The Second Commandment
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
Today we continue our series in the search to uncover the wonderful treasures of the Church contained in the great Deposit of Faith. The Ten Commandments are the foundation of our moral code set down by God and the Second Commandment - "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord Thy God in vain" commands us to always speak with reverence of God, of the saints, and of holy things...to honor His Holy Name. The Second Commandment entreats us to always be truthful in taking oaths and faithful to our promises and vows. We are reminded of the seriousness of breaking a vow or committing perjury - lying under oath. We cannot help but think of the Papal Oath, the vow before God to not change any of the constituted Evangelic traditions which has been gravely violated and abused since the death of Pope Pius XII.
Editor's Note: This series is an effort to return to basics since too often we all make the holy Faith complicated, whereas in reality the truths and traditions of the Catholic Faith are quite simple. God doesn't complicate things, man does. Realizing the fact that, for many generations indoctrinated by conciliar ambiguities, it all seems so confusing, we are introducing this series which is an adaptation of an earlier series titled "Appreciating the Precious Gift of the Faith" in utilizing a combination of the excellent compendium of the late Bishop Morrow's pre-Vatican II Manual of Religion My Catholic Faith and Dom Prosper Gueranger's incomparable The Liturgical Year as well as the out-of-print masterpieces The Catholic Church Alone The One True Church(1902) and the Cabinet of Catholic Information (1903). Through prayer and discussions, we've decided to employ this revised series to simplify the tenets of the Faith for those who continue to wallow in what they think is the 'Catholic Church' out of obedience to a man and his hierarchy who long ago betrayed Christ and His flocks. This then, is an affirmation of the basic truths the Spotless Bride of Christ has always taught and cannot change or evolve as "living documents" for truth is truth. As we say every day in the Act of Faith, "We believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived." If you have been deceived, and the vast majority have been, then realize what you've been indoctrinated with over the past 50 years cannot be from God but from His adversary. Our advice: flee the conciliar confines as well as other man-made religions which do not teach these truths without compromise. Seek out a traditional chapel nearest to you. There is a list of churches you can absolutely trust at Traditional Latin Masses
By the second commandment we are commanded always to speak with reverence of God, of the saints, and of holy things, and to be truthful in taking oaths, and faithful to them and to our vows. "Blessed be the name of the Lord, from henceforth now and for ever. From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise" (Psalm 112: 2-3). "I say to you not to swear at all…But let your speech be 'Yes, yes': 'No, no'" (St. Matthew 5: 34-37). "The tongue no man can tame…Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing"(St. James. 3:8:10).
By the Holy Name of Jesus the Apostles worked innumerable miracles. Among the first examples was that of the lame man that sat and begged at the gate of the Temple. Upon seeing Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for alms. But Peter said, 'Silver and gold I have none : but what I have, I give thee : in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk'" (Acts 3:6). And the man lame from birth leaped up and walked into the Temple, praising God.
We should never speak God's name without holy respect. We should frequently call upon the name of God with true and heartfelt devotion, especially at the commencement and end of all our important actions, and in time of trouble. "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me" (Psalm 49:15). We should often praise God for His perfections and infinite goodness, and particularly when we receive favors from Him. It is strange how often good gifts come to us from Almighty God, and we simply take without a word of thanks. Let us say that old saying of truly Christian hearts, Deo gratias! Thanks be to God! "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all he hath done for thee" (Psalm 102:1).
The name of Jesus is the most powerful of all names; through it we can obtain all that we need. "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you" (St. John 16:23). We should pay reverence to the name of Jesus bowing every time we speak it. We should especially pronounce the name of Jesus at the hour of death.
"At the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Philippians 2:10). St. Stephen's last words were: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59). By the name of Jesus the apostles and saints worked innumerable miracles, as St. Peter did when he said to the lame man, "In the name of Jesus Christ, arise and walk" (Acts 3:6). Holy Scripture truly says, "There is no other name under Heaven given to men, by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
By taking God's name in vain is meant that the name of God or the holy name of Jesus Christ is used without reverence: for example, to express surprise or anger. "And let not the naming of God be usual in thy mouth, and meddle not with the names of saints for thou shalt not escape free from them" (Ecclesiastes 23:10).
