Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue was freed and he spoke blessing God. Luke 1:64
Sunday was a glorious day!! I had the opportunity to do LIVE ministry. Since last March, speaking to a group in person has only happened a few times. Advent is usually one of my busiest times and this was my first event. It was so wonderful to be doing something I love with real people, in real time in a real church. We were properly spaced and masked and followed all the safety precautions and there was so much joy and connection my heart was full. In my 2 hour drive to the Detroit area parish I did some thinking about this line from Luke’s Gospel.
This verse made me take a hard look at what has got to be my greatest blessing and my greatest burden all lumped into one…my mouth! As a Catholic Speaker and Catholic School Theology Teacher, I have abundant opportunities to use my mouth to speak great words about our God and our faith. I wish this were the case all the time, but truthfully, when I ponder these words from Zachariah I am reminded of the dozens of times each week I use my mouth for words that don’t build the Kingdom of God on earth at all!
I need to take a big lesson from Zachariah. He was mute for months. If I imagine being struck mute I almost panic; it’s like I’d loose my most used human feature! If I did become mute and suddenly and unexpectedly regained my voice, I wonder what I’d say first. Truthfully, it probably would be something ridiculous like, “Lets go get pizza!” or “What the heck was that all about!” Not our friend Zachariah, the first words he spoke after months of silence; blessing, praise and worship. He focused on what he was grateful for and not what he had suffered or missed.
Zachariah used his silence to grow closer to the Father and unite himself to his perfect plan and his impeccable timing. The fruit of that silence was gratitude and awareness of the greatness of God. This passage from the Gospel of Luke contains a golden nugget for growing in holiness; find some silence and follow it with some time spent blessing and praising God for his mighty works in your life.
A Seed To Plant: Take a few moments to sit in the silence and replay your words from the last day or week follow it with these words: “Loving Father, open my eyes and still my words so I can truly recognize your presence and offer blessing to you for the many wonders you are working in my heart, my family and my world.”
Blessings on your day!
Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4
Eight years seems like a long time. Eight Junes ago I was the mama of a college student and two high schoolers. I didn’t have any gray hair, I sported fewer wrinkles and I didn’t qualify to belong to AARP. Eight years ago I finally said yes to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and started writing the Joyful Words Blog and eight years ago I could never have imagined we’d still be at it. Two blogs a week for eight years is a lot of words and I thank the Holy Spirit for all of them. As I was on my porch thinking about the blog I pondered the power of words, especially in these crazy days and realized how much power our words have. They have power for great good and power for great harm. As I was thinking and praying about the words we use with our family, our friends and on social media I came across this great story about St. Philip Neri.
A lady once went to St. Philip for confession and she confessed that she had been gossiping and speaking unkindly about others. For her penance he told her to go to the market and buy an unplucked bird. On her walk home she was to pluck the bird and scatter the feathers along the way and then come back to see him the next day. She did as he told her and returned the following day feeling a bit foolish about the whole event. He praised her for her obedience and then told her for the completion of her penance she was to walk the same path and collect all the feathers she had tossed along the way. She gasped and pointed out the impossibility of the task. “ Father, the wind has scattered the feathers in all directions and I will never be able to capture them all.” she said. The saint replied, “Quite true. Neither can you recall the damaging words about your neighbors which by this time have passed from mouth to mouth far beyond your reach. Be careful in the future and watch every word you utter.”
Our words have great power and each day the Father puts people in our path who can either be lifted up or squashed down by our words. Sometimes those very people live in our house and need our good words more than we realize. For eight years I have prayed to the Holy Spirit every time I sit down to my laptop asking for the words someone needs to be lifted, cheered, encouraged or comforted. I’ve prayed for words of peace and healing and insight. I’ve asked for words of light and truth and joy. The biggest request of all, is that he will help me speak those kinds of words all the time and not just in print twice a week. I’ve asked for the grace to live the words I type here and over the past eight years I can see some places I’ve gotten it right but I am also aware of all the “feather chasing” I need to do.
I’m grateful for those of you who log on and read and I pray for all of you each time I hit the “publish” button. I promised the Holy Spirit when I started this thing eight years ago that I would continue to write as long as people continued to read so thank you for your support and your prayers as we all joyfully navigate our way to holiness.
A Seed To Plant: Find someone this week who really needs some good words and be the one to lift them up!
Blessings on your day!
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