By: Manny Hermano, CFC-FFL US National Pro-Life Coordinator
God’s call for us to be Pro-Life as written in His commandments and later through the teachings of Jesus is mostly unrecognized, misunderstood, or diluted by many in today’s culture. In reality, all of the 10 commandments of God and practically all of the teachings of Christ can be traced back to God’s desire for us to love, respect and defend life. Pro-Life is the summary of all of God’s commandments, be it the two greatest commandments of loving God and loving our neighbor or the 10 commandments He gave Moses.
In our CFCFFL community, the Pro-Life key words in our Covenant are: BUILDING A STRONG FAMILY; and LIVING OUT and DEFENDING THE CULTURE OF LIFE. This simply means that we in CFC-FFL are all Pro-Life. No one can be a CFC-FFL member without being Pro-Life. In fact, this is exactly just an echoing of the catechism of the Catholic Church on the 10 commandments and the commandments of the Church. Therefore, no practicing Catholic can be against the sanctity of life and the permanence of the sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman.
If sometimes we wonder why our evangelization and mission work in some areas are not bearing much fruit, we should realize that God does not work His miracles through disobedient and sinful people. In Deuteronomy 30, God says: Today I am giving you a choice between good and evil, between life and death. If you obey the commands of the Lord your God; if you love Him, obey Him, and keep all His laws, then you will prosper and become a nation of many people. But if you disobey and refuse to listen, and are led away to worship other gods, then you will be destroyed….Choose life! Consider then this reflection on Pro-Life and the 10 Commandments as exhortation to all of us in CFC-FFL to respond to our Lord’s call to live lives of holiness through our Pro-Life covenant.
1) Thou shall not have strange Gods before me.
This refers to the sins we commit when we idolize and worship earthly “things” in our lives that take priority over our relationship with God. We then allow these false gods to control our lives to the detriment of our health, e.g., drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, smoking, gambling, food, and other vices and addictions that are anti-life. These addictions take time and energy away from us that should be devoted to doing things that glorify God or enhance our relationship with Him. Other strange gods are money, power, popularity or the accolades of men, hedonism, materialism, etc. God is the ONLY one that we should worship and focus in life and we surrender our lives only to His will.
2) Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
This is when a person immerses in today’s culture of death that disrespects the name of God or His creation and thus the person also starts using swear words or profanities against God’s or Jesus’ name, or tolerates the use of such swear words by others. This includes four-letter word profanities disrespectful to the marital act, women, and motherhood, including watching or listening and enjoying shows, music, or other performances that aggressively contain these obscene words or actions. Disrespect of priests, nuns and lay servants in the service of God is also a sin against this commandment.
3) Remember to observe holy the Sabbath day.
God wants us to rest on the 7th day, although not just to sit around but rather to make Sunday a day devoted to God. In other words, instead of working overtime or a second job in pursuit of the almighty dollar, we rest our bodies so we don’t get too busy, or overworked and overstressed as to have no time for God. This commandment not only tells us to hear mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, but it also goes further when it says we need “to observe holy the Sabbath”; meaning we go to mass ready to receive the Eucharist (therefore going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation beforehand, if necessary), and during the day to spend time to do something that would glorify God, such as reading Scripture and meditating on the word of God, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, doing the Lord’s work of evangelization and serving others, being with family to celebrate and manifest love, meeting with brethren to give witness to God, etc. This commandment is good for the body as well as for the soul.
4) Honor thy father and thy mother.
This is a commandment on family relations and obedience and respect for authority, thus it is Pro-Life. In the family, it cuts both ways, i.e., not only that the children should respect and love their parents who gave them life, but that father and mother should also raise their children in the love and service of the Lord through their good example. In today’s prevailing culture of death, this particularly involves inculcating in our children the teachings of being Pro-Life through the model of the way we live our own lives and in the way we serve the Lord. This commandment also includes living our lives in a responsible way as taught by our parents, i.e., by being law-abiding citizens under a good and just government, and showing respect for others especially older people.
5) Thou shall not kill.
