Choose a topic from Part 2B:

76. Injustice in Words: Cursing

1. Cursing is either a wish or a command that another beafflicted with evil. As a command, cursing is sometimes lawful;thus, a judge imposing penalty, or the Church pronouncing anathema,involves no injustice or sin. But we usually understand cursing asthe wish, expressed in strong terms, that another may be afflictedwith evil.

2. Cursing irrational things is, in itself, mere vain andfutile speech; it is not really cursing at all. When such cursingof irrational things is actually cursing, it has reference topeople. Thus when the Lord said (Gen. 3:17), "Cursed is theearth in thy work," he meant that the barrenness of the earthis a penalty put upon sinful man. And when David cursed themountains of Gelboe (II Kings 1:21), he did so because of thepeople who had been slaughtered there. Likewise, when Job cursedhis day (Job 3:1) he was referring to the miseries that people mustendure in this world.

3. Cursing as an evil wish against other persons is a sin.It is directly contrary to charity, and it strikes against justice.Therefore, in its genus or kind, it is a mortal sin. But,in its actual performing, cursing is frequently mere vain speech,even when it is directed against persons. It is seldom used withattention to its meaning, or with any thought of having an evilwish fulfilled. A man who "damns" another, or tells himto "go to hell," has usually no wish at all to see theother suffer harm; he has no thought of wishing that the personaddressed should undergo the punishment of hell. He is merely usinga coarse, uncouth, and nearly meaningless expression that isreadily learned andhabitually used to give vent to strongfeeling in almost any trying situation.

4. Cursing, even when it is actually worthy of the name and istherefore sinful, is usually not so grave a sin as backbiting.Backbiting actually inflicts an injury; cursing only wishes injuryto be inflicted.

"Let persons in the world sanctify themselves in their own houses, for neither the court, professions, or labour, are any hindrance to the service of God."
St Philip Neri

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"A man should keep himself down, and not busy himself in mirabilibus super se."
St Philip Neri

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"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis

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