Gossip is a
verbal poison that can contaminate and ruin a home, parish group, parish,
family, association, corporation, company….
The Holy Father, Pope Francis, in a recent short but poignant homily
warned us about the moral danger of giving into gossip. He called it “Clobbering” others! True, it is moral-clobbering!
“Meekness has many enemies and the first is gossip.
When one prefers gossiping, gossiping about another, it’s like clobbering
another. This is normal, it happens to everyone, including me; it is a
temptation of the Evil One. The struggle
against such harmful chatter is something that sows tensions in parishes,
families, neighborhoods and among friends. But this is not the new life
promised by baptism because when the Holy Spirit descends it gives birth to a
new life within us, it makes us meek, charitable.” (Homily of
Pope Francis, Tuesday, April, 9 on the dangers of gossip).
gossip is so common and widespread as well as so easy to be dragged into almost
unawares, all of us must be aware of its presence, flee from it like a plague,
and encourage others already immersed in this verbal cess-pool to exit it so as
to avoid eternal consequences! This being
said, what are ways that we can flee from gossip like the plague? We will offer five concrete steps to avoid,
conquer or prevent gossip from entering into the window of our souls and
contaminate our lives.
HOLY SPIRIT. Pray fervently to the Holy
Spirit. The Apostles fell many times in
their speech; this is all too evident in the Gospels, especially apparent in
Simon-Peter. He tried to prevent Jesus
from going to the cross; he professed faithfulness even to death; then he
denied Jesus three times. He failed
miserably with his tongue. CONVERSION EXPERIENCE! It was not until a nine-day novena and the
Descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost that Peter attained the conversion of
his total person as well as his tongue. After Pentecost, with his tongue and
preaching, he converts 3000 souls in one homily! Let us beg the Holy Spirit to help us to
control our tongue!
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK! Impulsivity,
acting before reflection, open mouth and insert foot--- all are related to a
lack of self-control of the heart manifested by lack of self-control in
speech! The Imitation of Christ, written
by Thomas a Kempis, states cuttingly that few have regretted holding their
tongue from speech but many for having spoken when they should have held their
GOLDEN RULE IN SPEECH! Why not try to
apply the famous Golden Rule given to us by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
and apply it to our speech-patterns. The
Golden Rule is simple but understandable to all: “Do to others what you would
have them do to you.” Now apply this to
your speech: “Say to and about others what you would them to say to or about
you.” None of us would like to hear
someone speaking behind our backs criticizing us, bad-mouthing us, pointing out
our faults as well as exaggerating them. Let the dictum of Saint Bonaventure be
our rule for speech: “We should open up our mouth in three occasions: to praise
God, to accuse ourselves, and to edify our neighbor.” If we were to follow these principles we
would be on the highway to holiness in our speech!
SAINT JAMES CHAPTER 3!!! Probably one of
the best chapters in the entire Bible on the sins of the tongue is found in the
letter of Saint James, chapter three!
Read it! Clear and cutting and to
the point. The Apostles James says that we should be low to speak and quick to
listen. He warns us sternly that the
tongue is like a spark of fire --- although very small it can do irreparable
damage. How often huge forest-fires
start by the smallest of elements--- a spark, a match-but, a used
cigarrete. With something so small a
huge conflagration, an enormous forest-fire can be ignited that can spread
across thousands of acres of land, burn countless homes, devastate towns and
villages and even claim innocent lives.
Saint James says that man can train all sorts of animals, but he cannot
train the tongue!
EUCHARISTIC JESUS AND MARY. Last but
not least, so that we can control our tongue, we must turn to Jesus and Mary.
Never once did either, Jesus or Mary, utter a word displeasing to God or
offensive to their neighbor! Always self-controlled in all aspects, their words
always served to praise Almighty God as well as for the sanctification and the
salvation of their neighbor. (Principle and Foundation of Saint Ignatius of
Loyola). Of capital importance to help
us control our tongue and to avoid gossip in all shapes and sizes is to
remember HOLY COMMUNION. Where do we
receive Holy Communion which is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ? On the tongue!
The tongue becomes a throne to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Therefore, nothing unworthy, ugly or harmful should issue from the same tongue
that has received God Himself. Remember
also that Jesus said that every word that comes from our mouth will be subject
to judgment; Jesus also said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth
speaks. May the Eucharistic Lord grant
us the grace to control our hearts and words, so that our judgment will end not
in condemnation but in salvation. May Our Lady who praised God with her whole
being, her body, mind soul and words inspire us to be a living canticle of
praise to God in our lives and words.
Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit
rejoices in God my Savior….” May our Lady’s prayers and presence inspire us to
flee gossip like a plague and utilize our tongues to praise the Triune God and
to serve as a means to sanctify and save our neighbors!