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!

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

Starting Soon: The 2020-21 Renovaré Book Club

An inten­tion­al way to read for trans­for­ma­tion not just infor­ma­tion. Runs Sep­tem­ber 2020 through May 2021.

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