We’ve all heard the old adages:

“If you can’t say anything nice about a person, don’t say anything at all.”
“It is better to be quiet and to let people think you might be ignorant than to speak up and confirm it.”

We also know that sometimes we are so eager to impress or so fearful of silence that we almost can’t help blurting out something — almost anything — to fill the void.

St. Ignatius of Loyola almost certainly would have advised you to adhere to the adages and let the silence happen if it must. In any event, he was a consistent critic of what he called “idle words.” Here’s what he had to say about them:

“Among other sins of the tongue that we must avoid are idle words. No idle word should be uttered. I understand a word to be idle when it serves no good purpose, either for myself or for another, and was not intended to do so. Hence, words are never idle when spoken for any useful purpose, or when meant to serve the good of one’s own soul or that of another…”

It was also his opinion that silence had value, because it’s in silence that kindness, consideration and understanding grow. 

That’s another way of saying that when we take the time to listen and to really hear what others are saying rather than jumping in constantly to assert our own views, we come away from a conversation knowing a lot more about the other person — and perhaps, through them, about the world.

Adapted and used with permission from Take Five: On-the-Job Meditations with St. Ignatius by Mike Aquilina and Fr. Kris D. Stubna, Copyright © by Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Yeshua Catholic International Leadership Institute, 208 E. North St., Durand, IL  61024. Any part of this newsletter may be reproduced so long as there is full attribution, our web site is listed, and any electronic reproduction includes a link to our site: