You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Read the following references to further clarify the central ideas of this lesson. Look in other places as well as these; this is not an exhaustive list of the resources needed to answer the questions.

Father Hardon’s Catholic Catechism

Page 297 (Last paragraph)
Pages 305-313 (Second Commandment)

Father Hardon’s Question and Answer Catechism


Revised Basic Course Manual

Page 4, paragraph 6
Pages 63-65
Page 206 (Expressions of Prayer)


James 3:2-1
John 17:9
Leviticus 22:2; 24:16
Mark 16:17-18
Matthew 5:33-37; 12:17, 21; 14:22-23; 26:41
Philippians 2:10

Catechism of the Catholic Church

#436, #695
#2142-2167 (The Second Commandment)

Modern Catholic Dictionary Vocabulary

Review the following terms in your Modern Catholic Dictionary reference book (or online version at – go to the bottom of the page, click on “Dictionary”).

Neglect of Prayer
Rite of Exorcism
Vocal Prayer

World Book Dictionary

“Swear. 1) to make a solemn statement, appealing to God or some other sacred being or object; take an oath. 2) to promise solemnly; vow–The knights swear to be true to their king. 3) to testify under oath; make a declaration under oath–to or against. 4) to use profane language; curse.

The Real Presence website article: Abridged article follows.
6-7-2019 from:

“The Second Commandment and the Vows” by Father John A. Hardon, S.J.

Our first question therefore, what is a vow?

A vow is a free, deliberate promise made to God to do something which is possible, good, and better, that is, more pleasing to God than its omission would be. A vow, properly speaking, is made only to God. A vow then is a promise made to God to do something better than its opposite or its omission. That word better is critical to the understanding of what a vow is.

Let’s explain a little more this something better. It need not be, objectively better. It is enough if considering all the circumstances, it is better for the person who is taking the vow. To illustrate, the married state is not better than celibacy or consecrated chastity, objectively. For the obvious reason that celibacy or consecrated chastity imply a greater sacrifice—that is, the sacrifice of marriage, of family and all the wonderful things that God promises those who enter the married state. Yet in any given case marriage can be better for a particular individual. And over the years of my priesthood I’ve told many people, look I think it is God’s will for you to marry. I don’t think I’ve ever told a person to bind him or herself under vow to get married. But I could.

A vow then is always a promise made to God to do something which is either objectively better in itself or at least subjectively better for the individual who makes the vow. The one vowing must realize that a special sin is committed by violating the vow. It is a sin against the virtue of religion to consciously and deliberately break a vow. The reason is that a vow is an act of the virtue of religion. This virtue is the virtue of justice towards God. He has a right to our total submission of will and our whole-hearted love. To break a vow is to fail in giving God what is His due.

Every vow is an oath which calls upon God to witness to the sincerity of the one making the vow. Moreover, every vow, by definition, is also a covenant, on several counts:

  • It is a covenant because the nature of the vow is such as the Church approves in making a promise to God.
  • It is a covenant because the one making the vow intends to bind himself before God to keep the vow.
  • It is, finally, a covenant because God binds Himself to give all the supernatural graces necessary for us to remain faithful to the vow.

How are the vows to be observed?

The vows are to be observed prayerfully, confidently and cheerfully. . . .Finally, those who undertake a vowed life should live this life cheerfully. Cheerfulness is the external witness of interior joy. I think I should repeat. “Cheerfulness is the external witness of interior joy.” Observing the vows is not easy. So what? But it should be enjoyable. “Come, come. You mean (you can’t mean) you mean I can be happy in doing what I don’t like? Well, that contradicts everything in Webster’s dictionary.” So much for words in Webster’s dictionary. Ah, there is happiness and THERE IS HAPPINESS. There is true joy and true joy is reserved only for those who sincerely strive to conform their wills to the will of God. And the key word is wills. My body may complain. Well, tell the body, “Keep complaining.” Emotions will be upset. Wake up, tell the emotions, “This is the will speaking I am in charge.”

Hence, those who live the vowed life are not only to be happy but to be cheerful in order to give evidence of their interior happiness. This cheerfulness is a powerful testimony to everyone who sees us that true joy comes from total self-sacrifice to Jesus Christ. Every day in my priesthood, every soul that God puts into my life keeps adding to the evidence, incontestable evidence, our happiness depends on the measure of our giving ourselves to God. And nobody but nobody either cheats or deceives anyone. Living then, a vowed life with cheerfulness provides, and I mean it, a foretaste of Heaven here on earth. God wants us to be happy. That’s why He gave us the Eight Beatitudes. But then you finish each Beatitude and you sigh, “Yes Lord, I want to be happy, but Lord, did you see the price tag?” He replies, “Yes. Not only did I see the price tag, I made the price tag. It’s high. And the price is self-sacrifice.”

Copyright © 1999 Inter Mirifica