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Words cannot hurt us March 29, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Interior Life, Lent, Saints, The Imitation of Christ, Tradition, Virtue.

My kids certainly don’t think this is true.  And even if I temporarily convince them that words really can’t hurt you (sticks and stones, and all that, with regard to inter-kid fights), they will turn that around and grab a bat or a stick to do some real damage – before I intervene, of course.   That actually happened once. I think it was one of the twins, when she figured she couldn’t hurt her sister who had made her mad by calling her names with some return name-calling, she grabbed a stick to go whack her.

But it is true, at least for adults.  It is funny the extent that someone’s words can hurt us, or rob us of our peace, or cause us to commit grave sins ourselves, becoming filled with unholy rage or thinking very uncharitable thoughts.  Thomas a Kempis has the remedy (The Imitation of Christ, Book III, Chapter 46):

Son, stand firm and trust in Me; for what are words but words: they fly through the air, but hurt not a stone. 

If thou art guilty think that thou wilt willingly amend thyself  [that is, perhaps we have earned our verbal reproof]

If thy conscience accuse thee not, think that thou willt willingly suffer this for God’s sake.

It is a small matter that thou shouldst sometimes bear with words, if thou has not as yet courage to endure hard stripes. [the harshest words directed towards us are as nothing compared to what Our Blessed Lord suffered]

And why do such small things go to thy heart, but because thou art yet carnal, and regardest men more than thou oughtst! [yep………]

For because thou art afraid of being despised, thou art not willing to be reprehended for thy faults, and seekest to shelter thyself in excuses. [St. Teresa of Avila makes great points of this.  Excuses point to pride, pride to refuse wrong doing on our part, or pride that wants to avoid hurt, or acceptance of failure]

But look better into thyself, and thou shalt find that the world is still iliving in thee, and a vain desire of pleasing men.

For when thou art unwilling to be humbled and confounded for thy defects, it is plain indeed that thou art not truly humble, nor truly dead to the world, nor the world crucified to thee (Gal 6:15)

But give ear to My Word, and thou shalt not value ten thousand words of men.

Behold if all should be said against thee which the malice of men can invent, what hurt could it do thee if thou wouldst let it pass, and make no account of it? Could it even so much as pluck one hair from thee? (Lk 21:18)

But he who has not his heart within, nor God before his eyes, is easily moved with a word of censure. [yep]

Whereas he that trusts in Me, and desires not to stand by his own judgment, will be free from the fear of men.  [Trust in God.  Accept condemnation and censure, even wrongfully made.  Accept such as the will of God.  I know it’s very hard.  It’s completely counter to our nature, especially in a ‘democratic’ country so focused on rights and getting what’s ours, and then some.  Die to self.]

For I am the judge and discerner of all secrets, I know how the matter passeth; I know both him that offers the injury, and him that suffers it.  [Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.  And our suffering the slight or the verbal blow may be God’s Will for our sanctification. We must assume that it is.]

From Me this word went forth: by My permission it happened, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed (Lk 2:35)

I shall judge the guilty and the innocent, but by a secret judgment I would beforehand try them both.

To Me, therefore, must thou run in every judgment and not depend upon thy own will.

——————————–End Qu0te—————————————————-

The above is so counter to our nature.  But it is a very core part of growing in sanctification.  Love your enemies.  Pray for those who talk evil of you. Never speak uncharitably of others (yes, I know, I’m looking in the mirror right now).  It’s completely contrary to all that our fallen natures and the world tells us we should do – especially today’s world.  It’s very hard to be meek and humble.  But it’s also very necessary if we are to hear those glorious words “Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master’s house.” (Mt 25:23)


1. Janet Baker - March 29, 2012

Words cannot hurt you? Try telling that to the small child who is constantly berated and belittled by his/her parents with no positive affirmation whatsoever. Words can in fact kill. I trust you are misinterpreting the saints. Or it could be that the saints, as they were writing, were in error. They were, after all, merely human like the rest of us. Our Lord had some very stern warnings for those who used language maliciously.

tantamergo - March 29, 2012

It wasn’t written from the point of view of a child. It was written for adults, hopefully adults mature in the Faith, and how to respond to verbal abuse.

My little introduction was probably not well written, what I meant was that we tell the kids not to whine about being the “she said this to me” kind of stuff, telling them the old sticks and stones routine, so then they think, “if a word can’t hurt them, maybe the stick can!”

It was a joke.

2. Janet Baker - March 29, 2012

Well-deserved admonishments are one thing. Verbal abuse is quite another. It is abuse. To offer a pat answer “Accept condemnation and censure, even wrongfully made. Accept such as the will of God. I know it’s very hard. It’s completely counter to our nature, especially in a ‘democratic’ country so focused on rights and getting what’s ours, and then some. Die to self.” is neither prudent nor spiritual, in my opinion. Is this truly something you would advise to a wife who deals with a verbally-abusive husband, knowing that “verbal” often escalates into physical? Sometimes what is needed is to stand up to the bully and say “enough is enough” – in other words, give him/her a needed rebuke both for his/her own good and to dissuade the abuser from abusing others. Sometimes we’re so focused on “my holiness” and “my humility” that we refuse to look at an encounter objectively and see the ramifications for others.

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