Introductory 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!

From On the Duties of Cler­gy, Book One, Chap­ter 22, Sec­tions 99 – 100. Via NewAd​vent​.org.

Pho­to by Arwin Neil Bai­choo on Unsplash

· Last Featured on Renovare.org January 2023

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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