How to respond to those taking the Lord's name in vain?

Can anyone suggest an appropriate response to give to someone of any religion (either at work, in a family or social gathering, or whatever) who takes the Lord’s name in vain in your presence? I’ve had people apologize after saying it, or say “Excuse my language…,” (although they usually don’t really sound very sincere), but it feels like there’s something I could/should be saying to respond in a Catholic/Christian manner which might hopefully encourage them to think about it and avoid doing it in the future. Thanks.

Bow your head and make the sign of the Cross in reparation in their presence. Say nothing; there is power in the Cross and i’m sure the quiet action will give them at least the idea that that Name is sacred to you.

It is weird at first, and that said, even I have failed in that respect. May God give me the courage to do so, especially when the Lord’s name is not just spoken of carelessly, but even said laced with profanity.

Look up the Holy Face Devotion. Jesus appeared to Sr Mary of St Peter and gave her prayers for the whole world to say against taking God’s name in vain, aetheism, communism, bad language, and misuse of holy days and Sunday.
St therese the little flower was devoted to this devotion her whole life and said it was the source of all her virtue.
The popes have approved it and the prayers. There is even a Holy Face chaplet, litany, confraternity,
It is all written in the book ‘The Golden Arrow’ Tanbooks (the diary of sr Mary of St. Peter)
The prayers are to be said on Sunday (and Tuesdays).

See this website to copy and paste and print the prayers. Or order a little holy face medal, prayer leaflet and chaplet.

Jesus told her if we hear a curse: to say (in our heads) ‘May the Holy Name of God be blessed. Begone satan.’

There is a little Holy Face medal to be worn also which has a promise from Our Lady. And there are 7 promises attached for those who say the prayers. After the rosary and divine mercy these are my favourite prayers.

Google Holy Face devotion.


I think you could say in a kind laughing manner; ‘Hey friend, don’t take the Lord’s Name in vain! It ain’t good for you!’
However the bible says ‘Don’t cast your pearls on swine less they trample them underfoot and turn and devour you.’
In other words , they may not care what you say and treat you and your advice badly.

The bible says correct a person 2. Or 3 times, if they don’t listen it’s their decision unfortunately
If you do not think they will listen -maybe just pray about it

In my workplace, where a bit of light-hearted banter is normal, I sometimes try responding with a slightly pointed joke. For instance, I have suggested to people that in the interests of religious equality, they ought to blaspheme all the different pagan gods and not just pick on the Christian God all the time. Another line I have tried is to jokingly say something like ‘That’s one commandment broken - now you only need another nine to complete the set’. Basically, my aim is to put forward a Christian viewpoint in a non-threatening way that my (mostly secular) colleagues will not be completely turned off by.

Of course, what works best for you will depend completely on the context. What I am describing is fine for a normal British workplace, where few people are serious Christians and where joking and banter is an integral part of the culture. But I can see how there would be other situations where such an approach would be inappropriate, and might result in bemusement or offence.

Hey bmaj,

This is something I fail regularly at as well.

The problem is the mood of the conversation always turns sour when you chastise someone, especially someone you respect or are in good humor with.

My advice is to be sincere: “Actually, it really does offend me when you say that.” And then, before the atmosphere has a chance to spoil, do something goofy, like unexpectedly slapping a guy next to you after a short pause, or immediately farting noisily.

This is perhaps not the most Catholic thing to do, since this is probably the least of all things to take lightly, but it provides you with a less awkward way out, and is still better than saying nothing at all.

Take this with a grain of salt; you can see I’m mistaken in my advice when you ask yourself: what do you imagine Pope Francis would do if someone took the Lord’s name in vain in his presence? He certainly wouldn’t cut the cheese to diffuse the tension. At least, if he did, it wouldn’t be intentional.

They say every sin has a cost. Look at the awkward silence that must follow your rebuttal as part of the suffering for that sin.


Nobody will thank you for chastising them… I would not start making the sign of the cross when others swear.I would think hard before correcting others. If you are going to admonish others you better be a saint. Because every time you gossip, get irritated, or do something that is not godly, people will notice, and think your a hypocrite, and not take you seriously anymore. If you know them well you can say something privately, but be careful with how you come across.
I think the best thing to do is lead by example.

I must admit that people don’t usually take the Lord’s name in vain in front of me, but if someone does, especially one of my sons, I just say that I didn’t realize that the Lord had anything to do with the issue at hand, and raise my eyebrows! That usually elicits an apology.

I like that suggestion, porthos, although I’m not sure I’ll have the courage to do it too often. But if/when I do, maybe I could also say something to keep the mood light at the same time to the effect of, “Maybe this will help cancel that out for you!”

Thanks very much, and God bless.

AC Green was a basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers in the 80s and 90s. He was a devout Christian (and a heckuva defender in the low post!). When players on the court would swear in the heat of battling for a rebound, he’d say so they could hear, “God’s last name isn’t damn.”

Always kinda liked that…

Good thread, I have been thinking about this for some time too.

