I don’t know if I‚Äôve written about this before but I am thinking about it again. One day I heard a boy in my neighborhood say ‚ÄúHoly Shoot!‚Äù while he was playing. I heard that and I thought about what he said. He had been taught that you shouldn‚Äôt say the second word, so he found a replacement for it. But what word has the power? What word is the word to avoid? Isn‚Äôt it the word HOLY?
I was thinking about the commandment about taking the Lord‚Äôs name in vain, and how it had very very little to do with curse words. It had everything to do with calling yourself by the name of the Lord. It was like my wife taking my last name. ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt take that name in vain,‚Äù I might hear my father or grandma say, ‚ÄúSullivans are blah blah blah.‚Äù That name carries something with it. Don‚Äôt take the name of the Lord in vain. Don‚Äôt throw around ‚ÄúGod‚Äôs chosen people‚Äù in vain.
So here is this boy in my neighborhood, throwing around the word Holy like it‚Äôs just some common word, but it isn‚Äôt. That day I heard that, I thought in my head, ‚ÄúI would rather hear my own children say the word ‚Äúshit‚Äù than hear them misuse the word ‚ÄúHoly.‚Äù But here we are, in a culture of ‚ÄúHoly Cow!‚Äù and ‚ÄúHoly Moley!‚Äù and everything else being called Holy that really isn‚Äôt.
When the Jews would not even say ‚ÄúGod‚Äù or even spell out YHWH‚Äôs name, they came up with a substitute that is translated ‚ÄúThe Name.‚Äù They didn‚Äôt say God‚Äôs name or even refer to Him, and a lot of their writings even now say G__ instead of spelling it out. It wasn‚Äôt because of the commandment, though. It was out of respect. Before they could write His Name they would go and wash, and after they wrote that one word they would go wash again, because His Name was so separate and HOLY.
One day at my in-laws somebody said God or Jesus Christ and my niece corrected them and said it was a ‚Äúbad word.‚Äù How about that? To get taught that you shouldn‚Äôt say something because it is bad? How about we step out of the legalism of good and bad and into the LIFE of happy reverence?
I took my two boys, age 5 and 7, into the Holy of Holies of the St.Meinrad Chapel last fall. Back into the back where the Eucharist is kept, below the big picture of Jesus that says ‚ÄúEgo Sum Vita.‚Äù I told them that it was a very important place and they should be very respectful. I showed them where to bow their heads, not to some gold thing, but out of respect to what God has done and what that place symbolizes. They were as quiet as can be. (A HUGE feat for David!) and their eyes were as big as the communion bread the priest breaks on Sunday. I showed them how to kneel on a kneeler and how to pray and consider that God became flesh and gave His Body like bread for us to eat and live.
When we left, they would have never used the word ‚Äúbad‚Äù to describe any of it, but they treated the whole ordeal like something HOLY and reverent. I like that. I think there is a lot of good to be found in reverence, and I hope we can slowly learn to feel it and appreciate it in more places.