Monday, March 16, 2009

Avoiding Idle Talk

My sister-in-law shared with me that although my father-in-law has many health problems, he seems to forget his pains and discomforts when she reads to him from Thomas a Kempis' Imitation of Christ. Today she read to him from uniting our sufferings to those of Christ's.

I pulled out our Imitation of Christ and opened the book randomly to Chapter 10 About Useless Gossiping.
Keep clear, as best you may, from the babel of human voices; it is wonderful what distraction is to be found in the discussion of worldly affairs, even when the motive for it is perfectly innocent. Frivolity is infectious, and makes easy prisoners of us. I wish I had kept silence, this many a time, instead of enjoying the society of my fellow men!

What is it that makes us so fond of talking, of gossiping with our friends? We hardly ever come away from it without a guilty conscience. What makes talkers of us, is that we find relaxation, on both sides, in the mere banding of words; we want an escape from the tedious whirligig of our thoughts. We like giving expression to what is in our minds, especially about the good things we enjoy, or would like to enjoy, and the difficulties we find in our way.

And the pity of it is that usually it does not good at all; we may get comfort from finding an outlet like that, but it interferes, more than a little, with that inward comfort which is the gift of God.

We need more watchfulness, more prayer; our time mustn't be frittered away in doing nothing. When you have leave and leisure of talking, let your talk be such as makes for spiritual profit. Victims as we are of bad habit, unambitious as we are about our souls' progress we speak so unguardedly! And, yet there is talk which can be a great spiritual help to us-I mean, the earnest exchange of ideas about things; especially when two souls, well matched in temper and disposition, find themselves drawn together in God.

Translated by Ronald Knox and Michael Oakley, Sheed and Ward - New York


Jean Heimann said...

This is great post Esther! It's so important that we control our tongues and use them in a positive, uplifting way that pleases God. I myself have spent far too much time wasting my words. I could have used my words instead to comfort others, to give them hope, to express my love or gratitude, to praise God, and in so many other useful ways. Silence is beautiful, especially when that time is spent listening to God's voice. The Imitation of Christ is one of my favorite Lenten reads.

Alexandra said...

This and Brother Lawrence's book sits on my bedside table. It's true, it does make you think less of your own pains and troubles.

Always a good thing to guard our hearts and speech. Out of the heart the mouth speaks ~ loosely, Luke 6:45.

A Bit of the Blarney said...

This was a good post for me! Thank you! Cathy

EC Gefroh said...

Jean, I can relate to everything you wrote.

Alexandra, what Brother Lawrence book?

Cathy, I think it can help all of us.

~Kathy~ said...

Oh, this is such a timely blog post. Thank you so much for posting it.


P.S. I hope you don't mind if I share the points you posted.

EC Gefroh said...

Not at all Kathy...share away!