The internet has allowed us to connect with people all over the world, people we would have never met. At the same time, this connection is often anonymous, allowing us the ability to post online comments to people we will never see in person.
This makes it relatively easy to be free with our comments, not thinking about the spiritual consequences of our actions.
According to St. Francis de Sales, in his Introduction to the Devout Life, if we want to know the state of our soul, the initial test involves evaluating our use of words.
Physicians judge to a great extent as to the health or disease of a man by the state of his tongue, and our words are a true test of the state of our soul. “By your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned,” the Savior says. We are apt to apply the hand quickly to the place where we feel pain, and so too the tongue is quick to point out what we love.
St. Francis de sales argues that we often talk about what we love, and the words reveal that interior attachment.
If you love God heartily, my child, you will often speak of Him among your relations, household and familiar friends, and that because “the mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of judgment.”
Yet, it is not enough to simply talk about God; we must do so with charity and humility. Furthermore, if we are engaged in a heated debate on Twitter, the goal should not be to use harsh words of judgement, but words that win the soul with honey.
[A]s you speak to one or another around, in your secret heart the while asking God to let this soft heavenly dew sink into their minds as they hearken. And remember very specially always to fulfill this angelic task meekly and lovingly, not as though you were reproving others, but rather winning them. It is wonderful how attractive a gentle, pleasant manner is, and how much it wins hearts.
Honey is always much more attractive than vinegar, and so our words should reflect that reality.
Take some time today to evaluate your conversations, both offline and on social networks. Often there we will find room for growth and ways where we can grow closer to God.
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Prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas before using the internet