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A Lent of Eloquent Silence

April 2, 2019


Praise no one before he speaks,
for it is then that people are tested. (Sirach 27:7)

Every Lent calls for a fasting from words. Not simply to make them fewer, but to make them worthier of our dignity and his Majesty.

This Lent, more silence for the mouth, the ears, the phone, the keyboard. Fewer words, spoken with more consideration and care, more thought and deliberation, more reflection and repentance. Words that emerge from a place of depth, and not from the swampy shallows of superficiality. Words that tremble in the presence of their Creator, the Word through whom all things were made, he who once said to us, “On the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter” (Matt. 12:36).

Be silent, or say something better than silence.

This Lent, choose to “let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). This Lent, turn your words upward more often than outward. It’s so easy to hurl from the tongue—like stones—criticisms at those who have failed, who have fallen short. But it’s much harder to rouse the courage to address the One whose permission allowed them to fall, only so you might manifest his mercy and run to their aid, pleading to him their cause.

For the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (Luke 6:38)

When God formed us in his image, he consecrated our tongue for speech to bless the world with life-giving truth, beauty, goodness, mercy. But by our words, we chose to desecrate the earth with the curse of merciless death. In his mercy, God has now entrusted each of us with a noble calling to bless those who curse and quench the fiery darts of the Enemy. Indeed,

the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell . . . With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this ought not to be so. (James 3:5-10)

This Lent, give heaven your tongue to re-consecrate the world.