Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
If there is anything that captures my experience of growing up Catholic, it would be the preparation for First Confession and First Communion in the second grade. Central to that preparation was memorizing the Ten Commandments that we again hear in today’s reading from the Book of Exodus.
- I am the Lord your God, you shall not have any strange gods before Me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day.
- Honor your father and your mother.
- You shall not kill.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.
My first experience in the confessional box did not go as planned. I got very anxious and forgot my rather long list of transgressions against God and others. The young assistant pastor was very kind and asked me if I knew the Commandments. You bet I did. So, I confessed that I had committed adultery. Really? he asked. Do you know what that means? No, not really. So, he suggested we talk about the 4th Commandment instead.
It has been too long since I forced myself to recite the Ten Commandments in order. I probably could get them all, though slightly scrambled. I connect the guidance the Commandments provide with today’s feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the legendary parents of Mary, Mother of Jesus. Her parents, like mine and hopefully yours, provided the same guidance as the Commandments. Something like guardrails along the journey. There was lots of room to explore and grow into the person I am, with only minor scratches and dents.
For my parents and for the Ten Commandments, I am grateful. Even though they have died, my parents continue to guide me. And re-reading the Commandments reminds me that they really are good guiderails in today’s world where too many are veering off the edge and we seem not to care or notice.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and was the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.