Profanity is the use of irreverent language. We should not use sacred names impatience, jest, mere surprise, or habit, with no ideal of paying God honor. Many have the habit of exclaiming at every trifling circumstance: "Good Lord!" "My God!" "Jesus, Mary, Joseph!" It is a thoughtless habit that should be corrected. It is wrong likewise to quote Holy Scripture in a light or irreverent manner. Whenever we hear someone use the name of the Lord in vain, we have a responsibility to defend God and correct the offender. If it is something we hear and cannot communicate, say a Hail Mary or Act of Contrition for the offender in reparation for his sin. Once we establish that we will not hear such words or exclamations in our company, others will be on their guard to not offend us. However we should point out to them that it is not us they are offending as much as it is God Who they offend and that is far more dangerous to their immortal souls.
We should distinguish between profanity and vulgarity. Profanity is a sin of irreverence; vulgarity is not necessarily sinful. Vulgarity is the use of coarse expressions like "devil" "hell," "damn" and worse words such as toilet references, etc., through thoughtlessness or habit. It is a breach of good manners, and if indulged in will lead to profanity and obscenties. If used with malice, vulgarity is certainly a sin.
Let us use God's holy Name only in prayer and adoration. Irreverence to that Name is sacrilege, since by the sin we profane a holy thing. "The Lord will not hold him guiltless that shall take the name of the Lord his God in vain" (Exodus 20:7). Among the ancient Jews the word for God was so sacred that even the high priest could speak it only once a year, at the feast of the Atonement, when he entered the most sacred part of the Temple.
Sins against the Second Commandment
It is a sin to take God's name in vain; ordinarily, it is a venial sin. The Holy Name Society was established to promote love and reverence for the Holy Name of God and Jesus Christ; to suppress and make reparations for blasphemy, perjury, forbidden oaths, profanity, and any improper language. Every man should be a member of this Society.
Cursing is the calling down of some evil on a person, place, or thing. To call down some punishment on ourselves or other creatures of God in a moment of anger, is cursing. If the name of God is used, the sin is worse. When angry, parents sometimes curse their children or children their parents, and workmen their animals and tools. Often the one who curses does not mean what he says. If he does, it is indeed a most grievous sin to ask God to damn a person or send him to hell.
A Christian should never curse. "For such as bless him shall inherit the land; but such as curse him shall perish" (Psalm 36: 22). The habit of cursing is an indication of lack of refinement and of self-control. Gentlemen do not curse. Generally we know the origin of a person by the words that come forth from his or her mouth; one who curses advertises his or her origin as the gutter.
Blasphemy is insulting language which expresses contempt for God, either directly or through His saints and holy things. Contemptuous or abusive language against God, scoffing at the true religion, or ridiculing sacred ceremonies, --all these are blasphemous. Sacrilege is a form of blasphemy; irreverent actions and thoughts against God, the saints and angels, or holy persons and things, are also blasphemous.
In the Old Law the blasphemer was condemned to death. "And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him die: all the multitude shall stone him" (Leviticus 24:16). It is blasphemy to speak scornfully of God or of His actions; or to attribute to a creature a prerogative of God. "And the people shouted, 'It is the voice of a god and not of a man'" (Acts 12:22).
Blasphemy is a sin of the devil. By insulting language against God, one offends the Almighty directly, not only His image. Blasphemy is essentially malicious, not as other sins that arise from human weakness or ignorance. "Whom hast thou blasphemed, against whom hast thou exalted thy voice? Against the holy One of Israel" (4 Kings 19:22). The soldiers blasphemed Christ; so did the impenitent thief.
Deliberate blasphemy is one of the gravest sins. God punishes it even on earth with severe chastisements, and in hell after death. "God is not mocked" (Galatians 6:7).
King Baltassar used the sacred vessels for his feasting. A strange hand wrote his fate on the wall: that same night the enemy entered his city, killed him, and made his kingdom part of the empire of the Medes and Persians. King Sennacherib blasphemed God, and died by the hand of his own sons. But the worst punishment will be after death; one cannot blaspheme God and escape unpunished. "They shall be cursed that shall despise thee" (Tobias 13:16).
What the conciiliar 'popes' have done is the gravest of blasphemies for they are responsible for a billion plus souls and knew what they were doing in mocking God by altering what He designed and set in stone through His holy Church. Even though they give the pretense that they are 'Catholic', they have veered far from Him and earned His wrath for their disrespect of the divine and the constituted evangelic traditions handed down.
An oath is the calling on God to witness to the truth of what we say. Taking an oath is called swearing. In swearing, we call either upon God or upon something sacred. In solemn oaths, we place a hand on the Bible, or kiss it. Sometimes we also kiss the crucifix. If we swear by God, such words are used as: "God is my witness" "So help me God." "As the Lord liveth" etc. If we swear by holy things, we say: "By the holy Gospel", "by the cross of Christ", etc. Such expressions as "Upon my word", "by my honor", are not oaths but merely emphasize assertions.
