Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
FRIDAY, February 5th Mk. 6: 14-29 “When Herod learned of it, he said, ‘It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.’”
- “The Lord needs strong and courageous souls who refuse to come to terms with mediocrity, but who will be able to enter all kinds of environments with a sure step.” (Saint Josemaria Escriva)
- It was not Herod’s intention to have John the Baptist beheaded. Rather, it was the result of rash and imprudent words spoken by Herod in front of guests. How often do we betray Our Lord, and even betray ourselves, with rash or impudent words?
- Saint Ignatius says we overcome vice by practicing the opposite virtue—the Agere Contra. The opposite virtue to tearing down with our words is to build up with our words. Saint John of the Cross says, “In the twilight of our life we will be judged on love.” And that includes all our words!
BUILDING UP WITH WORDS by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
All of us can remember having been hurt by somebody speaking without thinking and stinging our heart, leaving a lasting bad memory. Also, all of us remember having opened up our mouth without sufficient reflection and wounding a brother, sister, or friend! Immediately after the word slipped out of our mouth, we wanted to take it back, but no, too late! Once the word has been uttered, there is no “muting”, cancelling, or postponing its arrival to the ear and heart of the listener.
Jesus speaks very clearly about our words: “Every word that comes out of the mouth will be subject to judgment.” (Mt. 12:36) Saint James dedicates almost an entire chapter (Chapter 3) to the sins of the tongue. In short, the Apostle underscores the importance of learning the art of speech, reminding us that we should be slow to speak and quick to listen. He reminds us that man can control almost all types of animals, but not his own tongue! Moreover, he says that the same tongue that is used to praise God, ends up by cursing one’s neighbor. This is wrong!
Therefore, we would like to offer five short suggestions to help us utilize our tongue, our speech, our words, our conversation as a means to truly edify our neighbor—that means, to build up our neighbor!
FIRST COUNSEL. We should make it a habit to first talk to God and then talk to our neighbor. It was said of the great Saint Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (among which were Saint Albert the Great and his student Saint Thomas Aquinas) that he would first talk to God, then talk about God to others! Superb! Ideally that should be our motto and objective in life with regard to speech—that all our words would in some way be communicating the presence of God to others!
SECOND COUNSEL. Think before you speak! Saint Ignatius observed that a soul that is agitated is a soul in the state of desolation. That is to say, it is not the good spirit that is guiding us but the bad spirit! Therefore, speak after reflection and with a calm and peaceful mind! Rushed and impetuous words from our unclear or muddled ideas will often cause confusion and hurt. Avoid it!
THIRD COUNSEL SILENCE! Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, insisted on the capital importance of cultivating silence in our daily lives! Today we suffer from noise pollution! Radio talk-shows, pop music, non-stop TV programs, iPhones, and dogs barking into the late hours of the night! Add to that, non-stop, useless chatter, often filled with gossip—all of us have experienced these scenarios and all too frequently! Benedict went so far as to say that if we do not have zones of silence in our life, then we really can’t understand the person who wants to talk to us! Silence creates an interior space for listening; listening disposes us for union with the Holy Spirit; and finally the Holy Spirit teaches us first to pray, and second to listen attentively and charitably to our brothers and sisters!
FOURTH COUNSEL Biblical counsel of great importance: THE GOLDEN RULE! The “Golden rule” enunciated by Jesus Himself is very simple and everybody in the world understands it: “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Mt. 7: 12) Why not take the Golden Rule one more step and apply it specifically to our speech. That is to say, “Do to others what you would have them do to you”, but most especially, “Say to otherswhat you would have them to say to you!” Try it out!
FIFTH COUNSEL. At times it may not be clear if what we are saying is harmful to others or beneficial! What could be of great help in this matter is to imagine that three very important persons are present with you during the time of your conversation which includes your choice of words, tone of voice, even your facial expressions. And these three persons are Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph! Now ask yourself this question. Are Jesus, Mary, and Saint Joseph pleased with my conversation?” This is the acid test for followers of Jesus! Are our words pleasing in the sight of Jesus, His Holy Mother, and Good Saint Joseph who never even said a word in all of Sacred Scripture? If not, we need to change.
Conclusion. Jesus said that from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Lk. 6:45) Also, Jesus warned us that we will be judged on every word that comes out of our mouth. (Mt. 28:6) Finally, Saint James tells us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (Jas. 1:19)
In Faustina’s Diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, she admitted her three primary faults were:
1) Pride in not being open to her Superior, Irene;
2) TALKING TOO MUCH!!! She admitted honestly that Jesus revealed to her that at times He preferred her to be silent rather than to speak for two reasons: the person would not profit from her words, and it would be much more beneficial for the souls in Purgatory to have her prayers (in those moments) rather than her conversation.
3) She did not always observe the Rule faithfully.
Let us remember the challenging exhortation of the Franciscan Doctor of the Church, Saint Bonaventure: “We should open our mouths on three occasions: to praise God, to accuse ourselves, and to edify our neighbor.” Faithful to this exhortation, we will surely avoid many slips of the tongue, anoint our words with the Holy Spirit, and store up for ourselves an eternal inheritance in heaven!
May Our Lady, who pondered in her Immaculate Heart before speaking, teach us to magnify the Lord in our words and to truly edify our neighbor! “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Lk. 1: 47)
Copyright 2021 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA