Friday of Passiontide
Jeremiah 20:10-13 ; John 10:31-42
WE BESEECH thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people: that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
What is Blasphemy? Why so serious?
Jesus was accused of blasphemy which was punishable by stoning. It was a serious crime then and it is for us today also a very grave sin. Sadly it is all too common for us to hear people uttering blasphemous words and sentiments in everyday speech; we need to be very careful indeed about our own speech with this regard because we can easily put ourselves out of a state of grace.
Because of its gravity and because it is so common, we need to be clear what the sin is and what to do if we commit it.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Ex 20:7; Dt 5:11
Blasphemy is a sin against the love of God and opposes the second commandment. It is any uttering against God. This uttering can be silent and within, as well as audible. And it does not affect the gravity of the sin whether others can hear it or not. Any words of hatred, reproach or defiance against God are blasphemy. It can be speaking ill of God. It can be failing to respect God in one’s speech. And of course blasphemy is misusing the name of God, not least in a curse.
Blasphemy also extends to language against Christ’s Church, against the Saints, and against sacred things or places. It is also blasphemous to use God’s name to cover up criminal practices, to reduce people to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death. Blasphemy is contrary to the respect and honour due God and His holy name.
Blasphemy is intrinsically a grave sin. Some sins are intrinsically grave, and this means that whatever the circumstances are, and whatever the motives for sinning are, it is an act which in and of itself is gravely sinful. We cannot talk our way out of it!
So blasphemy’s intrinsic gravity means that if we commit that sin knowing it is sinful and we were not pressurised* into it, we have committed mortal sin. By this sin we have cut ourselves off from God, turned away from Him and destroyed charity in our heart. In the state of mortal sin we can only be brought back by a new initiative of God’s mercy – that is, through the sacrament of Penance. In the state of mortal sin we may not receive the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar without bringing condemnation on ourselves and committing sacrilege.
If we realise we are a blasphemer we need to repent as soon as possible and we need to get to confession regularly until we have driven the habit out of our system.
We live in a time and place where God and His Holy name is regularly profaned, but for those without faith there is ignorance to defend their action. For those of us with faith, we have no such defence. God’s Holy name is for salvation not for cursing – by profaning His holiness and His sacred name we curse no one but ourselves.
See also the article in the Catechism: CCC 2142f.
* Pressure can come for example from peers or from bad habits. If we have laid down a habit of blaspheming over a long period of time while the first times we blasphemed might have been mortal sins, now because of the habit, the sin though grave is not a mortal sin. However recourse to the sacrament of penance is the best course of action after committing blasphemy.
Diligam te, Domine
I WILL love thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my stony rock, and my defence : my saviour, my God, and my might, in whom I will trust, my buckler, the horn also of my salvation, and my refuge.
2. I will call upon the Lord, which is worthy to be praised : so shall I be safe from mine enemies.
3. The sorrows of death compassed me : and the overflowings of ungodliness made me afraid.
4. The pains of hell came about me : the snares of death overtook me.
5. In my trouble I will call upon the Lord : and complain unto my God.
6. So shall he hear my voice out of his holy temple : and my complaint shall come before him, it shall enter even into his ears.
7. The earth trembled and quaked : the very foundations also of the hills shook, and were removed, because he was wroth.
8. There went a smoke out in his presence : and a consuming fire out of his mouth, so that coals were kindled at it.
9. He bowed the heavens also, and came down : and it was dark under his feet.
10. He rode upon the cherubins, and did fly : he came flying upon the wings of the wind.
11. He made darkness his secret place : his pavilion round about him, with dark water and thick clouds to cover him.
12. At the brightness of his presence his clouds removed : hail-stones and coals of fire.
13. The Lord also thundered out of heaven, and the Highest gave his thunder : hail-stones and coals of fire.
14. He sent out his arrows, and scattered them : he cast forth lightnings, and destroyed them.
15. The springs of water were seen, and the foundations of the round world were discovered, at thy chiding, O Lord : at the blasting of the breath of thy displeasure.
16. He shall send down from on high to fetch me : and shall take me out of many waters.
17. He shall deliver from me my strongest enemy, and from them which hate me : for they are too mighty for me.
18. They prevented me in the day of my trouble : but the Lord was my upholder.
19. He brought me forth also into a place of liberty : he brought me forth even because he had a favour unto me.
20. The Lord shall reward me after my righteous dealing : according to the cleanness of my hands shall he recompense me.
21. Because I have kept the ways of the Lord : and have not forsaken my God, as the wicked doth.
22. For I have an eye unto all his laws : and will not cast out his commandments from me.
23. I was also uncorrupt before him : and eschewed mine own wickedness.
24. Therefore shall the Lord reward me after my righteous dealing : and according unto the cleanness of my hands in his eye-sight.
25. With the holy thou shalt be holy : and with a perfect man thou shalt be perfect.
26. With the clean thou shalt be clean : and with the froward thou shalt learn frowardness.
27. For thou shalt save the people that are in adversity : and shalt bring down the high looks of the proud.
28. Thou also shalt light my candle : the Lord my God shall make my darkness to be light.
29. For in thee I shall discomfit an host of men : and with the help of my God I shall leap over the wall.
30. The way of God is an undefiled way : the word of the Lord also is tried in the fire; he is the defender of all them that put their trust in him.
31. For who is God, but the Lord : or who hath any strength, except our God?
32. It is God, that girdeth me with strength of war : and maketh my way perfect.
33. He maketh my feet like harts' feet : and setteth me up on high.
34. He teacheth mine hands to fight : and mine arms shall break even a bow of steel.
35. Thou hast given me the defence of my salvation : thy right hand also shall hold me up, and thy loving correction shall make me great.
36. Thou shalt make room enough under me for to go : that my footsteps shall not slide.
37. I will follow upon mine enemies, and overtake them : neither will I turn again till I have destroyed them.
38. I will smite them, that they shall not be able to stand : but fall under my feet.
39. Thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle : thou shalt throw done mine enemies under me.
40. Thou hast made mine enemies also to turn their backs upon me : and I shall destroy them that hate me.
41. They shall cry, but there shall be none to help them : yea, even unto the Lord shall they cry, but he shall not hear them.
42. I will beat them as small as the dust before the wind : I will cast them out as the clay in the streets.
43. Thou shalt deliver me from the strivings of the people : and thou shalt make me the head of the heathen.
44. A people whom I have not known : shall serve me.
45. As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me : but the strange children shall dissemble with me.
46. The strange children shall fail : and be afraid out of their prisons.
47. The Lord liveth, and blessed be my strong helper : and praised be the Lord of my salvation.
48. Even the God that seeth that I be avenged : and subdueth the people unto me.
49. It is he that delivereth me from my cruel enemies, and setteth me up above mine adversaries : thou shalt rid me from the wicked man.
50. For this cause will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles : and sing praises unto thy Name.
51. Great prosperity giveth he unto his King : and sheweth loving-kindness unto David his Anointed, and unto his seed for evermore.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent: create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.