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Catechesis against using the Lord’s Name vainly and cussing August 19, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, Art and Architecture.

I grew up hearing a lot of bad language.  It’s a bad habit I’ve always had a problem with.  Generally I’m OK, but when I get excited the old ways tend to come back.  In the internal forum there is much more cussing than there is in the external one.  Fortunately, I have managed to almost totally eschew taking the Lord’s Name in a blasphemous or even vain way.

One time I had a blow up at work.  I was really exasperated, and the queen mother of all cuss words flew out of my mouth.  It wound up being funny, because my co-workers were all like “Oh no!  Something really terrible must have happened, Larry never talks like that.”  Unfortunately, they’re not quite right, I just tend to stay on my best behavior in public.

Yes, that’s me, Mr. Dudley Do-Right, a lonely beacon of restraint in a world full of car-crazies (if you can name the reference w/o looking it up, you win a free year’s subscription to this blog).

Now for the formal catechesis, from the Spirago-Clarke Catechism Explained.  What some may not consider, is that even relatively innocent expressions like “Good Lord” can suffer abuse through overuse:

God prohibits everything which is a violation of the reverence due to His divine majesty; and in particular, taking the name of God in vain.

Many people have the habit of thoughtlessly exclaiming at every trifle that surprises them: “Good Lord! My God!” and the like.  It is a bad habit; correct yourselves of it, and endeavor to correct others also, as it shows a want of due reverence for the name of God.  Those who truly love God cannot stand by unmoved and hear His Holy Name profaned.  This careless, flippant use of the Name of God or of any other sacred name is at least a venial sin.  “Let not the naming of God be usual in thy mouth, for thou shalt not escape free from sin” (Eccl xxiii:10).  “The Lord will not hold him  guiltless that shall take the name of the Lord his God in vain” (Ex xx:7).  “We take good care,” says St. John Chrysostom, “not to wear out our best clothes by putting them on every day; so we must beware lest we thoughtlessly utter the name of God, which is worthy of our profoundest reverence.”…….

Swearing. By this is meant the use of holy names in a moment of anger as an imprecation against certain persons or things.

Should the same mouth wherewith we pray, wherewith we receive the sacred Body of the Lord, be employed to curse our neighbor and offend against God?

A man who indulges in the bad habit of swearing commits many sins, and is in danger of eternal perdition.

The Fathers used to consider swearing as a sign of perdition.  Those who curse shall perish (Ps xxxvi:22); they shall not possesss the Kingdom of God (1 Cor vi:10).  Ordinary swearing is a venial sin, provided no serious evil is worked to one’s neighbor……..

Blasphemy. Of this sin those are guilty who revile God, His Saints, or speak contemptuously of objects connected with His worship.

Ungodly persons are often heard to utter bitter revilings against God, especially in time of suffering and affliction, as if they did not deserve the trials He sends them.  It is blasphemy to speak scornfully of God, or of His actions; or to attribute to a creature what is the prerogative of the Creator……..God says by the mouth of the prophet: “My name is continually blasphemed all the day long” (Is lii:5). [What a terrible thought, but it is unfortunately all too true!] To speak contemptuously of holy places and things is a kind of blasphemy, as a reflection upon God, Whom we are told to praise in His holy places (Ps cl:1).

Sacrilege is another kind of blasphemy. This consists in putting to an improper and degrading use what pertains to the service of God. 

The mutilation of statues or defacing of crucifixes is a sacrilege……..Again, those who receive the sacraments unworthily, who appropriate to themselves Church property, or who commit a theft in church, come under the same condemnations.  It is said that Jews and freemasons have sometimes obtained consecrated Hosts, which they subjected to horrible profanations,.  Such conduct is simply satanic. [Think of the iconoclastic wreckovation of so many parishes over the past several decades.  How offensive to God the deliberate and wanton destruction of so many beautiful works of art and aspects of Church architecture all this was!]

Another bit on the masons: In the present day freemasons bind themselves by oath not to express any desire to receive the last sacraments on their death bed.  Such oaths are sinful, and highly displeasing to God. 



