Should Catholics Use Profanity and Vulgarity?

No they shouldn’t.

You may stop reading this post and continue with your life. But for those who disagree, or who want to read some justification for my answer, read on!

Profanity and Vulgarity In Society Today

I spent quite a lot of time last year with two friends whose daily conversation always included liberal doses of vulgarity, sexual innuendo, graphic sexual stories, and profanity.

Catholic Vulgarity ProfanityThey knew I was Catholic, but I never acted shocked by their behavior. To me it was all too trite and banal. Whenever I had had enough of it for one day or week, I would tell them knock it off, if not for goodness’ sake, then for the sake of me as their friend. They would manage to do so for an hour or two before starting up again.

These two friends are atheists, and have no compunction about morality or following God or anything like it.

I know all about how they are, because as an atheist I was just like them.

I used profanity, the f-word and all the others, made vulgar sexual references, and couldn’t care less what people thought about it.

During college I roomed with a Christian friend, and I would let fly profanity just to get a rise out of him. He would turn and stare at me and shake his head slowly, deadly serious, and it just made me laugh more. What a prudish dweeb! I thought.

But then I became a Christian. A Southern Baptist Protestant to be precise, who are known of course for their strict guidelines against dancing, drinking alcohol, and using profanity. I didn’t give up alcohol, so that was not a big deal, and truth be told I was never any good at dancing, so that prohibition meant nothing, but the profanity and vulgarity were another thing, something I had to consider.

Impure Speech and the Scriptures

As a new Christian, I read the Bible. And that meant I read passages like these:

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6).

“Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”(Philippians 4:8)

Catholic Vulgarity Profanity“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. We would be liable for every word we uttered.

These divinely inspired directives made an impact on me. I took them seriously because I believed they were God’s commands. I reflected on the use of my speech over my many years as an atheist and realized that, like so many other behaviors in my life, I needed to change.

After converting from atheism, I went through my movie collection and threw out movies that glorified perversion, vulgarity, were pornographic or sexually explicit, or made a joke out of demeaning human life.

I went through my music and cleaned out blasphemous and profanely vulgar albums.

Should it surprise me that, after twenty years of living without God, I should have lots of cleaning out to do, both externally and internally? No. No surprise at all. God showed me all the dark corners in my heart and bade me open the door to let His light cleanse them.

It took years, but I eradicated vulgarity and profanity from my speech (and from my heart as well, as best I could).

Catholics Using Vulgar Speech

Many Catholics I know use vulgar speech (and liberal profanity). When I hear them use such speech I consider that they simply don’t realize that it is wrong. As a Baptist I would have said that they had not been “convicted” about vulgarity.

The defenses given are that profanity is culturally conditioned, that vulgarity is not really wrong, that the Bible uses vulgarity or profanity.

For instance St. Paul, frustrated by the Judaizers, says to the Galatians: “I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!” (Gal. 5:12)

Elsewhere he uses a word to mean excrement.

So are these usages the same as the vulgarity and profanity I hear from my potty-mouth atheist friends and Catholic ones? No, not at all. Catholic Vulgarity and Profanity

The speech I hear from atheist and Catholic friends given to vulgarity is much worse. It is speech that calls to one’s mind the perverse, graphic, or sexually immoral scenes or objects they are speaking about. It is too often gratuitous and explicit.

Now, maybe one is so strong a Christian that such language, no matter how graphic or perverse, never leads one mind to picture the things spoken of. But even if that were the case, St. Paul speaks of being mindful of your weaker brother, so as not to lead him to sin.

I could given several recent examples from my own friends’ mouths of such speech, but in doing so it would do the very thing I counsel them against. So I won’t reproduce their words, but they describe gravely immoral sexual actions.

Puritan! Purity Prude!

In response to my objections against vulgar speech, those who employ it accuse me of being a Puritan, or a prude, or a Purity Snob. This is unfortunate, as if there are only two options: either use vulgarity and profanity or be a Purity Snob. False dichotomy.

