The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth. - 1 Kings 17:24
Words are important. By them we can either reflect the goodness of God or detract from His image which we are. Too often our relationships break down due to an unhealthy rut in communication. No need to blame, but better to take responsibility for how we communicate. Often I recommend Non-Violent Communication, a book which has helped many learn to negotiate difficult conflicts between persons and groups. It gives a four-step method of reflection before speaking. I asked Catherine Whetham, a writer in transit, to write a few words about this book. EW
Driven to Nonviolence: A brief summary of Marshall Rosenberg’s method of Nonviolent Communication, Part I
Having just celebrated Trinity Sunday, we have been meditating upon the compassionate communication and communion, the mutual giving and receiving of the Holy Three’s perfect community. Marshall Rosenberg’s method and book Nonviolent Communication gives a practical example of how we as humans can better mirror the kind of relationships to which we are called as living images of the Trinity. If we were perfect likenesses of the Trinity (and perfectly intuitive), we would instinctively be able to sense and respond to the needs and the feelings of those around us. We would know from tiny clues when another was in need of solitude, companionship, lively debate, or prayer; and the fruits and gifts of the spirit would abound because of the oneness of heart and mind in our relationships. We would listen deeply to the feelings and needs of others and respond in ways to make their life more wonderful. Others, in turn, would contribute to our quality of life by sensing and fulfilling our various needs for autonomy, celebration, integrity, interdependence, play, spiritual communion, and physical sustenance. Like the Trinity, we would all exist for and contribute to the blessedness of each other. We would never crush or harm those around us, knowing that our own existence is linked to theirs and in truly loving them as ourselves.
Because of the woundedness of the human, however, we have abandoned our natural state of compassion in favor of a language of violence that labels, compares, demands, and judges. So often we equate violence with such acts as murder, child abuse, or rape, but fail to see the deeper, more fundamental roots within our everyday styles of thinking, speaking, and acting. Especially in modern western society, we may know how to speak, but we do not how to communicate and dialogue in ways that support the healing power of empathy. We speak largely a language of life-alienating communication stemming from the belief that there is something wrong with the feelings and needs of ourselves and others. We attempt to deny, repress, or eradicate needs and feelings rather than listening to their call to express Trinitarian life. Nonviolent Communication (NVC) uncovers the underlying operations of human discourse, enabling us to see what we are really doing whenever we enter a conversation or perform an action. For the majority of us who are not perfectly intuitive, this knowledge helps foster healing and wholeness by illuminating the goals and dynamics of communication.
Rosenberg views the main goals of language as twofold: a) Expressing honestly; b) Receiving empathetically.
This interplay of mutual giving and receiving in conversation is achieved by the four components of NVC: Observation, feelings, needs, and requests. (See Part II next week when Catherine describes these four aspects of communication.)
Fragrance Prayer by Bl. John Henry Newman*
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go., Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly, that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine, so to shine as to be a light to others; the light,
O Jesus will be all from You; none of it will be mine; it will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,
by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.
* Cardinal John Henry Newman will be beatified on July 10th! This prayer which I shared in my homily on Sunday is said by
Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity each morning after Mass
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