Catechesis on the Second Commandment

7 Nov

Last week we began at No Place Like Home a catechetical series on the Ten Commandments by focusing on the First Commandment (“I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange gods before me”).

Today we turn to the Second Commandment:

You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

The name of the Lord is holy. In the Old Testament, the Lord’s name was considered so holy that it wasn’t even spoken aloud (see Catechism, nos. 206-09).

As Christians, we have been baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We recall our Baptism when we begin our daily prayers or activities with the Sign of the Cross (“In the name of the Father . . .”).

The Second Commandment calls us to show reverence and respect to God’s name. When we do this, we are simply showing Him the respect He deserves (see Catechism, no. 2144).

Here are some of the ways we keep the Lord’s name holy:

  • Fostering a sense of the sacred, of God’s presence and action in our midst.
  • Proclaiming without fear our belief in the Holy Trinity.
  • Listening attentively to the Word of God.
  • Offering prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and by invoking His name in times of need.
  • Taking oaths very seriously, in honesty and integrity, as taking an oath (“swearing to God”) is to call upon God as a witness to the truth of what we are saying.

The two principal sins against the Second Commandment are blasphemy and perjury.

Blasphemy is any speech, thought, or action involving contempt for God. It forbids the use of the names of the persons of the Trinity–as well as the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints–in an offensive way. Blasphemy is a sinful failure to respect God.

Perjury is the deliberate lying or withholding of truth when under oath. This also shows a serious lack of respect for God, whom we ask to be a “witness” to our dishonesty.

Not only do we invoke the name of the Lord, but He likewise calls each one of us by name (see Isaiah 43:1). Every Christian man, woman, and child has his or her own personal vocation to follow Jesus, as each individual follower is unique and precious to Him. This truth also reminds us of the significance of the Christian name given to us at Baptism.

The saints through the ages have borne witness to the Holy Name of Jesus. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” —St. Paul (Philippians 2:10-11)

“St. Paul bore the Name of Jesus on his forehead because he gloried in proclaiming it to all men; he bore it on his lips because he loved to invoke it; on his hands, for he loved to write it in his epistles; in his heart, for his heart burned with love of it.” —St. Thomas Aquinas

“Jesus, Name full of glory, grace, love and strength! You are the refuge of those who repent, our banner of warfare in this life, the medicine of souls, the comfort of those who mourn, the delight of those who believe, the light of those who preach the true faith, the wages of those who toil, the healing of the sick. To You our devotion aspires; by You our prayers are received; we delight in contemplating You. O Name of Jesus, You are the glory of all the saints for eternity. Amen.” —St. Bernardine of Siena

2 Responses to “Catechesis on the Second Commandment”

  1. Marilyn Taplin December 17, 2020 at 11:44 pm #

    This is a great article! Thanks for sharing.

    “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,
    or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above,
    or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.”
    Exodus 20: 4

    You may also check my blog about The Second Commandment
    Hope this will also help. Thank you.


  1. The Name Above All Names « - January 3, 2013

    […] to the Holy Name of Jesus is truly the antidote for sins against the Second Commandment. (“Thou shall not take the name of the Lord in vain.”) The goal is to duly honor and […]

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