Words are more powerful than we think, and sometimes we take them too far. Striving to live a pure and virtuous life is difficult, especially because in the hustle and bustle of everyday activities we are inundated with profanity, lewd jokes, and gossip. When faced with these occurrences, remember the words of our Blessed Lord, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man: but what cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man; But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man.”-Matthew 15:11;18
We should all do our best to avoid using profanity when speaking, but the greatest concern of mine is how many times I hear the name of the Lord used in vain. It has been ingrained in the minds of many that it is more acceptable to use the Lord’s name in lieu of other profanities, but that is far from the truth. The various ways of taking His name in vain is very prevalent in movies, and seem to be the favorite phrases to denote anger, shock, or frustration. I believe this is a tactic used by the devil. The tempter is always searching for ways to damage our relationship with our Creator and make us indifferent towards Him. This is a sly attempt to distance us from Heavenly aspirations a little bit at a time. To battle against this, we should pray often that all people would cherish the name of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. When we hear these offences to His Most Holy Name, we can attempt to make amends by offering a prayer of reparation, saying “Blessed be the name of God” or “Blessed be the name of Jesus”, in hopes that He would show mercy to those who use His name irreverently.
We must also do what we can to avoid making, or responding to, lewd jokes and sexual innuendos. They might appear harmless at first, but they have the possibility of creating a mental image that damages our purity. If we give in to saying these, or let ourselves be amused by them, it gives the enemy an opportunity to enter our hearts and our minds, where he could distort and degrade our views on human sexuality. Remember, we are called to live chastely, and that includes within our hearts and minds as well. Guard yourself and seek the things above.
Gossip is perhaps the most difficult thing to avoid, but we must resist the temptation to speak negatively about our neighbor. This is wounding to the person being gossiped about, and it can tarnish our soul as well, which is exactly what the evil one wants. This sort of behavior divides people instead of uniting them. Gossip destroys communities; we should seek to fortify them. Always look for the good in others, and if you hear gossip about someone, offset that by offering something positive.
These are opportunities for us to give honor and glory to God, by keeping our tongue well trained so that we never use profanity, tell lewd jokes, or gossip about someone. You might think avoiding these is small in the grand scheme of things, but it is sometimes the little things that can be accomplished for love of our Lord that bear much fruit and strengthen virtue. If we give in to these temptations, it could have an avalanche effect that plunges us into darkness. In everything we do we must think about how our actions will reflect the Faith that we live, show love for our Heavenly Father, and whether they will have the potential to edify our neighbor, or cause them to fall into sin. Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can hurt too.