What do you think of when you hear the word commandment? Does that bring forth a negative thought? Is it an imposition on your freedom? I’ll bet many of you have had the experience of telling a young child “no”. You probably didn’t get the response you wanted without a little extra persuasion. Of course, your “no” was a gesture of love, wanting to protect the child from some danger.
A Protection from Harm
God’s commandments are like that for us. God created us out of love and wants to protect us from things that threaten our well-being and the well-being of others. Because of our fallen nature, we are inclined to desire things that we believe will provide us with pleasure or selfish comforts that can be harmful to ourselves and others. In addition to this, we have an enemy called Satan who tries to convince us that what we know to be wrong is actually okay. In the beginning, he is not so successful because our conscience is still able to help us avoid doing that which we know is wrong. However, the enemy doesn’t give up. He knows our weaknesses and will tempt us in little things where we think the comprise of our conscience is not so serious. He has set the trap. This compromise will lead to more serious sin. Left unchecked, this pattern can cause us to feel distant from God and lead to a feeling of hopelessness.
Of course, God is the solution to this dilemma. He created us out of love, and it is his love that sustains us. He knows our weaknesses and the enemy who wants to destroy us. God commands us to love him because it is only in our love for him and his love for us that we are able to experience true and lasting happiness God is the source of all love and everything that is good and the only way we can reach our potential for loving others and ourselves is by loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all mind.
A Path to Happiness
“Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me, and, whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him” (John 14:21).
It’s not complicated. If we want to experience the love and mercy of God and the happiness, peace, and hope that are part of a relationship with him we must keep the commandments.
Because God loves us with a perfect love, he has made it possible for us to remain in his love through the Church and her sacraments and by remaining connected to him in our daily prayer. The more we pray and frequent the sacraments, the more aware we are of the nearness of God and his plan for our happiness. This does not mean we will not experience challenges and trials. It does mean that when trials come our way we will turn to God for strength and direction because of the relationship with him.
A Source of Grace
One proof of God’s love for us is the Holy Eucharist. Jesus loves us so much that he gives himself to us under the appearance of bread. When we receive Holy Communion, we receive God. This is no casual experience. We should be properly prepared and disposed to receive our Lord. The sacrament of reconciliation is a personal encounter with Jesus who extends his forgiveness and mercy to us through his priest. This sacrament helps us to break free from habitual sin and make progress in our spiritual life. As with all the saints through the ages, we have available to us everything we need to live a life close to God that will guarantee our happiness now and forever. We also must expect that we will experience the cross during our journey on earth. Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” Mk 8:34. It is especially when we undergo trials that we realize we need the help that only God can give us. It doesn’t mean that just because we pray things will always be fixed as we hope. It does mean, when we preserve in prayer, we will come to trust that God is giving us what we need for the benefit of our soul and the souls of the people we are praying for.
When we have total trust in God we will be freed from all anxiety. It’s a process that depends upon our prayer and God’s grace.
Deacon Tom Fox, C.K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Commander Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.