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Life in Christ

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The fourth commandment opens the second table of the

Decalogue. It shows us the order of charity. God has willed that,

after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and

who have handed on to us the knowledge of God. We are obliged

to honor and respect all those whomGod, for our good, has vested

with his authority.

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This commandment is expressed in positive terms of du­

ties to be fulfilled. It introduces the subsequent commandments

which are concerned with particular respect for life, marriage,

earthly goods, and speech. It constitutes one of the foundations of

the social doctrine of the Church.

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The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to chil­

dren in their relationship to their father and mother, because this

relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of

kinship between members of the extended family. It requires hon­

or, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it

extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employ­

ers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those

who administer or govern it.

This commandment includes and presupposes the duties

of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who

govern, all who exercise authority over others or over a community

of persons.

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Observing the fourth commandment brings its reward:

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long

in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

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Respecting this

commandment provides, along with spiritual fruits, temporal

fruits of peace and prosperity. Conversely, failure to observe it

brings great harm to communities and to individuals.

I.

T

he

F

amily

in

G

od

s

P

lan

The nature of the family

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The conjugal community is established upon the consent

of the spouses. Marriage and the family are ordered to the good of

the spouses and to the procreation and education of children. The

love of the spouses and the begetting of children create among

8

Ex

20:12;

Deut

5:16.

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