That We Ought to Be Much on Our Guard Against Biting Words That May Offend Our Brother or Give Him Any Displeasure

by admin on July 29, 2010

THERE are little remarks that bite and wound another, covertly reflecting on his social condition or intelli­gence, not so keen as it might be, or any other defect, nat­ural or moral. Such remarks are very much against char­ity; and the wittier and smarter they are, the worse they are and the more harm they do, for they strike the hearers more and stay longer in their memories. And the worst of it is that he who speaks them is sometimes very much pleased with himself, thinking that he has said a clever thing and shown discernment; whereas in reality he very much deceives himself, and instead of showing discern­ment, he has only shown a poor understanding and a worse will, since he employs the understanding which God gave him for His service, in making pointed remarks that wound and scandalize.

Albertus Magnus says that, as when one has bad breath it is a sign of something wrong in liver or stomach, so when one speaks evil words, it is a sign of some illness at heart. And what would the glorious St. Bernard say of the religious who gave vent to biting witticisms? If any display of wit on the part of a religious he called a blas­phemy and a sacrilege, what name would he give witty remarks at the expense of our brethren? All these things are very alien to religious life; and, accordingly, all that touches thereon should be very far from the mouth of a religious, such as the use of nicknames and poking fun at others and mocking them and the making or repeating of facetious couplets on the fault or absent-mindedness of another, and the like things. Neither in jest nor in earnest can they reasonably be tolerated, of which let each one judge by himself. How would you take it that anyone should give you a nickname and that all the world should laugh, seeing how well the name fitted? Since, therefore, you would not like it done to yourself, do you not do it to another, for that is the rule of charity. Should you be pleased, supposing you had a slip of the tongue, that people should at once make a point not to let it fall to the ground, as they say, but make a story of it? Certainly you would not. How, then, do you will for another what you would not will for yourself—nay, what you would resent and angrily complain of if it were done to you?

Even the very mention of mocking and scoffing and call­ing nicknames is offensive and ill-sounding in the mouth of a religious; how much more the doing of such things! We should so much abhor them as not even to take their very names in our mouth, as St. Paul says of the vice of impur­ity : As for fornication and all manner of uncleanness, let it not be so much as named among you, as becometh saints (Eph. v. 3). And so it should be as regards this vice, and St. Paul goes on accordingly joining it with the other: Nor foul or foolish talking., nor jokes that are unbecoming. The very mention of such things is not in accordance with the holiness that we profess. St. Bernard says well: “If for idle words we have to give an account to God at the day of judgment, what shall it be of words that are more than idle?” What of words that wound the feelings of my brother ? What of words that do harm?

Excerpt from Practice of Perfection and Christian Virtues by Alphonsus Rodriguez, translated by Joseph Rickaby (Loyola University Press, 1929). Reprinted with permission.

{ 1 comment }

Yamaha Lover August 3, 2010 at 3:32 AM

Eating, loving, singing and digesting are, in actuality, the four acts of the mirthful opera known as the freshness, and they pass like bubbles of a grit of champagne. Whoever lets them break without having enjoyed them is a entire fool.

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