent. Religious indifference within the family breeds the crisis of faith in the Catholic Church. I hope and pray all of our families will become “Holy Home Churches.”

Slava Isusu Christu! Slava Na Viki!