Reflection: On Blasphemy, Vanity, and the Language of Hell
|St. Alphonsus Liguori|
When the time came, by God's providence, to write my book, Slaying Dragons: What Exorcists See & What We Should Know, I knew I could turn to St. Alphonsus for wisdom on this topic. He, as always, did not fail me.
From my book, Chapter Eleven, Consorting With Evil, we read:
It might be easy for some to overlook this use of blasphemy as simply a form of shock meant to get attention. However, as St. Alphonsus tells us, blasphemy directly ties us to the work of demons. His words are important to ponder. St. Alphonsus states that “blasphemy proceeds from a bad will, and from a certain hatred conceived against God. Hence the blasphemer renders himself like the damned.” The use of blasphemy by Satanists thus makes sense, in that they revel in lifting up Satan as a model to follow. Reflecting on the fact that Christians receive, in the traditional rite of Baptism, blessed salt on their tongue, St. Alphonsus says, first quoting a writer, “‘the tongues of Christians [are thus] made, as it were, sacred, and may be accustomed to bless God.’ And the blasphemer afterwards makes this tongue, as St. Bernadine says, a sword to pierce the heart of God. Hence the Saint adds that no sin contains in itself so much malice as the sin of blasphemy.” Blasphemy is so wretched that St. Alphonsus calls it the “language of Hell.” “Thus we may say,” he continues, “to every blasphemer: You are from Hell; you are a true disciple of Lucifer; for you speak the language of the damned.”
In our time, where too often we hear, all around us, in conversations and in movies and videos, Our Lord's Holy Name tossed about as a vile thing, it would serve us well to really reflect on the spiritual harm it causes a soul to utter these blasphemies, and the depth of darkness which must already reside therein to even be inclined to do such a thing.
Instinctively, it would seem, flowing from our fallen nature, that we have an impulse, under duress, to think and to utter vulgarities and blasphemous speech of varying degrees. When pain or anger or grave frustration suddenly emerge within us, it seems as if a rather automatic suggestion of this vile speech occurs in our minds.
Perhaps it is merely from the wound of original sin, or perhaps it is conditioning from this satanic culture, or, moreso, perhaps it is also the diabolical, which misses no opportunity to hammer upon this weakness in our nature and push us, at this vulnerable moment, to utter the worst blasphemy they can stir up.
Regardless, as St. Alphonsus states, it is a "bad will" and a "certain hatred conceived against God" that motivates a person to utter a blasphemy. For, what does speaking this way do? It calls upon, and makes present, the Holy Name and throws it before the swine of this world, where it is trampled underfoot. This is done willingly, freely, and often with a sense of satisfaction, if not of power and control.
Blasphemy reveals a diabolical vanity in the soul of the blasphemer, for who else would dare attack the Holy Name but one who thinks himself to be, perhaps, above the Holy Name or despising of it?
For such are the damned and the demons: monstrous persons who set themselves as gods and refused to serve their Creator. The damned in Hell, and the demons with them, cannot but blaspheme, for their rejection of God now defines them, and they rage with the opposite of charity. They will never desire to reconcile with Him and they thus burn with a desire to offend and provoke Him. They were fixated on desiring to be perfect without God, to be independent of Him while also attaining to glory and power. In this madness, they can only curse the Goodness that they now admit was the only Source of that beatification which they desired.
So, let us reflect, both on ourselves and on our friends, when the occasion arises, God forbid, when we or they think to invoke our God in vain. To utter His Name in vain, in any form, is gravely immoral. Consider it this way: blasphemy is typically uttered in a moment when we lose control of our environment and experiences, when some frustration or pain or disappointment arises suddenly or unexpectedly. It is as if we wish to manifest, through the use of blasphemy, that we think ourselves to be as gods, who should be able to control the world around us. Further, the blasphemy explicitly indicates that we think that we do not need Our Lord Jesus Christ to save us. For what other motivation would there be to explain the decision to mock the God who became man in order to suffer and die and rise to save us, and in whose Name we are saved and delivered from death?
In these moments, we summon the Holy Name in order to trash it. What vileness and what pride is here manifested! The audacity and coldness, like the soldiers mocking and striking Our Lord after arresting Him and restraining Him with chains. He is defenseless but all-powerful. He can be called upon to heal and deliver from demons, or to be pointed to and mocked and derided.
The damned and the demons are in a state of permanent enmity with God. They curse Him and would do anything they could to pierce, with their tongue, the very heart of God. Those, who still walk this earth, and choose to utter such words of reproach against Our Savior, are even more to be pitied, for they, unlike the damned, spit in God's face in the very moments that He extends His hands with an offer of grace.
Let us, then, heed the counsel of St. Alphonsus Liguori, and shun all occasions of blasphemy. Let us truly and critically discern the motivations that lead us to tolerate, in videos and music and speech with friends, the blasphemies that often reside there. Let us guard our own tongues that we might not permit them to offend Our Dear Savior. Hear, in conclusion, the counsel of the Holy Spirit:
So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by man, but no human being can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. James 3: 5-13
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