What is Catholic Teaching about using the Lord's name in vain?


As I have recently moved to Brasil, I am confronted with the cultural habit of using the name of ‘God’ for many reactions. I was raised against saying,“Oh my God” for an expression.

Here in Brasil, the phrase commonly used (especially in my inlaws) is, “Meu Deus do ceu” which means, “My God of heaven”

My question, is where is some defined offical Teaching concerning the use of the Lord’s name in vain?

Maybe in an examination of consceince for Reconciliation…?



Unfortunately the same is true in the USA. There is rarely a day I don’t hear God’s name misused. Some seem to think that using OMG makes it okay, but it doesn’t. Cursing of all kind is rampant. It is a disgusting, shameful, and sinful habit.

This is the summary of the Church’s teaching on the subject. To read the entire article, check here: vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a2.htm

CCC: The Second Commandment

In Brief

2160 “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth” (Ps 8:1)!

2161 The second commandment enjoins respect for the Lord’s name. The name of the Lord is holy.

2162 The second commandment forbids every improper use of God’s name. Blasphemy is the use of the name of God, of Jesus Christ, of the Virgin Mary, and of the saints in an offensive way.

2163 False oaths call on God to be witness to a lie. Perjury is a grave offence against the Lord who is always faithful to his promises.

2164 “Do not swear whether by the Creator, or any creature, except truthfully, of necessity, and with reverence” (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 38).

2165 In Baptism, the Christian receives his name in the Church. Parents, godparents, and the pastor are to see that he be given a Christian name. The patron saint provides a model of charity and the assurance of his prayer.

2166 The Christian begins his prayers and activities with the Sign of the Cross: “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

2167 God calls each one by name (cf. Isa 43:1).


It is offensive to God. Some people always take Jesus’ name in vain aswell which is very offensive to Jesus.


I was in a Chemist a few months ago, and a mother and her daughter were looking for a nail polish and lipstick and because she could not find the colour on the shelf she let out a loud shriek at the top of her voice J.C, well I went up to her and her mother and said to them how nice it was to hear people praying in a Chemist and would they like me to join them, they both were speechless , so I left them to it and as I left I said to them I would be in the Chemist for another 5/10 minutes if they wanted to pray again.

Never heard a word from them after all, all was quiet.


:bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown: :bowdown:




Hopefully it was received by the M&D as a holy admonition. For me, its hard to bring it up again and again and confront a disrespectfull gesture, especially when I have my own weak reverence at times.

I would like to address it theologically and orthodox, without judging the level of disrespect my family is personally committing.

Here is another thing,… Me and my wife did talk with our pastor about it. He is from Columbia and said it is not a sin, it is from the culture. I am not convinced by that answer alone. The Catholic Body should be our culture. Brasil is ostensibly very Catholic. Lots of tradition and Marian devotions (which I respect but realize each may or may not be genuine before the Lord).

Can we really call this form of using “My God of Heaven” for circumstances of even just being annoyed with someone, or surprised at a fly, worthy of honoring God? Or more importantly, is it disobeying God’s Commandment?

I dont want our children using the expression:(



One can distinguish between blasphemy (and other grave offenses) and profanity /disrespectful use of the Holy name such in anger or pain etc in a way that is not blasphemy --not said -say out of contempt for God or directed at God etc. That such in itself while certainly NOT to be done (we are Christians --we love and reverence the Holy Name of Jesus etc-as Paul says --let no evil talk come from your mouths…) - such can be said to be ordinarily venial.

There can also happen a cultural use - as a prayer intermixed in conversation.

Let us praise and bless the Holy Name!

Praised be Jesus Christ of Nazareth --now and forever!

As to examining when does one commit a mortal sin in general for anything?: When there is together, grave matter, full knowledge and deliberate consent.


Thanks Bookcat.

I still dont know where the line is to be drawn. My main concern is not to judge my family and find them guilty. I have brought it to their attention and I dont feel inspired to pursue admonishing them, partly because I have my own faults to work on.

The reason I want to be sound in the Catholic faith regarding this, is because they are trying to influence my 4 yr old daughter to use the expression in the same manner they do, which is at anytime for any reason.

My approach to hearing the expression used out of reverence for actually calling on the name of God, has been to say, “Amen”. The first time I said, “Amen” after my MIL used the expression, she looked at me confused, and then asked my wife why I said that. Now they smile or laugh at it. I believe this is a proof reaction that theor intentions aren’t to recognize and honor God as in the prayer sense.

I have said that if my daughter does use the expression out of reverence she will be asked not to, and if contineus to do so, she will get timeouts (or some form of discipline).

I probably will be bringing this up to a priest. Its just not that simple right now because of my lack of fluent portuguese still. Ideally, I would love to talk with the Bishop about it!


As a Parent - you can take them aside privately and individually and ask them (insist if it comes to it) - not to use that expression --especially around your child. Do so with love, truth, gentleness.


I love it ~ good for you! This was a great way for you to point out to the mom and daughter just what they were doing. Unfortunately, most of society take the Lord’s name in vain without realizing it ~ how sad. Now we just need to pray that people’s eyes and ears would be opened and their hearts would be softened. Blessings to all! :gopray2:


Without much success after years of telling people to stop taking our Lord’s name in vain whenever they said out loud “Jesus!” or “Christ!”, I hit upon an idea. I turned it into a prayer and so immediately after they said “Jesus”, I would and say out loud “have mercy on us”. I would say this as often as they said the Holy Name. So anyone listening would hear, “Jesus, have mercy on us”.

I did it so often that years afterward I met an old acquaintance who used to say Christ every now and then. He told me he does not swear saying Christ much any more as, whenever he does say it, or hears anyone else say it, straight after he hears a little voice in his head saying “have mercy on us”.

If all Catholics had the courage to do this, perhaps a different world this would be.


That is actually a really good idea!


Has God told you it is offensive ?
I think in his omnioptence the so called taking of His name in vain wouldn’t impact Him very much ! :confused:


Good explanation.


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