Lent 2, Control of Speech

The season of Lent in the Liberal Catholic Church is not exactly typical of that found in most of Christendom. We do not consider it a time of penance and breast-beating but rather one of reflection and preparation. We do not focus on our sins and how bad we are but rather on what we can do to improve ourselves.

David and I attended an Roman catholic funeral on Friday. There were two 10-12 foot banners hung behind the altar of the nursing home’s lovely chapel. They were in the traditional purple color of the Lenten season; one had three huge nails superimposed over a cross and the other had a massive crown on thorns. The first song sung in honor of our deceased friend, the sweetest and most kindly of women, was “Amazing grace, that saved a wretch like me.” Our friend was not and never could have been a wretch; she was a devout woman, much loved, revered, and respected by her family and friends. Can you tell that I was not impressed by this event and its setting? During that service, I was glad to contemplate returning here today to this place of love and tolerance, of sanity and logical thinking.

A few days ago I picked up a copy of the March issue of The Edge and noted an article entitled “On Easter: Passionately against The Passion.” The writer, Lenni Garin, was very much against the violent account of Christ’s passion, and I say “Good for her!” She then said: “What if he really came here to teach us that we had the potential to evolve into a magnificent soul with magnificent potential? What if he came here to teach us that we are Gods. If you had the right to choose your Jesus, without ridicule or fear, would you see him hanging on a cross, or would you see him laughing and smiling, slapping you on the back, or holding you in his arms? Would you choose a suffering Jesus if indeed he didn’t come here to die for your sins?”

Garin ended her article: “Our Jesus is a multifaceted spiritual being that taught many diverse spiritual principles. Jesus himself would tell you to embrace whatever path leads you to your highest truth, not out of fear but out of inspiration. Following…the voice of your soul will lead you to your greatest spiritual wisdom—and that will lead you to your destiny.”

To return to our Liberal Catholic time of Lent and preparation for Easter, our intent for this the second Sunday thereof is Control of Speech. Both the Epistle and Gospel dealt with the intent very successfully. Those 2,000-year-old words seem to me to be timeless: “The tongue is a little member but it boastest great things.” We still get into trouble with our tongues, but that is because we don’t engage our minds and think before we speak. It is far too easy to pop off an instant retort to a perceived insult, for example, than to actually stop a moment and think of first what the speaker really meant and then of how our own response might be taken. I have been guilty of ending friendships with careless words. Apologies may be offered, but the words, once out, cannot be taken back.

Krishnamurti in At the Feet of the Master had a few things to say about speaking:

You must be true in speech, too—accurate and without exaggeration. Never attribute motives to another; only his Master knows his thoughts, and he may be acting from reasons that have never entered your mind. if you hear a story against anyone, do not repeat it; it may not be true, and even if it is, it is kinder to say nothing. Think well before speaking, less you should fall into inaccuracy.

There is cruelty in speech as well as in act; and one who says a word with the intention to wound another is guilty of this crime. That, too, you would not do, but sometimes a careless word does as much harm as a malicious one. So you must be on your guard against unintentional cruelty. It comes usually from thoughtlessness…much suffering is caused just by carelessness—by forgetting to think how an action will affect others.

Bishop C. W. Leadbeater, in his Hidden Side of Christian Festivals, has a chapter on Lent, and I’d like to share some of his general thoughts.

The whole of the services in Lent are aimed at helping us in the work of curing our defects. The very color of violet that the Church uses is not chosen at random; it is selected because of the piercing and purifying character of its vibrations.

It is not to be a time for mourning for sin, but it is a time of endeavoring to shake ourselves free from sin. Assuredly we regret our sins and we wish to become perfect, but we feel (because we know something scientifically about the power and the effect of thought) that it is advisable not to dwell upon sins and to mourn over them, but simply to make a strong short resolve not to do that particular thing again, and then put the thought aside.

The only thing that is pleasing to God is that if we have mistakes, if we have sinned (as we all have) we should make a real earnest endeavor not to do it again. We need not waste our time and force being sorry about it, but we should make a strong resolve to avoid that weakness in the future. Even if we fall a thousand times, we must get up again the thousandth time and go on. There is just the same reason for trying again after our thousandth failure as there was after our first.

...Cringing, terror, and fear is quite out of place in the religion established by Christ, Who came to preach a Loving Father. Why can we not forget misinterpretations and trust our own Leader, Who tells us that God is Love, Whose one desire for us is that we should be one with Him, even as He is one with the Father?

The idea of self-examination is good and necessary. But with that, too, we must be sane and careful, otherwise it will degenerate into morbid self-introspection, and we shall spend all our time in picking the machinery to pieces instead of going on and doing the work. We are here in order to serve God, and we can do Him best service when we are ourselves perfect instruments in His hands. Therefore it is our business when we know of weak points in our armor to endeavor to strengthen them; it is our business to examine ourselves to the extent of seeing in what way we fall short, and to make a determined effort not to fall short in that way again.

The critical faculty is being trained in us; all the more then is it necessary that we should not misuse it, that we should be on our guard not to criticize too readily. We cannot help seeing the mistakes that other people make; I wish we were as quick to see our own; but at any rate it is most assuredly our duty to be critical in the true sense (that is to say, judicial) and to withhold any decision with regard to what another does or says until we know all about it and we have all the evidence before us.

It is best to talk as little as we can about other people unless we have something good to say. Watch for what is good and praise it—the reason for doing so being that when we speak and think about another person, the force of our thought acts upon that person. If one has done a good thing and we think of it as a good thing and are glad it was done, our good thought plays upon the person and strengthens that virtue and encourages them to act well again. If one has made a mistake and we think evil of them for it, we thereby intensify that evil. The evil thought from us plays upon the person and if they have really made that mistake we make them more liable to repeat it.

And one more: “God is with us all the time; we need only remember it. He stand ever behind His people. If that thought dwells in our minds through Lent, Easter shall be for us a season of unimaginable glory, happiness, and spiritual health.”

And now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three Persons in one God, be ascribed as is most justly due all honor, power, might, majesty, and dominion, now, henceforth, and forevermore. Amen.

Judie A. C. Cilcain

February 28, 2010

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