The First, Second and Third Commandments

The First Commandment:
I Am the Lord Thy God;
Thou Shalt Not Have Strange gods Before Me

393. "GOD HAS FORSAKEN US!"-----There was once a young man lying dangerously ill. He was the only hope of his aged parents, who were very poor, and his brothers and sisters were all too young to work. They tried every means to make him better, but all in vain; he became weaker every day, and very soon it was apparent to everyone that there was no longer any hope of his recovery. As they were lamenting over this misfortune, a neighbour happened to visit them to inquire about the sick man. "Oh, he is dying," they said, "there is no longer any hope; we have done everything that we could to make him better, but all in vain;" and they continued to weep bitterly. "Have you asked God to make him better?" said the neighbour. "Oh, no," they answered, "God has forsaken us altogether." "How can you say that God has forsaken you, since you have never asked Him to come to your assistance? You believe in your hearts that God can help you, yet you have not asked Him to do so. Where is your faith and confidence? It is not sufficient to believe that God can assist you, you must also, by the daily practice of your lives, act according to your belief. Ask God, therefore, to make your son well again; most certainly He will do so, if He sees that it will be for his good." After these words of gentle reproof, the unhappy parents knelt down and prayed to God to restore their son to health if it were His blessed will. This they continued to do for several days, and at last they had the happiness to see him rise from his sick-bed. In a short time he was well, and able to resume his work.----Hautriève.

396. S. EUSTACHIUS, M.-----In the reign of Emperor Trajan there lived, at Rome, a nobleman named Eustachius, who was no less renowned for his birth and riches than for his courage and military exploits. One day while engaged in hunting, he was favoured with the vision of an image of our Lord crucified which appeared to him darting forth bright rays of light between the antlers of the stag that he was pursuing. At the same time he heard a voice saying that, if he wished for happiness, he must abandon the worship of idols, and seek for instruction in the truths of the Christian religion. Eustachius, being converted by this vision, was Baptized with his whole family, but soon after began to experience the displeasure of the Roman Emperor. Stripped of his vast possessions and reduced to a state of extreme poverty, he was compelled to withdraw to a distant spot, where God tried him still further by the loss of his wife and children, who were separated from him by sudden and unforeseen disasters. In the meantime, the Roman Army, pressed by the enemy, bewailed the loss of their favourite general, and loudly clamoured for his recall. The Emperor at length consented, and Eustachius was sought for and discovered in his retreat, where he was quietly employed in the pursuit of husbandry. At the Emperor's command he again put himself at the head of the troops, and led them once more to victory. Eustachius was now restored to his former high position, and, being again united to his wife and children, whom he had long believed to have perished, nothing seemed wanting to complete his happiness. Meanwhile the victory was celebrated with great
rejoicings, and Eustachius was ordered by the Emperor to take part with his troops in the idolatrous sacrifices, which were offered in thanksgiving to the false gods of the country. Eustachius firmly refused, for he well knew that he owed a higher duty to God than to any earthly monarch. In vain did the Emperor strive alternately to win him by promises or to terrify him by threats, he remained unshaken in his resolution, and nobly declared that he was ready to die rather than sacifice to idols. The Emperor, enraged, ordered him, along with his wife and children, to be thrown to the lions, but, as these savage beasts refused to touch them, he commanded that they should be shut up in the body of a brazen bull, which should be placed, until it became red hot, over a glowing fire. The sentence was executed, and Eustachius and his family, singing the praises of God to their latest breath, like the three children in the fiery furnace, accomplished in this manner their glorious Martyrdom.
-----His Life: Sept. 20

399. SERMON OF A JUDGE-----An English judge named Holt, a just and upright man, had the misfortune, during his youth, to form bad connections, which inspired him with a contempt for religion, so that he turned into derision the sanctification of Sundays and festivals, spending those days in the very worst company. Happily for him, he was withdrawn by circumstances from these evil courses; by degrees he became more regular in his life, and failed not to recover the esteem of his fellow-townsmen. He was invested with the dignity of judge. One day, whilst discharging the duties of his office, he was forced to pass sentence of death on a man whom he recognized as one of his former associates. The sight of this criminal impressed him strongly and made him reflect on the danger to which he had exposed himself by leading a life similar to his. He could not help asking the wretch what had become of the other companions of their youth. "Alas1" answered the criminal, "there is not one of them alive, except you and myself; some fell under the sword of justice, others died a violent death." The judge, unable longer to repress his emotion, sighed deeply and addressed to those present a touching and most edifying discourse, to show them that the profanation of the Lord's Day makes man a wild beast, deadens the faith, and deprives him of all noble and generous feelings.-----Schmid

