Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has written for the Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children.
This Sunday’s first reading is the Ten Commandments. Here are, ironically, 10 ways to get ready for it.
10. Memorize them.
(Remember: They’re in order of importance: 1. 2. and 3. are about God (he himself, then his name, then his day). Then comes 4., the next most important persons to you: your mother and father. After that, of course, 5. Don’t kill. Number “six” is about “sex” — and then it’s easy to remember that 7. starts with “s” and so does stealing, so that’s before 8. lying and that 9. coveting the neighbor’s spouse is worse than 10. coveting neighbor’s stuff.)
9. Make sure you know why the commandments are numbered differently in Protestant and Catholic versions.
I like the way this site presents it.
8. Watch The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.
If you haven’t, do. The kids will love it. It is a truly entertaining movie. It might be a good idea to read the Bible story before or after, though … because the movie is better at entertaining than informing.
7. Or, better watch Moses starring Ben Kingsley.
This is the more informative movie. And you’ve got to love that it stars Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) as Moses, Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) as Mermefta, Saruman the White (Christopher Lee) as Ramses and Hercule Poirot (David Suchet) as Aaron. Kingsley’s Moses is surprised and feels unworth of God’s presence in his life when things work out, and shocked and feels unfairly abandoned by God’s absence in his life when they don’t. That strange dynamic will be familiar to religious believers.
6. Buy ice cream for the kids. If they can name the Ten Commandments, let them eat some of it.
5. Read Pope John Paul II comparing the Declaration of Independence and the Ten Commandments.
4. Look at pictures of all the depictions of the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court, here.
(Also, see the other public expressions of religion in Washington shown at the same site.)
3. Read Mark Shea’s series at Inside Catholic about the Ten Commandments.
2. Get involved in Project Moses (see the video above, or the website).
Joe Worthing recently showed me a stack of letters he has from bishops praising his mission to provide a tangible, visible reminder that the Ten Commandments (along with the Beatitudes and virtues) are big, permanent and important. Project Moses is beating the ACLU at their own game.
1. Follow the Ten Commandments.
This the hardest one, though. Maybe just watch the movie instead.