On the Vice of Speaking Immodestly
by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
In this Day's Gospel, Saint Mark relates the Miracle which our Savior
wrought, in Healing the Man that was Dumb, by barely Touching his
Tongue. "He Touched his Tongue . . . . and the String of his Tongue was Loosed". From the Last Words we may Infer
that the Man was not entirely Dumb, but that his Tongue was not Free,
or that his Articulation was not Distinct. Hence, Saint Mark tells us that after the Miracle, he
Spoke Right. Let us make the Application-to ourselves. The Dumb Man stood in Need-of a
Miracle to Loose his Tongue, and to take-away the Impediment under which he
Labored. But, how many are there on whom God would Confer a Great
Grace, if He Bound their Tongues, that
they might Cease to Speak Immodestly? This Vice does Great
Injury to Others. Secondly (2nd), it does Great Injury to themselves.
These shall be the Two (2) Points of this Sermon.
The Man who Speaks Immodestly
does Great Injury to others who Listen to him
In explaining Psalm 140, Saint Augustine calls those who Speak Obscenely, the
Mediators of Satan, the Ministers of Lucifer; because, by their Obscene Language,
the Demon of Impurity gets Access-to Souls, which by his own Suggestions, he could
not Enter. Of their Accursed Tongues, Saint James says, "And the
Tongue is a Fire . . . being set on Fire by Hell" - James 3:6. He says that the Tongue is a Fire, kindled-by
Hell, with which they who Speak Obscenely, Burn
themselves and Others. The Obscene Tongue may be said to be the
Tongue of the Third (3rd) Person, of which Ecclesiasticus says, "The Tongue
of a Third Person hath Disquieted many, and Scattered them from Nation to Nation" - Ecclesiasticus 28:16. The Spiritual
Tongue speaks-of God, the Worldly Tongue talks-of Worldly
Affairs, but the Tongue of a Third (3rd) Person is a
Tongue of Hell, which speaks-of the Impurities
of the Flesh; and this is the Tongue that Perverts many,
and brings them to Perdition.
Speaking of the Life-of Men on this Earth, the Royal Prophet says, "Let their Way become Dark and Slippery" -
Psalm 34:6. In this Life, Men, Walk-in the Midst-of Darkness, and in a Slippery-way.
Hence, they are in Danger of Falling at every Step, unless they 'Cautiously Examine' the
Road on which they Walk, and Carefully-avoid Dangerous Steps - that is, the Occasions of Sin.
Now, if in Treading this Slippery Way, Frequent Efforts were made to Throw-them-down, would it not be a
Miracle if they did not Fall? The Mediators of Satan, who Speak
Obscenely, Impel others to Sin, who, as-long-as they Live-on this Earth, Walk-in the Midst-of
Darkness, and as-long-as they Remain-in the Flesh, are in
Danger of Falling into the Vice of Impurity. Now, of those who Indulge-in
Obscene Language, it has been Well-said, "Their Throat is an open Sepulcher" - Psalm 5:11. The
Mouths of those who can Utter Nothing-but Filthy Obscenities are, according to Saint Chrysostom, so many open
Sepulchers of Putrefied Carcasses. "Talia sunt ora hominum qui turpia proferunt".
The Exhalation which Arises-from the Rottenness of the Multitude of
Dead Bodies thrown-together into a Pit, 'Communicates' Infection and Disease
to all who Feel the Stench.
"The Stroke of a Whip", says Ecclesiasticus, "maketh a Blue Mark: but the Stroke
of the Tongue will Break the Bones" - Ecclesiasticus 28:21. The Wounds of the Lash, are
Wounds of the Flesh, but the Wounds of the
Obscene Tongue, are Wounds which Infect the Bones
of those who Listen-to its Language. Saint Bernardine of Siena relates that a Virgin, who lead a Holy
Life, at Hearing an Obscene Word from a Young Man, Fell into a
Bad Thought, and afterwards Abandoned herself to the Vice of Impurity, to such
a degree, that the Saint says, if the Devil had taken Human Flesh, he could not have
committed so many Sins of that kind, as she committed.
