Do Catholics Swear? The Language of the Sacraments


While we don’t swear in a vulgar way (that is not who we are), we do swear in a heavenly language. This is exactly what the sacraments are all about. During antiquity, the Latin word “sacramentum” meant “to designate an oath” which was sworn in the making of a family covenant so as to bond two families together. Today, when we participate in the sacraments, we partake in a sacred encounter with God. We swear an oath to uphold the terms of the covenant and receive the benefits of God. In this episode, Jeff dives deep into the sacraments and explains how they bond us together with God.



Brian Pizzalato:

Dom Cyprian Vagaggini, OSB, “Theological Dimensions of the Liturgy” (The Liturgical Press, 1976).

“Sacraments are ‘powers that comes forth’ from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving.  They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in his Body, the Church.  They are ‘the masterworks of God’ in the new and everlasting covenant” (CCC 1116).

“The sacraments are called efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us.  They areefficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies” (CCC 1131, 1127).


Swearing an Oath Results in Family

Why did the Holy Spirit lead the early church in calling these mysteries “sacraments?”

The word “sacrament” comes from the Latin word sacramentum which is the translation of the Greek word Mysterion.

A mystery is something that is known or “seen” or revealed but which, in some sense, “conceals” something else.  In the case of the sacraments, the mystery is the life of the Trinity.

Sacramentum is the Latin term used in antiquity to designate an oath.  An oath was sworn in the making of a covenant resulting in a family bond between two parties.

Each time we partake of the sacraments we are swearing an oath to uphold the terms of the covenant and receive the benefits of God.



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