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제목 9th Commandment - “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife.”
작성자 관리자 작성일 2016-06-13





9th Commandment - “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife.”(2016-06-11)


My dear Brethren,


 We arrive at the last two Commandments, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house: neither shalt thou desire his wife, nor his servant, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his” (Ex. 20:17). Though it seems that there is only one Commandment here, St Augustine and the Tradition of the Church explain very well that, since the nature of the desire for the neighbour’s wife is essentially different from the nature of the desire for the neighbour’s goods, you have here two distinct duties, two distinct commandments, as distinct as the 6th and 7th Commandments are.


 We have explained at the beginning that what the Protestants present as the 2nd Commandment – “Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing” (Ex. 20:4) – in fact forbids the very same sin as the 1st Commandment, viz. the sin of idolatry and therefore does not constitute a separate commandment from the first. The very next sentence makes it very plain: “Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them:” (Ex. 20:5). Here on the contrary, it is plain that the sin of lust is different from the sin of greed, as much as adultery is different from theft! These are manifestly two different duties, and thus correspond to two distinct commandments. Therefore we must keep the traditional numbering of the Commandments, and not imitate the Protestants – unfortunately many modernist catechisms follow the Protestant numbering system, and this is wrong.


 Thus the ninth commandment forbids the sin of lust: “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife!” The principle here is very simple: if it is wrong to do something, it is wrong to desire it. God requires of us not only an external holiness – to avoid external acts that are wrong; He requires also of us an internal holiness: not even to desire to do wrong. Our Lord Jesus Christ is very explicit in the Holy Gospel: “You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that whosoever shall look on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt. 5:27-28).

 Evil thoughts lead to evil deeds, and good thoughts lead to good deeds. Our Lord Jesus Christ said indeed: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Lk. 6:45). We must fight against sin at its very root: in the heart. We must avoid not only evil deeds, but also evil desires and evil thoughts. “But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man. For from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man” (Mt. 15:18-20).

 Now the eyes are the windows of the soul: it is through them that evil thoughts and desires come. We must therefore control our eyes themselves. Hence our Lord Jesus Christ said: “And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee having one eye to enter into life, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Mt. 18:9).


 The holy man Job, already in the Old Testament, said these beautiful words: “I made a covenant with my eyes, that I would not so much as think upon a virgin. For what part should God from above have in me, and what inheritance the Almighty from on high? Is not destruction to the wicked, and aversion to them that work iniquity? Doth not he consider my ways, and number all my steps?” (Job 31:1-4). It is quite clear from these words of Job, that such virtue of chastity, not merely in deeds, but in very thoughts, is the fruit of the spirit of Faith: Job is very much aware that “God considers his ways”, he lives conscious of that fact, of the presence of God everywhere. God sees me! Our Lord Jesus Christ sees me, at all times, days and night. He sees not only what I do, but also what I desire, what I think: “Neither is there any creature invisible in his sight: but all things are naked and open to his eyes” (Heb. 4:13). “For man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart” (1Sa 16:7).


 Now in the modern world, the immodesties of the eye have been so multiplied, as to defy the imagination. Pornography has been openly displaying itself, in streets, in newspapers, in magazine and over the internet beyond measure. This is sinful! These are sins against the 9th Commandment. Though the mild immodesty might be a venial sin (except if it is done with the intent to seduce), but the hard core pornography is beyond doubt a mortal sin against the 9th Commandment, even if it is not followed by external actions against the 6th Commandment. Have nothing to do with that!


 “If thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out. It is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God, than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished” (Mk. 9:46-47). Our Lord does not say: “close you eye”, but “pluck it out!” If the TV scandalise you, it is not sufficient to turn it off, get rid of it completely! My own father had made the deliberate choice not to have the TV in our home; I thank God for such wise decision; he would not have had three sons priests if he had not made it.


 That is true for the TV; that is also true for the Internet. One might object that today the internet has become a necessary means for many things – but then one should absolutely forbid oneself to use it for other things, for unnecessary things. Useless browsing must be avoided, not merely the explicit porn. There is need of real mortification of self in the use of Internet. And the more one has fallen, the more he needs to mortify himself, to make reparation for his sins and to prevent future ones.


