Friday after Ash Wednesday
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
FRIDAY, February 19th Mt. 9: 14-15 “Jesus answered them, ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.’”
FASTING WITH THE TONGUE THIS LENT by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
One of the most powerful weapons that we have at our disposal is between our upper and lower teeth—namely, our tongue. The words that issue forth from our mouth have an incredible power for good or for evil.
Pope Francis constantly is reminding us of the importance of vigilance over our whole being; and this includes our tongue and the words that come forth from our mouth.. Time and time again Pope Francis exhorts us to avoid gossip, back-biting, and speech that damages others.
Saint James reminds us: “We should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (Jas. 1:19) In James Chapter Three—a must read with respect to the control of our tongue—Saint James in a clear and challenging fashion outlines the dangers of the tongue and the damage that this small instrument can do. Man can tame the animals, but not his tongue. It is small, but just as a little spark can start a huge fire, so the tongue though small can do irreparable damage. In Southern California there is always the danger of a fire cutting across thousands of acres of land, devastating homes, towns, and killing people. Often this huge fire starts with someone flicking a match or cigarette butt, or some other seemingly insignificant thing that sets off a conflagration.
Jesus, who is the Logos—the Word of God made flesh, likewise warns us of the importance of the use of our tongue and our speech on the Day of Judgment! The Lord Himself says: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Lk. 6:45) Once again, with respect to our Final Judgment Jesus warns us: “Every word that comes out of our mouth will be judged.” (Mt. 12:36-37) He also encourages us not to waste words, but be quick and to the point whenever possible: “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything else comes from evil one.” (Mt. 5:37)
LENT: THE SEASON OF CONVERSION
The Season of Lent is a time for conversion of life; this also includes conversion of the way we speak. The three traditional ways to attain to true conversion of heart and life are: 1) prayer, 2) almsgiving, 3) fasting.
True, one can and should fast from food, especially on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Nonetheless, this is not exhaustive! Fasting can be done in many other ways. For example, fasting of the eyes from harmful TV programs, fasting from laziness at work, fasting from being overly critical and judgmental of others in our heart.
Still there is another form of fasting: fasting of the tongue, fasting in speech, fasting from offending others with our words. Why not undertake this on your Lenten journey as you head to the Cross on Good Friday, with your hearts joyfully awaiting the Risen Lord Jesus on the day of the Resurrection!
Indeed this practice could result in promoting harmony in your home with your family members, peace in your relations at work, and charity towards all people you meet!
The following are two short but powerful supports to help us carry out successfully a program of fasting in our speech.
FIRST: THE PENTECOST EXPERIENCE AND SPEECH.
The Apostles during the Public life of Jesus made many mistakes in word and deed. However, they experienced one transforming event—Pentecost. The twelve Apostles spent nine days and nine nights in prayer with the Blessed Virgin Mary and boom!!! There was an explosion of grace!!!
The Holy Spirit descended upon them in Tongues of Fire—emphasis on the word tongues! After which they were endowed with the ability—with their tongues—to preach the Word of God powerfully and convert countless souls. The message and its meaning? Simple! If our speech is to be edifying and sanctifying, then like the Apostles we must be converted, purified, and sanctified by the Fire of the Holy Spirit. All of us must have a daily Pentecost experience! We all must invoke and beg the Holy Spirit on a daily basis that He will guide our minds, our hearts, and the words that usher forth from our mouths! “Come Holy Spirit, come, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
SECOND: THE GOLDEN RULE AND SPEECH
Every person on earth can understand the Golden Rule given to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “Do to others what you would like them to do to you.” (Mt. 7:12) Everybody responds positively towards a kind word, friendly smile, and charitable gesture. Why not apply the Golden Rule of Jesus to how we speak to others. A bitter or sarcastic word can leave an irreparable wound in the soul of another. On the contrary, a kind word motivated by a pure and loving heart can lift somebody out of the pits of desolation!
Saint Bernard in one of his edifying homilies, reminds us of three rules to apply to our speech:
- Speak to accuse ourselves of our own failures. A great way to do this is by making a good confession!
- Speak to praise God. Saint Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises Meditation on Principle and Foundation, reminds us why we are here on earth: “To praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save our soul.” (Spiritual Exercises text # 23)
- Speak to edify our neighbor. The word “edify” technically means “to build up”. Our words should serve to encourage and build up our neighbor.
Today, the world has been inundated with a Tsunami of gossip, criticism, negativism, sarcasm and irony—not to mention outright lies and slander! We must counteract negative and poisonous speech by using our tongue to lift others closer to God who is in heaven. We should never forget that God’s ear is listening attentively to every word, letter, and syllable that issues forth from our mouth!
The Word of God reminds us that he who does not control his speech is not on the highway to holiness. However, the man who controls his tongue is being led by the Holy Spirit and is following the pathway to heaven—the narrow path that Jesus taught us.
In conclusion, let us turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who spoke only seven times in the Gospels, that with her help we would learn the art of fasting in many ways. However, especially in this Holy Season of Lent, let us fast from all words that could offend others and God, who is offended when we offend others with our speech. Let us learn to praise God like Mary, with our words and with our lives: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Let us praise God with Our Lady in time and forever in heaven!
Copyright 2021 Oblates of the Virgin Mar
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA