How we must speak of God

June 16, 2021 • 3 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 173
By St. Francis de Sales

Chapter XXVI.

Conversation; and, first, how we must speak of God.

As physicians discover the health or sickness of a man by looking on his tongue, so our words are true indications of the quality of our souls. Our Saviour says: “By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. xii. 37). We readily move our hand to the pain that we feel, and the tongue to the love that we entertain.

If, then, Philothea, you love God, you will often speak of Him in your familiar conversation, with the members of your household, your friends, and your neighbours: “For the mouth of the just will meditate on wisdom, and his tongue will speak judgment.” (Ps. xxxvi. 30). As bees with their little mouths sip nothing but honey, so should your tongue be always sweetened with God, and find no greater pleasure than in the sweet praises and blessings of his name flowing between your lips, like St. Francis, who used to suck and lick his lips after pronouncing the holy name of the Lord, to draw as it were from thence the greatest sweetness in the world.

But speak always of God, as of God; that is, reverently and devoutly; not with ostentation or affectation, but with a spirit of meekness, charity, and humility, distilling, as much as you can, as is said of the Spouse in the Canticle (Cant. iv. 11), of the delicious honey of devotion, and of the things of God, drop by drop, into the ears sometimes of one and sometimes of another, praying to God in secret, that it may please Him to make this holy dew sink deep into the hearts of those that hear you.

Above all things, this angelic office must be done meekly and swiftly; not by way of correction, but inspiration: for it is surprising how powerfully a sweet and amiable manner of proposing good things attracts the hearts of hearers.

Never, therefore, speak of God or of devotion in a light and thoughtless manner, or for talk-sake, but rather with the utmost attention and reverence. I give you this advice, that you may avoid that remarkable vanity which is found in many false devotees, who upon every occasion speak words of piety and godliness, by way of entertainment, without ever thinking of what they say, and afterwards falsely imagine themselves to be such as their words imply.

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