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Kempis on: Avoiding Idle Talk

Matthew 18:15-17

“If your brother sins [against you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”


This topic is near and (not so) dear to my heart. The scripture passages regarding the use of our tongue are numerous, and they caution us by explicitly, at times, reminding us of consequences. Take a passage from Proverbs for example.

Proverbs 13:3

Those who guard their mouths preserve themselves; those who open wide their lips bring ruin.

I had a history of committing sin against the 8th Commandment, "Thou Shalt Not Bear false Witness". Whether it be lying, spreading rumors, talking behind people's back or plain admonishing them with no reason... I did it all. It hurts people, depresses them and makes them feel subservient... which is probably what I was trying to accomplish.

James 1:26

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain.

When I began my conversion from mere Christianity to be a follower of Christ, in 2012, I realized that the one sin that was consistent was my pride, being displayed in the form of my mouth. I can attest to many broken heartaches and relationships of which I was responsible. This post should not be regarded as a confession, but as an example of just how evil the tongue can be.

Proverbs 15:4

A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse one breaks the spirit.


Shun the gossip of men as much as possible. Many a time I wish that I had held my peace and had not associated with men. Sad to say, we often talk vainly and to no purpose; for this external pleasure effectively bars inward and divine consolation. Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly. When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say something that will edify. Devout conversation on spiritual matters, on the contrary, is a great aid to spiritual progress, especially when persons of the same mind and spirit associate together in God. (my emphasis)

James 3:5-6

In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions.

Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze. The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna.

In an earlier post, "Kempis on-The Doctrine of Truth", it is important that our oratory on our Faith should only be God's Truth. Too many times have I 'guessed' at what Jesus' parables, St. Paul's Epistles or other scripture verses meant. Martin Luther surmised and was wrong. Our missions are to help convert and lead people on the narrow path. If we assume or infer, and are wrong, like Calvin and Wesley, then there is a chance someone might walk toward the wide freeway as opposed to the narrow path. (Again, I refer to the wide road as the wide freeway as this society is moving at record speed.) As Catholics we need to be better.

We, Catholics, are fortunate. We have apologists, deacons, priests and bishops that have accepted the responsibility of leading Mother Church to Christ. I acknowledge the lack of misdirection from modernists but we must leave that to God's judgement. We know the Truth. We know what our Lord expects of us and we know what he hates.

Proverbs 6: 16-19

There are six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to him; Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that plots wicked schemes, feet that are quick to run to evil, The false witness who utters lies, and the one who sows discord among kindred. (my emphasis)

The beauty of our Lord is we know He loves us. He has given me, a sinner, chance after chance. He is a patient God. In the book, "The Father Speaks to His Children", God reminds Mother Eugenia Elisabetta Ravasio, "Let them know that I want only one thing: to love them all, to give them My grace, to forgive them when they repent and, most of all, to judge them not with My justice but with My mercy, so that all may be saved and numbered among My elect." (my emphasis)

As for me personally...

"I have been all things unholy; if God can work through me, He can work through anyone."

–St. Francis of Assisi

God Bless you

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Deacon Schwerdt
Deacon Schwerdt
Aug 24, 2023

Thank you for your words, for something to reflect on as I prepare to preach on the "70 x 7" gospel next month on September 17.

Student of Kempis
Student of Kempis
Aug 24, 2023
Replying to

Thank you so much for the kind words Deacon Schwerdt. I would love to hear that homily!

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