“Words Can Kill – Gossip is a Form of Murder”
Over the last year, Pope Francis has focused many of his profound homilies on the topic of Gossip. He preaches that when we participate in this sin of speaking ill of your brother, you kill your brother and thus we imitate that gesture of Cain, the first murderer in history, in the killing of his brother Abel. He echoes throughout the words of Jesus in the gospel reading, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
He spoke for a few minutes on the virtue of humility, adding that Jesus addressed those who practice the opposite and who foster “that hateful attitude towards one’s neighbor when one becomes a ‘judge’ of his brother,” calling them “hypocrites.” “Those who live judging their neighbor, speaking ill of their neighbor, are hypocrites, because they lack the strength and the courage to look to their own shortcomings.”
Pope Francis said that the “Lord does not waste many words on this concept,” and that “he who has hatred in his heart for his brother is a murderer.” He further adds that in his first letter, John the Apostle emphasizes that “anyone who has hatred for his brother is a murderer, he walks in darkness, he who judges his brother walks in darkness,” and that those who judge or speak ill of others are “Christian murderers.” “|It’s not me saying this, it’s the Lord. And there is no place for nuances”.
“Gossip” he cautioned, “always has a criminal side to it. There is no such thing as innocent gossip.”
GOSSIP that demeans someone and makes them an outsider in their community is a form of Social Murder. When it occurs in a church, it kills a person’s relationship and place in the community of Christ. It isolates, alienates and sets them apart from other believers. It can drive people out of their parish or even out of the Church. In extreme cases, it can maim their relationship with God.
GOSSIP is not the same thing as venting to a spouse or someone equally close. Gossip is talking to this one and that one and everyone who will lend an ear, cutting a person down and creating a wedge between that person and their fellows. When that happens, it goes beyond venting and becomes a weapon used to punish a person.
Often times, gossip is a cowardly way to attack someone else, when they haven’t done anything wrong, not even to the person who spreads the gossip. Gossip wounds people. It destroys relationships. When it happens in churches, it can scapegoat and forever damage a person’s ability to be a part of that community.
Quoting St. James the Apostle, the Pope conveyed that the tongue is designed to praise God, “but when we use our tongue to speak ill of our brother or sister, we are using it to kill God…the image of God in our brother.” He continues on to say that although there are some who believe certain persons deserve to be gossiped about, that is not the case for “if we ever gossip we are certainly persecutors and violent”. Rather, he encourages us “Go and pray for him! Go and do penance for her! And then, if it is necessary, speak to that person who may be able to seek remedy for the problem. But don’t tell everyone!”
He prayerfully reaches out to us as a beautiful Catholic Christian Community to “ask for grace so that we and the entire Church may convert from the CRIME OF GOSSIP to LOVE, to HUMILITY, to MEEKNESS, to DOCILITY, to THE GENEROSITY OF LOVE TOWARDS OUR NEIGHBOR.”
Sacred Reception of Holy Communion
Welcome to St. Francis De Sales Parish! As a vibrant Catholic community, our behaviour and attitudes in church rest on the following two fundamental principles:
The Church is a Sacred Space and a Sacred Place
It is the “House of our Lord”, where we come to praise, worship, and give thanks to God and to spend quality time with Him.
Mass is a Holy and Sacred Act
It is during the Mass that all the graces and merits of our Lord’s sacrifice are applied to our souls in a sacramental fashion. We encounter our God in a most intimate and awesome way and receive Him in the most real way possible, the Eucharist—if we are properly disposed.
As we remember these, the following points will undoubtedly make perfect sense in respecting the sacred reception of Holy Communion.
- Fast before Mass—at least one hour before receiving Communion. Exceptions: food for medications & water.
- Please no food or drink in the Church. Exceptions: drinks for children & water for the sick. Please do not chew gum or bring coffee cups into the church. It breaks your fast, it is distracting and impolite!
- Who may receive Communion? All Catholics of age, in union with the local bishop and Pope, not under any unconfessed, grave or serious sin, or in any irregular marital situation, and who have followed the Eucharistic fast, may receive Holy Communion.
- Communion means for Catholics: “union with.” It is the true Body and Blood of Christ sacramentally made present, but it is also a sign of our communion with each other who are in communion with the Church, its bishops and all in communion with the Holy Father. For that reason, we regret that it would be a false sign for those not in communion to receive the Eucharist. This is not a moral judgment or condemnation on your person! We pray for the day when the Church is truly one and universal once again! Make a “spiritual communion” instead, if you wish (offering to God your great desire to receive communion when you can), or pray as you wish.
- If you cannot receive for any reason, that is fine. You may come up for a blessing as communion is being distributed, just cross your arms in front of your chest, and you will receive a blessing. You may also remain seated and continue with your prayer. There is no obligation to come up.
- Those who can receive may receive on the tongue or on the hand. Both are appropriately permitted. Please do not “grab” the Host from the priest’s or Eucharistic minister’s hand.
- Please consume the Host immediately in front of the priest or Eucharistic minister. This is to protect the sacrament from any abuse or profanation. Intinction (“dipping” the Host in the Precious Blood) is not allowed.
- When the Eucharistic minister presents the Host and says “The Body of Christ”, the proper response is “Amen!” This indicates that you know and believe that who you are about to receive is Jesus himself.
- When you get back to your space, please kneel or sit quietly. Use the time for silent prayer & reflection. Sacred silence is most appreciated in the church.
- Please stay until the end of Mass! Please do not sneak out after Communion. The Mass is not truly over until the priest has left the altar and, more politely, until after the recessional hymn is completed, since it is, after all a sung prayer.
- Please leave the Church quietly, reverently and respectfully.