Dr. Bracket’s Epitaph

News: Commentary
by Joe Sixpack — The Every Catholic Guy  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 4, 2022   

Living the Ten Commandments

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Dr. Bracket served for years in a small country town but made little money.

That was because the doctor was always taking care of the poor. He'd get up in the middle of the coldest nights and drive 20 miles to care for a sick woman or child or someone who'd been hurt.

The Ten Commandments

Everyone knew that the doctor's office sat over a clothing store. A sign at the foot of the stairs read, "Dr. Bracket — office upstairs."

Dr. Bracket never married. He was supposed to marry the town banker's daughter but, on his wedding day, he received a call to go out into the country to take care of a Mexican child.

His fiancée, Elvira, angrily called off the wedding. She said that any man who would think more of a Mexican child than of his own wedding was no good. Many of the town's women agreed, but the parents of the child were very grateful when the boy recovered.

The doctor never turned anyone away. When he was 70, he fell onto the sofa in his office and died. His funeral was the biggest the town had ever seen.

The people talked about raising money for a nice headstone as a memorial, but the talk lapsed into an argument over what should be carved on the stone. The matter dragged on, and nothing was done. Then, one day, the funeral director said that the doctor's memorial was already over his grave, epitaph and all. He said the parents of the Mexican child the doctor had healed had worried about the lack of a tombstone. Although they had no money themselves, they took the sign from the foot of the stairs at the doctor's office and set it over his grave.

The doctor never turned anyone away.

The two "great commandments," as given by Jesus, are a summary of the Ten Commandments — and Dr. Bracket lived them very well. The first is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." The second is "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

We can practice both simply by living out the Ten Commandments, which the two great commandments encompass. The doctor gives us an excellent example of that. The first three Commandments deal with man's relationship to God. The last seven deal with man's relationship to God and man.

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This is an overview of the Ten Commandments, which we'll examine over the next several weeks. After all, we spent so much time talking about confession that it's only natural we should take a look at the Ten Commandments.

These Ten Commandments were written with the finger of God. Unlike the commandments written by Moses, the Ten Commandments set forth the natural law. The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, teaches that this natural law is "nothing else than the rational creature's participation of the eternal law."

The great catechist Fr. John Hardon notes that "it is, therefore, called 'natural law' because everyone is subject to it from birth (natio) because it contains only those duties which are discernable from human nature itself and because, absolutely speaking, its essentials can be grasped by the unaided light of human reason."

Saint Paul taught concerning the existence of natural law in Romans, saying:

For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves — even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.

In other words, natural law is man's intuitive knowledge of right from wrong, inscribed upon his heart by the Creator.

Until modern times, natural law was taught in law schools as indisputable fact — but is now scorned by those professors who prefer to be their own god. When Congress holds confirmation hearings for candidates for the Supreme Court, one of the first questions asked by liberal members of Congress is whether the candidate believes in natural law. Why? Because anyone who believes in natural law cannot deny that same-sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia are wrong.

As stated above, the Ten Commandments, written by God Himself, set forth the natural law. The Commandments state:

  1. You shall not have strange gods before Me
  2. You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain
  3. Keep holy the Lord's day
  4. Honor your father and your mother
  5. You shall not kill
  6. You shall not commit adultery
  7. You shall not steal
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
  9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods

Over the next few weeks (at least 10), we're going to take a look at the Ten Commandments. We won't examine them in the depth they deserve, but as long as I live and am able to produce this column, we will revisit them in great depth — over and over again.

Please listen to The Cantankerous Catholic podcast by visiting https://cantankerouscatholic.com/episodes/ or wherever you get your podcasts.

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