Is breaking bad habits actually necessary?

I could ask my priest for a more detailed answer, but I already know what he’d say and I want to hear a few different perspectives…

I have an issue with language apparently, have been noticing it more in the last few months. I kind of yelled at the priest at my church a few months ago and walked out like an idiot… I went back and apologized and he said it was okay but if I kept talking like that I’d never be successful in life. So I guess my question is, which context should I take this in? Is cursing really a ***sin ***or is it just rude? They’re just words…

In the last few months I quit smoking, I hardly drink anymore, and I’m less short-tempered than I used to be. These (to me) seem like significant things, and by contrast, swearing… seems unimportant. I went a whole month without hardly cursing at all, but now I’m slipping back into it. Is it really that much of a big deal? If it comes natural do I really have to keep struggling with it? It feels good, and I can’t really figure out why. Maybe it’s just the way I talk?? Or is there a such thing as an actual ‘swearing habit’? It seems harmless and makes me feel better, so what’s the harm in that? The only time I ever really feel guilty about it is because I say GD & JC way too much. So if you feel guilty about something it’s because you know it’s wrong, so if you don’t feel guilty is it because it’s not wrong? Because it doesn’t really bother me with just cursewords in general, just GD & JC. Like when I yelled at my priest, I felt really bad about that because I used words specifically to hurt him. But if I curse without trying to insult or hurt anyone… :confused:

Little bad habits are like weed seeds. They grow into big bad habits and spread.

Not exactly. if you don’t feel guilty about something, then it might be because your conscience has been dimmed, at least in that area. And that does happen when one forms a sinful habit. You probably felt really bad about using the Lords’ Name as a cuss word the first few times you did it, no?

The way I see it is that using the Lord’s Name like that is blasphemous, and therefore [objectively] sinful. Mere cuss words are vulgar and socially frowned upon, but are not sinful per se (imo) altho expressing one’s anger in this way may be [objectively] sinful.

To get rid of a vice, practice the opposing virtue. If you express anger badly, then act really nice instead. Pray and make little sacrifices in reparation for your sins.

If they are just words, why does it make you feel good to say them?

As someone once said, words mean things, and curse words convey sense of insult, disrespect, and I would say that it makes the cursing person feel a sense of putting someone in their place…a sense of authority and superiority. Isn’t this why it makes you feel good?

This is not charitable behavior, so this is why cursing is considered “bad” and yes, you should break this habit. I commend you for overcoming some of your other bad habits, but it looks like you have one more to squelch.

I can tell you that for many years I had sworn on a daily basis. However, about 9 months ago I had a conversion of heart and went to confession for the first time in 7 or 8 years. I stopped swearing almost instantaneously. I attribute this to the graces God gave me in the confessional. Those saints who have had visions of hell tell of all the blasphemy and cursing that occur there. My advice is for you to confess your swearing (and how it makes you feel) and then resolve with God’s grace not to swear at all.

First of all - allow me to congratulate you on your successes. Some tough things to overcome - especially smoking. :thumbsup:

Now - As to other bad habits…
While none of us is perfect…We cannot deny that we are called to perfection by Christ.
Mt 5:48, “Therefore you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”.
So yes - we need to try to overcome our bad habits -

You mention two forms of vulgar language above. Swearing and Curse words. Both are troublesome.
Swearing is problematic because the Gospel says to not do it.
"Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (Mt 5:33-37)

Cursing is likewise a problem for it calls on God to condemn someone. “GD” is the most common form of this…

Other things that are commonly referred to as swearing or cussing or whatever is simply vulgar modes of speech and your pastor is quite right that they will hold you back.
But even more, speaking vulgarly gives no glory to God nor does it promote His kingdom.

We are to be ambassadors of Christ, witnessing to him before the world. We are to reflect Christ to the world through our Love - one for the other. We are not simply to be neutral, but rather we are to be a positive influence…Do you feel that vulgar language does this? Do you think that vulgar language could even be called neutral??

Peace
James

Yeah… I think I do feel bad about it but have been ignoring it because it also makes me feel good…why would that happen? :shrug:

I don’t know??? Sometimes yes, but I don’t do it in front of others much anymore, just mostly to myself for some reason. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. In any event, still too much. Now that you say that I think I definitely did that to my priest, my parents had just finished criticizing me and I went to work (I assist with the youth group at my church) and afterward this woman (weekly church-goer) started jumping down my throat, and my priest told me to calm down, and I went off at him. At the time I think I was overwhelmed with people pulling rank on me so I flipped it on him. :whistle: Don’t worry, I gave it back. I don’t usually give many people authority over me.

