The Holy Name!

Exodus 20:7
You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

In ancient Israel, the name was a deeply sacred thing.  It was not just a label slapped on a thing so that we could call it something besides a thingamajig.  A name — and especially a person’s name — somehow expressed the essence of something or someone.  To know someone’s name was to know them.  To name, or rename, someone was to effect and reflect a fundamental change in who they are.  To use the Name of God, therefore, was a solemn thing and not to be taken lightly.  These days, of course, the name of God and Jesus are taken lightly every day.  Many people think that because no thunderbolt strikes people dead when they do so, the sacredness of names is just an ancient superstition.  But it’s not so.  The warning still holds and the judgment still obtains.  The judgment on a culture that takes God’s name lightly is that it becomes a lightweight culture, fit only to be taken lightly, as ours so emphatically is.  Today, take God’s name seriously as He takes you seriously.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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