The Misfortune is, that these Mouths of Hell, that frequently utter
Immodest Words, regard them as Trifles, and are Careless about
Confessing them; and when Rebuked-for them, they answer, I say these Words in Jest, and without Malice. In
Jest! Unhappy Man, these Jests make the
Devil Laugh, and shall make you Weep for Eternity
(∞) in Hell. In the First (1st) Place,
it is useless to say that you utter such words without Malice; for when you use such Expressions, it is very
Difficult for you to Abstain-from Acts against Purity. According to Saint Jerome,
"He that Delights in Words, is not far from the Act". Besides, Immodest Words,
spoken before Persons of a Different Sex, are always Accompanied-with Sinful Complacency. And is not the
Scandal you give to others, Criminal? Utter a Single (1)
Obscene Word, and you bring into Sin all who Listen-to you. Such is the Doctrine of
Saint Bernard. "One speaks, and he utters only One Word; but he Kills the Souls of a Multitude of Hearers". A Greater
Sin than if, by One (1) Discharge-of a Blunderbuss, you
Murdered Many Persons; because you would then only Kill their
Bodies; but by Speaking Obscenely, you have
Killed their Souls.
In a Word, Obscene Tongues are the Ruin of the
World. One (1) of them does more Mischief than a Hundred
(100) Devils; because it is the Cause-of the Perdition of
Many Souls. This not my Language; it is the Language-of the Holy Ghost,
"A Slippery Mouth worketh Ruin" - Proverbs 26:28. And 'When' is it, that this Havok
of Souls is Effected, and that such Grievous Insults are Offered-to
God? It is in the Summer, at the Time when God Bestows-upon you the Greatest Temporal
Blessings. It is then that He Supplies you for the Entire Year with Corn,
Wine, Oil, and other Fruits-of the Earth. It is then that there are so many Sins committed-by
Obscene Words, as there are Grains-of Corn or Bunches-of Grapes. O Ingratitude! How does
God bear-with us? And who is the Cause-of these Sins? They who speak Immodestly
are the Cause-of them. Hence they must Render an Account to God, and shall be Punished
for all the Sins committed-by those who Hear them. "But I will Require his Blood at thy
Hand" - Ezekiel 3:18. But let us pass-to the Second (2nd) Point.
He who Speaks Immodestly
does Great Injury to himself
Some Young Men say: I Speak without Malice. In answer to this Excuse, I have already said in the
First (1st) Point, that it is very Difficult to use Immodest Language,
without taking Delight-in it; and that Speaking Obscenely before Young Females, Married or Unmarried, is always
accompanied-with a 'Secret Complacency' in what is said. Besides, by using Immodest Language, you Expose yourself to
the Proximate Danger of Falling-into Unchaste
Actions; for according to Saint Jerome, as we have already said, "He who Delights in Words, is not far from the Act".
All Men are Inclined-to Evil. "The Imagination and Thought of Man's Heart are Prone to
Evil" - Genesis 8:21. But, above all, Men are Prone-to the Sin of Impurity, to which Nature itself, Inclines
them. Hence Saint Augustine has said, that in Struggling against that Vice,
"the Victory is Rare", at least for those who do not use Great Caution. "Communis pugna, et
rara victoria". Now, the Impure Objects of which they Speak, are always Presented-in the Mind of those who
Freely Utter Obscene Words. These Objects excite Pleasure, and bring them into Sinful
Desires and Morose Delectations, and afterwards into Criminal Acts.
Behold the Consequence of the Immodest Words which Young Men say they
Speak without Malice.
"Be not Taken in by thy Tongue" - Ecclesiasticus 5:16. Beware, lest by your
Tongue, you Forge a Chain which will Drag you to Hell. "And the Tongue",
says Saint James, "is a Fire, a World of Iniquity. The Tongue is placed among our Members, which Defileth the Whole Body, and
Inflameth the Wheel of our Nativity, being set on Fire by Hell" - James 3:6. The Tongue is one of the Members-of
the Body, but, when it Utters Bad Words, it Infects
the Whole Body, and Inflameth the Wheel of our Nativity; it
Inflames and Corrupts our entire-Life, from our Birth, to Old Age. Hence we see that Men who Indulge-in
Obscenity, cannot, even in Old Age, abstain-from Immodest Language. In the Life-of
Saint Valerius, Surius relates, that the Saint, in Traveling, went One Day into a House to Warm himself. He heard the Master of the House, and a Judge of
the District, though both were Advanced-in Years, speaking on Obscene Subjects. The Saint
Reproved them Severely; but they Paid no Attention to his Rebuke.
