Nov 21, 2018
Some time ago, I came across a book entitled, “The Book of Irish Curses.” The book was intended to be light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek – and in many ways it was. But as one read through the colorful variety of curses, one came to see something negative and destructive at work. Even if one does not believe in the magical power of curses, one can still recognize that curses intend to destroy and tear down, to sow dissension and ruin in the human environment.
The opposite of cursing is blessing. In 1989, the Church produced “A Book of Blessings,” and, in 2007, a book of “Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers.” As one reads through their contents, one senses their creative, edifying, and ennobling character.
It has long been recognized that the ability to give thanks is the mark of the truly religious person. Without the sense of thanksgiving, we fail to have openness to God, to others, to our own personal histories, and to the goodness of life itself.
That is why blessing and cursing are more than a matter of words. Both invoke whole attitudes toward life. It does not take much reflection to realize that there is a close relationship between the way we think, the way we speak, and the way we act.
Many people curse themselves without even knowing it when they think, speak about, and evaluate their own lives in negative and pessimistic terms. To say that our personal history has been disastrous and meaningless is to curse it. Whenever we say that the present is pointless and valueless, we have effectively cursed ourselves. Whenever we are hopeless and cynical about the future, we are cursing it in advance – hence already destroying it.