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Words can be powerful. Look at the power of the Bible. Look at what we call it: The Word.

They can also be negative. Few realize how much a sin it is to use "God" or "Jesus" as part of a curse term or an expression of exasperation.

In France, at LaSalette, Our Blessed Mother warned that the sins of the times would lead to a terrible famine (which it did). One of the sins she specifically cited: "You took the Name of my Son in vain."

We sin not just in acts but in words and thoughts. "Why don't you just drop dead?" we might say (or think) -- again, in exasperation. As author Deborah Lipsky points out, "By saying this you are actually pronouncing a form of a curse on someone else because you are wishing for them to die. To actually feel delight in someone else's pain is a 'character trait' of demons."

"I swear to God"?

Says Lipsky:

"This expression means that you are making an unbreakable vow in front of God regarding your innocence. Jesus Himself warned against swearing to God in Matthew 5:33-37."

Nothing is worse than "G-- damn you." Never say this; confess it if you have. Correct others who do. Turn off a movie if it uses "God" or "Jesus" the wrong way (and say a prayer in atonement).

Sometimes, there is hidden meaning in the innocuous. How clever the devil is! As Lipsky,  points out, "mainly this phrase is used in magic tricks but every now and then I hear it when someone says something to the effect, 'There is a lot of 'hocus pocus' going on there.' No Catholic should ever use this phrase as it is a derogatory corruption referring to the Eucharist; 'Hoc est Corpus' or 'This is My Body.' Protestants back in the Middle Ages used this corrupted term to mock the Holy Eucharist celebration of the Mass. They would hurl this insult not only at clergy but also Catholic lay people on their way to Mass."

Interesting stuff. By our fruits we are known; by our words also.

[resources: Deborah Lipsky's A Message of Hope]

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