400. THE DEVIL'S REASON.-----If you get hold of a bad book, the Devil will be sure to put some reason into your head why you should read it. A person was very sorry to see that a certain bad book was doing so much harm. He thought he would read it, that he might be better able to speak against it. So he read the bad book. The end of it was that, instead of helping others, he ruined himself. The Devil will whisper into your ear that a bad book will give you a knowledge of the world.-----It will give you a knowledge of Hell and lead you there.-----Furniss

401. S. TERESA.-----S. Teresa  was a Saint even in her childhood. See what bad books did to her. "It happened," she says, "that there were some novels and romances in our house. I began to read them, and I gave myself up entirely to this reading. Then I forgot my duties, and thought only of these novels, and I fell into many sins. I began to take a great pleasure in dress. I took great pains to appear nice and well dressed. I loved perfumes and scents, and suchlike vanities. So I remained many years, not knowing the harm there was in it. But now I know well there was great harm."-----Her Life: Oct. 15

402. THE BOOK THAT NEVER STOPPED.-----A boy heard of a bad book. A wicked companion had told him of it, and said that he would learn a great deal by reading it. This boy happened to see the book offered for sale, and bought it and read it. The reading of this book made him a thoroughly bad boy. He no more said his prayers or went to chapel. He went into the most wicked company he could find. He went from bad to worse. He lost his faith, and said that he believed there was no God. He died in despair, cursing most frightfully the boy who had told him of the book which ruined him. The mischief of that bad book did not stop with his death. He had lent it to others to read. Many of those to whom he had lent it became bad themselves, and ruined others; and where the evil of this one book stopped, or whether it ever stopped at all, God only knows!-----Furniss

404. THE DESPAIRING SINNER.-----An  old sinner, who had spent all his life in the commission of crime, having fallen dangerously ill, a priest, who had taken an interest in him, paid him a visit for the purpose of inducing him to think, even at the last hour, on the state of his poor soul. When the priest addressed him on the subject, the sick man made no answer, The priest represented to him the danger to which he was exposed, and exhorted him to make his confession, "Yes, yes, I will confess," said he, but still he deferred it. The priest, fired with holy zeal, still more earnestly exhorted him, "Very well, then," said the sick man, "come tomorrow, and I will make my confession," On the morrow the priest came, and, being alone with the sick man, he made the Sign of the Cross, and commenced hearing the confession. The sick man was for some time silent, and then, in frightful tones, he repeated these terrific words of Scripture [Psalm 111]: "The sinner will be filled with rage," And then in a moment he hid his face in the bed-clothes. The confessor uncovered his head, and told him there was no time to be lost, and that it was necessary that he should confess immediately. "Yes, father, I will confess," the sick man replied; and then he repeated the second part of the text: "The sinner shall gnash his teeth, and foam with rage;" and again he hid his face in the clothes, The confessor a second time uncovered his head, and entreated him, with tears, to think of God, and to make his confession. "Yes, yes, father, I shall confess, I shall confess," said he again, and for the third time he hid his face in the bed covering, and repeated at the same time: "The desire of the sinner shall perish with him." The confessor, alarmed, again removed the covering from the head, but alas! the old sinner was dead!-----Catechism of Rodez

The Second Commandment:
Thou Shalt not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain

450. REVERENCE OF S. FRANCIS FOR GOD'S NAME.-----S. Francis of Assisi always pronounced the name of God with respect. If he found a piece of paper lying about with this name upon it, he took it up and put it away in a special corner in his cell; he also advised his religious to do the same.-----His Life: October 4