Whether we kill or harm another person or we do it to our own bodies or the baby inside the mother’s body (or participate in such activity), it is a sin because God commands us to love, respect, and defend life. Taking abortifacients or the morning-after pill is a sin against this commandment. This commandment also includes sins when the body is disfigured or defaced because of vanity or sexual motives, including breast implants and other sexual enhancements or piercings, or acts that show disrespect of God’s design of our bodies. Vices that push the body to excess or distort the mind are also against this commandment such as heavy drinking/smoking, gluttony, drugs, cocaine, marijuana, etc., as well as outright ending of life such as abortion, mercy killing and suicide.
6) Thou shall not commit adultery.
This is the commandment that tells the world to respect life and family as designed by God when He instituted the Sacrament of Marriage. It is obvious from the physiological make-up of our bodies and from Genesis that God’s design was for man and woman to come together in the Sacrament of Marriage with a vow to stay together for life (let no man put asunder) for the purpose of raising a family (have many children). It is only in marriage that the couple can start having sex (because of the responsibilities it entails), and in doing so the couple should respect and be open to the design of God to bring forth a child from the marital union. Therefore, a boy and a girl who are just going steady should respect each other’s bodies and not engage in foreplay (e.g., petting or mutual masturbation) or fornication. Even engaged couples should remain celibate. The sin of indulging in pornography and masturbation are also forbidden by this commandment. Lustful thoughts and desires are sins against this commandment – because they focus on the pleasures of the flesh without regard to the responsibilities of the Sacrament of Marriage. The following are also sins against this commandment: same sex marriage and all other abnormal use of sex such as active homosexuality, sodomy, sterility, artificial contraception, condoms, withdrawal, oral sex, test tube babies, etc., because they do not conform to the plan and design of God.
7) Thou shall not steal.
Stealing from our neighbor is anti-life. When one steals, it is always something of value taken from the owner and thus pain and suffering is inflicted on the owner of the stolen property. Stealing or doing dishonest acts is contrary to our identity as Christians commanded by God to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We also “steal” from the poor and from God when we accumulate material goods for ourselves or live in comfort and luxury without caring for those who have less in life or without helping the cause of the Church. In Malachi 3, it says: Dare a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! And you say, “How do we rob you?” In tithes and in offerings! When we steal from God, we deprive others of hearing the Good News that could lead to their personal conversion.
8) Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Lying is anti-life when it harms another person’s reputation, for example in telling gossip or slander. Lies are also usually used to cover up infidelity in marriage or to hide sins against chastity or morality. It is also a sin against this commandment when lies or deception are used in order to achieve lustful intentions, or when fabricated stories are made to obtain personal advantage or with intent to cover up responsibility for a criminal act.
9) Thou shall not covet they neighbor’s wife.
This commandment says in no uncertain terms that marriage means being faithful to one’s spouse, as God is always faithful in His love for us. To covet means even just lusting and desiring someone else’s spouse or another person other than your spouse. This sin even includes lusting for some stranger in a pornographic picture, video or live performance, usually accompanied by pleasuring of oneself.
10) Thou shall not covet they neighbor’s goods.
The 10th commandment is complementary to the 9th, since it is also concerned with the inordinate desires of the flesh which is anti-life. It forbids coveting the goods of another because it is the root of theft, robbery, and fraud, which the 7th commandment forbids. Lusting for another’s goods leads to the violence and injustice forbidden by the 5th and 7th commandments. This commandment looks at the intentions of the heart, for example greed elicits the desire to amass earthly goods; and avarice stems from a passion for riches and the power and glory it offers. Avarice or greed also leads one to commit injustice by harming or damaging another person’s goods.
In summary, we who are in the different ministries of CFC-FFL have promised to be followers of Christ. To follow Christ is to imitate his life of holiness. How do we do that? We can start by always choosing life in observing God’s commandments and directives. In John 14:15, Jesus told His disciples: If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Whereas 1John 3:9 says: Whoever is a child of God does not continue to sin, for God’s very nature is in him, and because God is his Father, he cannot continue to sin. And of course we have God the Father’s sweeping proclamation and reassuring promise in Lev 21:8 when He says: I am the Lord; I am holy and I make my people holy. And finally, the ultimate Pro-life message of Jesus that’s the key to becoming a saint is when He said: No greater love is there than giving your life for a friend.
So as Mother Angelica always ends her programs on EWTN, here’s a challenge to all in the community: We’re all called to be great saints – don’t miss the opportunity!