Learning about the second commandment turned my kids into the OMG police…until my oldest reminded me of the simple practice of St. Dominic Savio.
by Becky Arganbright
The first time I heard one of my kids say God’s Name in casual conversation, I felt a shockwave go throughout my body. Though I didn’t like to hear God’s name coming out of the mouth of my child in such a disrespectful way, I reminded myself to keep calm and not overreact (overreacting is a very bad habit that I tend to have)
“We don’t say God’s name in vain,” I corrected the erring child.
“Because God’s name is so special, so holy, that we never use it other than in prayer, or when we’re talking about Him.” I said.
“But my friends say it all the time!”
I know. I thought to myself sourly. Out loud I said, “It might be that they don’t know better. Maybe they were never taught to not say God’s name in vain. Some kids don’t know. But you do, so you can’t say it.”
The “OMG Police”
This launched a series of reported “offenses” that happened against God’s name until I was truly weary of it all:
“Mom, today a kid said a joke and another kid said God’s name in vain. What should I do?”
“Mom, this candy heart says ‘OMG’ on it. Is it still ok to eat it?”
“Mom, today I told a kid he wasn’t supposed to say God’s name in vain and he got mad at me!”
I was glad that the kids were taking the second commandment so seriously, but it was clear that they didn’t know how to handle the situation when hearing others take God’s name in vain. I didn’t want them to be paranoid about it, but didn’t want them to lose their passion for it either. I also didn’t want them to get in fights with other kids in school about it either, but couldn’t help being proud of them for standing up for God’s name.
So what to do? As I stood there pondering my latest answer to another “OMG offense,” Max, my 11 year old, solved the problem for me.
A saintly practice passed on
“Whenever I hear someone say God’s name in vain, I just bow my head and silently say, ‘Blessed be the Name of Jesus.'”
I looked at him in surprise. “That’s good, Max!” I said. “Who taught you that?”
“You did.” he said. “Don’t you remember? You told us the story about St. Dominic Savio.”
It started to come back to me, a small snippet of a story about St. Dominic Savio, a young boy known for his holiness. I had enjoyed reading his life story, but this small lesson made a lasting impression on me:
One day, while on a walk his friend noticed him take off his cap and murmur something to himself.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Did you not hear that shopkeeper take Our Lord’s Name in vain?” Dominic replied. “I would certainly have pointed it out to him, but I feared I might have made matters worse. So, I contented myself by saying, ‘Blessed be the Name of Jesus.'”
I looked back at Max again. “How long have you been doing this?” I asked him.
“Since you told me that story,” he said.
“That was a long time ago,” I observed.
Max nodded wearily. “I know, and it gets tiring saying ‘Blessed be the Name of Jesus’ so many times because people keep taking His Name in vain!'”
Defending His Holy Name
From that day on, all the kids have carried on this practice to defend the Holy Name of Jesus. With friends and neighbors, jokes, excitement and mishaps, when the Name of God slips out so easily from someone’s mouth, I watch my kids’ reaction. They become very quiet, look away and I silently pray along: “Blessed be the Name of Jesus!”
And then they continue with their play or join in with the laughter.
Though they are learning that we should never judge a person based on their actions, but rather pray for them in Christian fellowship (after all, we’re all in the same boat here), it still bothers the kids when they hear a kid or an adult use God’s name in vain. As their awareness of the world increases as they become exposed to it, I feel their apprehension of how to live a Christian life in a world that chooses to leave out God.
But it also gives great consolation to know that thanks to St.Dominic’s simple invocation, we can make atonement and defend the Holy Name of Jesus.