Do not accustom your mouth to coarse, foul language, for it involves sinful speech. Remember your father and mother when you sit among the great, or you may forget yourself in their presence, and behave like a fool through bad habit; then you will wish that you had never been born, and you will curse the day of your birth. Those who are accustomed to using abusive language will never become disciplined as long as they live.Sirach 23: 12-15
So anyway, I was pretty much relaxed before Confession yesterday. Just two sins, that I could remember. I wasn't exactly proud of them, in fact I was ashamed and was sorry and all that stuff. But after all, I hadn't killed anybody, hurt anybody, cheated anybody. Just a couple of vulgar words — yes, shouted in anger — but that was about it. I mean, hey, I was sorry, but nobody's perfect, right? God's merciful...no big deal. In and out and I'm home free, completely absolved, right?
I was actually pleased that I wouldn't take up a lot of time in the Confessional! (Give those real sinners some more time. I actually thought that. Sheesh.)
After confessing my two — two — sins, I sat back, waited for my penance, all set to make A Good Act of Contrition. Sheesh, I was almost feeling smug.
Until my confessor opened his Bible, thumbed through it a bit, and read the following. (It bears repeating.)
"Do not accustom your mouth to coarse, foul language, for it involves sinful speech. Remember your father and mother when you sit among the great, or you may forget yourself in their presence, and behave like a fool through bad habit; then you will wish that you had never been born, and you will curse the day of your birth. Those who are accustomed to using abusive language will never become disciplined as long as they live."
And I felt as if this gentle guy had just gently slapped me in the face.
[insert reminiscing harp music here]
I shivered because I was remembering something that happened years ago. I was a very young widow. I was the darling of my family. I could do no wrong.
I was a spoiled brat.
Since, or so I thought, I had suffered a tragedy — and the death of my young husband Bill was a tragedy and more to the point (this was my take on matters) the fact that I was left alone at such a young age was an even greater tragedy. Others seemed to agree with me.
I was a spoiled brat.
Anyway, to make a long story bearable? Here's what happened once, shortly after Bill died. I went home to see my parents in Detroit. I had it all planned. Bill's friends and I were going to spend a lovely summer weekend at my mother and father-in-law's place in upper Michigan. It was all planned.
Except Bill's friends were all busy that weekend. Apologetic, but busy.
And when I was finished with the phone calls, I let loose a string of words that would make a sailor blush. I had the right to, you see. I was a Poor, Young, Widow, and People Had Let Me Down!!!
My mother burst into tears.
I figured she was feeling sorry for me and Bravely Keeping My Sobs Under Control, got up to tell her not to feel so bad. (What a bleeping saint I thought I was!)
Turns out? Mom wasn't feeling sorry for my "plans." She was ashamed of her daughter.
My Dad set me straight, in no uncertain terms:
"You make my wife, and your mother, cry one more time? And you're outta here, you got that young lady?"
I was always Daddy's Little Girl. I felt like I'd been slapped in the face...no, scratch that. I felt I'd been judged and found really, really wanting.
That was a long time ago...but after hearing Sirach's words? God's words? Seemed like yesterday.
Taking the Lord's Name in vain is really bad. But so is coarse, vulgar language. I'm trying like bleep to avoid it...because of my Mom and Dad.
But even more? Because of my Heavenly Father and Blessed Mother.
May God continue to bless you. (Thanks for your ear!)