“MAKE A BALANCE FOR THY WORDS.”
Whenever you have to speak, be careful, in conformity with the advice of the Holy Ghost to make a balance for thy words (Ecclus, xxviii. 29), and examine what you ought to say. Make a balance for your words that you may weigh them before you give expression to them. Hence St. Bernard says that “before your words come to the tongue, let them pass twice under the file of examination,” that you may suppress what you should not utter. The same was said by St. Francis de Sales in other words — namely, that to speak without sin every one should keep a lock on his lips, that in opening his mouth to speak he may reflect well on what he wishes to say.
Before speaking you should consider–
1. Whether what you intend to say can injure charity, modesty, or the exact observance of God’s law.
2. Examine the motive that impels you to speak; for it sometimes happens that what a persons says is good, but the intention is bad.
3. Be careful to speak with simplicity, avoiding all affectation; with humility, abstaining from all words of pride or vainglory; with sweetness, never uttering a word that savours of impatience, or that tends to the discredit of a neighbour; with moderation, by not being the first to give your opinion on any question that may be proposed, particularly if you are younger than the others; with modesty, by not interrupting another while he is speaking; and also by abstaining from every word that savours of the world, from all improper gestures, and immoderate laughter, and by speaking in a low tone of voice. When it is the proper time for unbending the mind, speak when the others are silent, but endeavour as often as you can to speak on something that has reference to God. “Let us speak of the Lord Jesus,” says St. Ambrose, “let us always speak of Him.” He who has an ardent love for another, appears unable to speak of anything but of him. They who speak little of Jesus Christ, show that they have but little love for Jesus Christ. At the conversations of the servants of God, says St. Teresa, Jesus Christ is always present. Of this, Father Gisolfo, of the Congregation of the “Pious Workers,” relates a memorable example, in the Life of the Venerable Father Anthony de Collelis, He says that Father Constantine Rossi, the Master of novices, saw one day two of his young disciples, Anthony Torres, and Philip Orilla, conversing together, and with them a young man of most beautiful aspect. The Master of novices was surprised that two novices, whom he regarded as most exemplary, should speak to a stranger without permission: he therefore asked who was the young man whom he had seen conversing with them. They said there was no one conversing with them. But he afterwards learned that they were speaking of Jesus Christ, and understood that the person he saw in their company was our Divine Saviour.
Let us always remember that time is given to us not to be spent unprofitably in idle conversation, but to be employed for God, and in acquiring merit for eternity. St. Bernardine of Sienna used to say that a moment of time is of as much value as God, because in each moment we can gain His friendship, or greater degrees of grace.