Thursday, March 10, 2011

'I am Sorry, Thank You, I Love You'

Many years ago a classmate from seminary days and a fellow missioner here in Korea gave jackets to his altar boys for Christmas, and not one of them said thank you. He was surprised and mentioned it to the sister in the parish. He was told the boys were extremely thankful, but  expressed their gratitude in their eyes and  by wearing the jackets daily.Their gratitude was not with words, but with body language, a language not easily perceived by a foreigner. 

This 'silent language' has mostly disappeared and we hear the words 'thank you' often. A columnist in the Catholic Times reflects on the personal impact of three common expressions: I am sorry, thank you, I love you. "When we have been favored and treated kindly by another," he says, "we often do not say thank you. When we make another person uncomfortable and cause pain, we often forget to say sorry. A basic truth of daily life is to be concerned for the other. It is to give the other person what we would like to receive in return. If we live in this way, there is no anger, our feelings are not hurt, and our lives will glow."

He tells us that in the West, 'I am sorry, thank you, and I love you' are the words of the magician. Like a magician, saying  these words something good happens. "All know this," he says, " but we find those words difficult to express. When we feel gratitude let us express it with words, when we feel sorry let us say it. It often feels awkward to say thank you so it is not said, and we make another sad.  We find it difficult to say I am sorry, so we don't apologize and distrust arises."

In the family and in our daily life, if we used these words more often we would have more harmony and peace.  The columnist tells us about a research institute's report that found that the use of these three expressions, by their energizing effects, could prevent cancer and the effects of aging. But if we are not careful our words can be like daggers. The Korea proverb reminds us that we can pay back a debt of money with words.

When we use the right words, we leave another person with a good impression of us. An actor who says his words with his whole body is considered a good actor. We also should speak with our whole body. This is especially true of us who are people of faith, people who should have thanks, forgiveness and love in our hearts.

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