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SHUN THE GOSSIP OF MEN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

SHUN THE GOSSIP OF MEN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE

AVOIDING IDLE TALK

Shun the gossip of men as much as possible, for discussion of worldly affairs, even though sincere, is a great distraction inasmuch as we are quickly ensnared and captivated by vanity.

Many a time I wish that I had held my peace and had not associated with men. Why, indeed, do we converse and gossip among ourselves when we so seldom part without a troubled conscience? We do so because we seek comfort from one another’s conversation and wish to ease the mind wearied by diverse thoughts. Hence, we talk and think quite fondly of things we like very much or of things we dislike intensely. But, sad to say, we often talk vainly and to no purpose; for this external pleasure effectively bars inward and divine consolation.

Therefore we must watch and pray lest time pass idly.

When the right and opportune moment comes for speaking, say something that will edify.

Bad habits and indifference to spiritual progress do much to remove the guard from the tongue. Devout conversation on spiritual matters, on the contrary, is a great aid to spiritual progress, especially when persons of the same mind and spirit associate together in God.

From: Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

 

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GOSSIP ALERT: THESE TWO WORDS SUCK CHARACTER AND HONOUR

Ten commandments – love of neighbour – false witness against neighbour 

THE DEMONS OF THE FIRESIDE (HOW UNREST AND STRIVE IS CAUSED AT HOME BY TWO LITTLE WORDS)

“They say”

Why these two little words, under so terrible a title – “the demons of the fireside?”

Does an evil spirit conceal himself beneath these insignificant letters?

The Abbé Allemand, a servant of God well experienced in the preservation of youth, used to say to young men when going out in the evening: “Be on your guard; there is a demon hidden under every leaf of the trees.” – These are words, too, in which a demon really seems to hide, judge from all evil they effect under the semblance of good-nature.

Hear how the two which we have written above have been scourged by the pen of an intelligent woman of the world:

There are two words so short that they are frequently uttered before reflection has time to repress them.

So light that they flutter from mouth to mouth, without our even knowing from whose lips they originally came.

So powerful that they justify slander, authorise calumny, reassure the most timid consciences, and spread about, without contradiction, the gossip which destroys reputations and causes the ruin and despair of families.

So wicked that they rob youth of its joys, old age of its dignity and repose, loving hearts of their pure confidence, and nearly every one of some part of his happiness.

Guard your homes

So loved that they find access to every house. No reunion is without them; they are found, indeed, in places from which it would seem that their wickedness should exclude them.

So sprightly that they lend animation to conversation, brighten up the most obtuse minds, furnish subjects of interminable gossip to the most taciturn persons.

They are called: “They say.”

“They say…”

“They say…” serves as a mask to a skeleton in the household, or to one of those vampires which formerly were said to come in the night, troubling the sleep and sucking the blood of their victims.

It is not blood that the monster, hidden under the two words, “they say,” sucks; it is character and honour.

Could we not exorcise this terrible and indefatigable demon of the fireside? – We could, if lies, malice, hatred, and the petty meannesses of vanity were replaced in the human heart by truth, justice, kindness, and love of our neighbour…

But, alas! this happy time will never come, and to the end of the world the demon of slander and calumny will reign, concealed under the perfidious mask, formed by the words, “they say.”

Tips on how to make this demon flee

What we must do is never harbour this demon.

Come together, honest, loyal hearts, and resolve:

  • Never to utter the hypocritical words, “they say,” replete, as they most likely are, with the dishonour of a family.
  • To stop, from the very first, the person who pronounces them, asking simply: Who is this mysterious personage, whom you call “They”?
  • Never to believe what reaches you through this messenger, “They say…”, whose profession is to lie, but who secretly chuckles over the credulous dupes of his falsehoods.

-From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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HOW TO QUENCH CHURCH GOSSIP MOST EFFECTIVELY

A servant said to his master, who was a good village curate: “Did you observe the attitude of such and such a man in church, the weary manner of another, the inattention of…”

“Yes, I observed it,” interrupted the good priest, with a calm smile, “and I tried to be more fervent than usual to-day, in order that God, whilst paying attention to my prayer, might perceive less the faults of those poor people.”

