Use Your Words
Some vocations and avocations lend themselves to quick description. Medical missionary, food pantry volunteer, retreat director, hospital chaplain , youth minister, crisis pregnancy counselor are words which efficiently communicate the role each of these individuals play in forming the body of Christ.
Donna and I have participated in some of those same ministries ourselves over the years. However, our efforts as a married couple have always focused on one area. We try to share the Gospel through education, information and communication.
Those activities don’t always lend themselves to a pithy description. “Well, uh, we write stuff, and we spam our friends and families with articles we find on-line, and we support obscure schools few people have ever heard of that offer an enriching classical education and develop critical thinking skills in their students.” No, that’s not so pithy.
We do enjoy ourselves, though. An example is this recent communication I received from my wife after I mentioned I had lost a glove someplace:
Communication can be informative and fun. The Gospel is an attractive message. All of us are called to evangelize, so all of us should pray for the grace to be attractive messengers.
There is an apocryphal saying often attributed to St. Francis exhorting us to preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words. This is an amusing and thoughtful phrase which reminds us to integrate our beliefs into our behavior. There is a danger, however, in allowing our faith to languish in silence. This can be similar to a husband saying, “Well, my wife knows I love her. I don’t have to say it.” Well, yes, yes you do.
We can’t wait until we are perfect to speak about the One who is perfection itself. Luke tells us in chapter nineteen of his Gospel account that the crowd following Jesus loudly spoke his praises. “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” The Pharisees are still trying to silence Christ’s disciples today. G.K. Chesterton observed this a century ago: “Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it” (Autobiography).
Words are important things. We speak, out loud, the words of the Creed at Mass. The priest repeats the words of Jesus from the Last Supper during the Eucharistic consecration. The Word Himself was made flesh and dwelt among us. We too often hurt with words, when we should help and heal or inform and educate with them. Those of us blessed with a toddler in our lives know how important it is to encourage him or her to “Use your words”.
May husbands, wives, and all Christians receive the grace to patiently and courageously instruct, counsel, admonish, comfort, and use our words in works of mercy to all who are given to our care, whether for a moment or a lifetime. Just remember to have fun doing it! “The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice” – G.K. Chesterton (The Defendant).