“Today I experienced a good deal of sorrow because of a certain person, a lay person, that is. On the basis of one true thing, she said many things that were fictitious. And because they were taken to be true and spread around the whole house, when the news reached my ears, my heart felt a twinge of pain. How can one abuse the goodness of others like that?” (Diary, Notebook 3)
Gossip! We all know that gossip is wrong, and even the Bible is full of warnings about it. “A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends”. (Prov. 16:28). But we often fall prey to the fact that “the words of a gossip are like choice morsels” (Prov. 26:22). In our humanity, we sometimes savor those little tidbits we hear about other’s lives. And our nation’s obsession with reality TV does not help – it’s like one long gossip-fest!
Often it is difficult to separate sharing news with gossip, but perhaps a good rule of thumb is whether we would want the information shared if it was about us, and if we would share it in front of the person we were speaking about. St. Faustina speaks true words when she said that gossip abuses the goodness of others. If someone trusts us enough to bare their heart to us, shouldn’t we hold that sacred? The spoken word holds so much promise - and it can also cause so much pain. Our words have power, and once spoken are difficult to call back.
The next time someone is whispering rumors, think back to St Faustina and the reaction she had to malicious gossip. Then try to turn the conversation around, and let your words bring goodness instead of abusing it.
St. Maria Faustina, pray for us!