Behold what kind hearts do when they see the failings of their neighbours.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 

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HOW TO CONQUER ONE’S FAULTS

Be ye therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect (Mt5:48)

“On the whole, I am a good Christian”

With regard to virtue, “that which costs nothing is worth nothing.”

This thought, an author remarks, makes us tremble. In examining our conscience, our life, and our habits, we sometimes feel a certain pleasure in discovering that we possess a small collection of virtues, “very agreeable ones…”

Thus we like to pray, “at such an hour, such a place, and with such and such sentiments,” and we say, “I am pious,” we are gentle, polite, smiling “to such a person;” we are patient “before those we fear or whose esteem we desire to gain;” we are devoted, charitable, generous, “because in the depths of our soul we feel an undesirable pleasure in giving charity and devoting ourselves to others;” we willingly suffer something “from those we love,” and we say, “I am good;” we are silent “because we do not care to talk;” we fly from society “because we do not shine in it,” and we say, “I am recollected.”

Examine yourself carefully

But examine one by one those virtues which make you so self-satisfied, and perhaps lead you to prefer yourself to others. Examine at what a price, at what sacrifice, with what labour and struggling, with what special attention you have succeeded at acquiring them… Alas! you will find that all this patience, affability, generosity, and loving piety are nothing more than so many nothings inflated with pride.

“Staying on the carpet” in order to become as holy as one can be

That which has cost nothing is worth nothing.

Sacrifice being the essential basis of virtue, as De Maistre remarks, the most meritorious virtues are those which are acquaint with the greatest trouble.

Then do not regard this charming collection of pretty virtues with such complacency, but face your faults.

Tackling one fault at a time

Take one of them, the first that comes – “impatience, laziness, want of order, gossiping, judgement of others, bad temper, …” and attack it firmly and with perseverance. A month, at least, is necessary, calculating on three victories a day, not, indeed, to destroy it – a fault has very great tenacity of life – but to prevent it ruling you.

Preventing your faults from ruling your life

One having been conquered, take another.

It is the work of a lifetime; it is especially with regard to faults that we may apply the popular proverb, “When there are not any, there are still very many.”

I will consider myself fortunate, says St Francis de Sales, if I succeed in ridding myself of my faults even a short quarter of an hour before my death.

– From: Golden Grains, Eighth Edition, H.M. Gill and Son, Dublin, 1889

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in Words of Wisdom

 

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AS CHRISTIANS, DO WE HAVE TO GIVE ANY NOSY PERSON TRUTHFUL INFORMATION ABOUT OTHERS WHEN THEY ASK?

The noble gift of speech

(by Fr. Leo J. Trese)

“It is a wonderful gift, this power of speech – this ability to communicate with our fellow men and especially with those whom we love. Sight and hearing are precious gifts, too. Yet, neither blindness nor deafness isolate us from others as much as does dumbness.

Perhaps we have encountered someone who has suffered a blood clot in the part of the brain which controls speech. If so, we know how pitiful it is to witness the frustration of such a person as he tries so hard to express what is in his mind, yet cannot.

As it is true of all God’s gifts, our power of speech must be used for God’s purposes. It must be used for good and not for evil.

Using the power of speech for good, not for evil

The noblest use to which our tongue can be put is to address God in prayer. It is a mean return we make to God for His gift if we seldom speak to Him, perhaps only on Sunday or when in need. We convict ourselves of ingratitude if we let a day pass without directing to God some words of love, praise, gratitude and repentance.

Our day may be a crowded one with no time for lengthy conversation with God. However, even the busiest day can be peppered through with brief salutations such as ‘Blessed be God,’ ‘My Jesus I love You,’ ‘Holy Spirit, guide me,’ or ‘All for You, God.’

After prayer, the most fruitful output of our vocal chords will be words spoken in charity. One of the greatest desecrations of our gift of speech is to indulge in malicious gossip and unkind criticism. It is especially offensive to God if we create unhappiness in our own home with angry, sarcastic or belittling words.