However, God Punished both of them; One became
Blind, and a Sore broke-out on the Other, which
produced Deadly Spasms. Henry Gragerman relates that One of these Obscene Talkers,
Died Suddenly and without Repentance, and that he was afterwards seen in
Hell, Tearing his Tongue in-pieces; and when it
was Restored, he began again to Lacerate it.
But how can God have Mercy on him who has no
Pity on the Souls of his Neighbors? "Judgment without Mercy, to him that hath not
done Mercy" - James 2:13. Oh! what a Pity to see One of these Obscene Wretches
pouring-out his Filthy Expressions before Girls and Young Married Females! The Greater the Number-of such Persons present,
the more Abominable is his Language. It often happens that Little Boys and Girls are present, and he has no
Horror of Scandalizing these Innocent Souls!
Cantipratano relates that the Son of a certain Nobleman in Burgundy, was sent to be Educated-by the Monks of Cluni. He was an Angel-of
Purity; but the Unhappy Boy, having One Day entered-into a Carpenter's Shop, heard some Obscene Words
spoken-by the Carpenter's Wife, Fell into Sin, and Lost
the Divine Grace. Father Sabatino, in his Work entitled 'Evangelical Light', relates that another Boy,
Fifteen Years Old, having heard an Immodest Word, began to Think-of it the following Night,
consented-to a Bad Thought, and Died suddenly the same Night. His
Confessor, having heard-of his Death, intended-to say Mass for him. But the
Soul of the Unfortunate Boy appeared to him, and told the
Confessor not to Celebrate Mass for him - that, by-means-of the Word
which he had heard, he was Damned - and that the Celebration of Mass would add-to his
Pains. O God! how Great, were it in their Power-to Weep,
would be the Wailing of the Angel-Guardians of these Poor
Children, that were Scandalized and brought-to Hell by the Language-of
Obscene Tongues! With what Earnestness shall the Angels
demand Vengeance from God, against the Authors of
such Scandals! That the Angels shall Cry-for Vengeance
against them, Appears-from the Words-of Jesus Christ, "See that you Despise not one of these Little
Ones: for I say to you, that their Angels in Heaven always see the Face of My Father, Who is in Heaven" - Matthew 18:10.
Be Attentive, then my Brethren, and Guard yourselves against Speaking Immodestly, more than you would against
Death. Listen to the Advice-of the Holy Ghost, "Melt down
thy Gold and Silver, and make a Balance for thy Words, and a Just Bridle for thy Mouth: And take Heed, lest thou Slip with thy Tongue, and Fall in the Sight of
thy Enemies, who Lie in Wait for thee, and thy Fall be Incurable unto Death" - Ecclesiasticus 28:29-30. Make a
Balance - you must Weigh your Words before you Utter them - and a Just Bridle for thy Mouth - when
Immodest Words come to the Tongue, you must Suppress them; otherwise by Uttering
them, you shall Inflict on your own Soul, and on the
Souls of Others, a Mortal and Incurable Wound.
God has given you Tongue, not to Offend
Him, but to Praise and Bless Him. "But",
says Saint Paul, "Fornication, and All Uncleanness, or Covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you, as becometh Saints" -
Ephesians 5:3. Mark the Words - All Uncleanness. We must not only Abstain-from Obscene
Language, and from every Word-of Double-meaning, Spoken-in Jest, but also from every
Improper Word, unbecoming a Saint - that is, a Christian. It is necessary to Remark, that Words of Double-meaning sometimes do Greater
Evil, than Open Obscenity, because the Art with which they are Spoken, makes a Deeper
Impression on the Mind.
Reflect, says Saint Augustine, that your Mouths are the Mouths-of Christians, which Jesus Christ has so-often, entered-in
the Holy Communion. Hence, you ought to have a Horror of Uttering all
Unchaste Words, which are a Diabolical Poison. "See, Brethren,
if it can be Just that, from the Mouths of Christians, which the Body of Christ enters, an Immodest Song, like Diabolical Poison, should proceed".
Saint Paul says, that the Language-of the Christian, should be always Seasoned with Salt. "Let your Speech be always in Grace, Seasoned
with Salt" - Colossians 4:6. Our Conversation should be Seasoned-with Words calculated-to Excite others, not to
Offend, but to Love God. "Happy the Tongue", says Saint Bernard,
"that knows only how to Speak of Holy Things". Happy the Tongue that knows only
how to Speak-of God! O Brethren, be Careful not only to Abstain-from all Obscene
Language, but to Avoid, as you would a Plague, those who Speak Immodestly.
