Lesson 359: Word-perfect

The third commandment teaches us that we are never to use God’s name lightly or as a swear-word. [You know why, although babies are oftened christened with the names of saints - so much nicer than with those of film-stars - a boy is never christened “Jesus.” Because it is so holy a name] (St. Luke i, 49). It forbids all swearing, except taking the oath in a court of law (St. Matthew 26, 63 and 64).

It also forbids lying. When people lie and swear, it is generally because they are afraid (St. Mark 14, 70 and 71); afraid of being punished, or being laughed at. A good picture of a lie was drawn by a deaf-and-dumb boy: between two dots he drew a crooked line; for truth, he drew a straight line.

It also teaches reverence in speech about God, the Church, the Sacraments, and all holy things. It was a wise child who said, “Heaven is a place where people talk quietly”; and I shouldn’t wonder if it was an East London child, for it is generally so noisy here that Haggerston children are fond of shouting.

In short, this commandment tells you and me and all Christians to be careful how we speak (St. Matthew 12, 36 and 37). After Sister Marjorie of St. Saviour’s Priory died, somebody said about her, “Yus, she wos a good ’un, she wos: no one ever ’eard ’er say a wry word about any one.” (“Wry” means “crooked”.) How nice it would be if people said that about you I Well, why not? Suppose that one day, in heaven, some one whom you hadn’t seen for quite a long time came up to you, and said, “I want to say Thank You; because it is due to you, as well as of course to God’s grace, that I am here. When we were together in Haggerston, I noticed that your speech was always clean, true, reverent, kind. I knew you went to St. Augustine’s. So I began to go there—and that’s how I got here.” Wouldn’t you feel pleased? Well, why shouldn’t it happen?


When you were bom, you cried while others smiled. Let all who know you be so grateftd for your speech that, when you die, you smile while others cry.