The virtue of purity is something good, and it sits between the two vices on either side of crudeness and prudishness. We should all strive to be pure, and one of the things that means is to think and speak on things that are true, noble, good, and beautiful.

God gave us speech so we could communicate with each other, to edify one another, to express love and enter communion together. This is what the Bible says many times. We misuse the gift of our speech when we, among other things, speak vulgarities. More often than not nowadays, the vulgarity debases human sexuality.

pure1When my friend used vulgarity at a social event, I gently rebuked him for it. Not in a mean way, but in a “c’mon man, you can do better than that” way. He was a bit taken aback by my remonstrance, and we talked a little about it. Since then I have not seen a decrease in his use of vulgarity, but as a friend and Catholic brother I will continue exhorting him on the subject.

I’m Being Real and Authentic

The last defense I hear from Catholics using vulgarity is that they are being “authentic and real” and that they are reaching people that Puritan Catholics like me could never reach.

First, there is nothing authentic and real about being vulgar. No more than it is authentic to be lustful or to binge on alcohol. These are not virtuous actions.

Can you imagine Our Lady speaking in such a vulgar way or doing these other things? Of course not. Who does act that way? Pagan atheists. That should clue you in that there is something wrong with the behavior. Imitate the saints, not the heathens.

Second, there are many ways to reach people. You can reach people without using profanity and vulgarity. In ridding it from your lexicon, you will actually be even more authentic, even more who God made you to be, and if that is indeed what they are drawn to–the authentic you–then they will be even more drawn to you.

Let’s think and speak on things that are noble and pure, holy and edifying!

Having trouble cleansing your speech from vulgarity? You might want to try praying a novena! This post has been brought to you by Pray: the Catholic Novena app, available now in the Apple App Store.

A Catechumenate for Marriage Prep

We Want to Evangelize and Often Feel Like We Fail

So many of us have siblings or parents or children with whom we long to share the joy of life in Christ. I do. I’m one of eight children and, for various reasons, though each of us received the Sacraments, only three of us are still devout Catholics.

Perhaps, like I have, you’ve tried without success to invite them into the heart of Jesus, and you’ve learned that it’s best to keep silent and simply pray for them.

This unceasing desire to evangelize our family and our friends is a good one. It comes from Our Lord Himself, from His many Gospel adjurations to search for lost sheep and be leaven in the dough and go to the margins and bring in those who are on the fringes. And, while maybe our own efforts to evangelize our families have met with cold rebuffs, the good news is that your local parish has three excellent opportunities to reach those on the margins because, during the following three points of contact, those on the margins are brought to the parish. Those three points of contact are: Marriage prep, Baptism prep, and at a funeral; a quinceanera might be a fourth point of contact, for Hispanic Catholics.

Marriage Prep Is An Opportunity For Evangelization and Discipleship

Today, I focus on marriage prep, and its very fertile opportunity for evangelization. Let’s start with the current situation. Over the past 40 years, most Catholic marriage preparation programs have not changed much, whether it be attending a mandatory class or participating in a weekend retreat.  However, today’s engaged couples have changed. Significantly. Consider the following:

If the current model is not working, why not adjust the standard Marriage-Prep model, therefore, to meet the needs of today’s engaged couples?

Witness to Love’s Marriage Catechumenate

CatholicSFthumbnailThe good news is that there is a new crop of a Marriage-Prep programs that seek to do just that, and my favorite one is Witness to Love. I first encountered Witness to Love when its founder, Mary-Rose Verret, was invited to speak at my parish, St. Williams. As she spoke about the amazing fruits of Witness to Love, I was so moved that I asked her to consider inviting me to intern. She not only did that–she offered me a job, my dream job as the Parish Outreach Coordinator for Witness to Love! It was what you’d call a win-win situation. 🙂

Allow me to first describe the key dynamic of WTL, then share with you some of the amazing fruits of this ministry.

