Each issue carries an imprimatur from
the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reprinting prohibited
Loving God With
Whole Mind and Heart
What would your life look like if you really put God
first? Where is God on your list of priorities? Most
of us are bombarded by so many demands competing for our attention and time that we fail to prioritize at all. Too often, we just try to keep up with what others tell us is important. Selfishness is prevalent—even encouraged and applauded—in our society. “Looking out for #1” is the personal motto of many.
Who is your #1? Does God even make your
Sorting out priorities
After more than a year of trying to conceive, my husband, Jon, and I were thrilled when I became pregnant in the spring of 1994. This time of joy was
burdened with the decision about how best to care for our baby. We both wanted our child’s early years to be spent in our home with one of us, but no
matter how many times we worked the single-salary figures, the numbers always came out red.
My boss’s inflexibility ultimately forced us to make the choice we both wanted anyway: I would stay home with our daughter. Jon and I both believed that if we were doing what was right in our situation, God would provide. It was a major
leap of faith (my husband and I both like control) and a time of solidifying our relationship with each other and with God.
Jon and I grew through this decision-making and through living out our decision to trust God. We made our family, particularly the care of our
daughter, our priority. This helped put all the required sacrifices in perspective. We experienced
our true and lasting riches while living quite simply. And God did, in fact, take care of us.
We turn often to a framed verse that hangs in our bedroom: “Where
your treasure is there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21). The truth of this
statement has been brought home to me repeatedly. I’ve learned that when I
put God first, good things follow. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t times of
sacrifice and pain, but life gains greater meaning and joy even in the struggles.
The first three commandments
The Ten Commandments call us to prioritize.
They “help us know how to
serve God and how we should live
with each other” (United States Catholic
Catechism for Adults, p. 341). Through
them, God helps us to live moral lives.
The first three commandments
concern our relationship with God—worship only God, honor God’s name,
keep the sabbath. If we claim that God
is important, it’s natural that we will
want to follow those commandments
that acknowledge God as worthy of
our praise. We will want to obey out of
love, not fear.
Starting with God
Putting God first means that I have to
deal with my desires for things that
may give me value in the
eyes of the world or that
have become overly
important (like gods) to
me. Having come from a
childhood, I overemphasized
the value of saving
money as an adult.
While the prudent use of
financial resources is
good, my preoccupation
neared obsession. That
made leaving my job
(and income) all the
Jon and I had
faith—we had experienced God in creation,
human love, our inner lives and
community. We clung to hope, the
“confidence that God accompanies us”
(USCCA, p. 343). We celebrated God’s
love in our marriage and growing family.
It was natural (though admittedly
challenging) to respond to God’s love
with our trust.
It’s not easy to put God first in a
culture that might as soon deny God’s
existence. There are many “distractions
that shut out the majestic voice,” but
God calls, shouts, tries to break
through our deafness (USCCA, p. 346).
We need to tune out the voices that
clamor for our attention and that tell
us how to be valued in the eyes of the
world. We are already worthy in God’s
eyes. Our priority should be to respond
to God’s love.
God’s name is sacred
I learned names quickly as a classroom
teacher. I needed to call students by name
if I was to maintain control. And, naturally,
I most quickly learned the names of
the children who challenged me in class.
We give people power over us
when we give them our name. (Just
think of identity theft.) We may take
pride in our family names and feel
slighted when called by the wrong
name or when our name is misspelled.
We think, “Aren’t I important enough
for them to get it right?!”
In the Harry Potter series, people
avoid calling the dark Lord Voldemort
by name, referring to him as “he who
must not be named.” It’s as if by saying
his name they give him power over
them. Harry and his friends fight
against Voldemort’s power and begin to
speak his name.
Faithful believers must show reverence
for God’s name above all others.
We must do what we can to keep God’s
name holy. My husband’s co-worker
says, “Call on him!” whenever she
hears someone say, “Oh, God!”—that
We must not use God’s name in
any disrespectful or manipulative way.
As a witness in a court case some years
ago, I was outraged to learn that other
witnesses had lied—after swearing
before God that they would tell the
truth! It’s an even greater outrage when
people use God to justify war and
Using God’s name with respect is
the beginning of treating others, those
created in God’s image, with respect.
As Christians, members of Christ’s
body on earth, we acknowledge the
name of Jesus as “above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee
should bend, of those in heaven and
on earth and under the earth, and
every tongue confess that Jesus Christ
is Lord” (Phil 2:9-11).
Keeping the Sabbath
Life can be so full that it overflows.
Fitting all of our busyness into six days
and resting on the seventh can be a
real challenge. In spite of the challenge,
it’s in our best interest to reclaim
Sunday, our Christian Sabbath, as a day
to celebrate the Eucharist, enrich family
life and rest.
Many of us hurry and worry about
being productive so much of the time
that it’s a real challenge to shift gears
for keeping the Sabbath. I admit that
sometimes things in my life need to be
accomplished on a Sunday because they didn’t fit into my work week. And
sometimes my mind just won’t let go of
that list of things that still need to be
done or are overdue. But with conscious
effort, most of us could do a better job
of keeping Sunday holy—and be better
My husband is quite protective of his
Sunday evenings. He wants that
breathing time before the start of
another work week. This “home time”
has become good family time. While
we start the day together at Mass, we
often drift apart in the afternoon—reading, watching a movie or sporting
event, napping. It’s good to come back
together for our evening meal and a
family game night or television shows
we all enjoy. We accomplish both personal
and family down time. And yes,
this is an accomplishment—one that
serves us well.
Not everyone works a Monday-to-Friday schedule. Sometimes a shopping
trip is necessary because it’s the only
time to fit it in. And sometimes I do
things like balance the checkbook
before getting cozy with my latest novel.
We don’t have to be rigid in our keeping
of the Sabbath.
Sunday is our Christian Sabbath
because Jesus rose from the dead “on
the first day of the week.” But God’s
invitation to us is not just about honoring
the Sabbath as best as we can.
It’s also about claiming time to enjoy
and give thanks for the lives he’s given
us. It’s about priorities. What would
your life look like if you really put God
The theme of this article is drawn from Ch. 25, 26 and 27
of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults (pp.
Joan McKamey worked
professionally as a catechist
and DRE before
joining the staff at St.
Press. She holds a master’s
in Religious Studies/Pastoral Family
Studies from the College of Mount St.
Next: Love and Respect in Family
What would your life look like if you
really put God first? Where is God on
your list of priorities? Who or what is
your #1? Does God make your Top 5?
Of the first three commandments—put God first, honor God’s name and
keep the Sabbath holy—which one
presents the greatest challenge to you?
What makes it so difficult for you?
What changes will you make in your
life in order to better honor God’s
name, keep the Sabbath holy and
make God a priority? How can your
family and faith community do a
better job of following these three