Godly Speech

Matthias Grünewald, The Crucifixion

It was said of our Holy Father Dominic that he always spoke either with God or about God. Likewise, Blessed Jordan of Saxony tells us that “he dedicated the day to his neighbor, but gave the night to God.” Now, there are two big questions here: “What did he talk to God about?” and “How did he talk to people about God?” There isn’t space to consider both of those questions in this post, so I’ll focus on the second one and direct you to a previous post to answer the first.

There are quite a few ways we can talk to other people about God, including:

  1. Telling how God has worked in our lives. Psalm 136 is a great example of this, constantly reiterating how through His actions God’s love endures forever.
  2. By starting with our actions. Many times conversations begin when people see us living out our faith, whether that be working in a soup kitchen or performing our everyday tasks. We should always be ready to explain how our faith inspires our actions.
  3. Telling people about Who God is. This can be more difficult and might require some study so that we know what we are talking about.

The saints are wonderful models of how to speak about God. For example, St. Catherine of Siena’s letters are filled with ideas for us. In one, she describes the deep longing of Christ who “showed this blazing desire and ran like one drunk and blind to the disgrace of the cross.” In another letter, she depicts Christ on that cross:

Bleeding from every member, he has made himself a cask and wine cellarer for us. Thus we see that his humanity is the cask that encased the divine nature. The cellarer—the fire and the hands that are the Holy Spirit—tapped that cask on the wood of the most holy cross. And this wisdom, the incarnate Word, sweetest of wines, tricked and defeated the devil’s malice, for he caught him on the hook of our humanity. So we cannot say that we have nothing to give him. No, we should take the wine of his indescribably thirsty desire for our salvation, and give it back to him in the person of our neighbor.

Here St. Catherine gives a stirring account of God’s great love for us, and then she gives us a way to respond to that love as well. We can respond to Christ’s love by slaking His “indescribably thirsty desire for our salvation” by first growing more in our own desire that our neighbors should come to salvation and then cooperating with God to draw our neighbors to that salvation poured out for us with Christ’s blood on the cross.

St. Paul tells us about another way in which speaking about God can help bring our neighbors to salvation:

For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

While we cannot force our friends and family members and coworkers to believe, we must proclaim Jesus Christ to them.

But, we might object, “If I try to talk like this I will just sound crazy, and no one will listen anyway.” If we try to speak exactly like St. Catherine of Siena, this might even be true. However, even if these particular examples won’t work in all situations, it doesn’t mean that we can’t start talking to other people about God. It just means we have to adapt the models of the saints to our own circumstances.

This being the 800th Jubilee of the Order of Preachers, we could consider the words of Pope Honorius III, who wrote in the papal bull establishing the Order of Preachers that the Order “is known from the beginning to have been instituted especially for preaching and the salvation of souls.” Clearly, the Dominican Order links speaking about God to the salvation of souls. Yet all Christians are called by their baptism to proclaim Jesus, and so St. Dominic, the man who always spoke either with God or about God, can serve as an example for us all.

Image: Matthias Grünewald, The Crucifixion

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Br. Bartholomew Calvano, O.P.

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Br. Bartholomew Calvano received a B.A. in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry/Mathematics/Computer Science from Rutgers. He worked for two years with The Brotherhood of Hope, helping out with campus ministry at Northeastern University in Boston, before entering the Order of Preachers in 2015. On DominicanFriars.org

From Dominicana Journal