By Fr. James Walling, CPM

In his letter “to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion,” St. James proclaims, “How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire.” Just a spark can develop into a huge fire. Fire is good if it used for heating and cooking; bad if it threatens your home. The tongue is a fire in the sense that we each have the power to relate the charity and truth of the flaming Sacred Heart of Jesus; or to burn someone by a biting, sarcastic, calumnious remark – “a restless evil full of deadly poison.” “Look at the ships,” says St. James, “though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things.”

Like the rudder of a ship, the power of speech, is a small tool that can pack a punch! This blog site is a tool. I tremble as I type more of St. James: “We who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.” What an effective tool human communication is! Let all preachers, teachers, T.V. Evangelists, T.V. Journalists, News Editors, the press, the cinema, radio, you add a few, webmasters, bloggers and googlers, yes even You-tubers, tremble at such power – because the word from our mouths and hands must reflect the truth, and Truth is an attribute of Almighty God.

I invite you to see what the Decree on the Means of Social Communication, Inter Mirifica, 1963 says:

The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ our Lord to bring salvation to all men.

It is the Church’s birthright to use and own any of these media which are necessary or useful for the formation of Christians and for pastoral activity.

Those who are at the receiving end of the media, and especially the young, should learn moderation and discipline in their use of them. They should aim to understand fully what they see, hear and read.

Parents on their part should remember that it is their duty to see that entertainments and publications which might endanger faith and morals do not enter their houses and that their children are not exposed to them elsewhere.

In Communio et Progressio, 1971, the fathers say:

Communication is more than the expression of ideas and the indication of emotion. At its most profound level, it is the giving of self in love.

A communication must state the truth. It must accurately reflect the situation with all its implications. Good intentions and a clear conscience do not thereby make a communication sound and reliable.

The document goes on to relate that Christ gave us the most perfect and intimate form of communication between God and man – the Eucharist.

I post this article on our CPM blog as a pilot to a series I call “The Rudder.” Pray, friends, that this communication to you will steer you towards Heaven. As for that which burns away, I think you know.

About Fr. James Walling

Fr. James Walling was born in 1968, and is a native of Jackson, Michigan.  He joined the Fathers of Mercy in 1994, professed first vows on August 15, 1995, and was ordained to the priesthood on May 31, 2001.  Fr. James has served in parish work, as a college chaplain, and on the Mission Band of the community before his current assignment as parochial vicar of St. Mary of the Woods. Whitesville, KY.