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What is the First Commandment? How does this commandment lead me to deeper faith hope and charity?

txt-12firstcommand1-usccaThe first three Commandments treat our relationship to God. The last seven concern our relationship with each other. The First Commandment calls us to have faith in the true God, to hope in him, and to love him fully with mind, heart, and will. We respond to God, who has created and redeemed us and extends his providential care to us every minute of each day. The First Commandment fosters the virtue of religion that moves us to adore God alone because he alone is holy and worthy of our praise.

Adoring God, praying to him, offering him the worship that belongs to him, fulfilling the promises and vows made to him are acts of the virtue of religion which fall under obedience to the first commandment. (CCC, no. 2135)

All the Commandments call us to practice certain virtues and forbid a number of immoral behaviors. The positive invitation of the First Commandment calls us to practice the Theological Virtues of faith, hope, and charity by believing in the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, placing all our hope in them, and loving them with our whole heart and mind.


God has given us the virtue of faith, which is a personal response to the Lord’s Revelation of his holiness, love, beauty, and transcendence. We experience hints of his majesty in creation, traces of his love in the human love we receive, and impulses of his concern for us in our inner life, especially in the movements of conscience. Our faith is also communal, coming to us from our families and parish community. Above all, our faith in God is a gift of grace and is constantly nourished by the Holy Spirit from the moment of our Baptism, through our prayer life, our participation in the Eucharist and the Sacraments, and our Christian witness.

While it is the duty of all to worship and serve God, regrettably, there are some who do not believe in him and others who seriously doubt his existence. Some hesitate to believe because they cannot overcome their objections to faith, or are puzzled by the mystery of God. Some of the baptized later lapse into heresy. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same” (CCC, no. 2089).

Apostasy is a total repudiation of the faith (cf. CCC, no. 2089). Schism is the refusal to submit to the pope’s authority as head of the Church. Christ calls us to have a prayerful, reconciling attitude toward people with difficulties in their faith, to help them toward assent to the truth of faith.


God has given us the virtue of hope. Hope fills us with the confidence that God accompanies us on our journey through life and guides us to eternal life with him. If we refuse this gift of hope, we stray into presumption or its opposite, despair. In the sin of presumption, we think we will be saved without any personal commitment to the moral life. In the sin of despair, we lose hope in God’s mercy and believe we cannot be saved.


Finally, God has given us the virtue of love, the very love that he has for us. Our Lord asks us to accept this love and respond to him with it. Jesus made the love of God the first of the two greatest Commandments: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37). We sin against this call to love by indifference, ingratitude, lukewarmness, spiritual sloth, and hatred of God (cf. CCC, no. 2094).

You can read more from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, order your own copy, or read questions about it at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

Copyright © 2006, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright holder.