A Man of Few Words

One of the things that keep us at a distance from perfection is, without doubt, our tongue. For when one has gone so far as to commit no faults in speaking, the Holy Spirit Himself assures us that he is perfect. And since the worst way of speaking is to speak too much, speak little and well, little and gently, little and simply, little and charitably, little and amiably. -St. Francis de Sales

St. John Berchmans was a man of few words, and so considerate in his speech that there was never heard from his mouth an idle word, one contrary to rule, one that was neither necessary, useful, nor directed to any good purpose. Being once asked, by a brother novice, how he managed never to commit a fault in speaking, he replied thus: “I never say anything without first considering it, and recommending it to God, that I may say nothing which can displease Him.”

It is narrated of St. Bernardine of Sienna that his modesty was so great that his mere presence acted as a restraint upon his companions; so that if one only said, “Bernardine is coming,” they would check themselves immediately. Surius also tells, in his Life of St. Lucian the Martyr, that the heathens were converted and became Christians by merely looking upon him, on account of his composure and modesty.

Text from A Year With the Saints (New York: P.J. Kenedy & Sons, 1891).

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