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Attack, attack, attack, attack. So goes our culture. And so goes our culture downward.

A plummet it has been. Have you not noticed how everyone is an "attack dog" (or an assault weapon)?

You can't go to a blogsite or even a news site and certainly not YouTube without running across offensive comments at the bottom (if your eyes dare wander that far, which we strongly advise against, along with those perilous advertising margins). Everyone is insulting everyone else. How self-righteous and brilliant are we all!

Even a story about something scientific will evoke insults. Anything religious certainly does!

When Pope Emeritus Benedict began using Twitter, his account was immediately flooded with a level of nastiness, profanity, and hatefulness that was truly amazing to behold.

Unfortunately, Catholic commentaries often travel this same route, apparently believing that they should emulate secular broadcasters who have high ratings and sharp tongues. Here is the new medium of communication: caustic venom.

Unfortunately, we have to pay for that.

How we make others feel will be something reviewed with us in the afterlife.

You can ignore that at your own peril. "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart" (Luke 6:45).

Look at letters to the editor! Look at columnists! Turn on the radio! Too often, hatred fills the air.

We breathe darkness.

It is the anti-thesis of Christianity and is of special concern when harshness is used in the cause of religion.

If you see a Christian with a hardened heart, you are not really seeing a Christian.

Astonishing it is that a person can carry forth beautiful devotions, show great allegiance to a certain manner of worship, demonstrate unerring diligence in church attendance, and then cast aspersion and harsh assessments on everyone else (especially anyone who doesn't practice the faith exactly as he or she does).

Tragically, this negates everything else, as Scripture tells us. Take today's (3/8/13) Mass reading: "One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked Him, 'Which is the first of all the commandments?' Jesus replied, 'The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these' (Mark 12:28-34).

A shame it is, those who are diligent and traditional but speak with that harshness.

So full of pride are we all that we believe anyone who disagrees with us is worthy of insult.

Behind this is the devil. Scripture calls it the "viper's tongue" (Job 20:16). It is especially pervasive in politics. Everyone has declared war on everyone else. "Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue," says Job 5:21.

"Is there injustice on my tongue?" asks Job 6:30 (speaking of discernment!). "Cannot my taste discern mischievous things?"

Indeed, by their tone you will know them.

When we criticize others, it tells us more about ourselves than the person under our harsh magnification. "Who have whet their tongue like a sword, and have aimed their arrows, even bitter words?" asks Psalms 64:3. And Psalms 140:3: "They have sharpened their tongue like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips."

How many nasty e-mails have you seen in your day? Or texts? Or blog posts? Hopefully you have not written them.

Poison seems to be the vapor of the internet.

The tongue of the wise is health; the tongue of the rash, a piercing sword.

It is a time of noise over substance; of raw emotion. Snide snobbery is the currency of bloggers. Opinions are formulated and shouted with little information. "Fools poureth out folly," says Proverbs 15:12 -- in sort of a harsh assessment of harsh assessment.

Our tongues are meant to praise God -- not denigrate others.

Throw no flaming arrows. Bend not your tongue like a bow. It's also a boomerang. It comes back to haunt you. Personal insult accomplishes nothing. Did you ever notice that when you insult or attack someone else you are soon under similar attack?

A cloud descends. Maybe you haven't noticed it!

But that is how it is measured to us: Good brings good. Harshness brings harshness.

When a mouth spews flames, the source of the fire might be demonic. "And the tongue is a fire: the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire by hell," says James 3:6.

There are times we must raise points. There are times we must rebuke. There is correction. Yes. Good and fruitful correction.

But it is nothing and does nothing if it is harsh and arrogant and does not come from love. "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal," says 1 Corinthians 13:1. Give rage up for Lent; then give it up forever.

[resources: Lenten books; Medjugorje pilgrimage, Michael Brown: purification, future, self-illumination]

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