The First Commandment
1 Q. Why is it said at the commencement of the Commandments: I am the Lord thy God?
A. It is said at the commencement of the Commandments: I am the Lord thy God, to show us that God being our Creator and Lord, can command whatever He wills, and that we, being His creatures, are bound to obey Him.
2 Q. In the words of the First Commandment: Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me, what does God command us?
A. By the words of the First Commandment: Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me, He commands us to acknowledge, adore, love and serve Him alone as our Sovereign Lord.
3 Q. How do we fulfil the First Commandment?
A. We fulfil the First Commandment by the practice of internal and external worship.
4 Q. What is internal worship?
A. Internal worship is the honour which is given to God with the faculties of the soul alone, that is with the intellect and the will.
5 Q. What is external worship?
A. External worship is the homage that is given to God by means of outward acts and of sensible objects.
6 Q. Is it not enough internally to adore God with the heart alone?
A. No, it is not enough internally to adore God with the heart alone; we must also adore Him externally with both soul and body, because He is the Creator and absolute Lord of both.
7 Q. Can there be external worship without internal worship?
A. No, in no way can there be external worship without internal, because unless external worship is accompanied by internal, it is destitute of life, of merit, and of efficacy, like a body without a soul
8 Q. What is forbidden by the First Commandment?
A. The First Commandment forbids idolatry, superstition, sacrilege, heresy, and every other sin against religion.
9 Q. What is idolatry?
A. Idolatry is the giving to any creature, for example, to a statue, to an image, or to a man, the supreme worship of adoration that belongs to God alone.
10 Q. How is this prohibition expressed in Holy Scripture?
A. This prohibition is expressed in Holy Scripture in these words: Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or on the earth beneath; and thou shalt not adore them or serve them.
11 Q. Do these words forbid every kind of image?
A. Certainly not; but only those of false divinities, made to be adored, as idolaters adore them. So true is this, that God Himself commanded Moses to make images, as, for example, the two statues of the Cherubim for the Ark, and the Brazen Serpent in the desert.
12 Q. What is superstition?
A. Superstition is any devotion that is contrary to the teaching and practice of the Church; as also the ascribing to any action or any thing whatever a supernatural virtue which it does not possess.
13 Q. What is a sacrilege?
A. A sacrilege is the profanation of a place, of a person, or of a thing consecrated to God and set apart for his worship.
14 Q. What is heresy?
A. Heresy is a culpable error of the intellect by which some truth of faith is obstinately denied.
15 Q. What else does the First Commandment forbid?
A. The First Commandment also forbids all dealings with the devil, and all association with anti-Christian sects.
16 Q. If one were to have recourse to and invoke the devil, would he commit a grave sin?
A. If one were to have recourse to and invoke the devil, he would commit an enormous sin, because the devil is the most wicked enemy both of God and of man.
17 Q. Is it lawful to put questions to speaking or writing tables or in any way to consult the souls of the dead by means of spiritism?
A. All the practices of spiritism are unlawful, because they are superstitious; and often they are not free from diabolical intervention; and hence they are rightly condemned by the Church.
18 Q. Does the First Commandment forbid us to honour and invoke the Angels and Saints?
A. No, it is not forbidden to honour and invoke the Angels and Saints; on the contrary, we should do so, because it is a good and useful practice highly commended by the Church; for they are God’s friends and our intercessors with Him.
19 Q. Since Jesus Christ is our only mediator with God, why have recourse also to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints?
A. Jesus Christ is our Mediator with God, because being true God and true man He alone in virtue of His own merits has reconciled us to God and obtains us all graces. But in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, and through the charity which unites them to God and us, the Blessed Virgin and the Saints help us by their intercession to obtain the graces we ask. And this is one of the great benefits of the Communion of Saints.
20 Q. May we also honour the sacred images of Jesus Christ and of the Saints?
A. Yes, because the honour we give the sacred images of Jesus Christ and of the Saints is referred to their very persons.
21 Q. May the relics of the Saints be honoured?
A. Yes, we should honour the relics of the Saints, because their bodies were living members of Jesus Christ and temples of the Holy Ghost, and will rise gloriously to eternal life.
22 Q. What is the difference between the honour we give to God and the honour we give to the Saints?
A. Between the honour we give to God and the honour we give to the Saints there is this difference, that we adore God because of his infinite excellence, whereas we do not adore the Saints, but honour and venerate them as God’s friends and our intercessors with Him. The honour we give to God is called Latria, that is, the worship of adoration; the honour we give to the Saints is called Dulia, that is, the veneration of the servants of God; while the special honour we give to the Blessed Virgin is called Hyperdulia, that is, a special veneration of the Mother of God.