Some years ago I met an elderly priest who lived in one room in a presbytery at a nearby parish and he spent his days studying the Ten Commandments.
He was doing research and the walls of his study were lined with box files containing his work. At the time in seemed strange that he should spend so much time on the Decalogue. There are some who might think that in this modern age they are outmoded or old fashioned. St Thomas Aquinas and many other writers have pointed out that they are at the root of natural law. One writer has described them as “a kind of DNA-inscribed pattern into the human subject, which are the very constitution of human happiness, justice and peace.”
The first three commandments concern our relationship with God and the other seven regulate social order and lay a foundation for human ethics and social responsibility. God is setting out how God wants us to relate to him and how he wants us relate to others. They are to be learned and constantly remembered. That is why they are ten so that people could count them off on their fingers.
In the Gospel this Sunday Jesus cleansed the temple of buyers and sellers saying that “Take all this out of of here and stop turning my Fathers house into a market.” We are all temples of the Holy Spirit. Lent is a good time for us to drive out all that prevents us being fully human and and prevents us being open to God.
Here is a suggested Examination of Conscience based on the Ten Commandments that might help.
This examination of conscience was taken from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.