Mere absence of uncharitable speech is not enough

Mere abstinence from uncharitable speech is not enough. God expects us to use our lingual ability in positive acts of charity. We do so, for example, when we speak out in defence of someone whose character is being attacked. We do so when we cheer another with encouraging words or with words of honest praise. We do so when we give helpful guidance or instruction to another. Any dedicated teacher (especially a teacher of religion) is an outstanding example of speech well used.

The obligation to speak truthfully

After prayer and charity, the third duty which our gift of speech imposes on us is the obligation to speak truthfully. The virtue of veracity demands that there be agreement between what is in our mind and what is on our lips. We badly tarnish our Christian image if we make a lie (‘little lies,’ we say?) our standard tool for getting out of scrapes and for avoiding embarrassment or inconvenience. By our lies we make our gift of speech into a weapon to be turned against God, instead of an instrument to be used for His work.

A conflict between truth and charity?

It may seem at times that there is a conflict between our obligation to be truthful and our obligation to practice justice or charity. We may encounter a prying individual who asks questions about matters which we are not at liberty to reveal. These may be professional confidences, such as those of a priest, doctor or lawyer; or they may be matters which would be seriously harmful to another or to ourselves if revealed.

However, when questions are asked by someone who has no right to the information he seeks, the conflict between justice or charity and veracity is only a seeming conflict. Actually it is not a lie to say to the inquisitor, ‘I do not know.’ That is, ‘I do not know’ as far as this particular person is concerned.

Mental reservation

Theologians give this type of answer the name of ‘mental reservation.’ The purpose is not to deceive but simply to protect justice or charity. If there is any deception involved, it is the inquisitive person who deceives himself. If he has any intelligence, he should know that the answer means only, ‘Whether I know it or not, I cannot tell you.’

Prayerfulness, charitableness and truthfulness. If our talk always exemplifies these virtues, we shall be able to give God a good account of our stewardship. He will have no cause to regret having endowed us with the gift of speech.”

– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

 

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RESISTING FEAR AND THE TEMPTATION TO COMPLAIN – BECAUSE JESUS IS ALWAYS BESIDE US

NO GOSSIP, NO FEAR

“If you want to solve life’s problems you have to look reality in the face. Like the goalkeeper of a football team, you have to be ready to catch the ball from whatever side it comes. And you have to do this resisting fear or the temptation to complain, because Jesus is always beside us. Pope Francis said this at morning Mass on Saturday, 13 April, 2013 in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

LIFE WAS NOT ALWAYS CALM AND BEAUTIFUL

In the passage from the Acts of the Apostles (6:1-7), proclaimed in the First Reading, ‘there is’, the Pope explained – a piece of the history of the Church’s early days: the Church was growing, ‘the number of disciples was increasing,’ it was at this very moment that the problems arose.’ Indeed, ‘those who spoke Greek murmured against those who spoke the Hebrew language, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.’ – ‘Life,’ he continued, ‘was not always calm and beautiful,’ and ‘the first thing they do is to murmur, to gossip about each other: ‘But look, the thing is…’ But this does not lead to any solution.’

LIFE MUST BE TAKEN AS IT COMES

‘The Apostles, on the contrary,’ he said, ‘with the help of the Holy Spirit, reacted well. They summoned the group and spoke to them. This is the first step: when there are difficulties, it is necessary to examine them closely, to take them up and to talk about them. Never hide them.

‘Life is like this. Life must be taken as it comes, not as we would like it to come.’ – ‘It is,’ the Pope said, using an effective metaphor that is dear to him ‘a little like the goalkeeper of the team, isn’t it? He grabs the ball wherever it comes from. This is the reality.’ Thus the Apostles ‘spoke to each other and came up with a lovely proposal, a revolutionary proposal, for they said: ‘but we are the Apostles, those who Jesus chose.’ However, that was not enough. They realised that their first duty was to pray and serve the Word.’ And as for the daily assistance to widows, we must do something else.’ This is ‘what the deacons decided to do.’

ALSO AT LIFE’S BLEAKEST MOMENTS

Pope Francis ended his homily with an invitation: ask ‘the Lord for this grace – to have no fear,’ to be able ‘to take life as it comes and to try to solve problems as the Apostles did, and to seek the encounter with Jesus who is always beside us, also at life’s bleakest moments.'”
– This article was published in “Don Bosco’s Madonna” issue August 2013, Vol. 15, No. 04. For subscriptions or to support seminarians please visit http://www.donboscosmadonna.org (external link) or http://www.dbmshrine.org (external link).

