PODCAzT 119: The Holy Name and Blasphemy

Today is the feast of St. Bernardine of Siena (+1444) in both the Extraordinary and the Ordinary Forms of the Roman Rite, and therefore I use this opportunity to offer something from one of his discourses about the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

St. Bernardine was famous for his preaching about the Holy Name and against the horrible sin of blasphemy.

We hear today a short selection from St. Bernardine’s Discourse 49, about the glorious Name of Jesus chosen for today’s Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours.  I read a bit of the Italian… sorry, it’s modern Italian… I don’t have the medieval original version, alas, and then English.

Then I rant for while.

The piece is very thought provoking and useful for an examination of conscience.  We are made in the image and like of God, brought into being by the Word, now the Word made flesh.  We are made to speak with words.  But we so often fail in speech to live up to our dignity as images of God.  At least I do.  We occasionally lapse, but sometimes people fall into habits of speech, sometimes even habits of blasphemy which causes scandal making it easier for others to sin.

We have to examine closely our habits of speech and not by our speech disfigure the image of God, the Word made flesh.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Geoffrey says:

    Excellent podcast, Father! I am kicking myself for thinking today was the 19th and thus forgetting to observe the optional memorial of St. Bernardine of Siena when praying Lauds this morning! I will have to rectify that later today with the Office of Readings and Vespers!

    I really liked your words on language in general… the ‘base language’ that is sadly so common today, and your advice to parents to teach their children to revere the Holy Name. Now my question is this: What if you have a parent, or other elder, who often takes the Holy Name in vain? How does a child politely correct their parent?

  2. benedetta says:

    The entire area concerning the Holy Name has been very influential to me in a surprising though also somewhat predictable way and has played a very identifiable role in my ability to mature spiritually, to ‘revert’ or continual process of conversion and is still something I need reminding of. There is quite a lot to encounter on many levels. It is striking to me that for my childhood and most of adult life as a practicing Catholic I never encountered any regard for or even mention of the Holy Name whatsoever. The fact that some churches or institutions carried that as their own names was only a location or place name and really nothing more. I have no idea why. The absence of comprehension or acknowledgment about it seems striking. I don’t see necessarily that this is a doctrine that should also have been pushed aside in the wake of the VII renovations as I don’t see how it has any relationship whatsoever with the politics. Perhaps it was put out in the dustbin category of devotion, piety, reverence but again it doesn’t seem logical or reasonable. In fact it seems so needed now regardless of one’s political persuasion that it makes me rather suspicious, its near disappearance from our midst, that there isn’t some reason much more disturbing than liberal/secular elements at work…truly I find it troubling.

    Beyond the fact of the use of the Holy Name in ways that are inappropriate (cursing) by and large it seems families often lack a sort of working vocabulary of the faith at home so as to develop and welcome the Holy Name and all that goes with in our midst. Quite often children seem show a certain awkwardness, a disassociation, giggling, discomfort, in general in learning about and talking about Our Lord. Parents lack a starting point and are excessively afraid of discussion so often. We sort of lack the confidence and perhaps don’t seek out tools and support for this. Clearly though if we wish for our children to be entirely free to follow Jesus in their adult lives, then, just to give this a possibility one has to step up a bit if just to read through a children’s Bible and attend Mass and encourage discussion. The cultural assumptions that God doesn’t exist or is somehow hamstrung or disqualified from our lives is pretty overwhelming such that if we don’t do our part to support a life of faith the culture will make the choice for our children anyway.

  3. Dr. Eric says:

    V. Sit nomen Domini benedictum.
    R. Ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum

  4. Michael J. says:

    @Geoffrey. Maybe you could bow your head when they say the Holy Name Of Jesus or otherwise use God’s Name in vain. Eventually, the will probably ask what you are doing. Then say, bowing my head because you used the precious name Of Our Lord. Hopefully, they will get the message.

  5. Elizabeth D says:

    If I hear anyone taking the Lord’s name in vain, whether I am talking with them, or hear this in passing on the street, etc, I discreetly make a cross over my heart with my thumb as a reparative act of faith and in order not to simply become accustomed to hearing this. Under the right circumstances, I like to gently point out to the person that they are taking the Lord’s name in vain. Many people, even Catholics, don’t realize that is what they are doing when they say “oh G-d” habitually, and that it is a sin.

  6. The best thing I’ve ever heard a priest say about this topic:

    “Don’t use God’s name when you bang your finger with a hammer. Try to find something else to say. For example, just yell ‘Oh Buddha!’

