A couple times a month, we missionaries host “Friday Formations.” These formation sessions are held specifically for UW-Whitewater students who are in discipleship and/or leading small groups within Warhawk Catholic. The aim of these formations is to develop leaders in the community and have all our students in discipleship come together to discuss themes we have been teaching them individually. We discussed the importance of language and healthy communication last week, based on the following text from St. James 3:5, 9-12.
"So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in the likeness of God. My brethren, this ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? No more can salt water yield fresh."
This text brought about an engaging and fruitful discussion. Here are a couple conclusions we came to:
It is important for a community to be founded on healthy conversations. This includes a combination of affirming and correcting one another, if necessary. Both of these aspects of speech are important because it allows one to truly know oneself. It is common to think, “I wish I could see myself through someone else’s eyes!” Well, when used correctly, affirmation and fraternal correction do just that. These tools assist in self-discovery and accountability, and helps one to grow in both virtue and talents.
We also talked about how language can be destructive in communities, especially in gossip and sarcasm. While gossip is something that comes easily to mind when talking about harmful forms of communication, sarcasm is typically not. It is important to realize this, we concluded, because sarcasm is essentially a lie disguised as a joke and often times demeaning towards another person’s qualities.
Following our Friday Formation, I saw the effect this discussion had on our Whitewater students. In the following days, it was really encouraging to see people still discussing these ideas, and consciously trying to implement the principles we discussed into their own conversations.
Pax! My name is Joe Wiebersch, and I’m a first-year Brew City Catholic missionary at UW-Whitewater and Carroll University.