Mary-Rose, and her husband, Ryan, after working with hundreds of engaged couples, realized that the classroom model for marriage prep was simply not reaching couples. They became convinced that the most effective marriage-prep is one grounded in personal discipleship, one in which engaged couples form personal friendships with veteran married couples who will become a source of strength, wisdom, and encouragement after the wedding. Just as Our Lord drew his disciples into the very depths of His heart through sharing meals and journeying with them, the same thing can happen with engaged couples. Through relational discipleship, engaged couples can be invited into relationship with Jesus Christ and drawn into the very heart of the Church, becoming themselves intentional disciples who can evangelize within their parishes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and families.

That is what “Marriage Catechumenate” means.

Resized3Let me say that again. The Marriage-Prep-Catechumante model draws upon the conviction that through relational discipleship, engaged couples can be invited into relationship with Jesus Christ and drawn into the very heart of the Church, becoming themselves intentional disciples who can evangelize within their parishes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and families.

Marriage Prep is one of those three excellent opportunities when those on the margins actually come to the parish office! They do the work for us! They are standing at the parish Welcome Desk and ready to be invited into the heart of Christ. Through Witness to Love’s relational discipleship model, parishes don’t miss an opportunity to welcome those marginalized engaged couples into relationship with Jesus Christ and into the life of the parish.

Even more exciting, as these engaged couples are set afire with the Good News, they become instruments of evangelization and new life in the parish. I shared above about the Marriage-Catechumenate dynamic, now let me turn to the grace-filled fruits of WTL.


Many pastors have shared with Mary-Rose that Witness to Love has transformed their parish. Before the parish adopted WTL, they tell us, they were jaded about Marriage-Prep; they felt like a “drive-through Sacrament distributor”.

However, as engaged couples encounter the kerygma for the first time and become zealous, Jesus-loving Catholics, they blossom into young families who are generously open to life. Lots of babies are born into the parish, so Baptisms increase. That means that new Godparents go through Baptism-training classes (another excellent point of contact where those on the margins are brought into the parish, where they can be offered the kerygma).

It, also, means that these newly-married couples invite their friends to Mass, and, if the parish has Adult Faith Formation, as well as Small Groups, those same friends can enter into relationship with Our Lord and His Sacraments, as well. A “catechumenate model” of Marriage-Prep ministry becomes a huge evangelization net, and pastors who were previously jaded are very excited about meeting with engaged couples.

You can view an interview here with a real-life pastor whose parish was transformed by Witness to Love.

Mentor Couples

cnaOne of the most common objections to Witness to Love is that engaged couples CHOOSE their mentor couple, provided that the mentor couple has been married for five years and is in good standing in the parish. What if the chosen mentor couple contracepts? What if they are not properly formed in Church teaching? These are valid concerns.

Again, if the goal is to evangelize every Catholic who does not already know the joy of life in Christ, the same principle that applies to engaged couples, also, applies to those who are already in the pews.  Witness to Love does not invite mentor couples to convey Catholic doctrine on marriage and sexuality; that is the role of the pastor or marriage prep deacon. Rather, mentor and engaged couple, traverse a carefully crafted course of study on the classical virtues, particularly those virtues that are necessary for married life–friendship, forgiveness, humility, fortitude, etc.

Simply in learning about the virtues, mentor and engaged couples are already learning about living Christian marriage well, and many mentor couples have shared with WTL that their marriages were reinvigorated and that their love was deepened and renewed. And, again, if your parish has an Adult Faith Formation program, as well as Small Groups, mentor couples can be invited into those, as well; mentorship offers parishes another point of contact with people in the pews, and is an excellent opportunity for ongoing evangelization.

Engaged Couples

I feel like I’ve already said enough above about the amazing fruits of conversion and joy among engaged couples who participate in Witness to Love. However, if you’d like to hear more, check out the Witness to Love website or comment below, and I’d be happy to provide more examples.

Familyphoto1Catherine Rose is wife to Devin Rose, and works as the Parish Outreach Coordinator for Witness to Love; she is blessed with two children, as well as three who are in the arms of Jesus.

