Speaking with the heart ~
“The truth in love” (Eph 4:15)
After having reflected in past years on the verbs “to go and see” and “to listen” as conditions for good communication, with this Message for the 57th World Day of Social Communications (21 May 2023), the focus by Pope Francis is on “speaking with the heart”. (See full text HERE)
Pope Francis writes:
“It is the heart that spurred us to go, to see and to listen, and it is the heart that moves us towards an open and welcoming way of communicating”.
Benedict XVI wrote about the programme of a Christian saying it “is ‘a heart which sees”. A heart that reveals the truth of our being with its every beat and because of this needs to be listened to.
Pope Francis explains that by listening we attune ourselves to the same wavelength of the other: “to the point of being able to hear within their heart, also the heartbeat of the other. Then, the miracle of encounter can take place, which makes us look at one another with compassion, welcoming our mutual frailties with respect, rather than judging by hearsay, and sowing discord and division”.
Communicating truth with charity
Jesus warns us that every tree is known by its fruit (cf. Lk 6:44): “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (v. 45). This is why, in order to communicate truth with charity, it is necessary to purify one’s heart. Only by listening and speaking with a pure heart can we see beyond appearances and overcome the vague din which, also in the field of information, does not help us discern in the complicated world in which we live.
“The call to speak with the heart moves us towards an open and welcoming way of communicating, in times which are so inclined towards indifference and indignation, to the point of disinformation, which falsifies and exploits the truth”.
The commitment to communicating “with open heart and arms” does not pertain exclusively to those in the field of communications; it is everyone’s responsibility. We are all called to seek and to speak the truth, and to do so with charity.
We need to do this in the field of media, so that communication does not foment acrimony that exasperates, creates rage and leads to clashes, but rather, that helps people peacefully reflect and interpret with a critical yet always respectful spirit, the reality in which they live.
We are what we communicate
One of the brightest and still fascinating examples of “speaking with the heart” is offered by St. Francis de Sales, a Doctor of the Church. He was a brilliant intellectual, fruitful writer and profound theologian. Francis de Sales was Bishop of Geneva at the beginning of the XVII century during difficult years marked by heated disputes with Calvinists.
His most famous statement, “heart speaks to heart”, inspired generations of faithful (among them St. John Henry Newman) who chose it as his motto, Cor ad cor loquitur. One of his convictions was, “In order to speak well, it is enough to love well”. It shows that for him communication should never be reduced to something artificial, to a marketing strategy, as we might say nowadays, but is rather a reflection of the soul, the visible surface of a nucleus of love that is invisible to the eye. For St. Francis de Sales, precisely “in the heart and through the heart, there comes about a subtle, intense and unifying process in which we come to know God”.
By “loving well”, St. Francis succeeded in communicating with Martin, the deaf-mute, who became his friend. This is why he is also known as the protector of people with impairments in communicating.
This saintly Bishop of Geneva reminds us that “we are what we communicate”.
Pope Francis writes:
“May people who work in communications feel inspired by this saint of tenderness, seeking and telling the truth with courage and freedom, and rejecting the temptation to use sensational and combative expressions”.
Speaking with the heart in the synodal process
Writing about speaking with the heart during the synodal process, Pope Francis shares:
“I dream of an ecclesial communication that knows how to let itself be guided by the Holy Spirit, gentle and at the same time, prophetic. That knows how to find new ways and means for the wonderful proclamation it is called to deliver in the third millennium. A communication which puts the relationship with God and one’s neighbour, especially the neediest, at the centre, and which knows how to light the fire of faith rather than preserve the ashes of a self-referential identity. A form of communication founded on humility in listening, and parrhesia in speaking, which never separates truth from charity”.
Communicating a culture of peace
As was the case sixty years ago, we are now also living in a dark hour in which humanity fears an escalation of war that must be stopped as soon as possible, also at the level of communication. It is terrifying to hear how easily words calling for the destruction of people and territories are spoken. Words, unfortunately, that often turn into warlike actions of heinous violence. This is why all belligerent rhetoric must be rejected, as well as every form of propaganda that manipulates the truth, disfiguring it for ideological ends. Instead, what must be promoted is a form of communication that helps create the conditions to resolve controversies between peoples.
“From the heart come the right words to dispel the shadows of a closed and divided world, to build a civilisation which is better than the one we have received. Each of us is asked to engage in this effort. But, it is one that especially appeals to the sense of responsibility of those working in the field of communications, so that they may carry out their profession as a mission.
May the Lord Jesus, the pure Word poured out from the heart of the Father, help us to make our communication clear, open and heartfelt.
May the Lord Jesus, the Word made flesh, help us listen to the beating of hearts, to rediscover ourselves as brothers and sisters, and to disarm the hostility that divides.
May the Lord Jesus, the Word of truth and love, help us speak the truth in charity, so that we may feel like protectors of one another”.
Note: The text used in this article is based on extracts taken from the Message for the 57th World Day of Social Communications. The focus by Pope Francis is on “speaking with the heart”. (Released Rome, Saint John Lateran, 24 January 2023, Memorial of Saint Francis de Sales). See HERE
You can download the full text at this link: Message for the 57th World Day of Social Communications