TO blaspheme is to speak ill of God; blasphemy is an utterance

derogatory to the respect and honor due to God. Primarily, it is a sin

of the tongue; but, like all other sins, it draws its malice from the

heart. Thus, a thought may be blasphemous, even though the blasphemy

remain unexpressed; and a gesture, oftentimes more expressive than a

word, may contain all the malice of blasphemy. This impiety therefore

may be com
itted in thought, in word and in deed.

Blasphemy addresses itself directly to God, to His attributes and

perfections which are denied, or ridiculed; to Jesus Christ and the

Blessed Sacrament; indirectly, through His Mother and His saints,

through Holy Scripture and religion, through the Church and her

ministers in their quality of ministers,--all of which, being

intimately and inseparably connected with the idea of God, cannot be

vilified without the honor of God being affected; and, consequently,

all contempt and irreverence addressed to them, takes on the nature of

blasphemy. An indirect sin of blasphemy is less enormous than a direct

offense, but the difference is in degree, not in kind.

All error that affects God directly, or indirectly through sacred

things, is blasphemy whether the error consist in a denial of what is

true, or an attribution of what is false. Contempt, ridicule, scoffing

and sneering, where are concerned the Holy and things holy, are

blasphemous. He also blasphemes who attributes to a creature what

belongs to God alone, or can be said only of holy things, who drags

down the sacred to the level of the profane.

Revilings against God are happily rare; when met with, they are

invariably the mouthings of self-styled atheists or infidels whose

sanity is not always a patent fact. Heretics are usually blasphemous

when they treat of anything outside Jesus Christ and the Bible; and not

even Christ and Scripture escape, for often their ideas and utterances

concerning both are as injurious to God as they are false and

erroneous. Finally, despair and anger not infrequently find

satisfaction in abusing God and all that pertains to Him.

Nothing more abominable can be conceived than this evil, since it

attacks, and is in opposition to, God Himself. And nothing shows up its

malice so much as the fact that blasphemy is the natural product and

offspring of hate; it goes to the limit of human power in revolt

against the Maker. It is, however, a consolation to know that, in the

majority of cases, blasphemy is found where faith is wanting or

responsibility absent, for it may charitably be taken for granted that

if the blasphemer really knew what he was saying, he would rather cut

out his tongue than repeat it. So true is it that the salvation of many

depends almost as much on their own ignorance as on the grace of God.

There is a species of blasphemy, not without its degree of malice,

found sometimes in people who are otherwise God-fearing and religious.

When He visits them with affliction and adversity, their self-conscious

righteousness goes out and seeks Comparison with prosperous

ungodliness, and forthwith comments on strange fact of the deserving

suffering while the undeserving are spared. They remark to themselves

that the wicked always succeed, and entertain a strong suspicion that

if they were as bad as others certain things would not happen.

All this smacks dangerously of revolt against the Providence of God.

Job's problem is one that can be solved only by faith and a strong

spiritual sense. He who has it not is liable to get on the wrong side

in the discussion; and it is difficult to go very far on that side

without finding Providence at fault and thus becoming guilty of

blasphemy. For, to mention partiality in the same breath with God's

care of the universe, is to deny Him.

The daily papers, a few years ago, gave public notoriety to two

instances of blasphemy, and their very remarkable punishment, for it is

impossible not to see the hand of God in what followed so close upon

the offending. A desperate gambler called upon the Almighty to strike

him dumb, if in the next deal a certain card turned up. It did turn up,

and at the last accounts the man had not yet spoken. Another cast from

his door a vendor of images and crucifixes with a curse and the remark

that he would rather have the devil in his house than a crucifix. The

very next day, he became the father of what came as near being the

devil as anything the doctors of that vicinity ever saw. These are not

Sunday-school stories invented to frighten children; the facts

occurred, and were heralded broadcast throughout the land.

Despair urged the first unfortunate to defy the Almighty. In the other

'twas hatred for the Church that honors the image of Christ crucified

as one honors the portrait of a mother. The blasphemy in the second

case reached God as effectively as in the first, and the outrage

contained in both is of an order that human language is incapable of