|Damned for Sins of Tongue|
Have you ever had the great grace to read something that stirs up in you great fear enough to intensely exam yourself. Recently I had one of those experiences and it caused in me fear for myself and for everyone who practices their Catholic faith and participates in discussions about it on the internet.
I doubt anyone has not noticed the contentious atmosphere, the constant conflict, the impatience and quarrels that have arisen among Catholics on the internet especially in the last week.
If you think that this is not a problem look up almost any Catholic thread on: creationism vs theistic evolution, Vat II and its interpretation, SSPX confessions being valid or invalid, the liturgy, etc. I am not going to address any of the controversies but wish to befriend you in the fear of God that you and I can help each other on our way to salvation.
The Eternal Truth himself has warned us that to show contempt or insolence for our brother puts us in danger of going to hell. "And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." Matt 5:22
Before, dismissing that as hyperbole St John Chrysostom, Doctor and Father of the Church, taught that this was not hyperbole (he gives an in depth explanation in the Homily Danger of Evil Words available here in Volume 2 of the Church Fathers for Lent free to download).
Lets look at a few things he said about this line of scripture
“For there is nothing, nothing in the world, more intolerable than insolence, it is what hath very great power to sting a mans soul” The Danger of Evil Words Homily
“Think it not a light thing to call another fool. For when of that which separates us from the brutes, by which especially we are human beings, namely, the mind and the understanding, when of this thou has robbed thy brother, thou has deprived him of all his nobleness” From Vol 2 of the Church Fathers for Lent
This calling our brother a fool can take on many forms. It could be direct of course, but also in being dismissive, speaking down to him as an idiot,calling him a nutter or mad, and so on. I am not saying that a person could not take a firm stance, but that he should avoid trying to make the other out to be a fool but rather to “being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you. ” 1 Peter 3:15
If we were able to look at our neighbors ability to understand things more in terms of grace and gifts we might not be so impatient and indignant with our neighbor when we do not see eye to eye. After all, we are nothing more than temporary custodians of the various things God has given us; whether it be wisdom of the Holy Ghost,our intelligence or our ability to even communicate with others “for every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration.” James 1:17
St John Chrysostom points out in other places in that homily how insolent words are what causes thoughts of murder, and who has not encountered someone still reveling in some insolent remark perhaps even made years ago? If one of our insolent remarks has caused our brother to lose his soul through rage, then we will be held accountable to it and according to Our Lord it will be the most terrible reckoning.
Let us not forget in this age of communication where anyone can blog, post to forums or scan documents to the internet that many people make haphazard remarks that will now never die. These remarks often times are judged from the outside not considering whom it was that the author spoke to and to what audience would read them. So it can also fall of our words and writings and as such it just simply is not enough to be right with what we say, if what we say seems false and wicked.
Together lets be converted unto Christ and put away all insolent remarks and exercise our charity through patient, considerate and brief speech. Who does the Holy Ghost say is the perfect man? The man who offends not in word: “For in many things we all offend. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man” James 3:2
My friends, we need to be on guard moving forward. The world is full of insolence and the demons reveal and roll in the insolence against God like the filthy pigs they are. It will be easy to find bad examples to follow, it will be tempting to let our new found discipline be carried down stream. However, with the guidance of the Holy Ghost and the channels of grace through good spiritual reading like the Holy Scriptures we can have many good examples of the meekness and loving kindness of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Saints.
Please come back next time for an article on what we should do when we are treated with insolence.
Pone Domine, custodiam ori meo - Set a watch, O Lord, before my lips, Amen.