Saturday, May 11, 2013

Salt and Light: The Commandments, the Beatitudes, and a Joyful Life

I enjoyed this detailed explanation and reflection on the Ten Commandments as the foundation of the faith and the Beatitudes as the crowning moral pillars that lead us towards the love of God.  The writing is interesting as well as accessible.  As someone who has studied and read a fair amount about God’s Top Ten, I still found new, refreshing insights into these basic requirements for living in the Lord’s love.  The reasons why these guidelines are important and some specifics about how they are meant to be lived out in this day and age keep the reader engaged. 
Current events and modern-day examples of the Ten Commandments are given, and in most cases are ones with which the general population of practicing Catholics would be familiar.  The Fifth Commandment and the Fifth Chapter of the book are “Against Murder.”  Here’s a taste of the laying-it-on-the-line statements this man makes based on what’s in the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and various papal encyclicals: “…one who favors just war or the legitimate application of the death penalty while always opposing abortion and euthanasia is no more ipso facto a hypocrite than a surgeon who cuts into living flesh to save a patient is the moral equivalent of Jack the Ripper” (pg. 46). 
There are quite a few pop culture references that people will easily recognize from their widespread coverage in the mainstream media.  What not as many people might pick up on is the actual teachings of Scripture and those upheld by the Catholic Church since its inception that are built on the foundation of laws found in the Old Testament which were expounded upon when Jesus came to the disciples in the flesh.      
Chapter 8 which is titled “The Eighth Commandment Against Bearing False Witness” brings up some hot topics.  For example, Mark Shea claims that it is always wrong to lie, which is why he doesn’t condone the undercover sting operations that Live Action has been conducting under the leadership of pro-life advocate Lila Rose
Lying is wrong.  I can understand that using deception isn’t right, but isn’t that what people are doing when they go undercover as policemen, detectives, spies, and such?  Is it acceptable on some level if it ultimately serves a greater good or prevents a greater evil?  I agree that there are some situations we can’t really say for sure what would have happened or how someone would have handled it if the aspects of the story were true instead of fabricated for purposes of proving a point.  However, if a couple reasonable, very specific concessions are made for murder, particularly when it comes to “just war” or “legitimate application of the death penalty,” then aren’t there a select type of isolated incidents when lying is acceptable?  Hiding Jews during World War II comes to mind.  Lots of people lied to the Gestapo, but that was for a justified reason and a greater good.
Popular speaker and author Mark Shea illustrates how striving to live out the Ten Commandments as well as the Beatitudes leads to joy in life.  Through a look at the values espoused by these rules and how they lead to a fuller, more loving life, Shea makes clear how the basics for a morality on stone tablets given to Moses and Christ’s Sermon on the Mount link together to provide clear ethical guidelines for God’s Chosen People.  Through a close look at Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Shea lays out what it takes and what it means to be the salt and light of the earth in today’s world. 
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from TheCatholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Salt and Light. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.  I receive free product samples for writing reviews.
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