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October 30, 2013 + On the Tongue

from The Venerable Bede, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles, Cistercian Publications, p. 38

"So also the tongue is indeed a small member and exalts great things" (James 3:5)

Certainly it exalts great rewards if the action of the mind at the helm directs it well, according to that saying of Solomon that, The understanding person shall take the rudder [Pr. 1:5]; but if the mind directs the tongue badly on the other hand, it exalts great evils of destruction for itself and its connections. So Solomon also says, Death and life are in the hands of the tongue [Pr. 18:21]. It exalts life, therefore, if it teaches the church well, death on the contrary if it behaves perversely, for it is opposed to those who, destitute of both life and knowledge, presumed to teach and thereby did greater harm to the church. But if, as is found in certain manuscripts, it be read, 'it boasts of great things', that boasting certainly ought here to be understood concerning which in what follows, after he had listed very many vices of the tongue, he added, "But now you boast in your proud deeds; all such boasting is evil" [James 4:16]. From this, too the mother of blessed Samuel restrains us by a devote admonition, saying, "Do not continue to speak of lofty matters, boasting" [I Sam. 2:3]. The tongue, therefore, boasts of great things; looking down on the interpretations and words of others, it holds itself up as extraordinarily wise and eloquent.

October 23, 2013 + “Let him beg, however, in faith, in no way hesitating" [James 1:6]

from The Venerable Bede, Commentary on the Seven Catholic Epistles, Cistercian Publications, p. 10.

That is, let him, by living well, show himself to be worthy of being heard when he begs. For anyone who remembers that he has not obeyed the Lord's commands rightly loses hope that the Lord pays attention to his prayers. For it has been written, "The prayer of one who closes his ear that he may not hear the law will be detestable" [Pr. 21:13; 28:9].

For he who hesitates is like a wave of the sea which is tossed and carried about by the wind. Anyone who hesitates about attaining heavenly rewards because his consciousness of sin pricks him, at the onslaught of temptations easily abandons the position of faith by which in peace and quiet he appeared to serve God and he is carried away at the will of the invisible enemy as if by a blast of wind through different kinds of errors of vices.