Never let evil talk pass your lips; say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them. Do nothing that will sadden the Holy Spirit with whom you were sealed against the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind. In place of these, be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ.
Did you catch that line? "Do nothing that will sadden the Holy Spirit with whom you were sealed against the day of redemption."
Saddening the Holy Spirit...through our actions. How many times we do allow evil to pass through our lips? Do we repeat gossip we've heard without questioning the source or the veracity of it? And even if it IS true...is the knowledge something that builds up others, or tears them down? Do others have the RIGHT to that knowledge? Or should it end when it reaches us?
So often, the blogosphere becomes an "echo chamber" and bad news or evil talk passes from one blog to the next, sometimes triumphantly, as though we are reveling in the misfortune or disaster or another. We just LOVE to criticize the dissidents, often forgetting quite conveniently that we were once in that category. Was it ridicule that brought us back, or the love of Christ through the Mercy of God the Father?
Tonight's Evening Prayer carries on with this theme:
We who are strong in faith should be patient with the scruples of those whose faith is weak; we must not be selfish. Each should please his neighbor so as to do him good by building up his spirit. Thus, in accord with Scripture, Christ did not please himself: "The reproaches they uttered against you fell on me."
It is not that we do not have the right and duty to defend the Truth; it is that we need to be patient and loving towards those who have had no experience with the Truth. We cannot be selfish, as we often are when we are confronted with those who claim to be Catholic and yet attack the Church. They attack because they do not understand, and they fear what they do not understand. We have to remember the patience of Christ, we have to be willing to be villified and crucified with Him, and in so doing, finally open the channels of grace that will bear fruit with those who attack.
We have to suffer for what and WHOM we love. We don't have to be great debators, and in fact, being so can often contradict the goal we have in mind. Only God knows what is needed, and we must be like Christ in patience and charity when we are confronted with those who attack from within. Anger is not a weapon against them; it is a weapon OF them and serves only to manipulate and cripple us in our endeavors both towards personal holiness and in providing an example to others.
We don't have to be experts in anything in order to do God's work, and we have no right to be angry when what has happened from the beginning of time is continuing to happen even in our age. We are all fallen creatures; to think of ourselves as better or more enlightened in the face of dissidents is to be selfish; for in our self-love we so easily forget that we are even now, as we speak, completely lost.
The Church does not NEED us to defend Her...she has the Holy Spirit. It is that the Church CALLS us to unite our sufferings and loyalty with Christ, and in so doing, build the Kingdom which in turn naturally defends the Body in true Charity.
And yet, we get so caught up in "issues" and what others are doing. Yes, we need to speak out and we are called to act, if not for ourselves, then for the faith of the weak, but we are NOT called to debase ourselves through gossip, calumny, and detraction.
We may judge actions but not persons. We may condemn things that are happening, but we cannot condemn the souls behind the events. We cannot forget that we, too, are fallen beings and even as we point out the sins of another, we cannot hide our own.
It's all about humility and truth...what is true for one is true for another. Even as we call others to conversion, we must delve into our own souls and call ourselves into account; to do otherwise is selfish.
I know that God has given me much, and He has given me faith; that gift can be taken away at any moment; it is not the gift or any merit of mine that makes me better or holy; it is God Himself. On my own, I can do nothing and on my own, I am lost. We are all the same.
God is merciful; let us imitate Him and remember that we are dust and that this earth holds nothing for us.