 In the Holy Ghost Fathers, Archbishop Lefebvre had suffered from seeing some modernist priests who would leave the dinner table – even when he, the Superior General, was there – and run to the TV room, and then would not be in the chapel for Compline. So when he founded the SSPX, he made a rule that we would not have TV in our houses, saying: “our TV is the Tabernacle!” Let us spend there the time worldly people spend in front of their TV. To adore Him and spend time with Him is the best remedy to the sins against the 9th Commandment: instead of wasting one’s time in front of the TV or internet, or worse abusing of our limited time to drink poison for our souls from these modern media, we do much better in contemplating the blessed Sacrament: contemplation is a loving look at the supernatural truth. To look at our Lord and love Him, this fills the soul with heavenly delight. Remember that man whom the Holy Curé of Ars found one day in his church just sitting in his pew. He asked him: what are you doing there? And the man answered: “I look at Him, and He looks at me!” This is contemplation! “Delight in the Lord and He shall give you the object of your prayers!” (Ps. 36).

 Parents need to watch their children, and must not let them without parental control: indeed there is a wound of concupiscence, which remains even after baptism has washed the original sin itself: baptism has started the healing process, but that healing is not yet finished. There is need of much watchfulness, and mortification, to heal or heart. Blessed are the children who learn from their parents mortification at a young age! Parents who let their children without such control are cruel to them and fail to their duty.


 Now someone might say: but, Father, to control our thoughts is very difficult. Since you cannot think of nothing, the only way to push away a bad thought is to replace it with a good thought, and the best of all thought is certainly the thought of our Lord Jesus Christ crucified. In temptation, always return there, to the foot of the Cross: contemplate His whole body lacerated with the whips; contemplate his feet, hands pierced with nails for you; contemplate His Sacred Heart pierced with a lance for love of you! Contemplate His holy Mother at the foot of the Cross, and think of what He felt, what she felt… and the evil thought would be quickly out of your thinking. Truly our Lord Jesus Christ is the remedy for all sins.


 If you want to control your thoughts, you must control your reading: read good books, read the lives of the Saints, the writings of the Saints, and above all the Holy Gospel, in order to feed you mind with good and holy thoughts. Then it will be easy for you to replace the bad thoughts by good ones. But if you leave your mind empty of such good thoughts, nature abhors the void, your mind will quickly be filled with evil thoughts.


 Controlling our thoughts goes with controlling our desires: a man is not a mere animal; he has a reason and must dominate his desire by his reason. All movement has a certain direction; all action has a certain goal. It belongs to reason to know the goal and deliberately to want it: the very fact for our mind to abandon the control of our passion and let be run by these passions, instead of controlling them is wrong. So we should always be aware of the direction of our actions: what goal are we pursuing? Are we getting closer to God, or are we letting ourselves go down, attracted by the creatures, by uncontrolled pleasures?


 The practice of the examination of conscience, as St Ignatius recommends it, is very useful in order to avoid sins, especially sins against the 9th and 10th commandments: each morning to renew our resolution to advance on the path to holiness, to get closer to God, to our Lord Jesus Christ, that He may reign in us more and more, and asking His help so that we may reach that purpose. And every evening to review our actions to see if we have deviated from this straight line of action, asking forgiveness for the failures of the day – hopefully only little, checking that they are less and less; looking for the occasions of these failures, to avoid them henceforward; and taking resolutions for the next day to be better and better, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.


 Another good practice is that of small “ejaculatory prayers”, like little arrows of love from our heart to the Heart of Jesus, calling for help, expressing our love and desire for God, asking for forgiveness, or for many other graces, or simply saying to our beloved God that we are happy to live in His Presence, under His loving care… Such arrows of love, “holy aspirations”, help a lot to keep our mind on good and holy thoughts and away from dangerous thoughts and desires. The mind naturally thinks about what we love; if we truly love God “with the whole heart, and with the whole understanding, and with the whole soul, and with the whole strength” (Mk. 12:33), it is most natural to have such thoughts. St Thomas Aquinas teaches that affections and desires follow the apprehension of the desired object by the mind: so if we keep our mind on holy thoughts, our heart will be kept on holy desires.


 The most beautiful example of perfect obedience to this 9th Commandment is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate per excellence, She who never had the least venial sin against chastity and against any virtue at all. And God loves such innocence! God is the very source of it. Our Lord Jesus Christ on His Cross loves the penitent like Mary Magdalen, who returns wholeheartedly to Him; but it is beyond doubt that He loved move His Virgin Mother, who never departed from Him.


 Let us ask through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary that we may obey the 9th Commandment and all the Commandments always better and better, for the love of God and for the eternal salvation of our soul! Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney (sspxasia)