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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Meditation: The Unkindness of Friends

I was reflecting today about those who really have the power to hurt us. It isn't strangers, goodness knows. Most of us couldn't care less about what they think. But when someone close to us, a family member or someone we thought of as a friend, hurts us, says cutting or unkind words or judges us in the most negative light...well, that's when words cut like a knife. And that's when relationships break down sometimes never to be mended.

How often do we say mean things to someone, sometimes in front of others which adds to the humiliation. How often do we feel justified because we believe our assessment is the true one?

For the rest of Advent I want to keep close guard over my tongue and examine my conscience to see where I have used that "little member" to hurt instead of heal. God gave us the gift of speech to uplift and build up the body of Christ. May we never use it like St. James warns as "a restless evil, full of deadly poison." One of the first obligations of the Christian is control over the tongue. God help us if we fail in that and use our tongue instead to see "how great a fire it kindles."


Ray Schneider said...

Speak the truth always! We live in a time that is in sore need of the truth for we are constantly told that truth doesn't matter by people who are destroying themselves.

Satan is the father of lies. He is subtle though and packages all his lies with just enough truth to make them go down palatably beginning with his temptation in the Garden of Eden.

"First seek to understand and then to be understood" is good counsel from St. Augustine.

Mortimer Adler, a late convert to Catholicism and a deep student of Aristotle, points out that the purpose of all discourse is to find agreement on the truth. If that cannot be achieved the second great goal is to achieve such an understanding of the other person's position as to be able to frame it better than they do.

Thomas Aquinas did that in the summa over and over again. It is not at all unusual to find yourself reading the summa and being convinced by one of Thomas's treatments of a fallacy as if he were advocating it. The in the part that begins "I answer ..." he explains all the fallacies of the previous errors.

Seek the truth always, but with charity and love. I suppose that is our mission.

Anonymous said...

"The tongue is a sword, best kept sheathed."

Alice said...

I just plain talk too much! I know that I could control the quality of what I say much better if I limited the quantity. In The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck commented on what hard work real listening is. To listen is to attend to a person. It is an act of love. I already have a policy of assuming that anyone I meet has something to teach me and may be better regarded by God than I but I would do well to put my tongue in strict time out more often than I do--especially with my kids. I fear I do what St. Paul warns against--discourage them with the preaching and lecturing. (Big Sigh)

timh said...

Conversely, Fr. Alfonse in Dallas has been speaking of how much GOOD our family does - more honest than friends for us:

Anonymous said...

Great post Mary Ann. :)

I just read the following quote from the EWTN daily readings for Holy Mass board:

"Our Lord avoided any offensive personal remarks when He preached. He attacked only the vices of a school, of a caste, also the bad examples and scandals. He did not reveal hidden crimes or secret defects." - St Peter Emyard

Catechist Kevin

Martha said...

"For the rest of Advent I want to keep close guard over my tongue and examine my conscience to see where I have used that "little member" to hurt instead of heal." Apparently that resolve only lasted two days, based on your remarks on the transgendered boy today. Even if you are so reviled by the idea of what the child is going through that you can not conscience it, I can hardly believe you would look in that person's face and say the things you wrote. Hiding behind typed words is no better.