October 15, 2017
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Pope Francis on Gossip
As many of you know I have tried to use these weekly articles to teach different aspects of our Catholic Faith and Life so we may grow in our knowledge of the faith. The primary purpose of my articles has been to help us to become the saints that God wants us all to be. Surely, you have heard me speak of this most uplifting truth, and you have read about it in the Bulletin. Yes, as our patron St. Paul reminds us, This is God’s will for you, that you become saints.
Perhaps it is an idea that never has entered your mind. But God Our Lord sent His Only Begotten Son to die on the Cross for our sins and to open to us the gates of heaven. God wants us to be saints. So beginning this week, I will be writing about different obstacles to our growth in holiness: greed, lust, envy, pride, gluttony, sloth, and anger. These are called the capital sins because all sins are simply variations of them. Today I would like to write on gossip, a grave sin that many dismiss as something light or of no consequence, but, which in reality, is most displeasing to God and harmful to ourselves both in the natural order and supernatural order.
No one likes a gossip even though their words may at first be appealing. Because of our fallen nature, we all like to hear gossip. As probably all of our mothers taught us as children, we should never listen to a gossip, because in all likelihood, the person who gossips about another, will also be gossiping about us behind our back. The great political philosopher Machiavelli alluded to this behavior in his classical Renaissance work, The Prince. There Machiavelli gave the advice to a ruling prince that when traitors betray someone, even if it is to the Prince’s immediate advantage, the Prince can be certain that they will also betray him. It is the same with gossip, which permeates our society. Gossip sells books and magazines, drives the ratings of talk shows, and, sadly, has even lead to young and impressionable individuals taking their own lives, because of things spread about them on the Internet. And sadly, parishes are not exempt from this grave moral condition.
Gossip is a form of calumny, because it usually exaggerates a person’s faults or sins with malice. It is a cowardly and despicable act of discussing the faults of another without necessity, and behind his back. Tale-bearing is a most despicable form of gossip. It consists of repeating to a person unfavorable remarks made about him. This is very common in parish life where those who engage in such behavior do not realize how intrinsically evil it is.
The priests are through God’s mercy shielded from this sin, because, as you know, they may never reveal anything confided to them in confession, even if keeping it secret will result in death for the priest. The great Alfred Hitchcock film (and Hitchcock’s own personal favorite) I Confess is a gripping suspense drama (in the typical Hitchcock style) of how a priest keeps secret what was revealed to him in confession. I recommend the film to all our parishioners.
There is probably nothing more poisonous to parish life than tale bearing and gossip. It is truly toxic. Sadly, women are often accused of being gossips, but in the teaching of the saints it is evident that men are more susceptible to this temptation than women.
Although Pope Francis is the Pope of Rome he nonetheless teaches in the style of a country pastor. He has particularly spoken and taught about the sin of gossip. Rather than my continuing I’d like to print some teachings of the pope in this matter. Pope Francis has warned us all to avoid the terrorism of gossip which poisons the soul. At the Sunday Angelus address of last week the Pope said: Gossip is so rotten. At the beginning, it seems to be something enjoyable and fun, like a piece of candy. But at the end it fills the heart with bitterness and also poisons us. I tell you the truth, I am firmly convinced that if each one of us would purposely avoid gossip, at the end, we would become saints, It is a beautiful path. Jesus offers the example of the Fifth Commandment, “Do not kill,” and goes on to add, “but I say to you: Whoever is angry with his brother will be guilty before the court.” With this Jesus reminds us that even words can kill. When it is said that someone has the tongue of a serpent what does it mean? That his words kill. Therefore, not only must one not make an attempt on the life of others, but one must not even pour on him the poison of anger and hit him with slander, nor speak ill of him. And here we arrive at gossip. Gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the other person. Thus speaks our Holy Father.
If somehow we imagine we have been hurt by another person, we should immediately believe that it was a misunderstanding and not deliberate. Very rarely do people wake up with the intention to do us harm that day. But our imagination takes over and we believe that we are the object of others’ deliberate hatred for us. And once the imagination takes control of us it leads us in the direction of the devil.
Going around gossiping is always inhuman; it reveals a person of mediocre quality. It is a sign of being uneducated; it shows a lack of refinement of feeling; it is unworthy of a Christian.
Yes, sadly I have seen the poisonous nature of gossip too frequently which can destroy so much good. We may find it hard to believe, but even the priests are the object of gossip. (Of course this never happens at St. Paul’s). That is totally understandable in the natural order, because while there may be over a thousand parishioners, there is only one priest and therefore makes a very attractive and easy target. May I share an amusing observation that was once printed in a magazine for priests and has brought me many a chuckle? See if it sounds familiar.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY
Here is a summary of remarks made about pastors of a typical Catholic parish:
If his homily is long: “He puts us to sleep.”
If it is short: “He’s unprepared.”
If he raises his voice: “He’s shouting.”
If he speaks normally: “We can’t hear him.”
If he’s away: “He’s always on vacation.”
If he stays home: “He doesn’t have a life.”
If he’s out visiting: “He’s never home.”
If he’s in the rectory: “He never visits his parish.”
If he mentions finances: “He’s always talking about money.”
If he doesn’t: “Our parish never does anything.”
If he’s young: “He has no experience.”
If he’s older: “When will he retire?”
And, of course, when he dies they say: “No one can ever replace him!”
