I've had these thoughts papered and ready to go for a while now, but I've delayed submitting this piece due to some of the backlash my last article received on social media. I know if comes with the territory when we "put ourselves out there." It still can be a bit jarring and then scary to try again, but it wasn't all bad, so I'm taking the chance and launching another piece on the demonic in our everyday language. Even words that don't have demonic or anti-Christian meanings can negatively effect us! None of us really understand the effects of our words and/or actions.
Please understand, when in comes to actions, intentionality isn't necessarily a determining factor as to whether something is "good" or not. Those who made the decision to drop the atomic bomb had good intentions. Intentions are a funny thing. They can be whatever we say they are, and who can really disagree. It is actions that get the final judgment. It is our actions that really end up having the good or bad effect on a person, situation, or society. This is why the road to hell is paved with these kinds of intentions.
My last article prompted an accusation of scrupulosity. This accusation is fair, and could be true. Here is the thing though, I find that most of us are not scrupulous enough when it comes to the matter of our eternal salvation. Those who use evil may not intend to do damage, that doesn't mean they don't. We don't intend to harm the faith or insult our Lord with our language and actions, but that doesn't mean we don't. It really all boils down to the fact that most Catholics don't get spiritual warfare. Just because we don't want to admit something exists, doesn't mean it doesn't. Demons and Satan do exist, and they are playing a very dangerous game with us. We fall hook, line and sinker for a few reasons, but the biggest - willful ignorance. The phrasing I'm highlighting today, I've used myself. I have recently though determined it is worth becoming intentional with my language. I am going to really try and know the meanings and intentions of the phrasing and sayings we throw around so casually and without any thought of how they really are effecting others and our society.
So, here we go again:
Let's start with the phrase I mentioned above. This is not an evil phrase, it is actually attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, although he phrased it a bit differently - "Hell is full of good meanings and wishes." Wow! Chew on that one for a while! While good intentions are great, they don't always lead to good actions or outcomes, this is so true, and worth much reflection. The ends do not justify the means, this is basic Catholic Moral Theology.
Let's also look at "hook, line and sinker" - This is fishing terminology. These are tools tied to the end of a fishing line, they are used to lure and catch fish. Fish, being hungry and greedy, see the bait on the hook and gobble up the hook without thinking twice of the dangers of being caught. Sounds like what the demons and Satan are doing with us. These idioms are just one of Satan's ploys.
So, here a a few phrases and words that I've come across recently. They made me curious, and so I looked them up.
Abracadabra - "Abra" is a Hebrew word, and it means "to create". Cadabra is an Aramaic word that means "as was spoken." So this word actually means - "I will create as has been spoken" This is word and command used often by magicians in magic shows. We, as Catholics, should know that magic is of the Occult. This terminology mocks and mirrors the creation story. God is the one who creates by speaking things into life. . God alone does this. What this phrase is doing is assuming divine authority and challenging Our Lord. Remember, magic is real. It's used by those in the occult against enemies. I know, this probably seems way far out there, but it isn't. I was actually scolded by my pastor for using the term not so long ago. It is actually what got me thinking about phrases and terms and their origins. We use terms all the time, and we really have no idea where they come from or what they mean. This particular word, is from the language our deal Lord Jesus spoke himself. Now we know the meaning of this term.
This next statement is one I see far too often. It isn't really a sinister or evil word, but it is an idea very contrary to our purpose in life and the pursuits we are drawn to. It's a pet peeve of mine! "My forever home" is mumbled and declared by would be homeowners as they look to buy new properties and homes. No dwelling on this earth will ever be our forever residence - Heaven or Hell will be. The constant denial of a real Hell and the possibility of damnation is paramount in today's culture. The fact that so many priests have given up on their duty of warning us of this reality is downright irresponsible, and it bears liabilities. The dangers of Hell are real. Many people go there. Jesus told us this himself, and our Blessed Mother brings us continuous warnings of this possibility for many. So, as great as house hunts and new homes are, they are most definitely NOT forever. Forever will be amazingly better or impossibly worse - that is up to us and is our choice. I know it is is an innocent phrase, but saints and holy people today and in the past, keep or have kept skulls on their desks and in their homes to remind them of their mortality. It should be something we think of often, not the opposite - not the idea we will reside on our "forever" mortgaged, mortal home forever. We should be looking forward to entering eternity and our Heavenly home, not reflecting on our mortality could lead us to a forever home we certainly won't be excited about.
Knock on Wood - We use this term frequently to express our wish for something to occur or not occur. What is the origin and literal meaning of this word though? This is a phrase dating back many centuries and originated with the pagans and the Celts. These ancient people believed gods and spirits lived in the trees. They would "knock on wood" or tree trunks to call on these gods and (evil) spirits for protection. They would also use this practice as a sign of gratitude for a "stroke" of good luck. So, again, not a good idea to be conjuring up false gods or demons. Also, as Catholics we don't believe in luck, all good things come from God, not from "luck". Again, see how such pagan and occult practices and sayings have embedded themselves in our every day language and culture. Satan is certainly effective and good at getting us to undermine our True, divine nature and separate us from the one in whose image we were created.
How about any phrase the begins with the word holy and isn't referring to God. Examples would be "holy cow", "holy moly", "holy mackerel" These utterances seem trivial and innocent, but they are not. God alone is holy. These phrases are misleading and inappropriate because they do not recognize the true meaning of the word holy. Let's add that many of these phrases come from origins of mocking the Catholic faith and our Blessed Mother. Mackerel is a fish of course, and so this has an origin based on mocking the Catholic tradition of eating fish on Fridays. There is also some research suggesting it to be a mockery of our Blessed Mother Mary.
There is one exception to these holy phrases, but it still is probably inappropriate to use as many of us do, as an exclamation of some sort. Holy Smoke actually is a phrase referring to the rising smoke that indicates the election of a new pope.
This will be the last one for today - "My Word", in this phrase "word" is probably referring to the second person of the Trinity, using it is akin to taking our Lord's name in vain, and yes, it is a no no. The second person of the Holy Trinity is the Word made Flesh. It is Jesus Christ - our Savior and Redeemer. He is the Word! Let's not profane him! So, now that we know, let's stop using this phrase. It doesn't move us forward in our spiritual life, or in holiness.
Our words really do matter. We represent and take the church with us wherever we go if we profess to be Christians. We are called to higher standards, we are called to be set apart - which is the true definition of holiness. These phrases undermine all that. Most of us just don't understand or realize just how anti-Christian so much in our society is. We participate in anti-Christian sentiment all the time in ignorance. It is so common. I do too! I have used these phrases and am mortified by their origins and meanings. I want to do better, and I am hoping all of you do as well. We are in this together! Let's work on changing are habits, words, and actions. If we do, it will put us on a road to holiness that we will all revere and be grateful for. We truly can change the world, and we can do it, one word at a time!
I'll be digging into more of these. Are there any you are wondering about? Let me know, I will look them up, and share them with everyone!
Peace be with you all - Lorrie