Sayings of the Saints
  • On Blasphemy
"A man that swears much shall be filled with iniquity, and a scourge shall not depart
from his house.
              --ECCLES. 23:12

I BESEECH you, my brothers, to be ever on your guard against the habit of swearing
and blaspheming.
If a slave dare to pronounce the name of his master, he does it but seldom, and then
only with respect; therefore is it not a shocking impiety to speak with contempt and
irreverence of the name of the Master of angels and seraphim? People handle the
book of the Gospel with a religious fear, and then only with clean hands, and yet your
rash tongue would inconsiderately profane the name of the Divine Author of the

Would you wish to know with what respect, fear, and wonder the choirs of the angels
pronounce the adorable name? Listen to the prophet Isaiah: "I saw," says Isaiah,
"the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated; upon it stood the seraphim, who
cried one to another and said, Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God of hosts, all the earth is
full of His glory."
See with what terror they are seized, even while they praise and glorify Him. As for
you, my brethren, you know how cold and indifferent are the prayers you say, and you
know how frequently you blaspheme a name so majestic, so sacred, and how you try
to make excuses for the bad habit you have contracted. It is easy, yes, I say, it is
easy, with a little care, attention, and reflection, to leave off this vicious habit.

Since we have fallen, my brethren, into this sin of blasphemy, I conjure you, in the
name of our Lord, to rebuke openly these blasphemers. When you meet with such
who publicly sin in this respect, correct them by word of mouth, and, if necessary, by
your strong arm. Let these shameless swearers be covered with confusion. You could
not employ your hand to a holier work. And if you are given into custody, go boldly
before the magistrate, and say in your defense that you have avenged a blasphemy.

For if a person is punished for speaking contemptuously of a prince, is it not
reasonable to suppose that a person who speaks irreverently of God should be
sentenced to a severer punishment? It is a public crime, a common injury which all
the world ought to condemn.
Let the Jews and infidels see that our magistrates are Christians, and that they will
not allow those to go unpunished who insult and outrage their Master.
Do you remember that it was a false oath that overturned the houses, temples, and
walls of Jerusalem, and from a superb city it became a mass of ruins? Neither the
sacred vessels nor the sanctuary could stay the vengeance of a God justly angered
against a violater of His word.

Sedecias did not receive a more favored treatment than Jerusalem. Flight did not
save him from his enemies. This prince, escaping secretly, was pursued and taker. by
the Assyrians, who led him to their king. The king, after asking him the reason of his
perfidy, not only caused his children to be killed, but deprived him of his sight, and
sent him back to Babylon, loaded with iron chains.
Would you know the reason why? It was that the barbarians and Jews who inhabited
the country adjoining Persia should know, by this terrible example, that the breach of
an oath is punishable.

Seventh Homily