"If thou wilt enter into life keep the commandments" (Matt. xix. 17).
WHEN Jesus Christ died on the cross for us, He did so in order to lead
us into life, to open heaven for all mankind. How important our
salvation must be, then, for which Christ shed His precious blood. If it
is important, He must have taught us how to attain it. This, too, He did
by the words, "keep the commandments."
sist us in keeping the commandments He left a representative on
earth. His Church, whose ministers were to teach all nations, is this
representative. To her He said: "He that hears you, hears Me."
The night before He died He instituted the adorable sacrifice of the
Mass, saying: "This is My body . . . This is My blood which shall be
shed for you." He then gave the apostles and their successors power to
do what He had just done: "Do this in commemoration of Me." He also gave
them power to baptize, to forgive sins, to bless, to be "dispensers of
the mysteries of God." He gave them power to confer these powers on
others. "As the Father sent Me [i.e., with the same power] I also send
you." To these apostles and their successors He spoke when He said that
He would remain with them until the consummation of the world. To them
and the Church He said: "He that hears you hears Me." What the Church
teaches, then, Christ teaches.
As, in the natural order, man is born, grows to manhood, is nourished,
and if sick needs proper food and remedies: so, in the supernatural
order, there is a birth, it is Baptism; there is a manly growth, it is
Confirmation; there is a nourishing food, it is the Holy Eucharist, the
Bread of Life; there is a medicinal remedy against death, it is Penance;
and there is a balm to heal the wounds, the scars of sin, it is Extreme
Unction. These are some of the channels through which God's grace flows
into our souls to assist us to keep the commandments.
The practices of the Church naturally flow from her teachings. She
teaches that there is but one God, the creator and Lord of heaven and
earth and all things; that man by his reason alone can find out this
truth; that the order, beauty, and harmony of the works of nature show
God's work; but that there are some truths which the deepest intellect
of man can never fathom. Hence she teaches that God has revealed certain
truths; such as the mysteries of the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, and
the Blessed Sacrament. When we know that God has revealed these truths
we are acting reasonably not only in believing them, but also in showing
our belief by practices of respect, adoration, and love.
The Church teaches that we must not only believe, but practise our
religion. For faith alone will not save us. "Faith without works is
dead." To have these works we must "keep the commandments." We must love
God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. All the commandments
are comprised in this. In fact, the essence of Christianity is charity.
Where will you find charity practised in reality except in the Catholic
Church? If you wish to see the truth of this, visit our larger towns and
cities, and you will find hundreds of hospitals, asylums, schools, and
other charitable institutions in which are thousands of the children of
the Catholic Church, who have left everything to alleviate every ill
that flesh is heir to, and follow the meek and humble Jesus in His
mission of love.
The Catholic Church alone teaches, as Jesus taught while on earth, the
duty of penance. "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself,
take up his cross and follow Me." According to Christ's teaching, the
Church sets aside the penitential season of Lent and other times of
The Church also teaches that we must not only be faithful in the
observance of the practices of religion, but that we must also live in
peace and justice and charity with all mankind, and die with a hope
beyond the grave. If we love God we will faithfully observe the
practices of the Church; these practices will assist us in keeping the
commandments, by which we will enter into life.
We have seen that the various ceremonies and practices of the Catholic
Church are dictated by right reason; that they are the rational
deduction from Christ's teaching; that they obtain for us divine grace,
excite pious thoughts, and elevate our minds to God; and that a true
Christian is one who not only believes but also practises the teachings
of Christ and His Church. The observance of these pious practices of the
Church makes us Christians in fact as well as in name. They assist us to
keep the commandment and to live in accordance with our faith. By
faithfully observing them, we show that we are not ashamed to be
Christ's followers. And if we follow Him, who is the way, the truth, and
the life, we will not walk in darkness; but will enter by the narrow way
into the presence of truth itself, in the regions of eternal light.