Wednesday, July 19, 2006

To speak or not to speak. To express all our feelings or to hold back. To let it all hang out or to maintain some reserve. As so often, we do well to mistrust a too simple decision in favor of one or the other. "For everything there is a season. ... A time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3, passim). Possibly only a life anchored in prayer and closeness to God will enable us to make the right decision at a particular moment. In words that reflect so well the over-simplified prescriptions of contemporary culture someone has written: We've been taught "that if people would just say how they felt, a lot of problems could be solved. I come from a family where no one ever hesitates to vent whatever petty grievances she might have, and it's like living in a war zone." Clearly, the writer feels that some things might have been left unsaid. Though it will not solve all the complexities that surround speech and silence, the words of the Epistle of James are worth reflection. He says the tongue is "a restless evil" and that no one can tame it. "We use it to say 'Praised be the Lord and Father'; then use it to curse men, though they are made in the likeness of God. Blessing and curse come out of the same mouth" (3:8-10). To speak or not to speak?

-- Don Talafous OSB

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