In our teachings on modesty and respect, I discussed the importance of speech and emphasized the passage “For the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:24.) I thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the sins of speech and discuss tips for taming the tongue. It is essential to note that every person has a right to a good reputation.

Let’s first look at the sins.

  • Defamation is openly taking away from someone’s character—i.e. a false statement posted publicly.
  • Detraction is privately taking from someone’s reputation.
  • Gossip is conversing maliciously about a person.
  • Ridicule is heaping insult publicly on another.
  • Cursing is uttering evil against someone, either ordering it or wishing it.

St. Thomas Aquinas states there are four ways by which one can detract from another’s reputation:

  1. Attributing what is false to him
  2. Exaggerating his sins
  3. Exposing secrets
  4. Saying that good actions have been motivated by evil intentions.

For further reading, chapter 3 in the letter of James has strong teachings on the tongue.

Now some tips for taming the tongue…

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