453. A SUDDEN PINISHMENT.-----A zealous priest related the following terrible story: "I was preparing the children of my congregation for the first Communion. Amongst them there were two boys who were very wicked. I told them that if they did not change their conduct, I would be obliged to make them wait a year longer, for I could not permit them to receive Jesus Christ into their souls without seeing a great change in their conduct. This threat seemed to make no impression on them, they only laughed at it, and I was obliged to send them out of the Church that they might not distract the others. When they reached the street they began to quarrel, and were heard to blaspheme and to take God's holy Name in vain. A workman who was passing at the time hearing the terrible words they were uttering, chid them and tried to make them cease; but, instead of obeying, they turned towards him and called him by many ~icked names, at the same timE cursing and swearing even more than before. The man continued on his way, but he had not gone far when he heard the noise of something heavy falling, and screams for help, He looked round and saw that a wall on the side of the street, on the spot where he had passed the boys, had fallen down, and that the screams must have come from them, and that they must at that moment be buried under the ruins. He ran back along with the crowd that were rushing to the place, and on removing the fallen stones and lime, they found the two boys crushed and dreadfully mangled. They were at once taken to a neighbouring house, but they were both quite dead: the wall had fallen on them whilst the words of blas- phemy were yet upon their lips, and they had to appear in this state before the dread tribunal of Jesus Christ to be judged."-----Chisholm

455. THE PRIEST AND HIS ANGEL GUARDIAN.-----S. Francis de Sales, after having given the order of Priesthood to a holy ecclesiastic, perceived that on going out he stopped at the door as if to give precedence to another. Being asked by the Saint why he stopped, he replied that God favoured him with the visible presence of his Guardian Angel, who, before he had received the Priesthood, always remained at his right and preceded him, but afterwards walked on his left and refused to go before him. It was in a holy contest with the Angel that he stopped at the door.

462. S. FRANCIS AND THE ROSARY.-----A person having heard that S. Francis of Sales had made a vow when young to say the Rosary every day, wished to do the same, but not without consulting the Saint beforehand. "Don't do any such thing," he answered. "But," said the other, "why deter others from doing what you yourself have done from the days of your youth?" "That word 'youth' settles the matter: in those days I did it without reflection: now that I am older, I say to you: don't do it: I don't wish to deter you from saying the Rosary: on the contrary say it regularly and fervently: but as a good practice, not as a vow, so that should you omit it, you will not offend God. It is not sufficient to make a vow, you must also keep it. I admit my vow has sometimes embarrassed me, and I have before now thought of seeking a dispensation." The authority and example of such a Saint are worth pages of argument.-----His Life: Jan. 29

The Third Commandment:
Remember Thou Keep Holy the Sabbath

487. SAINT T. MORE'S RESPECT FOR SUNDAY.-----S. Thomas More, Chancellor of England, was an ardent supporter of Catholic belief. When going to chapel on Sundays he always appeared very well dressed. One day someone asked him how it was he was so particular in his dress on Sunday, and he at once made answer: "I have always dressed myself with care on Sundays, and all festivals, not to please the world, or through respect for any mortal, but through respect and love for God."-----His Life

  488. PROFANATION OF SUNDAY AN INJUSTICE.-----A farmer ridiculed his neighbor because he did not, like himself, work on Sundays, but, on the contrary, attended Mass. "Suppose," said the neighbor, "I have seven shillings in my pocket, and meeting a poor man on the way I gave him six, what would you say?" "Well," said the farmer, "you would be very generous, and would deserve every thanks." "But if instead of thanking me, he threw me down and robbed me of my last shilling, what then?" "Why, such a man would deserve to be hanged." "Friend," replied the neighbor, "that's your very case: God has given you six days to labor in, and has reserved only the seventh to Himself, and commands us to sanctify it. And you, instead of being thankful for His gifts and respecting His will, you rob Him even of the seventh day. Are the two cases not alike?" The farmer agreed; he admitted his fault and corrected it.-----Catechisme en Exemples

