Jane, the church gossip and self appointed
monitor of the Church's morals, kept sticking
her nose into other people's business. Several
members did not approve of her extra curricular
activities, but feared enough to maintain
their silence. She made a mistake, however,
when she accused George, a new member, of
being an alcoholic after she saw his old
pickup parked in front of the town's only
bar one afternoon. She emphatically told
George and several others that everyone seeing
it there would know what he was doing.
George, a man of few words, stared
for a moment and just turned and walked
He did not explain, defend or deny.
that evening, George quietly parked
just inside Jane's driveway… walked
and left it there all night. Don't
love old George!
I picked this story from our weekly
bulletin. Father always likes to put
or a quote on the last page that is
witty and instructive.
We've created a culture where gossip
only accepted but even glorified. There
Gossip columns in many magazines and
internet sites dedicated just to gossip
about sports players, models, politicians,
Sometimes gossip is so veiled that
not even notice it. It even masquerades
as 'concern' for others. Some people
believe anything if it is whispered
However I learnt one simple rule. Whenever
I hear of "secret information"
being circulated, whenever persons
"talking about others" in
than a favorable way… I understand
trapdoor for gossip is wide open! The
of gossip is always negativity and
"Gossip is the most deadly microbe.
It has neither legs nor wings. It is
entirely of tales, and most of them
You probably remember the old sayings:
you can't say something good about
don't say anything at all." And
you do not say it, they cannot repeat
Wise advice if you wish to avoid evil.
Yiddish folklore offers us this story.
gossip monger told so many malicious
about his local Rabbi that he was overcome
by remorse. "How can I make amends?"
he inquired. The Rabbi sighed, "Take
two pillows, go to the public square
there cut the pillows open. Wave them
the air. Then come back."
The man quickly went home, got two
hastened to the square, cut the pillows
waved them in the air and hastened
the rabbi's chambers. "I did just
you said, Rabbi!" "Good."
The rabbi smiled.
"Now, to realize how much harm
by gossip, go back to the square..."
"And?" "Collect all
Oh, the tongue! They say that the average
person spends at least one fifth of
life talking. Ordinarily, in a single
enough words are used to fill a 50-page
In one year's time the average person's
would fill 132 books, each containing
pages! That is a lot of talking!
The power of the tongue cannot be overestimated.
James puts it very vividly, "When
put bits into the mouths of horses
them obey us, we can turn the whole
Or take ships as an example. Although
are so large and are driven by strong
they are steered by a very small rudder
the pilot wants to go. Likewise the
is a small part of the body, but it
great boasts. Consider what a great
is set on fire by a small spark. The
also is a fire, a world of evil among
parts of the body. It corrupts the
person, sets the whole course of his
on fire, and is itself set on fire
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles
creatures of the sea are being tamed
have been tamed by man, but no man
the tongue. It is a restless evil,
deadly poison. With the tongue we praise
our Lord and Father, and with it we
men, who have been made in God's likeness.
Out of the same mouth come praise and
My brothers, this should not be."
We can hurt others with our words.
up in the morning, somewhat groggy.
some comment on the 'stupidity' of
because you cracked your toe against
chair she left in the middle of the
In her defense, she counters your attack
with a barrage of her own insults.
for the morning is set. You both stomp
to neutral corners to lick your wounds.
damage is done.
Or maybe your daughter loves to sing
yet all you do is criticize her vocal
or the grace of her kicks. Your constant
verbal assault will stifle her voice
cripple her spirit.
Thankfully, there is a solution. We
ours the prayer of the Psalmist, "Lord
set a guard over my mouth; keep watch
the door of my lips." And perhaps
"Grant me also a vocabulary of
to comfort, strengthen, encourage and
any wounds that I may have already
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright