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Give up nasty social media comments for Lent


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Philip Kosloski - published on 02/18/22

St. John Chyrsostom wrote that we should not only fast from food, but also give up hurtful words.

Often when we think about Lent and what we should sacrifice, we choose something like sweets or chocolates. However, St. John Chyrsostom wrote that we should also abstain from harmful words — such as, in our day, nasty social media comments — during Lent.

St. John Chyrsostom wrote this in the context of a homily addressing the spiritual discipline of fasting.

Let the mouth too fast from disgraceful speeches and railing. For what does it profit if we abstain from birds and fishes; and yet bite and devour our brethren? The evil speaker eats the flesh of his brother, and bites the body of his neighbor. Because of this Paul utters the fearful saying, “If you bite and devour one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another.” (Galatians 5:15) You have not fixed your teeth in the flesh, but you have fixed the slander in the soul, and inflicted the wound of evil suspicion; you have harmed, in a thousand ways, yourself and him, and many others, for in slandering a neighbor you have made him who listens to the slander worse; for should he be a wicked man, he becomes more careless when he finds a partner in his wickedness; and should he be a just man, he is lifted to arrogance, and puffed up; being led on by the sin of others to imagine great things concerning himself.

Now, technically speaking, we should always abstain from sin, whether the sin comes from our mouth or even our thoughts. We shouldn’t make a commitment to living a virtuous life during Lent, and then resume our sinful ways when Easter comes around.

At the same time, Lent provides a perfect opportunity for us to work on our faults, making concentrated efforts to eliminate our sinful habits. When looking at our own lives, we should be honest and see whether giving up nasty social media comments for Lent would be a good starting point.

This discipline also reminds us that our actions have consequences, not only in our own lives, but also in the wider Church.

Besides, you have struck at the common welfare of the Church; for all those who hear, not only accuse the supposed sinner, but the reproach is fastened on the Christian community.

Most of our friends and family know we are Christian, and when we leave nasty comments here and there, it reflects on our Christian faith.

When thinking about what you can give up, seriously discern your social media presence and consider giving up argumentative, negative, and mean comments during Lent.

As the old saying goes, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all!”

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