An Encouraging Word — The power of words

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

A word spoken at the right moment — how good it is! Proverbs 15:23

Some writing doesn’t make sense, and precious words are wasted in the process because they are chosen poorly and therefore end up having no power to inspire or move people in any direction.

The Greek poet Theocritus complained, “Now begins a torrent of words and a trickling of sense.”

The great Jesuit preacher Walter Bughardt once said Catholic preaching was often a “constipation of thought and diarrhea of the mouth.”

I am just happy that neither are around to write a cutting review like that of my writing!

Our words carry enormous power — the power to heal or hurt; to build up or tear down; to speak the truth or deceive; to praise or criticize — regardless of what children sing in their song about the possibility of sticks and stones breaking their bones, but words never having the possibility of hurting them. Wrong! So wrong!

Since words are powerful, we need to be careful what words we speak or write.

The following words are attributed by some to Buddha: “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care, for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”

This column is called “an encouraging word” for a reason. To encourage is to inspire, give hope or courage to someone, to spur on, to motivate, to give help, to uphold, aid or assist. When I write these columns, I try to choose my words wisely because I know that the words chosen have the power to heal or hurt.

Sometimes, I am sure, my words have hurt without my even knowing it. In fact, I write this column to offer hope to those who have been hurt by the words of others, by the words of loved ones and enemies, and even by the words of some church people who are always looking for sins to condemn, rather than goodness to affirm.

Likewise, I realize that my words, like all words, have the power to heal and bless. I try very hard to be careful about the words I choose.

One popular new age writer taught that as you grow spiritually, your words gain more power to affect people for the good.

I wish I were spiritually evolved enough to use words like Julie Cameron in her poem, “Words For It,” excerpted below:

I wish I could take language
And fold it like cool, moist rags.
I would lay words on your forehead.
I would wrap words on your wrists.
‘There, there,’ my words would say–
Or something better.
I would ask them to murmur,
‘Hush’ and ‘Shh, shh, it’s all right.’
I would ask them to hold you all night.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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