Editor's note:

Kind words are like honey: sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. 
Proverbs 16:24

The health of a community is so often dependent upon the health of the communication within it. In a world where too often words become either weapons to injure or pointless babble to fill the silence, St. Ambrose reminds us to choose our words with care, reason, and kindness—seeking always to do our brothers and sisters a good turn and not defile ourselves by what comes out of our mouths. 

—Renovaré Team

Speech is divided into two kinds: first as it is used in friendly conversation, and then in the treatment of the matters of faith and justice. In either case, we must take care that there is no irritation. Our language should be mild and quiet, and full of kindness and courtesy and free from insult.

Let there be no obstinate disputes in our familiar conversations, for they only bring up useless subjects, rather than supply anything useful. Let there be discussion without wrath, urbanity without bitterness, warning without sharpness, advice without giving offense. And, as in every action of our life we ought to heed to this, so that no overpowering impulse of our mind may ever shut out reason (let us always keep a place for counsel!), so, too, we should observe that rule in our language, so that neither wrath nor hatred should be aroused, and that we may not show any signs of our greed or sloth.

And let our language especially be of this sort when we are speaking of the Holy Scriptures. For what should we talk about more often than of the best subject of conversation—its exhortation to watchfulness, its care for good instruction? Let us have a reason for beginning, and let our end be within reasonable limits. For a speech that is wearisome only stirs up anger. But surely it is really indecent that when every kind of conversation generally gives additional pleasure, this should give cause of offense!

Now Underway: The 2018-19 Renovaré Book Club

How do we read for transformation, not just information? First, choose books that stir the soul and have an enduring quality. Then read with God and others at an unhurried pace, attentive to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach. The Renovaré Book Club is designed for transformative reading. It runs October 2018—May 2019.

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From On the Duties of Clergy, Book One, Chapter 22, Sections 99-100. Via NewAdvent.org.