Sunday, 23 July 2017

The" Custody of the Tongue"

"Some say it is unreasonable to be courteous and gentle with a reckless person who insults you for no reason at all. I have made a pact with my tongue; not to speak when my heart is disturbed. "
 – St. Francis de Sales

 There are many things, which have been barely taught over the past 50 years or so, one of these, is the "Custody of the Tongue." Catholics, in particular (especially online) appear to have lost all sense of politeness and the ability to not engage in harmful verbal behaviour. 
The website,  gives some pracical advice on how to control your tongue:-
"In the Benedictine monastic tradition, there is a spiritual practice called keeping custody of your tongue. The idea is to consciously pay attention to what you say at all times. It's okay to speak your mind and even to express anger, but you must do so with an awareness that harsh words can be very harmful.

Start with a prayer in the morning: "Dear Lord, please help me today to use my tongue in your service by uttering words of love, kindness, praise, and encouragement. Help me to take custody of my tongue so I do not utter words of hate, disrespect, criticism, gossip, or slander."

When we began to work with this practice, we were shocked to discover how difficult it is not to say negative things about others. The real challenge comes in private moments. It's not enough to be nice in public or with a group; we must also take custody of our tongues when we are alone or talking to close friends. That is often when any tendency to backbite or make fun of others surfaces.
We have found it helpful to check in with each other at meal times to see how we are doing. Sometimes when we catch ourselves in an act of verbal misconduct, we use a gesture to signify that we are zipping up our mouths. Or we use images to remind us of the impact of our words. We imagine that when we speak an unkind word, a foul odor comes out of our mouth, whereas when we praise someone, a sweet fragrance is dispensed. We see that putting people down sets up pockets of pain and resentment in the world whereas speaking positively of others establishes networks of confidence that enrich life.

Keeping custody of your tongue is not an easy practice. Be patient with yourself. The only way to break a habit of careless and harmful words is to work on it day by day with honest intention."
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