-The Priest Magazine, July 2015
PARISH GALA DINNER/DANCE AND CASINO NIGHT: Please save the date of Thursday October 26th. That will be our annual Parish Gala Dinner/Dance and Casino Night. Once again we will have the casino night provided by the M&M Twins (my good friends, Marco and Michael Posillico). This proved to be so enjoyable in the last two years and was a great success. May I ask and invite all parishioners to attend this wonderful evening at the newly refurbished Cottage of the Milleridge Inn. Mr. Butch Yamali, the new owner of the Milleridge Inn, recently invited me to go there to bless this new endeavor. I was accompanied by the Chair of the Gala Mrs. Paula Maturo and by committee member Mrs. Anne Maione. I entered every room of the Inn to bless it and sprinkle the Holy Water in all the shops, the cottage and the carriage house. It is remarkable how this historic inn is being restored to its original splendor. Mr. Yamali is a good friend to us at St. Paul’s and I would encourage everyone to come that night and to see the refurbished Inn. It is our major fundraiser through the course of the year. This year’s Gala will be a formal welcome of Deacon Ray to St. Paul’s. Deacon Ray was assigned to St. Paul’s on February 1, 2017. In the few short months he has been here he has endeared himself to us all. This will be our formal welcome of Deacon Ray. This year I am most grateful to Mrs. Paula Maturo and her committee for all they have done for the success of this wonderful evening.
MASS OF THANKSGIVING FOR THE DIACONAL MINISTRY AT ST. PAUL’S OF DEACON RAY D’ALESSIO ON OCTOBER 29th: On Sunday October 29, 2017, at 11.00AM there will be a Mass of Thanksgiving for the assignment of Deacon Raymond P. D’Alessio. There will be a reception for all parishioners, friends, and family, after the Mass to welcome him with a special treat for the children. This is the Sunday after our Parish Gala Dinner/Dance and Casino Night which is on Thursday October 26th. (Please see the announcement elsewhere in the bulletin). Everyone is most cordially invited. There will be a special surprise for the children (and adults!)
SAVE THE DATE: Although as a parish we are looking forward to the Gala Dinner/Dance I would like you to remember and save another date in the future. On Sunday, November 26th all our parish volunteers and founding members will be recognized and blessed at the 11.00AM Mass with a reception to follow. Please be sure to attend that Mass and receive a blessing. It is the Sunday after Thanksgiving and the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King.
TODAY: Sunday October 15th our parish will be blessed by the visit of the Glenn Mohr Chorale who will present a beautiful concert at 4.00PM in the Church. It is entitled Memorare-Mary Remembers and is a most uplifting concert in costume. I know the Glenn Mohr Chorale quite well. They are based in Floral Park and have sung all over the world, including the Vatican and Lincoln Center. Please plan on attending with the whole family so that the days before Christmas may become peaceful and spiritual. Visit their website for more information www.glennmohrchorale.com. They will be with us again in the spring for their Lenten play on Our Lord’s Passion.
PADRE PIO PILGRIMAGE: Please see in the bulletin the information regarding our parish pilgrimage to the National Shrine of Padre Pio. It is my fond hope that many of our parishioners will join me in this holy pilgrimage. I am thankful to Mrs. Gina Cinelli, who last year received the St. Agnes Medal from Bishop Murphy, for all the hard work in coordinating this pilgrimage.
ALTAR SERVER AND SQUIRE OUTING: On Monday October 9, 2017, our altar servers and squires were duly recognized with the gift of a trip to Adventureland. Because of the Hurricane force winds, sadly, Adventureland was closed, but the young people, ever cheerful and ready to make their own fun, went instead to FUN-1, a bowling alley and arcade at the Broadway Mall. There 25 young people bowled had a delicious lunch and then a treat of ice cream. There was nothing but laughter and “thank you” on their part. How different children are from us adults. They appreciate everything. Children appreciate everything and their presence is uplifting. God bless our squires and altar servers. And I am most grateful to our organizers and chaperones: Mrs. Paula Maturo, Mrs. Paula Dawson, Mrs. Linda Curro, Mrs. Lillian (and Alyssa) Castillo, Mrs. Toni Poolin, Mr. Peter Boyle and Mrs. Louise Shannon. We all had a wonderful day in spite of the rain, and there were no complaints from the children, only smiles and laughter.
ST. AGNES MEDAL: This year our parish recipient of the St. Agnes Medal is Mrs. Paula Maturo. Mrs. Maturo has been an integral part of every facet of parish life and is one who works behind the scenes, often unnoticed. Bishop Barres will bestow the award in the Cathedral Church of St. Agnes on October 29th. We congratulate and thank Mrs. Maturo for this honor bestowed by the Bishop. How blessed we are at St. Paul’s that our little parish was the first parish which Bishop Barres visited after his arrival as the fifth Bishop of the diocese. May God bless Paula and her family on this happy occasion.
LOOK TO MARY: Look to the star of the sea, call upon Mary…in danger, in distress, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. May her name never be far from your lips, or far from your heart…If you follow her, you will not stray; if you pray to her, you will not despair; if you turn your thoughts to her, you will not err. If she holds you, you will not fall; if she protects you, you need not fear; if she is your guide, you will not tire; if she is gracious to you, you will surely reach your destination. – St. Bernard of Clairvaux
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda