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I consider Monsignor Walter Brunkan to be one of the wisest human beings in Butler County, his words circle in my head often. You can beg to differ with me, but I will fight you tooth and nail.  🙂

Photo Credit to the Waterloo Courier

Since he announced his upcoming retirement a couple of months ago, I feel like I have been listening even closer to his message that he gives us each weekend.  Not that I didn’t listen closely before, but with each passing Sunday I feel like each morsel of wisdom he shares with us needs to sink in to my thick skull, which ALWAYS seems to be craving exactly what his message is each weekend.  So not only is he wise, he is a mind reader, I guess that is good and bad since he hears our confessions. 😉

This past weekend Monsignor Brunkan recited the words spoken by Umar ibn al-Khattab  “I have never regretted my silence, but as for my speech I’ve regretted it many times.” BAM, his words hit me straight in the throat, I then had to gulp to swallow them as I mentally rehearsed the drive to church with my girls and husband and the hours of busy Saturday before our drive to church. “I have never regretted my silence, but as for my speech I’ve regretted it many times.”  

We as busy parents, educators, and spouses let things fly out of our mouths all of the time! Do we give those words a second thought in our hurried world?


As parents, we are hustling from this event to the next, hurry up do dishes, hurry up get to practice, hurry up make the meal, hurry up go to sleep, hurry up get out of bed and it goes on and on. The problem is that it goes on and on, but often with hurtful words. Those words aren’t always intended to hurt, sometimes they are just being said because of the stress of the day.  Regardless of the purpose of the words they still sting and burn and leave a lasting scar whether they were little words or big words. Do those words ignite a fire within our children to be the best they can be or were they words that will burn and leave a scar?


As an educator I fully understand the magnitude of demands that are placed on teachers, administrators, and students each day.  I still often hear words that would have been better left unsaid. Again, in the hustle of trying to increase test scores, make sure kids are meeting standards, catching this one up, getting to specials and recess on time; words get said.  Did those words ignite a fire within that child or co-worker to be the best they could be or were they words that would burn deep and leave a scar?


As a spouse, I feel the weight of caring for our family, animals, land, home, finances, all while nurturing a relationship. It is not easy and not for the faint of heart.  Yet, those words still sometimes fly. When there is a rush to get crops in the ground and animals fed, but there is also a softball game and 4-H meeting to attend, those words get said.  When someone forgot that they had said they could take the kids to practice and then had to work late and everyone is rushing to get home to prepare supper and finish laundry, those words get said. At tax time when going through papers and that one big receipt is missing and all of the trucks and cars are torn apart and no receipt is found.  Those words still get said. Do those words that I say or he said ignite the fire within to be the best spouse they can be or do they leave a lasting burn that no ointment will heal?

After reflecting for a few days on the message I heard this weekend, I am asking you to think about those words that Monsignor Brunkan shared.  Do the words that come from your mouth ignite the fire within the people you interact with and encourage them to be the best they can be and dream big and huge or do they burn deep and cause lasting pain?

Deep thoughts from the Gravel Road-


19 thoughts on “Words…

  1. Sandy

    Your article was right on the mark. I think of Father Brunkan as a gentle and a wise man. Even though I do not go to the church he serves ; I feel he has Impacted all of us around Butler County. He reminds me a little of Mr Rogers the TV personality. Always looking to better people and the world around him. He will definitely be missed.

    1. admin

      I wish we would have been recording his messages, I don’t think I have ever heard him speak longer than 4 minutes, yet those 4 minutes are usually the 4 most important minutes of my week!

  2. Cindy Smidt

    So very true. If there was a teaching saint walking on earth, it would be Msgr. Brunkan! He has touched thousands of lives in his career and I trust he'll continue to do so in a "retired" way that allows him to continue to pray for each one of us and continue sharing his wisdom!!

    1. admin

      Yes, what a teacher he is, I wonder if he has any idea of the impact he has made in so many lives?

  3. Kimberly Hatting

    Are you in Iowa? I recognized the Waterloo Courier...unless that's a coincidence (?). Yes, spoken words can be beautiful or brutal, and cannot be taken back. The same goes for written words. In these days of social media, often times posts/replies are written with intended sarcasm (and humor), but are not always interpreted as such on the receiving end, either.

  4. Coco

    It reminds me of the passage from Corinthians (I think) where Pail says it’s not what we put
    in our mouths that can defile us, but what comes out. Although I do think there are times when you should regret being silent instead of speaking up. 😉

  5. Marc Pelerin

    Those are some good words to think next time I'm barking at a student who forgot his pencil yet again. Thanks for reminding me to slow down and think before I speak!

  6. Esther

    Such a great reminder to slow down and think about the words coming out of our mouths! You are so right that when things are busy, it is so easy to slip up and say something in haste!
    This is why we have 2 years for listening and 1 mouth for talking!

  7. Pat Nettleton

    Jesus Christ was the greatest teacher ever. Monsignor Brunkan is the second greatest teacher ever.


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