Friday, July 6, 2007

The Gift of Speech

1. One of God's greatest gifts, the spoken word, is the reflection of our thought and the expression of our will. In God the Word is something infinitely greater, for it is the substantial image of God, the Eternal Word of the Father through Whom He knows and therefore loves Himself. It is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Because we have been created in the likeness of God, our Creator has endowed us also with a limited power to express our thoughts and sentiments.

It is hard to imagine how unhappy we should be if we could not express ourselves and were unable to communicate our ideas and feelings to others. We should feel as isolated as rocks separated from one another by vast expanses of sea, for we could neither give anything of ourselves to other men nor receive anything in return, We could not even praise God and tell Him how we love Him. God could have created us without the gift of.speech. Since He has given it to us, we should show our gratitude by using it for His glory, for our welfare, and for the salvation of our neighbour.

2. Above all, the gift of speech is intended to be used in prayer. The tongue should express externally the interior language of the mind and heart, which should be principally concerned with the adoration of our Creator. Since we have received everything which we have from God, all our gifts should be used in His service. Speech was given to us not only to enable us to speak with men, but more particularly to enable us to speak with God. Let us sanctify this gift by means of prayer. Let us take care, however, that our prayers do not remain meaningless and superficial while our minds are absorbed with other matters.

Everything in us should pray. The intellect should bow in adoration of God's majesty; the will should conform itself entirely to His law; the heart should find its true and only happiness in God; and the tongue should praise Him, implore His favour and forgiveness, and offer our whole being to Him from Whom we have received everything. This should be the primary function of speech. If this gift is employed in this way, it will gain for us many other graces and favours from God.

3. Speech was never intended to be used in lying and in deceiving our neighbour, nor in giving scandal by unkind or blasphemous conversation. It was given to us so that we might help others by conversation which would reflect our own interior goodness and so lead them towards sanctity. It was intended to express sympathy and understanding, to give good advice, and to encourage others.

The tongue can do a great deal of good or a great deal of damage.

Let us examine our consciences now. If we have failed to employ the gift of speech for our own welfare and that of our neighbour, let us begin to correct this neglect. Let us resolve to use this gift in the service of God and in the work of the Christian Apostolate.