Well, you’d think it’s a non-controversial topic: that our
school children as young as
third graders shouldn’t take the name of the Lord
in vain on the school playground. But since it’s difficult to stop because we
hear it all around us, the solution seems to be to hope Fr Manning tires of
talking about it, rather than that we get the blasphemy to stop.
Interesting. Luckily our children do not use foul language
on the playground, and they hear that all around them as well. So they are very
effectively being taught not to use foul language. What will it take for
blasphemy to be ruled out of bounds as well?
One problem is that unless we are sensitized to it, we don’t
hear ourselves or others do it. So we cannot correct it unless someone points
Another problem in stopping it may be that the perception
that blasphemy is no big deal in a Catholic school.
Here’s the relevant section of the Catechism of the Catholic
Church concerning the sin of blasphemy, i.e. taking the name of the Lord God in
Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in
uttering against God—inwardly or outwardly—words of hatred, reproach, or
defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one's
speech; in misusing God's name. St. James condemns those "who blaspheme
that honorable name [of Jesus] by which you are called." The prohibition of blasphemy
extends to LANGUAGE against Christ's Church, the saints, and sacred things. It
is also blasphemous to make use of God's name to cover up criminal practices,
to reduce peoples to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death. The
misuse of God's name to commit a crime can provoke others to repudiate
Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and
his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin.
We’ve tried a
few solutions, and two years ago, I think we made some real progress. It seems
as though we’ve given up. To help remind the children not to blaspheme, we will
chime the church bells each time we hear the name of the Lord screamed in vain
during lunch recess and after-school team practices. We’ve asked coaches,
teachers and playground monitors to help call attention to this careless sin.
We've also begun praying The Divine Praises after Eucharistic Adoration on Wednesdays. This prayer was specifically developed to atone for the times the Lord's name is taken in vain.
It doesn’t seem like asking much: God’s name used in prayer and praise near the
church, not in anger, surprise or disappointment.
Let’s all try
and keep our speech holy. It really does matter.