  489. MASSES BADLY HEARD.-----To obtain some particular grace, a poor woman promised Almighty God to hear a certain number of Masses: each day as she returned home, after Mass, she put a bean into a box, that she might know the number of obligations fulfilled. At length, thinking her promise must be almost completed, she opened her box, and what was her surprise to find only one bean within, whereupon she gave way to despondency and discouragement, and complained to God that whereas she had so often assisted at Mass, only one was marked. She had the good thought to consult her director, and explain all to him. He in return explained all to her, how no doubt she had been at Mass very regularly, yet without truly hearing Mass, because of her voluntary distractions, her bad behavior, and perhaps even her talking to others, all which had destroyed the merit of her works, and accounted for the loss of her beans. The poor woman withdrew, convinced that Providence had made use of this incident to teach her to be more attentive during the Holy Sacrifice, if she wished it to be pleasing to God and meritorious to herself.-----Catechisme en Exemples

  490. RESULT OF IRREVERENCE.-----Pope Pius V had induced a Protestant to enter the Church, and was preparing him for Baptism. One day the latter was assisting at Mass, but, unfortunately, the Faithful then present were greatly wanting in respect, and the Protestant went away indignant, saying: "No, Catholics do not believe in the Mass: they don't believe in the Real Presence: if they did, they would behave differently in the presence of God." And he remained a Protestant.-----Catechisme en Exemples

491. THE AFRICAN MARTYRS.-----During the cruel persecution of the Emperor Maximian, forty-nine Christians had assembled in a private house to assist at the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which was said by the priest Saturninus. The officers of justice broke into the house during the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries, arrested those who were present, and conveyed them before the public tribunal under a guard of soldiers. By order of the judge they were sent in chains to Carthage, the capital city of the province, where they were again examined and cruelly tortured. Being asked by the Proconsul why they had assembled together in spite of the decrees of the Emperor, S. Saturninus answered in the name of the rest: "It is because we are not allowed to be absent from the Sacred Mysteries. This is the commandment and teaching of the Divine Law. This law we faithfully observe, and for it we are ready to lay down our lives." Upon this the judge ordered them to be cast into prison, where those who had survived the tortures inflicted upon them shortly after fell victims to starvation and the hardships of their confinement.-----Butler

494. THE AVARICIOUS MILLER.-----A miller was so possessed of the demon of avarice, that there was scarcely a Sunday on which he did not work. During the High Mass and other Offices he was seen working at his mill. On one particular festival he went as usual and began to work away. In the evening he returned not. His wife was every moment expecting him, but in vain, for he appeared not. When it was becoming rather late, she went out to look for him, and-----frightful spectacle-----she beheld him dead and extended along the ground, with his entire body pierced with something like stakes. In setting out from his house in the morning, he complained of there being no wind, and said that he was going to arrange the mill so that an advantage might be taken of the first breeze that would spring up. He waited some hours in expectation of the wind: he saw the country people going to church, and through shame-----for he knew he was doing wrong------he hid himself. When they had passed on he stood up and began to watch the clouds. On a sudden the wind sprung up, the wings of the mill turned immediately round, and the points coming in contact with his body he was cast violently some distance from the place in which he was standing, and died in pain and agony! His death produced a great sensation in every part of the country around, for it was considered, and justly, a stroke from the hands of God, to mark his horror of the profanation of Sunday.-----Noel

   495. THE AVALANCHE.-----In a small village situated on the slopes of the Alps, there lived a man who was notorious for his open and scandalous profanation of the Sunday. So far from attending Divine Service in his parish church, it was his custom, as soon as the Sunday dawned, to set out with some companions, whom he had misled by his evil example, to hunt the chamois on the mountain side. In vain did his parish priest endeavor, by every means that zeal and charity could suggest, to reclaim him from so unbecoming a practice. It was all to no purpose, and at length, seeing that the miserable man continued obstinate in his wickedness, the zealous pastor threatened him with the anger of God in case he did not desist from scandalizing the neighborhood by his public impiety. Shortly after, he set out as usual for the chase, one Sunday morning, accompanied by two of his comrades. A heavy fall of snow had taken place during the night, but this gave the party little concern, as it served to render the traces of the game more visible, and to increase their prospect of a good day's sport. They had not proceeded far, when the two companions of the unhappy man, who were following in his track, perceived to their horror that, wherever he trod, his footsteps were marked with blood. Unable to account for the strange occurrence, and struck with a secret fear of the impending judgment of God, they both united in imploring him to discontinue the expedition for that day at least, informing him of what they had witnessed. He refused, however, telling them, with a laugh, that the blood on his track was an omen of a good day's sport. Whatever may have been the cause of this extraordinary occurrence, it exercised a wholesome influence over his companions, who, touched by Divine grace, began to retrace their steps. They had not proceeded far when they heard a noise as it were of thunder behind their backs, and looking hastily round beheld the profaner of the Sabbath carried away by an avalanche, which came rolling down the side of the mountain. They ran with all speed to the village for assistance, and the inhabitants flocked out to search for the unhappy man. It was not, however, till some days after that his body was discovered in a neighboring ravine, buried many feet beneath the surface of the snow.-----Gibson

