Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Sacred

The Second Commandment which says that we should not take the name of the Lord, our God, in vain, is not just for us to show disrespect to God and His Holy Name, but it is for us to discover the sacred among us. The word “sacred” means “set apart”. It implies that there is a dignity and sense of worth that requires setting apart in order that the value be recognized and cherished. It is not enough then that we refrain from using the name of God in sacrilegious way, misusing God’s name and even doing acts contrary to God in the name of God!

The second commandment urges us positively to value the sacredness of the person, the holiness of God, the sanctity of life and creation. Love and reverence are synonymous in the second commandment. But, how have we shown reverence to God and His name? In our world where the scourge of the vulgar in our language and actions seems to be the rule rather than the exception, we ask ourselves: how have we reverenced God’s Name? The loss of the sense of the sacred seems to be everywhere: in our ordinary conversations, in our songs, in our movies and TV shows, where the name of God is abused and misused as if it is the most ordinary thing to do. The sense of the sacred seems to have vanished from most of these productions.

Discovering the sacred in our world and in our lives means being ready to live our faith and religion publicly. This has not always been easy in a culture that prizes the privatization of religion. We are familiar with the various ways that society has pushed for the so called separation of the church and the state. The idea is that faith ought to be a personal matter conducted on private time. Public affairs should be conducted without the benefit of religious affiliations, church symbols or any effort to influence public policy from a faith-based point of view. It is pushing the church and the faith outside of the realm of human activity!

But there is nothing personal and private when the state begins to abuse and misuse its power; every human action is a moral action. Graft and corruption, lying and stealing and murder are all human actions, therefore, with moral implications. Human actions are done by people, including church men, politicians, military men, and the ordinary people living their ordinary lives. We can never separate the moral from the personal and communal actions of people, in and out of government.

Let us not forget: we can support a proper understanding of the separation of the church and the state, but must we separate our faith from our culture? Must we take away the sacred in our lives? Must we live different, incongruous lives? One life inside the church, another in the government? One life which prays, and another which lies and steals? One life that kneels in reverence to God’s name and another that runs away with the people’s money?


Blessed be your Holy Name, O God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Your love for us moves us to honor your name. We are saddened and appalled by the desecration of your divine name in our culture and society. We resolve through prayer and reparation to restore the dignity of your name in our society as well as in our personal lives. We ask for the graces of spiritual transformation so that we may have the wisdom to know and do what is best in this matter. Adorable Trinity, we worship you and honor you with our whole being. Amen.

“O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth! (Ps. 8,1)

(Alfred McBride, O. PRAEM. The Ten Commandments: Covenant of Love).