WHAT ARE THE COMMANDS OF CHRIST?
NOT the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament. These are the perfected or
improved version of the Ten Commandments, promulgated by Christ, and He
referred to these as "My commands".
"If you wish to enter into
life, keep My commandments." (Mt 19:17)
you obey My commands, you will remain in My love." (Jn 15:10)
Note that Christ uses the words
"word", "commands" and "teachings"
"He who does not love Me
will not obey My teachings." (Jn 14:24)
love Me, you will obey what I command." (Jn 14:15)
has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me." (Jn
And the apostles referred to
these as "His commandments".
of Him is to keep His commandments." (1 Jn 2:3)
who keeps His commandments remains in Him." (1 Jn 3:24)
Difference between the Old and New Testament
the difference between the Old and New Testament commands from the words of
Christ Himself. In the Gospel of Matthew (5:38-42), Christ said: "You
have learned how it was said: 'eye for eye and tooth for tooth' (in the Old
Testament). But I say this to you (in the New Testament): offer the wicked
man no resistance. On the contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek,
offer him the other as well; if a man takes you to law and would have your
tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one
mile, go two miles with him. Give to anyone who asks, and if anyone wants to
borrow, do not turn away."
"You have learned how it was
said: 'You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy' (Old Testament).
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;
in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven, for he causes his
sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and his rain to fall on honest and
dishonest men alike. For if you love those who love you, what right have
you to claim any credit? Even the tax collectors do as much, do they not? And
if you save your greetings for your brothers, are you doing anything
exceptional? Even the pagans do as much, do they not? You must therefore be
perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:43-48).
The first and easiest command of
Christ is "Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart" or
"poor in spirit." This is the first Beatitude. The next commands
would be "to be pure in heart," "to mourn," "to be
meek," "to hunger," "to be merciful," etc. The
Beatitudes are a summary of the different commands of Christ showing the
different levels of spiritual maturity. The highest command of Christ
taught during the Last Supper is "to love one another as I have loved
The first and easy commands can
be described as small acts of love of God and neighbor. The higher commands
are greater acts of love of God and neighbor.
The commands of Christ are not
complex or complicated or high-sounding. They are not the stuff theologians
engage in. The commands of Christ are simple, practical and easy to learn.
But "it is spiritual wisdom and not the wisdom of this age," says
St. Paul (1 Cor. 2:6).
How can a man say that he
believes in Christ, if he does not do what Christ commanded him to do? St.
In effect, the commands of
Christ are steps to follow in the footsteps of Christ, "to walk as He
walked." The seminarian learns this that he may develop the
supernatural (not mere natural) virtues of Christ… thinking, feeling,
reasoning, talking and acting like Christ. This is the aim of the seminary,
first to plant the seed of holiness; then to make it gradually grow through
obedience to the commands of Christ so that, hopefully, by the time the
seminarians are ordained, there are buds that might eventually bloom into
the flower of holiness. Thus the word "seminary" - a place where
the seeds of holiness are planted and cultivated.
A. HIDDEN LIFE
1. Scriptural Basis for the "Hidden
Life" - the Model for Seminary Life
first part of the seminarian's training is based on what Christ said:
"Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart," which
summarizes all the commands of Christ in the New Testament. Almost the
whole of the Old, but most specially the New, Testament enumerates commands
that will make us humble and meek. It is, in fact, the only thing Christ
wants us to learn, from which all other knowledge and wisdom would come,
for "wisdom is given to the humble." Having learned how to be
humble, the priest may now fulfill the apostolic commission given by Christ
to the Church: "to teach all that I have commanded and how to observe
them," …which is for all to be humble and meek.
2. If we must do the work of
Christ, we must do it His way. So the aim of a seminary is to
replicate the Hidden Life of Christ: wherewith we grow in holiness, grace
and wisdom, by obeying the commands of Christ found in the things He SAID
and DID, thus developing the virtues Christ had taught us to learn…
humility and meekness.
HOWEVER, TAKE NOTICE:
are two commands involved in the Hidden Life of Christ: to do good and
avoid evil; "Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil." (1
Thes. 5 :21-22) Christ, of course, did not have to avoid evil, but
nevertheless He wanted to show us how to do it. The New Testament
enumerates the evil we must avoid and the good we must do. Avoiding evil
prevents us from going to hell; doing good is what brings us to heaven
Avoiding evil is the more arduous task. In the spiritual life, it
consists of overcoming the movements of our passions, namely, gluttony,
lust, avarice, anger, listlessness, vainglory, and pride through a process
of asceticism that must be incorporated into the seminary way of life.
Listlessness or restlessness among priests, according to Cardinal Ratzinger
("The Ratzinger Report," Chapter 4) is the cause of the crisis in
the Church. When one is restless, it means he has all the vices.
In the curriculum, the
seminarians will learn what these passions are, how they move, how the
devil uses them to tempt us and what are the spiritual medications to cure
them. The medications must be taken during seminary training, otherwise the
priests will go to the world slaves of these passions or, as we say, with
their fallen nature intact. In this part of the curriculum we shall use the
writings of the so-called Dessert Fathers, particularly St. John Climacus
and St. John Cassian. The Dessert Fathers specialized in overcoming the
ii) Doing good will
consist in one's actual practice of good works towards his co-seminarians.
If he is unable to love his co-seminarians in this ideal situation, he
won't be able to love anyone outside.
Good works starts with the
corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Then, they progress to the
a) be heroically patient with
each other's faults;
b) be kind to all in thought, gestures and words;
c) never show or even feel jealousy or envy towards each other;
d) banish all thoughts of being hurt from their mind;
e) always search for the truth in all things, suspending judgment until the
truth is known; and
f) learn never to complain or argue but to bear everything - persecution,
injustices, neglect, illnesses, sufferings.
This is CHARITY, which St. Paul
described thus: "Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous,
it does not put on airs..." (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
After living the hidden life
wherewith the seminarian learns and obeys the commands of Christ, he may
now continue the work Christ commissioned His church: to teach the commands
and how to obey them.
The Apostolate is expressed in
the Apostolic Commission (Skipping the first two commands, "to go to
all nations" and "baptizing them in the name of the Father"),
a) Teaching them
all My commands;
b) Teaching them how to observe them; and
c) Like good shepherds, feeding the sheep by actually guiding them in the
obedience Christ's commands.
is the reason why Christ instituted His Church; this is the main work of
The Apostolate is for
implementing the Apostolic Commission. The Apostolate or active works
is only sanctifying if meant to feed or improve the spiritual life. If
there is no interior life to nourish, the Apostolate is useless and
benefits no one. In fact, it undermines whatever is left of the interior or
The Hidden or Interior Life, as
we have seen, consists of CHARITY. And the Apostolate is CHARITY
IN ACTION. What is the use of action if there is no charity that
will motivate the action?
In the Apostolate, the priest is
to care for the souls of others. The first act of almsgiving is to take
care of one's own soul first, so that you can take care of the souls of
others later. He who does not care for his own soul shown by a bad way of
life in the seminary will not care for the souls of others. "Non se
ami cum Christi reputabat nisi animasfoveret quasi ille redemit."
(St. Bonaventure, Life of St. Francis, C. IX).
Dom J. B. Chautard, OCSO in his Soul
of the Apostolate described a priest who said: "My self-sacrifice
is what ruined me." His apostolate sipped away his spiritual life
rather than strengthened it. In this curriculum, the seminarian will learn
how to make his Apostolate strengthen, instead of destroy, his spiritual