How did this become a forgotten sin?
God’s name is holy. Even though Western society no longer takes it seriously, blasphemy is still a sin – and a grave one at that.
The second of the Ten Commandments states clearly: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain.” (Exodus 20.7)
Here’s how the Catechism explains it:
“Respect for his name is an expression of the respect owed to the mystery of God himself and to the whole sacred reality it evokes. […] The second commandment forbids the abuse of God’s name, i.e., every improper use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, but also of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.” (CCC 2144, 2146)
One way to break this commandment is blasphemy, which the Catechism defines as “uttering against God – inwardly or outwardly – words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one’s speech; in misusing God’s name.” (CCC 2148) As a result, the Catechism concludes “it is in itself a grave sin.”
As with all sins, a person can receive forgiveness if he repents and confesses his sin. But this means the person acknowledges that what he’s done is wrong and resolves to commit the sin no more. Meanwhile, the casual misuse of God’s name seems to be ubiquitous throughout society without a thought to its seriousness.
So, may we first repent of our own sins, and then lovingly and appropriately warn others!