  7. samgr says:

    San Bernardino, by the way, is the patron saint of advertising and public relations, probably for his invention of the IHS symbol. It’s familiar to this day, used even by Prostestants who have no idea of its origin. He created the symbol in response of the proliferation of coats of arms and the personal pride they reflect, rather than respect for the Trinity.

  8. shin says:

    People could stop watching and recommending television, movies, books, etc. that take Our Lord’s name in vain, and using them for their entertainment.

    That would be a good place to stop the sinning. :)

    “The Golden Arrow”

    May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most mysterious and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified, in heaven, on earth and in the hells, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the most holy Sacrament of the altar.

    The Golden Arrow was revealed by Our Lord Jesus Christ to a Carmelite nun of Tours in 1843 as a reparation for blasphemy. Sister Marie de Saint-Pierre explains, “Blasphemy is a poisoned arrow ever wounding His Divine Heart. He told me that He wishes to give me a Golden Arrow wherewith to wound His Heart delightfully and heal these wounds inflicted by the sinners’ malice.”

  9. Faith says:

    When someone blasphemes I very loudly say, “Amen.” Everyone looks at me quizzically. I then say, “Oh, I thought you were praying.” They laugh, but they get the point.
    Although, when prayerful people invoke the Blessed Mother is that an ejaculation or disrespect? How many times have you heard, “Oh my God!” Is that an ejaculation?

  10. wanda says:

    This was a wonderful podcazt, Father. Wonderful. The music was beautiful, too. The string piece and the hymn at the end – How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds. We could use a dose of St. Bernardine today for sure. My mother tells of her mother, when hearing someone take the Holy Name in vain, would announce loudly ‘May His Holy Name be praised!’. You are right on about talking like the people around us are talking, I need to guard against that quite often. Thank you so much Father Z., you are light for many.

  11. Banjo pickin girl says:

    I read an article in Quaker Life once long ago about “wooden swearing.” It dealt with door slamming, etc. which we substitute for swearing. The point was it was the intent behind the action that was important. “Oh Buddha” would be “wooden swearing” by that account. I have a bad time with this. Our Lady probably would like to wash my mouth out with soap.

  12. AnAmericanMother says:

    As for some reason I’m often the only woman around or one of very few (went to a college that had only recently admitted women, was a courthouse litigator for years, hunt, and train dogs) I have always had a tendency to cuss to show that I’m ‘one of the boys’. Just out of school, I swore like a longshoreman.
    My Methodist minister grandfather-in-law did cure me of taking the Lord’s name in vain. He was so sweet about it I made a real effort to stop and mostly succeeded. Wanting to be a good example for my children nailed it down.
    I still struggle with vulgar swearing on occasion, but at least I’m not blaspheming.
    A family story — My then 7 year old son was at the stable to see if he wanted to start riding lessons. I was riding somebody else’s rogue horse, who dumped me in spectacular fashion after a good sized fence. I rolled over a couple of times, sat up, and said A Word. My son said, “MOTHER! Your LANGUAGE!” (not ‘are you all right?’)
    I would think that a pious exclamation along the lines of “My Jesus, mercy!” would be o.k., though, wouldn’t it? So long as not uttered in a furious temper . . . .

  13. AnAmericanMother says:

    Banjo pickin girl,
    Whenever I slam a door, there’s always a dog or cat’s tail or somebody’s finger in the way, so I had to quit . . . . Good point, though. Intent is the main point. I suppose you could say something like, “Dear Lord . . . please help me keep my temper!”

  14. LucasC says:

    It’s off-topic, but since nobody on the net seemed to note, i find it very import to make it known somewhere:

    that apostolic nuntio to the Antilles, the one supporting summorum pontificum and against liturgical abuses, today he was nominated nuntio to the Ukraine, what I suppose is a promotion.

  15. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Every Friday evening at St. Joseph the Worker we have confessions, an hour of Adoration, then Benediction and a 7pm Mass in reparation for blasphemy, so greatly needed today. We include the Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus and the Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. With St. Bernardine’s feast yesterday, it couldn’t have been more appropriate.

  16. Faith says:

    An American Mother reminded me of something. We have a door leading out of the basement that is hard to open. A few shakes and “damn door” usually works. Well, I didn’t think anything of this (to me) mild swearing. That is until my three year old child thought that that was the proper name for the basement door. She knew “table,” “milk,” “kitty,” and “damndoor.”

  17. AnAmericanMother says:

    We used to have a cat (B.C. – Before Children) who thought his name was Mackie Dammit.

  18. benedetta says:

    In the world of the spongebob, ‘barnacles’ works as a nice alternative. Also see the ‘spicy words’ episode…Not a big tv fan but two thumbs up for spongebob and patrick star.

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