“The Servants of Charity live together, imitating the Holy family. They love one another and treat each other with much kindness. The one in charge rather than commanding should pray, and those who obey, rather than obeying with fear of a servant, should obey with the joy of affectionate children. All should reflect upon the words of the Savior: Learn from me who am meek and humble of heart (Mt 11,29). Fomenting division, fueling hatred and not planting peace is a disease even among Christians, let alone consecrated religious.”
In fact, those who spend their lives bringing reconciliation and peace are saints, and those who gossip are just like terrorists who throw a bomb and walk away, destroying others while making sure they stay safe and sound. We need to spread peace not destroy harmony with gossip.
All religious members and Christians are called to be like Jesus, who came to bring peace and reconciliation, and this requires constant conversion.
We should never speak a word that can divide; never utter a word that brings war, even little wars.
People might think gossiping is really nothing serious, but it is. They destroy with their tongue, they don’t make peace. But they’re cunning, you know. They aren’t suicide bombers, no, they take care of themselves.
Whenever I felt the urge to say something bad about someone or gossip, the best thing I could do was to literally bite my tongue. However, at first your tongue will get all swollen and hurt, because the devil is always tempting people to open their mouths and say something wrong: it’s his job to divide people.
I remember how I felt at one of the many meetings where I joined the condemning and judging group of one missing member. At the end of the meeting I felt miserable and spiritually empty. From that day on, I decided that if I had nothing good to say, I would not say anything. I go prepared to watch my mouth.
I remember a little episode narrated in the biography of St. Philip Neri, pastor in Rome. He had a reputation of a saint and many of the Roman nobility approached him for counsel. One Roman lady asked him to hear her confession. At the end of her confession, St. Philip gave her as a penance to bring him a chicken. The noblewoman was disappointed, however she obeyed him. When she returned with the chicken, St. Philip ordered her to pluck the chicken’s feathers through the streets of Rome. The noblewoman was even offended at that request. But St. Philip told her: “if you want the absolution, you have to finish your penance.” She bitterly completed her penance and went back to her confessor for absolution. She threw the chicken at his feet and told him: “I hope you are happy now that you humiliated me. My friends were laughing at me.”
St. Philip told her: “It is not over yet! Now you go back to the streets of Rome and collect all the feathers you spread to the wind.” “You are crazy, Father!” She replied.
“No, my friend, I am not crazy. I just wanted you to understand that gossip is like the feathers you spread around. Once your gossip has left your mouth and your heart, you have no way to bring them back or to change them. You cannot repair the damage they caused and will never know how many people got hurt.”
By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC