A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Word Travels

Posted on: March 12, 2015

Looking at the “Celebrate March 2015” article in the latest Catholic DigestI came across this quote from St. Thérèse of Lisieux:

Oh, how good a thing and how peaceable it is to be silent of others, nor to believe all that is said, nor easily report what one has heard!

The wording may not be modern, but the sentiment applies just as well today. Maybe more than it did in the saint’s day. While some of our news comes from letters (e-mail) and newspapers, we also keep up to date with radio, TV and online news as well as social media feeds.

Saying that word travels quickly hardly seems to cover the rate and scope of news sharing. The problem: sometimes we don’t give enough thought to what we say and to whom we say it, especially online.

Think of the many comments made on Twitter that are soon followed by apologies and retractions, the constant publication of rumours about celebrities’ mistakes and misfortunes, or the trash-talking responses to online news stories from behind the safety of screen names. Even garbled autocorrected text messages show we don’t pause often enough before we hit “Reply.”

These few examples show that Bible verses about choosing our words carefully may apply to the written word as well:

  • When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is prudent. (Proverbs 10:19*)
  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
  • He who keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23)
  • “Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.” (Matthew 15:10-11)

If more of us took the time to question what we read, to choose our words carefully, to think about their effect on others, even to consider whether we should comment at all, then maybe we’d find less rumour-mongering, fewer apologies, and more thoughtful commentary.

As the psalmist prayed, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips! (Psalm 141:3), so may we ask God to guide us in the things we e-mail, post, tweet and share.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)




Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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