The Pragmatic Pro-lifer’s Case for Trump

Synopsis (tl;dr): Pro-life Catholics are not suckers for voting for Trump. A pragmatic case can be made for voting for him, in spite of his serious flaws. No such case can be made for Clinton. Voting for neither is also a good option.

The post is brought to you by Pray: the Catholic Novena app. Yes, our country is in dire straits; what better reason than to start praying a novena!

Two Bad Candidates

We’ve finally reached it America: an election with two heinously awful candidates.

Yet these were the two candidates the American people chose. They are the products of our falling empire and crumbling civilization. Given this reality, some Catholic pundits are lambasting pro-lifers as suckers and fools for saying they will vote for Trump, and even claiming that a vote for Clinton is better.

I consider myself a Catholic pro-lifer and have fought for pro-life laws and hearts and minds ever since becoming Catholic fifteen years ago. I opposed and oppose Trump and think he would not be a good president, but I do think there’s a case to be made for him over Clinton.

Myth: Republicans Have Done Nothing for the Pro-life Movement But Pay Lip Service

I live in Texas and we have passed many pro-life laws over the past decade that have done tremendous good. Republicans have pushed those bills through and Republican governors have signed them into law.

Having good judges and Justices is vitally important. The most recent defeat at the Supreme Court of the excellent Texas law demonstrates how unjust and devastating liberal activist judges are.

Democrat Presidents appoint these liberal activist judges while Republicans (usually) appoint solid judges who interpret the Constitution and don’t legislate from the bench.

The pragmatic case: Clinton would certainly appoint liberal activist judges and Justices while Trump has said he would appoint strict constructionists.

Even if Trump goofs because he is clueless on such matters, we at least get a sporting chance at pro-life judges. With Clinton we get certain doom, sealing the Supreme Court for decades and speeding the demise of our country, along with countless unborn babies.

Clinton is Lawful Evil and Trump is Chaotic Neutral.alignmentchart

Religious Liberty

Clinton will continue Obama’s despicable efforts to turn the screws against Christians on religious liberty. The HHS mandate is just the beginning of what could be coming next if Clinton gets elected.

The one argument here against Trump is that he has said he would take action against religious liberty for Muslims (e.g. monitor and shut down mosques where terrorism is preached). Shutting down a place (any place, Muslim or Christian or secular) where terrorism and hatred are fomented could be a legitimate action. Forcing Christians to violate their conscience and punishing them if they don’t is never legitimate.

Trump’s Conversions

Trump has been having lots of conversions lately: he was pro-choice, now he’s pro-life (somewhat); he was pro-pornography and lust now he signs something saying he’ll fight against it.

I don’t believe his conversions. I find them paper thin and all too convenient. Let him show fruits of repentance for ten years and I’ll believe it.

Reformed Protestant professor Wayne Grudem and Catholic apologist Steve Ray are more sanguine than I am about Trump and his conversions. I don’t share their optimism. Grudem calls Trump “a good candidate with flaws” but I would call him a bad candidate with one or two positive points.

A Third Party Vote Helps Clinton

Many are saying this: “be a realist, not an idealist! Voting for a third-party is just like voting for Clinton!”

I disagree. When you are given two bad options it is legitimate to choose neither and vote for someone else.

Clinton is the most awful candidate I can imagine running for President. Under no circumstances would I ever vote for her, and I would encourage everyone to not vote for her. If she is elected she will do tremendous harm to our country.

Trump is a showman and playboy. He is not fit to be President. He supports evils like torture and is full of bombast. But he at least plans to have some good people around him and promises to make some good judicial appointments.

With eyes wide open, a pro-life Catholic can vote for Trump, in spite of his deep and grievous flaws. 

I  plan to vote third party, perhaps write in the Constitution Party candidate or the Solidarity Party one.

The post was brought to you by Pray: the Catholic Novena app. Yes, our country is in dire straits; what better reason than to start praying a novena!