  499. THIRTY THOUSAND FRANCS' WORTH OF JEWELS.-----Of two merchants, one of whom closes his shop on Sundays and goes to Mass, whilst the other buys and sells as on weekdays, which is he who best deserves our confidence? I am going to tell you. When the Allies-----that is to say, the Austrians, Russians, and Prussians-----invaded France in 1814, they made a considerable stay in the country, and especially in Paris: some of them availed themselves of the opportunity of purchasing some of those rare and costly works of art for which France is so famous. A wealthy Prussian officer, amongst others, wished to buy jewels for a large amount. He presents himself one Sunday to one of the first jewelers in the city. "Sir, I should like to see some of the finest ornaments you have in gold and jewels." " I can let you see them, sir, but I cannot sell them to you today." "You cannot? And why not, pray?" "Because my stores and workshops are always closed on Sundays, and I would not, on any account, depart from that rule." "Sir, I understand your Catholic scruples, but I leave the city tomorrow, and if you will not sell me the jewels, I must go elsewhere." "I cannot help it." "Well sir, I have but one word to say, and perhaps it may help you to a decision: I intend to purchase jewels to the amount of twenty-five or thirty thousand francs." " You do me wrong, sir, if you imagine that that sum will tempt me; it is undoubtedly a fine offer, but I confess I like better to remain faithful to my religious principles." "In that case, sir, as my departure is fixed for tomorrow, I am forced, however much I may regret it, to purchase of someone else what you refuse to sell me." So saying, the officer bowed and withdrew. SAINT ELIZABETH OF HUNGARYHe had only gone a little way when a thought occurred to him: "Now here is a jeweler who is very strict in observing the Sabbath, and his strictness annoys me not a trifle; but if this man has firmly refused to sell me his jewels for any amount of money, I have good reason to believe that he would not deceive me in the price, weight, or value of his costly wares; whilst another that will not hesitate to sell on Sunday for the sake of making money will not scruple to cheat me in his merchandise." Struck by this reflection, the officer returns home, relates what had happened, puts off his journey for one day, and going on the morrow to the honest jeweler, with some others of his friends, they made purchases to the amount of forty or fifty thousand francs.-----Catholic Anecdotes 

 501. EXAMPLES OF THE SAINTS.-----S. Elizabeth of Hungary was accustomed, even in her childhood, to visit Jesus Christ often in the Blessed Sacrament. If she found the Church closed, she would affectionately kiss the lock of the door and the walls of the Church for love of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.-----S. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi made every day thirty visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament.-----S. Aloysius spent in the Church, at the foot of the tabernacle, all the time which was not occupied by any duty.-----S. Francis Xavier, after preaching and performing all the other heavy labors of his arduous mission, used to go at night and take his repose before his Divine Master in the humble tabernacle of the Church.-----S. Francis of Assisi never undertook any work without first going into the Church to ask the blessing of Jesus in his Holy Sacrament.------Lives of the Saints

  502. THE TWO VESSELS.-----Our Lord one day appeared to Sister Paula, a holy nun who dwelt in Naples. with two vessels in His hands. the one of gold, and the other of silver. As she was wondering what this could signify, Jesus said unto her: "My daughter. I keep in the golden vessel all your Sacramental Communions, and in the silver one your Spiritual Communions."-----Chisholm

508. S. JANE OF THE CROSS.-----Our Lord once told S. Jane of the Cross that as often as she made a Spiritual Communion she received a grace similar to that which she received when she made a Sacramental Communion.-----Her Life