1. virtuouscitizenship - August 19, 2015

This applied to me initially. I served in the US Army 1972-1974, Infantry, nuff sed. recently I told a gathering of some friends and family, and some of my children, that there was a break in at our church and the vandals pumped raw sewage into the tabernacle. Before they got over their shock I told them “not really”, but when you receive Christ at communion and become like Mary, a Theotokos, you are truly that tabernacle; and if obscene words then come out of your mouth, you are doing worse than my fictitious vandals. Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas

2. Branch - August 19, 2015

“The mutilation of statues or defacing of crucifixes is a sacrilege.”

What do you think of the practice of burying a statue of St. Joseph with the hope of selling one’s house?

Frank - August 20, 2015

It’s superstition.

3. Brian Springer - August 19, 2015

I’m usually pretty good about not swearing, though I wasn’t aware that using phrases like “good Lord” (or as I usually do “good Heavens”) counted as taking the Lord’s name in vain. I guess I should have known the first one falls under that commandment, though it sounds like the second phrase does as well.

Anyway, your thoughts on the iconoclastic tendencies in the last fifty or so years is pretty spot on. I can’t believe that people would destroy such works of beauty. The damage it has done to the faith cannot be measured.

4. tg - August 19, 2015

“The mutilation of statues or defacing of crucifixes is a sacrilege.”- Even if they are not blessed? I’ve received holy cards from charities. Unless I know they are blessed, I throw them away. I already have too many.

Tantumblogo - August 19, 2015

A holy card is quite a bit different from a statue or crucifix in a church, which was the point of discussion. Those you receive from charities – and if you are receiving them from the same ones I am, don’t give! – are almost certainly not blessed and can be disposed of.

If blessed, why not just leave them on a table in the narthex of your parish?

5. Frank - August 19, 2015

Great reminders…thanks as always. This is a recurring problem for me, as well; like you, I had a history of a very bad vocabulary before I entered the Church. I have improved a lot but still slip up fairly often when I get frustrated, usually with myself, but occasionally with family, which of course is much worse.
I love the image “virtuouscitizenship” posted, and thanks for that, too. A good way to help recall why this is such an offense to the Lord.
Blessings to all!

6. Pseudodionysius - August 19, 2015

Guidance sought:

(1) Correcting Catholic elderly parents
(2) Correcting non Catholic parents
(3) Correcting new business associates at a private business meeting, various faiths, who you don’t know well.

I’ve been taught to make silent acts of reparation to avoid running around constantly correcting people, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t correct *someone*.

Tantumblogo - August 19, 2015

Can you share a bit more? What kind of correction are we talking about?

Pseudodionysius - August 19, 2015

One of my (non Catholic) parents uses a blasphemous curse reflexively as an exclamatory at the beginning of a sentence usually in exasperation over something (so in a strange way its partly an expression of gravity of the situation) and because it occurs suddenly, and it involves correction of a parent, its dangerous territory to tread into just as it would be to harangue a fallen away Catholic parent or child about Mass attendance.

Its also very easy to start harboring a grudge or cause the parent to stop speaking to you if handled poorly.So, there’s a balance between cowardice and over zealous correction that I find especially difficult when dealing with close family (the temptation is to just unload on them).

Jim in Seattle - August 19, 2015

I have my failings in this area, usually in the form of an outburst when surprised in a negative way. It was suggested that I say the Divine Praises regularly (Blessed be God.
Blessed be His Holy Name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ,
true God and true man.
Blessed be the Name of Jesus
Blessed Be His most Sacred Heart, etc.) Doing so has helped me to reduce my slips.

Pseudodionysius - August 19, 2015

The instruction I received was:

“Begone Satan. Blessed be His Holy Name.”

Some days I’m saying this dozens upon dozens ot times.

glmcreations - August 19, 2015

I am trying to say -whenever in life or in film I hear the Lord’s name taken in vain, just these few words” “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” As to correcting folks, that is a tough one for several reasons. I don’t know the answer. And I know how bad I was for so long.Guy McClung.

7. skeinster - August 19, 2015

Fr. Ripperger mentioned that blasphemous language/cussing attracts and empowers demons of the air. So don’t do it.

The older among us have become so battered by the barrage of
horrible language that people now take for granted that we can
hardly remember how much more circumspect people used to be.

8. Catechesis on keeping the Sabbath holy! | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics - August 20, 2015

[…] was gratified that many readers seemed to find the catechesis against cussing and taking the Lord’s Name in vain helpful.  I thought this further section on a different subject- honoring the Sabbath and keeping […]

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