Not that confession ‘didn’t work,’ but I tried this, many times, but still fall into the same patterns as soon as I get to the parking lot. :doh2: I don’t know what the problem is.

Never thought about this…obviously, no.

…**gives no glory to God nor does it promote His kingdom. **

Now that I think about it, sometimes I don’t want to do this. It’s like I have a different side where I want different things than what I should want. Most of the time I do want to promote His kingdom, but sometimes I want to singlehandedly destroy it. Like…for real, not in jest. I don’t want to be that way… Evidently I’m a major flight risk, I never know where my next step will take me. When I went off on my priest, well I was annoyed already but what made me do it was that this woman at our church called me the antichrist, and I just lost it.

As concerns bad language (of which I am myself guilty), Matthew 15:18.

In general, however, it is dangerous to give up the fight against any bad habit. Most bad habits touch on morality at some point, do they not? Even when we find ourselves having trouble breaking habits, the fight is still conditioning us for the day when we allow God’s grace enough influence to finally move past them. Lying down and accepting a habit guarantees that you will keep the one habit, as well as guaranteeing that you will find some new ones.

We’re human beings, and we are subject to corruption. Inviting any form of corruption into your soul without putting up a fight is just asking for trouble.

Keep fighting, even on the little things.

Simple…It’s the old Indian story about having two wolves inside, one good and one bad. The stronger one is the one you feed.
Pick your direction - set your course toward God and then feed only that.

I don’t know??? Sometimes yes, but I don’t do it in front of others much anymore, just mostly to myself for some reason. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes not. In any event, still too much. Now that you say that I think I definitely did that to my priest, my parents had just finished criticizing me and I went to work (I assist with the youth group at my church) and afterward this woman (weekly church-goer) started jumping down my throat, and my priest told me to calm down, and I went off at him. At the time I think I was overwhelmed with people pulling rank on me so I flipped it on him. :whistle: Don’t worry, I gave it back. I don’t usually give many people authority over me.

Such an event can be a real “eye-opener” as it seems to have been for you.
Consider these things prayerfully and talk further with your priest…the one you went off on…I’ll bet he can really empathize…consider what what our priests have to put up with…

Not that confession ‘didn’t work,’ but I tried this, many times, but still fall into the same patterns as soon as I get to the parking lot. :doh2: I don’t know what the problem is.

Two issues…Habit and commitment.
Think about the person who goes on a diet or on a strength building program etc…It is very similar to what we go through in building holiness
First there is the recognition of the need for change. Then comes the commitment to change. Plans and actions are made and initiated to move forward…but change and progress isn’t usually instantaneous. Old habits die hard. The cookies and the couch call when we need to be running etc…
Likewise with things like cussing and losing your temper…you are on your way for you have recognized the need to change and have begun to take the steps necessary. But the old habits die hard…
Try to isolate the things that “set-you off” and then develop different ways to deal with them. Again - your priest can likely help you with these.

Never thought about this…obviously, no.

Now that I think about it, sometimes I don’t want to do this. It’s like I have a different side where I want different things than what I should want. Most of the time I do want to promote His kingdom, but sometimes I want to singlehandedly destroy it. Like…for real, not in jest. I don’t want to be that way… Evidently I’m a major flight risk, I never know where my next step will take me. When I went off on my priest, well I was annoyed already but what made me do it was that this woman at our church called me the antichrist, and I just lost it.

It is obvious that it is not just cussing that is the problem. Anger enters into it as well. Keep going to confession. Keep in touch with this wonderful priest who knows you so well. Keep on making incremental improvements.
The path of Holiness is tough but it is Soooo worth it.
You also might find the book in my signature to be of great help in this.

Peace
James

I hope you did not cuss out the priest…

I have problems with bad language particularly when I’m driving and some moron cuts me off.

Having anger issues is one thing but having no self control especially with a priest is worrisome. You would think having proper respect for our clergy would place greater restraint on controlling your temper and language.

Would you cuss out Christ if He were present ??? That is who the priest represents.

