Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Christian Heritage - September 6 - Slothfulness in Idle Words

[Please meditate on these words more than usual. I certainly need to.]

"Those given to talkativeness should be made to realize how great is their plunge from rectitude when they fall into using a flood of words. For the human mind is like water: when enclosed it raises itself to higher levels, seeking the heights from which it descended; but when released it loses itself, being uselessly dispersed through the lower levels.

"For all the words wasted when the censorship of silence is relaxed are like so many streams carrying the mind away from itself. The result is that it becomes incapable of returning within to knowledge of itself: it is so dissipated by talkativeness that it cannot enter the secret place of deeper thoughts. By not enclosing itself within the defenses of watchfulness, it lays itself completely open to the blows of the enemy who lies in wait for it.

"Very often slothfulness in guarding against idle words proves to be our downfall, for little by little we come to utter harmful ones.
At first we enjoy talking about other peoples' affairs; then through detraction we belittle the lives of those we discuss; and finally we break out into open slander. Under this provocation quarrels arise, hatred is kindled, and peace of heart is destroyed.

"This is why James says: Let everyone be swift to hear, but slow to speak, and why Truth himself warns us that on the Day of Judgment people will have to render an account for every idle word they have spoken."

Gregory the Great (AD 540-604), Pastoral Care, pars III, XIV: PL 77, 72-74

Truly and quite appropriately, I am speechless.

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