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Scots Catholic

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Scots Catholic Blog


It's Time for the Gossiping to Stop

Posted on February 6, 2015 at 6:53 AM Comments comments (22)
Pope Francis has condemned gossip on numerous occasions
“I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned”
Matthew 12: 36
More than any other Pope in the past, Pope Francis warns us frequently to guard against gossip.  He has talked of how gossip is a powerful tool of the devil and has even admitted to being tempted to gossip himself.  He states: "It begins this way, discreetly, like a trickle of water.  It grows by infecting others and in the end it justifies itself."
So what exactly is gossip?  And why does the Holy Father have such an issue with it?  Surely it is just harmless talk and can even strengthen bonds between us and those we are talking to?  It is important that we are clear on what we mean by ‘gossip’ so we can easily spot it discreetly working its way into our hearts.  And it is also important to be sure of what it is lest we become overscrupulous and falsely accuse ourselves of being a gossip.
As always, it serves us well to turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church for answers and, regarding conversation, it states:
Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
· of rash judgement who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbour;
· of detraction who, without objectively valid reasons, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
· of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgements concerning them.
Gossip therefore can be harmless if it does not disrespect another’s reputation and if it does not keep you from attending to your other responsibilities.  But it can become harmful when it leads you to rashly judge your neighbour, or damage their reputation among people who don’t know them (even if what you are saying is true), or when you spread lies about them.  It places us on the seat of judgement, causing us to overlook the plank in our own eye and does other untold damage that we might never fully realise.
Our culture is bathed in gossip.  We need only to look at a gossip magazine or tabloid newspaper to appreciate how prevalent it is in society.  We should remember that celebrities are people too.  And I would suggest soap operas and other television programmes, although not technically gossip as of course the characters aren’t real, may predispose us and lead us into the habit of this particular sin.
So perhaps in our examination of conscience we could consider the following points when thinking of a time we talked about someone; What was my reason for talking about them?  Was what I said true or was I rashly judging them?  Did I negatively colour the opinion of that person when talking about them to other people?  How would the person feel if they overheard what I said?  How would my comments reflect upon me if they were somehow recorded or published?  Did what I say bring me to a better understanding of the person and call me and others to love them more, or did it bring division?
May we pray for God’s mercy for the times we have failed to uphold our neighbour’s reputation and for His strength to resist all forms of gossip, as we say the words of St Francis of Assisi:
O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.

Ignoring modern day distractions and discovering what is truly good (Dwelling on the Word of God, Sunday 31st August 2014)

Posted on August 29, 2014 at 9:23 AM Comments comments (30)
You won't find true love in Albert Square
Sunday’s Second Reading (Romans 12:1-2):
Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.
It’s quite difficult to not model ourselves on the behaviour of the world around us.  Everywhere we turn we hear voices and read texts telling us what it is to be normal and how we are to behave. 
For anyone who watches soap operas on a regular basis you will be familiar with the idea that showing hatred towards your family and friends is perfectly normal.  You will be familiar with the idea that sleeping with another person behind your partner’s back is perfectly normal.  
While many may shrug off the misdemeanours of the residents of Albert Square and Weatherfield as being harmless; there can be little doubt that these performances are noted by children and young adults.  However, what is perhaps more worrying is the effect it appears to be having on adults who appear to be very inclined to buy into the nonsense. 
It isn’t only soap operas that are to blame.  Most of what we now watch in TV land is filled with people fighting, people hating, people criticising, people gossiping and so on.  Add to that the influence of a secular media along with the hatred dished out on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and you have all the ingredients of a war on Christ’s fundamental commandment to love our neighbour. 
St Paul, in today’s reading, is mindful of the nonsense that goes on around us.  While he may not have had the benefit of television, radio or social media, he was clearly aware of worldly influences encouraging people to do the wrong thing. 
Every day we are being encouraged to do the wrong thing.  The mainstream media, including TV news bulletins, are constantly blaming people for things gone wrong.  If it isn’t the social worker’s fault then it is definitely the fault of the psychiatrist, or is it the police?  Pope Francis has been persistent in his call to stop criticising, to stop gossiping, to stop complaining and to stop being divisive.  If you weren’t aware of this then you don’t listen to Pope Francis enough because he talks about these things all the time.
We need to be aware of what is going around us and how it influences us.  We should realise that true joy is found in the love we offer Christ and the love we offer our neighbour.  What you see on Eastenders and Coronation Street rarely passes for love.  What we see in the mainstream media rarely passes for love.  And when we gossip about people, are we not going against the commandment to love?  What about when we criticise or complain unjustly, aren’t we also going against Christ’s commandment?  Each time we do these things we do them to Jesus and that is not good.
True love cannot be found in a TV schedule nor can it be found on the front page of today’s tabloid.  True love is found in Jesus Christ.  Listen to the words of St Paul when he encourages us to offer our living bodies as a holy sacrifice.  We must work hard to make our bodies pure so that they can be used by the Holy Spirit to spread the love of Christ.  It's not going to be easy but surely with perseverance we can succeed?  Why don't we start by studying the scriptures and studying Church teaching on all matters and immerse ourselves in Good News for a change?  Perhaps then we will discover the true will of God.  Perhaps then we will discover what is truly good.