When you Hear anyone begin to Utter Obscene Words, follow the Advice-of the Holy Ghost.
"Hedge in thy Ears with Thorns, Hear not a Wicked Tongue" - Ecclesiasticus 28:28. Hedge in thy Ears
with Thorns - that is, Reprove with Zeal, the Man who Speaks Obscenely; at
least Turn-away your Face, and show that you Hate such Language. Let us not be Ashamed to appear to be Followers-of
Jesus Christ, unless we Wish Jesus Christ to be Ashamed
to bring us with Him into Paradise.
|When the Mouth (Tonue), with Closed Lips, is 'Anointed' during the
Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, the Priest says: "By this Holy
Anointing and His Most Loving Mercy, may the Lord Forgive you whatever Wrong you may have done by the use of the Sense of Taste and the Power
of Speech. Amen".
- End of Liguori Sermon -
Prayer for the Graces Necessary for Salvation
Eternal Father, Your Son has Promised that You will Grant us all the Graces which we ask for in His Name. In the Name and
Merits of Jesus Christ, I ask the following Graces for myself and for all Mankind. Please give me a Lively Faith in all that the Church Teaches.
Enlighten me, that I may know the Vanity of the Goods of this World, and the Immensity of the Infinite Good that You are. Make me also see the
Deformity of the Sins I have Committed, that I may Humble myself and Detest them as I should.
Give me a Firm Confidence of Receiving Pardon for my Sins, Holy Perseverance, and the Glory of Heaven, through the Merits of
Jesus Christ, and the Intercession of Mary. Give me a Great Love for You, that will Detach me from the Love of this World, and of myself, so that I may
Love none other, but You.
I Beg of You a Perfect Resignation to Your Will. I Offer myself entirely to You, that You might do with me, and all that
belongs to me, as You Please.
I Beg of You a Great Sorrow for my Sins.
I ask You to give me the Spirit of True Humility and Meekness, that I may Accept with Peace, and even with Joy, all the
Contempt, Ingratitude and Ill-treatment I may receive. At the same time, I also ask You to give me Perfect Charity, which shall make me wish well to
those who have done Evil to me.
Give me Love for the Virtue of Mortification, by which I may Chastise my Rebellious Senses and oppose my Self-Love. Give me a
Great Confidence in the Passion of Jesus Christ and in the Intercession of Mary Immaculate. Give me a Great Love for the Blessed Sacrament, and a
Tender Devotion and Love to Your Holy Mother. Give me, above all, Holy Perseverance, and the Grace always to Pray for it, especially in Time-of
Temptation, and at the Hour-of Death.
Finally, I recommend to You the Holy Souls of Purgatory, my Relatives and Benefactors, and in a special manner I recommend to
You all those who Hate me or who have in any way Offended me; I Beg You to Render them Good, for the Evil they have done or may wish to do me. Grant
that, by Your Goodness, I may come One Day to sing Your Mercies in Heaven; for my Hope is in the Merits of Your Blood and in the Patronage of Mary.
Mary, Mother of God, Pray to Jesus for me.
Ancient Miraculous Prayer to Saint Joseph
Patron of Departing Souls
This Prayer was found in the Fiftieth Year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In
1505 it was sent from the Pope to Emperor Charles, when he was going into Battle. Whoever shall Read this Prayer, or Hear it,
or Keep it about themselves, shall never Die a Sudden Death, or be Drowned, nor shall Poison take-effect on them; neither shall they Fall into the
Hands of the Enemy, nor shall they be Burned in any Fire, nor shall they be Overpowered in Battle.
O Saint Joseph, whose Protection is so Great, so Strong, so Prompt before the Throne of God, I Place in you, all my Interests and
O Saint Joseph, do Assist me by your Powerful Intercession, and Obtain for me from your Divine Son, all Spiritual Blessings
through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having Engaged here below your Heavenly Power, I may Offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of
O Saint Joseph, I never Weary Contemplating you and Jesus Asleep in your Arms; I dare not approach while He Reposes near your
Heart. Press Him in my name and Kiss His Fine Head for me, and ask Him to Return the Kiss when I Draw my Dying Breath, Saint Joseph, Patron of Departing
Souls, Pray for us.
Many Miracles have been attributed to this Daily Prayer.
Make this Prayer known everywhere . . .