Daily Archives: August 2, 2009

St. Teresa of Avila on vanity in virtue

“The way the devil can do a great deal of harm, without our realizing it, is to make us believe we have virtues when we have none.” (Way of Perfection, Ch. 38, para. 5).

St. Teresa de Jesus goes on to say that we must never see God’s spiritual gifts as sources of pride, but rather as calls to greater service.

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On the Second Commandment

It seems like a no-brainer: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.”  The ancient Hebrews took it to an extreme, which many observant Jews do today: taking the vowels out of the name of G-d even in English; avoiding speaking any name of God, other than Lord, except when absolutely necessary, or writing it in a transient fashion (e.g., in the sand) and then brushing it away ASAP.

Then there’s the whole controversy last year about using the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) in Catholic liturgy.

Now, Deal Hudson has written a piece about Tiger Woods’ propensity for swearing on the golf course–and on national television–and it strikes me how many people are taking offense at Hudson calling out Woods on this “minor” defect of character.

As I noted in that discussion, I don’t understand why this is taken so casually.  You know, I can see a building blown up in a movie, and it doesn’t really make me want to blow up a building in real life.  Seeing adultery in a movie doesn’t make me more or less tempted to that sin.  But the more I hear people swear, whether in real life or in the media, the harder it is when I’m angered or stressed to keep from using that language myself.

A few years ago, when Hasbro canceled their agreement with “Devil’s Due” Publishing, I commented on a G. I. Joe board that I was relieved, as I didn’t like their name, and that was a major factor in my decisions not to buy their comics.

A fellow who was known for his ultra-liberal positions in the off-topic forums said, “You do realize they don’t literally mean the Devil, don’t you?”
I said, “Well, no, I don’t know that for certain.  But even if they don’t, then they’re trivializing spiritual matters.”

He said, “Oh, I never thought of it that way.”

I don’t buy “Dirt Devil” vacuum cleaners.  I don’t buy “Devil’s food” cake.  Regardless of whether such items may be cursed, and regardless of whether their producers actually intend to honor Satan by those names, the fact is, if they *don’t*, they’re trivialzing the reality of the Enemy of Our Souls, turning the Devil into a joke, a caricature.

Again, the commandment “do not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.”  There are groups within the Abrahamic religions who do not use the name of God at all to avoid trivializing it. 

As I’ve heard various apologists and spirituality experts say it on EWTN, “Would you use your wife’s name as a curse?”  “Would you use your husband’s name as a curse?”  Then, if you love the Lord, why use His name as a curse?

Fr. Amoreth recounts the story of two young boys who were so powerfully possessed that the exorcism was very difficult.  The entire family, in fact, was suffering from oppression.  He found that the root of the problem with the senile grandfather.  The grandfather would use words referring to the Lord, the Enemy, the netherworld and how one ends up there in almost every sentence. 

By using those words all the time, telling his family, “G– D— you” and “D— this” and so on, he was literally cursing everyone and everything around him. 

As he was senile, he was not necessarily culpable for what he said then, but he used those words because he had built the bad habit of using them during his life. 

Why don’t people realize that, when they use these words in that way, they are praying to Satan?  And, as Fr. Amoreth points out, while God cares about our intent, Satan is a legalist and cares about form.  That’s why using the right form is important in fighting the devil; it’s also why the Devil doesn’t care whether we ask that something be damned or that someone go to Hell.  He just cares that the formula is used, and the curse is placed.

Then there is the kind of language that, while not directly refering to God, Satan, holy things or the judgemetn of souls, nevertheless violates the second commandment (or any selection of the 4th-through 10th)  by referring to the human body and its functions, particularly sexual ones.  I recently read that the new “standard” of the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) is that certain words relating to sexuality formerly relegated to “R” status can be used in a PG-13 movie up to a certain number of times if they are used only as expletives and not in an explicitly sexual context.

Again, trivializing is just as bad as abusing or desecrating–indeed, it is just a different form of desecration.

What baffles me about profanity is that, in addition to being sinful, it is also just crude and inelegant.  The classic “English teacher” response to profanity, as well as slang, is that it masks a limited vocabulary.  It is ungentlemanly and unladylike.  It seems like such a baseline standard of behavior that most people ought to be able to agree on that such language has no place in polite society.

Yet these days, one walks through the mall and hears some young person walk by spewing, “I @#*&%^ that @#$% %^with $#% !@$@#”

Then again comma I suppose comma that they see how those words are often depicted by the of non hyphen alphanumeric characters period  Maybe comma they are trying to show perfect grammar by saying the punctuation mark that should come at that point in the sentence comma and they think that those are the names of the punctuation marks question mark

That’s the only reason I can think of to use these words as much as many people do these days.  Every adjective and adverb they speak, and several nouns, has a PG or worse rating.  And they say these words right in front of children and don’t blink an eye.

What do they think they’re achieving with this?