We sin against God’s honor: (1) by putting anyone or anything in God’s place, (2) by blaspheming God or perjuring ourselves, (3) by failing to show respect for persons, places, and things consecrated especially to God, (4) by atheism, heresy, and schism, and (5) by missing Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.
1. We sin against God’s honor by putting anyone or anything in God’s place.
The First Commandment states, “I am the Lord your God… You shall have no other gods before me” (Deuteronomy 5:6-7; cf. Exodus 20:1-3). This commandment binds us to adoration. We honor God by praising Him, serving Him, and offering sacrifices to Him.
The First Commandment warns us against any action which would lead us away from true adoration of the living God. This includes neglecting to learn the truths God has taught or refusing to believe these truths once we understand them; abandoning God’s Catholic Church or becoming a member of another church or religion (after being exposed to Her faithful teaching of all God’s truths which He intended man to know for his Salvation); giving in to superstitious practices by which we show belief that certain persons or things have powers which only God has; tempting God in word or deed by putting His goodness and power to the test; and buying or selling spiritual goods (simony), for God’s gifts are freely given and cannot be bought.
2. We sin against God’s honor by blaspheming God or perjuring ourselves.
The Second Commandment is: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Deuteronomy 5:11; Exodus 20:7). This commandment tells us to have respect for God’s Name and for everything connected with His Name. St. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke to the leaders of the people of Israel: “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is Salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12).
We honor God’s Name by invoking Him with reverence in our prayers. The Church praises the Name of God in her liturgical prayers, especially at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To use the Name of God irreverently is to sin against the Second Commandment. To use God’s Name or the names of the Blessed Virgin Mary or of the saints with insolence, hate, or abuse is called blasphemy. Blasphemy is a grave sin.
We honor God when we call upon Him in an oath to witness the truth of our statement or when we make a vow to follow God more closely as in the consecrated life. On the other hand, to lie under oath is called perjury, a serious offense against God’s goodness and truth. Whatever statements we make under oath are made in God’s Holy Name. Therefore, to lie under oath is to ask God to lie, to deny Himself. This is something God can never do, for God is Truth itself.
We should have nothing to do with blasphemy, perjury, or any other irreverent treatment of the Name of God.
3. We sin against God’s honor by failing to show respect for persons, places, and things consecrated especially to God.
By speaking with reverence of the Holy Father, bishops, priests, and consecrated persons dedicated to God, we honor God. Holy things dedicated to God, such as the Bible, the altar, rosaries, and other sacramentals, should also be treated with respect. It is a grave sin of sacrilege to profane or treat unworthily the sacraments, liturgical actions, and persons, things, or places consecrated to God.
4. We sin against God’s honor by atheism, heresy, and schism.
Atheism, heresy, and schism should be rejected as a failure to fulfill our duties toward God. The greatest way in which the faithful can help our atheistic and agnostic world to come to God is by living a life which witnesses to the message of Christ’s love. Our lives must manifest a living and mature faith which is made visible by works of justice and charity.
5. We sin against God’s honor by missing Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation.
The Third Commandment is: “Observe the sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:12). Scripture says: “For in six days the Lord made Heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11).
The Mass is the highest form of worship. Every Mass, and especially Sunday Mass, is a reminder of Christ’s Easter victory and the joy we share with Christ. In each Mass, we unite our hearts with Jesus and the Church as we praise the Father for His great glory, thank Him for His abundant goodness, and ask for His continued help in our daily lives and for His forgiveness for our sins.
We are obliged to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each Sunday (or Saturday evening) and all holy days of obligation. St. Luke says: “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them” (Acts 20:7). Sunday, the first day of the week or the “eighth day,” is the Lord’s Day. It is a day the Church especially celebrates Jesus’ Resurrection.
On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, we are bound to observe the Sabbath rest by abstaining from work or other activities that would keep us from worshipping God, from adequate rest and relaxation for our minds and bodies, from the joy proper to the Lord’s Day, and from performing Works of Mercy. By resting from our usual work, it is easier to join with family members and other Christians in making Sunday a day of celebration and thanksgiving for the triumph of Jesus Christ.
We must also be careful not to make unnecessary demands on others (such as our employees) that would keep them from divine worship and adequate rest on the Lord’s Day. Only family needs and important social and religious service can excuse one from the Sunday rest obligation.