O my God, Thou knowest I have never desired but to love Thee alone. I seek no other glory. Thy Love has gone before me from my childhood, it has grown with my growth, and now it is an abyss the depths of which I cannot fathom. -St. Therese
My mother may have
gone overboard. In order to keep our tongues in check, she not only banned us
from using Our Lord’s name in vain, but she also prohibited my siblings and me
from using gentler cuss words. Not geez. Not gee whiz. Not jeepers. Not gosh or
It was too easy to
go from the benign to the profane, she said.
It may have been
extreme, but Mom’s high standard kept me from breaking the 2nd
Commandment. I still have a low tolerance for foul language – especially when
it misuses the name of Our Lord.
At His name, knees
should bow. At His name, there should be no punching of walls, no throwing of
dishes, and no stamping of feet.
By His name, all
creation should be blessed.
There are many
ways to express anger. Even Our Lord became angry. But He did something rather
amazing in that moment. He affirmed the authority of the Father. He elevated
the dignity due His Father – and his Father’s house. Yes, He raised his voice.
But even in anger, He remained perfectly holy. It is possible for us to model
His righteous anger. It is possible to be angry and yet not sin (Ephesians
This is a
frustrating world. We can hardly escape feeling angry at times, but we do not
have to defile the tongue in order to express emotion.
The book of James
tells it like it is. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his
tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain” (1:26).
The old adage has
some truth to it: you can lose your
religion – or at least render it useless.
When my parish
priest was transferred to our little Missouri town, he immediately began
visiting the local establishments. He learned names. Made friends. Won our
respect. After morning prayers, he stopped by the local watering hole. And when
the good ole boys began taking the name of His Lord in vain, he cringed inside,
but he waited. He waited until he’d gained their respect. And then, he said it,
You know, guys, I love starting my day with
you. And I hope to keep doing that. But there’s something you have to know
about me. When you say Our Lord’s name carelessly, you are using the name of the
One I love in order to curse. To vent. That’s hard for me to hear. Just thought
you should know.
Sure, the guys
sometimes fall into old habits, but they are more careful now. They see my
priest as a friend – and now, they see him as a friend of Christ. That has made a difference.
I don’t suppose we
have to go to extremes. We don’t have to purge words like gee and gosh from our
But we must
remember that Jesus Christ is worthy of worship and praise. And holy is his