Monday, March 26, 2012


We're having two classes on the meaning of the Ten Commandments and their application to the Christian life, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Visiting us to guide our studies is Fr. Martin Curtin, who is a pastor at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in East Patchogue and lives in fraternity there two other Capuchins. I met Brother Marty either in late 2009 or early in 2010 through his work with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization. Another friar, Fr. Jack Rathschmidt, was introduced to me in the spring of 2008 by labor organizers. For at least two generations the Capuchins have activated their charism of justice, peace, and integrity of creation by participating in faith-based community organizing, in Brooklyn and Boston. I'm proud to say that when I met friars like Brother Marty and Brother Jack, I knew them first as organizers. In retrospect, given my current station in life, I believe that making their acquaintance when I did was providential.

Now I know Brother Marty and Brother Jack as veteran formators, the first having recently been director of the post-novices, and the second as prefect of formation. They are also mentors and instructors. Brother Jack is coming later this week to introduce the postulants to ecclesiology, or theology about the Church. Brother Marty, as I have said, is already here to teach the postulants about the Ten Commandments. The commandments are also known as the Decalogue -- the "ten words" written by the finger of God and given as law to Moses for the Israelites for the making of the covenant.

Tomorrow I have a presentation on the Third Commandment, which has to do with the keeping the sabbath day holy. It is the last commandment concerning the people's conduct toward God. The first three (or four, depending on the Christian tradition) commandments are precepts concerning God, and the final seven (or six) are precepts concerning treatment of neighbor. My presentation examines the Catholic Church's interpretation of the commandment. In addition to summarizing main points, I am to reflect on lines in the catechism that hit me hard and struck me as challenging or difficult to explain. Then I am to name situations where the teaching is pertinent as good news for today and how the world can be made to hear it. I will embargo my notes until tomorrow, then post them here, so keep on the lookout!

For the text of the catechism on this commandment, click the namesake hyperlink above, or just click here, then here and here.

I've been in hermit mode since returning from Massachusetts, both to decompress and to finish my presentation. I always get a little crabby when I have a homework assignment hanging over my head, and more so when a presentation is involved. But now it's all done, so 1) I can sleep soundly; and 2) I hope to be less of a bear to my brothers!

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