Thursday, May 17, 2012

Catholic Q&A: Part 25

This post continues my series of short answers to common questions about Catholicism. For the previous parts in the series, see the "Catholic Q-A Series" blog label.

I know Protestants and Catholics have different versions of the Ten Commandments but how did the ancient Jews list them? And if there are actually 14 or 15 commandments, why are only 10 on the list?

The ancient Jews (as in, Old Testament Jews) didn't list them. They simply went by what was revealed to them by Moses and preserved in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. The refining of the Commandments into a list of ten came much later, by the first century Jewish scholars Philo and Josephus. This list seems to be much less than what we find in the Bible because the purpose of the list is to take all the statements about a particular sin and group them together under one umbrella statement. This makes the moral law easier to remember. It's a catechetical device, a teaching tool. Once one memorizes all ten, then he has the gist of it and he can turn to the Bible (or the Catechism, for that matter) to get the full elaboration on each one.

For more information, also see my short debate on the numbering of the Ten Commandments.

Why is a sea shell used during a baptism?

Sea shells don't have to be used, but they often are because they remind us of the sea, of the rivers and bodies of water that the Church used for baptism in the Apostolic period. When this symbolism is incorporated into baptism (in the container used to pour water on catechumens, in the design of the baptismal font, or in the vestments of the priest) we are in a sense united with the very first converts to Christianity.

Is cosmetic plastic surgery frowned upon by the Church and God, since it's pretty much saying that I'm not happy with the way God made me?

Yes, I would say that plastic surgery for vain or prideful reasons is generally frowned upon. One would not want to give God the message that He didn't get it right the first time. Whether or not this is actually sinful depends on the reasons why a person is doing it. This is the sort of thing you have to take on a case-by-case basis, instead of making a blanket prohibition.

I think the closest statement on this in the Catechism comes from no. 2297: "Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law."

The candle next to the tabernacle...they all have a red cover over the candle that I've seen...does the red color have a meaning?

I'd imagine most sanctuary lamps are red to remind us of the Precious Blood. But, you do occasionally find them in other colors, or clear. The only thing mandated by liturgical law is that it be a candle fed by wax or oil and not a light bulb.

Pax Christi,

1 comment:

  1. As for cosmetic surgery, yes it is a case to case basis. It is against God's plan if it's done for vanity's sake.

    However, let's say a morbidly obese person undergoes liposuction in order to improve or even save his life, it can be acceptable since one's life is in danger.


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