Saint James warns us that we should
be slow to speak and quick to listen. (Please Read James chapter 3—an excellent
treatise on the sins of the tongue). The Imitation of Christ asserts
that few have regretted for having refrained to speak; whereas many regret
having opened their mouths when they should have kept it shut.Still more, Jesus warns us that every word
that comes forth from our mouth we will be judged; and Jesus says:“From the abundance of the heart the mouth
speaks.”Finally, St. Bonaventure
asserts that we should open our mouths in three occasions: to praise God, to
accuse ourselves and finally, to edify others—hopefully this will be our
criteria for speaking!
The primary purpose for the gift of
speech that God has given to the human person, endowed with intellect and will,
is to communicate the truth with love! The truth must be communicated in
speech, but condimented with the savory seasoning of love.
What might be ten fatal flaws that
result from improper speech? Better preventive medicine than curative. The
reason being: once the word has issued forth from the mouth it cannot be
retrieved, as is the case when a rock launched in the direction of a window
pane, it cannot return to the hand but suffers the consequence of the shattered
1.LIE.Lies should be avoided at all costs.A lie perverts the proper end and purpose of human speech, by falsifying
the truth. If all were to lie then human solidarity and living would be
literally impossible because nobody could trust the other but always would be
living with the suspicion that the other who speaks is deceiving.Jesus said that the devil is the father of
lies. Therefore, in a very real sense liars are sons/daughter of the devil!
Strong jargon but true!
2.WHITE LIE.Many will justify the lie by saying that it
is only a white lie, an inoffensive lie, that nobody will be hurt, or even that
is was said to avoid doing harm to the other person. Once Charlie Brown talking
to Lucy said that what he told was only a white lie. Lucy responded:“Charlie, I did not know that lies come in
colors.” In sum, your speech should always communicate the truth in the big as
well as in the small. Jesus reminds us that those who are faithful in the small
will be faithful in the large.
Why yell, he is not deaf???
3.SHOUTING/YELLING.Frustrated people who have little
self-control often have recourse to yelling or shouting, with the hope of
moving the listeners to action; this might be the case of mothers with their
children. The end of getting the children to submit in obedience will not
result; on the contrary, the children will pay even less attention to the
overly-emotional and uncontrolled mother. If need be, give fraternal correction
but with calmness and peace!
Tongue is like a wild-fire! (Saint James)
4.SLANDER/CALUMNY.At all costs we should strive to maintain and
defend our own good reputation but also the reputation of others. All have a
right to the defense of their good name. Therefore, calumny or slander can be
defined as “character assassination”—that is to say, killing the good name of
another. Actually it can be categorized under the 5th
Commandment:“Thou shalt not kill.”
5.GOSSIP.All too prevalent in the modern society is
that of the gossiper. Such a person always finds the negative in the other
person and speaks about it behind the back of the person. Gossipers cause
damage in many ways: they hurt God who hears all things; they hurt themselves
by sinning by their speech; they hurt the persons listening to their gossip;
finally and most obvious they hurt the person against whom they are gossiping.
If you are a gossiper or listen to gossip, stop right now! Remember, Jesus says
that every useless word that comes from your mouth you will be judged! Be
prepared for judgment day!
GOSSIPING: HOW UGLY!
6.SARCASM IN SPEECH. Utilizing sarcasm wounds charity;
it is like adding salt to the opened wound. It hurts burns and smarts!The sarcastic person belittles, disparages
and pokes fun at others, gets the listeners to laugh and degrades others and
their innate dignity. Before giving in to sarcasm apply the Golden Rule. How
would you like it if you were to be the butt of a sarcastic joke??? Do to
others what you want them to do to you. Say about others what you would like
them to say about you!
St. John Nepomucene: patron of seal of the confessional
7.BREAKING CONFIDENCE.If what you have heard is meant to be kept in
confidence, not revealed, or if you like kept secret, then best to keep your
mouth shut and sealed. Priests must maintain the seal of the confessional.
Professionals are obliged to maintain confidence in many cases. In this case
the proverb: silence is golden indeed is very true. Therefore, with respect to
speech sometimes we are obliged simply to remain silent, a very eloquent
8.BLASPHEMY.Of the utmost serious character is that of
blasphemy. What them is blasphemy?In
Father John Hardon’s Pocket Catholic Dictionary
(page 51) we read: Blasphemy: “Speaking against God in a contemptuous,
scornful, or abusive manner. Included under blasphemy are offenses committed by
thought, word or action, serious contemptuous ridicule of the saints, sacred
objects, or of persons consecrated to God is also blasphemous because God is
indirectly attacked. Blasphemy is a grave violation of charity against God. Its
gravity may be judged by capital punishment in the Old Testament, severe
penalties in the Church, and in many cases also of the State.” A concrete and
modern example of this was the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was
desecrated by pouring blood over the statue shortly before Christmas (2015) in
Oklahoma. May God have mercy on us!
Let us bless rather than use abusive language
9.ABUSIVE AND VULGAR LANGUAGE. Not as
serious as blasphemy nonetheless still an abuse of speech is the all-too
prevalent proliferation of vulgar language. Often words are used to degrade the
human person, the intimate act that God has designed for the procreation of new
human beings. This is wrong and should be brought to a screeching halt for
those who are in the habit of using such ugly and indecent language.We should never forget that we are temples
of the Holy Spirit. If we are Catholics then our tongue receives the Body and
Blood of Jesus every time that we receive Holy Communion. We should act
according to the dignity of who we are—Temples of the Living God; as well as
our destiny—future citizens of heaven, our eternal home with God forever!
BRAGGING/BOASTING.Another form of
speech that we should eschew is that of bragging or boasting. What is this form
of speech?It is when we are praising
ourselves, placing ourselves above all lauding and adulating our own greatness.
In this we attribute our successes, merits, awards and rewards all to our own
greatness. This is very displeasing to God because this is the essence and
epitome of pride! God lifts up the lowly but despises the proud of heart. Our
Lady in her Magnificat expresses this truth: “God has looked upon the lowliness of his
handmaid… He has cast down the might from their thrones but has lifted up the
lowly…” Our attitude of heart should be that of the Psalmist:“Not to us, not to us but to you O God the
honor and glory…”