Sounds to me like the words, swearing or whatever they might be, are not the issue for you, but rather you have a problem with impulse control. Normal, socially adjusted people to not walk around swearing, but can curb that feeling. And to swear at a priest in church is incredibly shockingly rude and bad manners. I would see a psychiatrist and have this evaluated.

:thumbsup:

:thumbsup:

Uh… forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=630270

That was almost 6 months ago, though. It’s not nearly that bad now. I actually don’t think I would have even done it except that grown woman thought it was appropriate to call me the antichrist in front of everybody and then my priest told me to calm down and didn’t even say anything to her. Although, now looking back I think it was more a message for me, like maybe he understood that this particular woman is not very mature/understanding and he didn’t want me to get down to her level. I don’t know. Later that day I was like, what the ---- was I thinking??? Because no, I wouldn’t normally ever talk to him like that or even raise my voice. I do respect him a lot.

Would you cuss out Christ if He were present ???

I hope I would be mature enough not to… I’ve tried to stop cussing/yelling all together so I hardly talk to people like that anymore, but I can get passionate about things and end up regretting it later. :mad: I think my priest had a lot of insight though, like he knew I was only doing it because I was stressed/upset/angry. That can cloud your judgment and in the heat of the moment you really don’t care who you’re hurting. I’ve cussed out Christ (and God) lots of times before, and to be honest I’m really harsh with my mom a lot - isn’t it true that you’re harsher on those closest to you? Doesn’t make it okay, but I hope I would realize what I was doing and stop.

I don’t just “walk around swearing” anymore. In the last month or two I didn’t have a problem hardly at all, then started slipping back into it. I saw a psychologist once, not really conclusive yet, but he said it sounds like I’d been hurt by something in the past. Which is true… (forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=9192411#post9192411)

I realized I’m starting to talk about things I could never talk about before, to my priest and on here. I don’t have bad manners, and I really do have a lot of respect for people in general, especially people at my church (even that “woman” that I’ve started to call “woman” and not “c”…). I think the whole problem there was that no one knew I was hurting, and even though I expressed it in the way wrong way, at least I got it out and away from me and let some people **know about it **and they are helping me every time I ask for it. :slight_smile:

I started thinking about this again 5 mins ago, and I do feel bad. I don’t mean to try to justify it. It’s not appropriate. I just don’t know why it’s so automatic. I’ll even say them to myself when no one else is around, which I thought was better, but now I’m thinking it’s the same. It just needs to stop.

I think I’m actually using them in a way that’s therapeutic for me, like little bouts of anger expression, ‘little’ rebellions so that it doesn’t snowball into a bigger one, like what happened with my priest. I didn’t realize I didn’t have full control of it until I decided to stop and found that I was slipping a lot and not even realizing it until someone (usually Dad) told me to watch it. I never thought that there was really a such thing as a swearing “habit” but I do slip a lot by accident. And no, a ‘swear jar’ doesn’t work for me, I just knock it over. :shrug:

Just remember that breaking this kind of habit is like dieting…The improvement generally comes in increments, a little at a time - and the temptation, and occasional slip-up, hangs around for a long time.

Peace
James

It’s the language of those in and from Hell…

People swear out of frustration. Frustration comes from Hell too. So one has to attack that passion, or emotional reaction at the root.

And say, ‘May God bless me.’ or "May God bless it.’ instead.

Seriously. A genuine short prayer instead – just like or exactly that.

These are some good points. I’m not nearly so concerned about the swearing itself as what kind of unsettling issues there may be driving it.

Kids these days use words we used to consider foul, as an every day part of self-expression. They may not be well-advised, but I believe such use is only sinful if done without regard to offending others.

Not Catholic, but I like this guy’s take on swearing: Christians don’t have curse words.

Alan

It offends God and the angels. And pleases Satan and the devils. The former depart away the latter arrive.

Here is an extract from the writings of St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle on this subject.

'In an effort to get those who swear to stop this habit, Ecclesiasticus warns them that sorrow will never leave their home and that their house will always be filled with affliction (Eccl., 23:10–11]).

Following the Wise Man’s advice, therefore, take care not to have God’s name constantly on your lips, and do not use the names of the saints in conversation, even if you do this only thoughtlessly, from mere habit, and without any evil intention. You must not pronounce the name of God and of his saints irreverently and without good reason. It is never appropriate to mingle in your ordinary talk such words as “Jesus!”, “Mary!”, and “Oh, my God!” nothing, such as “By Jove!”, “What the devil!”, “By heaven!”, and others.