 

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“PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT YOU BEHIND YOUR BACK?” – OUR DEFENCE AGAINST MALICE

CHARACTER ASSASSINATION

“If you never have been ‘talked about’, you are unusually fortunate. Our Lord Jesus, despite His eminent goodness, was the object of slander on the part of His enemies. We lesser mortals hardly can expect to escape unscathed by malicious tongues.

OUR LORD JESUS WAS THE OBJECT OF SLANDER

Slander, as we know, is an attack made upon a person’s character by means of falsehoods. For example, if it is reported of a man that he is having an affair with another woman, although in truth he is very faithful to his wife, this would be slander.

MALICIOUS TONGUES

Detraction, on the other hand, is an attempt to injure a person’s character by revealing a discreditable fact which, although true, is not generally known. If a married man did at one time have an affair with another woman but the matter is unknown to his present associates, it would be the sin of detraction to now publicise his former fall from grace.

THE FUEL OF IDLE GOSSIP

A less deadly form of character attack is simply uncharitable criticism, the standard fuel of much idle gossip. A woman may be criticised by her acquaintances for her poor taste in clothes or for her tendency to monopolise the conversation. A man may be criticised for his bossy attitude or for his slowness in paying bills.

THE MOTIVE COULD BE JEALOUSY

Slander, detraction and uncharitable criticism may spring from any one of a variety of motives. One person may try to undermine our character because he (or she) is jealous of us. He resents our apparent success or our possession of talents or qualities which he himself lacks.

SOME WANT REVENGE DESPITE NOT HAVING THE GUTS TO FACE US

Another person may take verbal pot shots at us because we have offended him in some way. He seeks to avenge the hurt by pointing out our real or imagined shortcomings.

SOME ARE SIMPLY AFFLICTED WITH FEELINGS OF INFERIORITY

Still another person may make us the target of his barbed tongue because he is mentally or emotionally sick. He may be mildly paranoid and critical of everyone; or, afflicted with feelings of inferiority, he seeks to shore up his tottering ego by finding fault with others.

STEPS TO DEFEND OURSELVES

There are some basic steps which we can take to defend ourselves against possible damage to our reputation. One step is to exercise the virtue of prudence; to avoid, as far as we can, any conduct which might easily be misinterpreted.

IS THE ‘I DON’T CARE WHAT PEOPLE SAY’-APPROACH FEASIBLE?

The statement, ‘I don’t care what people say about me as long as my own conscience is clear,’ is valid only if we try to make outward appearance agree with inward truth. As Christians, we are obliged not only to BE good, but also to APPEAR good. Otherwise we do a disservice to our weaker neighbours and fail in our responsibility to bear witness to Christ.

THE PRACTICE OF CHARITY

Besides exercising prudence, we also can obviate many assaults upon our character by our own practice of the virtue of charity. If we are tolerant toward others, generous in making allowances for their failings and scrupulous to avoid giving unnecessary offence to others, then our enemies will necessarily be few. We cannot wholly disarm those who attack us through jealousy or those whose malice springs from a warped mind, but we can prevent the kind of gossip which has its origin in hurt feelings.

MEETING THE CRISIS IN A RATIONAL MANNER

When it does come to our ears that someone has been maligning us (and there almost always will be a ‘friend’ eager to pass the word on to us) we have a choice of two reactions. We can become incensed at the gossiper and lower ourselves to his level by attacking HIS reputation, or we can meet the crisis in a rational manner.

A mature Christian will reason, ‘Either this thing which is said about me is true or it isn’t. If it is true, then I should be honest enough to admit it to myself and do something to correct the situation. If it isn’t true, then God and my friends know that it isn’t true, and they are the ones whose opinion I value. The person who is talking about me is harming only himself. I shall not play into his hands by becoming angry or upset. Instead I shall pray for him.’

The truth is that no tongue in the world can really hurt us except when pride or vanity makes us vulnerable.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966 (headings in capitals added afterwards)

 

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