Freedom and discipleship sound like contradictory terms to many people. Too often, freedom is seen as not being forced to obey any laws; the ability to do what you want, when you want. Discipleship is seen as a very restrictive lifestyle filled with laws. When, in fact, the opposite is true. Discipleship leads to freedom. Jesus said, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
The “Decalogue” of the Ten Commandments means “ten words.” These “ten words” were written by “the finger of God.” Do you want to know the truth? Do you want to be set free? Then follow the Ten Commandments. That’s right, include the Ten Commandments in your daily prayers. Meditate over them — think deeply about how you may or may not be following them. Contemplate them — listen in silence how God may be talking to you and responding to your prayers. Spend time praying over the Ten Commandments and go beyond the obvious.
• First Commandment — You shall not have other Gods before Me. It’s true that you don’t have idols of Roman gods in the backyard that you make sacrifices to, but has the pursuit of power, money and prestige become your prime objective?
• Third Commandment — Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day. Sure, you go to church every Sunday, but do you take a little nap during the homily and deliberately fail to pay attention?
• Fifth Commandment — You shall not kill. You have not actually committed murder, but have you ever gossiped about someone?
• Seventh Commandment — You shall not steal. You have never stolen a car, but do you spend money beyond your means and deprive others by spending too little?
• Ninth Commandment — You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. You’ve never committed adultery, but do you tell dirty jokes or start impure conversations with your friend’s spouses?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the Ten Commandments are a gift from God Himself and His holy will (CCC 2059). They are the covenant between God and His people (CCC 2058). The Ten Commandments free us from becoming slaves to our own sin, pride and ego. They open our hearts for relationship with God and each other. They provide the foundation to become the person that God intended each of us to be.
Pope Francis says this, “Some people think they are free if they can avoid God; they fail to see that they remain orphaned, helpless and homeless. They cease being pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around themselves and never getting anywhere.”
Edward Sri adds, “When I train myself in the name of my personal freedom to pursue what I want, when I want it, how I want it, as often as I want it, I’m actually not free. I’m a slave. I become a slave to my interests. In the end, the modern notion of freedom trains us to become slaves to our own selfishness.”
So, start today, begin incorporating the Ten Commandments into your daily prayers. Discover the freedom they provide you on your path to holiness.
Baranowski is the director of stewardship education in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. He and his wife are parishioners at Mary, Mother of the Church in south St. Louis County. He can be reached at (314) 792-7215 or [email protected]