I read on the forums in another thread, when someone say’s it in your presence to simply pray in your heard “Blessed be thy name.” and so that’s what I normally do, however I would like to figure out a way I can simply make them ‘aware’ of what they are doing without hurting them or anything, because many years ago I did take His name in vain on rare occasions and thought nothing of it, I was completely ignorant to what I was doing and didn’t know I was breaking one of the ten commandments, I used to think that the ‘saying’ which was taking His name in vain was separate to actually taking His name in vain.

Kind of like using something like “Bloody Mike” as a saying, and justifying it by saying “I wasn’t referring to Mike though, I was just using a figure of speech.”

Anyway, once I became aware of it, I went to confession and never took His name in vain again, and ever since, I believe it’s incredible just how often I hear His name taken in vain (movies I used to really like and used to think nothing of it), nearly every second word I heard His name in vain, I watched a movie I liked the other day ‘Die Hard with a Vengeance’ and I was saying “Blessed be thy name” throughout it more times than I can count (I never remember His name being taking in vain as much as it was when I watched it again after being aware, hearing it is like nails on a chalkboard for me now).

My advice would be to make people aware of it at times when they are not taking His name in vain, e.g. when a conversation comes up about religion, or you notice it in someone else, you can slip a comment about it but not directed at them. Something like, when you hear it on TV (Won’t have to wait long) and say something like “I don’t understand why they take Our Lord’s Name in vain so much, I think it’s odd that they never take Muhammad or some other religious figures name in vain, it’s seems it’s only okay or socially acceptable to do it to Christ.”

Thank you OurLadysServant, is “Blessed by thy name” just as good? or would it be better to use “May the Holy Name of God be blessed. Begone satan.”? because I just say “Blessed by thy name” and if need be, I would also feel comfortable saying “Blessed be thy name” aloud if necessary too.

Thank you porthos, I don’t think that’s a bad idea (Accept I don’t think I’ll bow) but I like the idea of simply making the sign of the cross when it’s used to excess. Especially if I feel it’s necessary to point it out in such a given situation, and if they ask just say something like “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to say anything and I don’t want to offend you or anything, but I just wanted to bless the name of my Lord Jesus Christ.”

Anyway, thanks for the ideas guys, I’m still thinking but this thread has helped a bit.

p.s. I think it’s always good to remember about these things too, that I believe every man carries on his lips what he feels in his heart.

God Bless

Thank you for reading

If someone in our familyor among friends or acquaintances uses the name of Jesus as an exclamation or whatever we finish with “loves YOU!” That usually gets a smile and the point across.
To the other posters, I like God’s second name isn’t damn and the silent Blessed be Thy Name.
Thanks all, this happens to me–often with my boss so it’s tricky

I respond with I don’t think He had anything to do with it.

Seemed to work.

You are right on about this. When you admonish somebody for what they are doing, you open yourself up to judgment. You may not take the Lord’s name in vain but there better not be any other faults in your life because, you will hear about them.

All excellent points, OurLadysServant! Thanks very much for the recommendations. I also very much appreciate the recommendation of “The Golden Arrow Book.” Sounds wonderful. Keeping the bit of levity in a response as you say can help a lot, I’m sure. God’s blessings to you!

It’s tough no doubt. But I don’t think silently making the sign of the Cross will weigh down the mood, hence my suggestion to stay silent. I would even suggest that to the extent possible, carry on with the existing conversation as if nothing happened. But making the sign of the Cross should send a powerful signal that (1) you are making reparation for the misuse of the Name; and (2) that the name is sacred to you that you will honour it even if used in a profane manner. But by not mentioning anything about the offense you feel, there is less risk of destroying the mood. We may be devout, but we’re also not party-poopers (we’d be poor evangelizers if we were).

I pray for the grace to make this witness, especially if the Name is laced with the extremely vulgar f-word.

Very good recommendations and points well taken, John. You’re definitely right about it all depending on the situation and context. Thanks so much for sharing, and God bless.

If someone says Jesus Christ in a not so nice way, I always add ( loves you…)

Just ask them not to blaspheme in front of you.:shrug:

Thanks very much for the (name removed by moderator)ut and personal experience, Greg. Sounds like it might be hard to strike a balance and figure out when to lighten the mood and when to be serious, but I’ll try! I really don’t want to offend someone and turn them even further from the Lord, but on the other hand I do want them to somehow realize the importance of their language…and the fact that it does offend me to hear. I think many people don’t even really think about the actual words they’re saying when they take the Lord’s name in vain.
Interesting perspective to think what would Pope Francis say or do… or even WWJD for that matter, but I imagine then it would be much more serious responses.
God’s blessings to you!

Is it worse to use God’s name or the Lord’s name as an adjective or use the “F” word?

Since the 2nd Commandment is about not taking the Lord’s name in vain, I would think it is a mortal sin & the “F” word a venial sin…although it’s more disgusting & embarrassing especially in mixed company.