instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Tales from the dark side

Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP, quotes Pope Francis on gossip:
I don't know why, but there is a dark joy in gossiping. Sometimes we begin by saying nice things about another, but then we slip into gossip, making the object of our chatter merchandise to be bartered. Let us ask forgiveness because when we do this to a friend, we do it to Jesus, because Jesus is in this friend.
The Pope's term "merchandise to be bartered" suggests that, even absent the dark part, gossip can be an objectification of another. As humans, we naturally bond over stories, but we must never reduce anyone to a mere character in a story.

As with most vices that don't require much planning, if you become
  • Aware of the circumstances (the "near occasions") in which you are tempted to sin, through for example a nightly examen of conscience; then
  • Forswear falling into that sin in those circumstances (and, as prudence allows, to avoid the circumstances altogether); then
  • Prepare for those occasions with prayer and personal commitment ("Dear Lord, give me the grace to fulfill my firm intention to avoid gossip or injuring speech of any kind at lunch today"); then
  • Compare how you did with how you used to do; and don't
  • Despair when you fall, but return all the more firmly to
  • Prayer -- and don't forget prayers of gratitude when you don't fall --
you should be able to choke gossip out of your life.