The Apostle would have us keep silence, for in silence he tells us to work. As the Prophet also makes known to us: Silence is the way to foster holiness. Elsewhere he says: Your strength will lie in silence and hope. For this reason I lay down that you are to keep silence from after Compline until after Prime the next day. At other times, although you need not keep silence so strictly, be careful not to indulge in a great deal of talk, for as Scripture has it – and experience teaches us no less – Sin will not be wanting where there is much talk, and He who is careless in speech will come to harm; and elsewhere: The use of many words brings harm to the speaker’s soul. And our Lord says in the Gospel: Every rash word uttered will have to be accounted for on judgment day. Make a balance then, each of you, to weigh his words in; keep a tight rein on your mouths, lest you should stumble and fall in speech, and your fall be irreparable and prove mortal. Like the Prophet, watch your step lest your tongue give offence, and employ every care in keeping silent, which is the way to foster holiness.
Rule of St. Albert, No. 21
Have you ever listened to yourself talk? I mean, have you ever tried to listen to what you’re saying, like, how do you sound to the person you’re talking to? Do you come as arrogant or, perhaps, insincere? How about sincere and humble?
Do they feel that they are loved by the way you speak to them? Would they be inspired by your words? Or would they be angry and bitter?
Eight years ago, Edita Burgos, a secular Discalced Carmelite and mother of disappeared (desaparecido) political activist Jonas, brought before the Catholic bishops of the Philippines her burden of looking for her son.
In response, then CBCP president, Archbishop Angel N. Lagdameo, broadcasted on YouTube a prayer for her son. Her spirit was lifted and she was given the courage to pursue her cause. She felt relieved and comforted that the church was on her side.
On the sixth-year anniversary of the disappearance of Jonas in 2013, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle called on the perpetrators to surface Jonas, saying, “I’m calling on those holding Jonas and many others who are being searched by their mothers, fathers and siblings, you will face God. You must face God now.” And her strength to continue the search and the fight for justice was refreshed.
Kind words bring life to a drought-ridden heart. It’s like rain in the desert. But harsh words break a person.
The old Christian communities were beset by irresponsible talk and so, in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he said, “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29).
But then there are times when we unintentionally release unkind words.
Our emotion color the way we speak, and so we could sound arrogant and defensive when we are angry and say things which we would later regret. Or when we feel vulnerable, our speech would come as submissive and weak.
That is why Paul said, “be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil…. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:26-27, 31-32).
When we are full of God’s love, only love would come out from our mouths for “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34).
Do my words inspire or discourage?
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! how can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Lord, grant me a heart filled with your love, so that it would overflow to my mouth and only inspiring words would flow from it. Giving hope to the pained, encouraging the disheartened. Amen.