Words like these must never be found on the lips of a wellborn person. When you use such an expression in the presence of people toward whom you are obliged to show esteem, you offend against the respect due to them. According to the opinion of the Wise Man, you cannot excuse yourself on the pretext that when you swear, you harm no one, for this excuse, as he remarks, does not justify you before God (Eccl [Sir] 33:14 [23:9–14]).

You must limit yourself, as Jesus Christ advises you in the Gospel, to saying, “This is so,” or, “This is not so” (Mt 5:5 [37]). If you wish to add some emphasis to your words, it is sufficient to say, for example, “I assure you, sir, that this is how it is,” without adding anything more.

You must entertain no less horror for indecent words than for swearing, for they are no less contrary to civility and often are more dangerous. Saint Paul desires that the Christians of his day act on all occasions with decorum. He warns them in several places in his epistles to take special care lest any indecent word escape their lips. He expressly forbids them among themselves even to mention fornication (Eph 4:29). It shows a lack of respect to use dirty language. To amuse your companions, you must never use language that is even a little too free, not even under the pretext of joking and playfulness, for, says Saint Paul, if you wish to be agreeable to others when speaking, you must say something that can edify (Eph 5). In this matter, even doublemeaning words are not permitted, for you would offend against politeness as well as against propriety. The same can be said of words that suggest, even in the slightest degree, some indecent idea or image.

When you happen to be in a group where some of those present use language that is a little too free or that wounds decency even in a slight degree, you must be very careful not to laugh. If you can, pretend not to have heard; at the same time, try to turn the conversation in another direction. If you cannot do this, you must show by your seriousness and deep silence how distasteful you find this kind of talk.

It can be said that you make your real self known by the sort of language you use, for, as Jesus Christ declares, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Mt 12:34). Using language that is filthy and that shocks people’s sense of decency is one way of letting them know how impure and corrupt you are.’

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle

‘Some people seem to glory in displaying their irreligious spirit in what they say by mingling the words of Holy Scripture with profane things, by mocking and making fun of sacred things and religious practices, or by bragging about the sins and infamous deeds they have committed. These are the very people of whom the Wise Man says that their conversations are intolerable, because they make a game and a joke of sin itself (Eccl [Sir] 27:15 [13]).’

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle

In and from hell? What does that mean since I’m alive??

I started doing this. :thumbsup:

Why is it so easy to please the side you’re not on… :frowning:

St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle is hardcore…whoa… Human nature, though…is anyone not ‘impure/corrupt’ (original sin)?

I went out last night (had 1 drink as opposed to my usual 9 :slight_smile: ) and my friend actually noticed I wasn’t swearing as much as usual. Even though it feels good to do it, it actually felt good to catch it before I said it too. Btw my priest had been keeping me out of mass since January but he asked me to go this morning and take communion :thumbsup:

Sweet! :thumbsup:

This is not speaking of you being in or from hell, but rather the nature of the things that cause the swearing.
In the Gospels, Jesus makes a couple of comments that might seem disconnected but in reality - together - speak of this.
In the first, Jesus is talking about swearing an oath, He says:
33 "Again you have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (Mt 5:33-37)
Now this speaks tot he first form of “Swearing”…Or what is also called “Taking the Lord’s name in vain”.
The other passage speaks to more general matters including vulgar speech…
17 Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? 18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a man; (Mt 15:17-20)
So this speaks to matters of our speech reflecting our heart. I our heart is of love, then our speech should reflect this. But if our speech is foul and full of hate, what does this tell us about the state of the heart of the speaker?

The beautiful thing is that you have realized this already and are rejecting this. You are seeking the better way, filling your heart with Love and removing the bad. The habit…well those tend to lag a bit but you are obviously making progress as you report below.

I went out last night (had 1 drink as opposed to my usual 9 :slight_smile: ) and my friend actually noticed I wasn’t swearing as much as usual. Even though it feels good to do it, it actually felt good to catch it before I said it too. Btw my priest had been keeping me out of mass since January but he asked me to go this morning and take communion :thumbsup:

:thumbsup::thumbsup:

Wonderful news.

Peace
James

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