Gossipers- Learn to Control the Tongue!

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).

Given that 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.

First, THE 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!

Second, 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 tongue!

Third, 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!

Fourth, READ 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!
Fifth, THE 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!