An oath may be simple or solemn. A simple oath is one between man and man in ordinary intercourse. A solemn oath is one taken before ecclesiastical or civil authority, in the presence of an official. An oath of public office is a solemn oath. The formula used ends with: "So help me God." Our Lord swore solemnly when Caiphas adjured Him by the Living God to tell the truth. (cf. St. Matthew 26:64).
We must not take an oath of blind obedience to a secret society. A promise under oath ceases to bind under certain conditions.
To make an oath lawful, three things are necessary:
1. We must have a good reason for taking an oath. An oath properly taken is permitted by God and pleasing in His sight. No one should be compelled to take an oath however. It is not necessary to swear at every provocation, such as when friends do not believe us, or to emphasize statements. Such trivial matters should not be the subjects of oaths. A number of people have the bad habit of raising the hand in a gesture of swearing every time someone doubts their slightest assertions.
2. We must be convinced that what we say under oath is true. It is wrong to take oaths about what we do not know, just because a friend asks us to swear to it. If we take an oath, promising to do something, and in our mind we have plans of breaking our word, then we are swearing falsely. If we take an oath before a court of justice, saying we saw such and such a person in a certain place at a certain hour, and we know we really did not see him, then we are swearing falsely. We must think well before taking an oath; rash oaths are sinful.
3. We must not swear, that is, take an oath, to do what is wrong. We should never keep an oath to do evil. If one is so unfortunate as to have made such an evil oath, he should promptly determine not to keep it, or he will commit greater sins. Herod swore to grant Salome, the daughter of his unlawful wife, anything she asked. When she demanded the head of John the Baptist, he gave it to her. Thus he committed a worse crime by keeping his wicked and rash oath.
A person who deliberately calls on God to bear witness to a lie commits the very grievous sin of perjury. Perjury is a false swearing. One commits perjury when he confirms by oath what he knows is not true, or what he is doubtful about, or when he swears to a promise which he does not intend to keep. Perjury is a grave sin, because it insults God by calling Him to witness a lie. Perjury before a civil court of law is punishable by imprisonment. [Ed. note: Unless you are the current president of the United States and have the head of the Justice Department beholden to him even though his perjury has been caught and documented on tape!]
Regarding the non-fulfillment of an oath, the sin may be venial or grave, according to importance of the matter concerned. The witnesses who swore falsely at the trial of Christ committed a grave sin of perjury. If circumstances arise that prevent our keeping a valid oath, we should consult our confessor, to know what to do.
A vow is a deliberate promise made to God, by which a person binds himself under pain of sin to do something that is especially pleasing to God. A vow is made to God alone, not to anyone else. The subject of the vow must not never be trifle, but something good in itself, and better than its opposite. A vow is the most solemn promise we can ever make, an act of divine worship.
A vow made under compulsion is invalid. A vow to do something that will offend God must not be accomplished. In general we should consult our confessor before making a vow. "It is better not to vow, than after a vow not to perform the things promised" (Ecclesiastes 5:4).
Sometimes vows are accompanied by certain conditions. For example, in 1248 St. Louis of France vowed to lead a Crusade if he got over a severe illness. In our days, people vow to go on specified pilgrimages, to get cured of sickness, etc. We must not confuse vows and oaths with mere promises or resolutions. These last do not bind under pain of sin. For instance, some make a promise not to go to shows or dances for a certain length If they go, they do not commit a mortal sin, for simple promises and resolutions do not bind under pain of sin. However, we should not make promises or resolutions that we are not earnest about keeping.
A vow is most pleasing to God, because it is a voluntary offering made to Him. The most important vows are religious vows, taken by those joining a religious order; vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. By the religious vows a person gives up the world entirely, consecrating not only what he or she does, but what he or she is to the exclusive service of God.
Non-fulfillment, or needless postponement, of a vow is a venial or mortal sin, according to the importance of the matter. The guilt is doubled, if at the same time one transgresses a commandment, as when violating a vow of chastity. If we are not able to fulfill a vow, we must consult our confessor about having it annulled or changed into some other good work. The vows of children may be cancelled by their parents. Bishops and other superiors have the authority to release or absolve from some vows.
Finally, it is a known fact that a sailor, threatened with shipwreck, swore, if saved, to have a chapel built in honor of St. Anne, at the place of his safe landing. He was saved, hence the shrine at Beaupre, Quebec, Canada. Thousands flock to that famous shrine, one of the most miraculous in the world. The crutches and spectacles lined along the walls are a proof of the miraculous cures. He made an oath to God, he swore he would fulfill it and vowed to build the chapel.
Catholicism Made Simple