Whoever unjustly deprives his neighbor of his good name is guilty of sin and is further bound to make reparation according to his slander: no man can enter heaven with another’s goods, and of all worldly goods none is equal to a good reputation. Slander is a kind of murder, for we have three lives—the spiritual life, which consists of the grace of God, the corporal life, which is in the soul, and the civil life, which consists of our reputations. Sin destroys the first, death the second, and slander the third; but the slanderer is guilty of a triple murder with his tongue. He destroys his own soul and that of he hearer by a spiritual homicide and deprives the object of his slander of civil existence. St. Bernard states that Satan has hold both of the slanderer and of him who hearkens to slander, for he has the tongue of one and the ear of the other. Aristotle says that the serpent’s tongue is forked, having two points; and such is the tongue of the slanderer, who with one stroke wounds and poisons the ear of his listener and the reputation of him whom he slanders. I beseech you, therefore, never to speak ill of anyone, either directly or indirectly. Beware of falsely imputing crimes and sins to your neighbor, of disclosing his secret faults, of exaggerating those which are obvious, of interpreting good actions ill, of denying the good which you know to be in any, or of maliciously concealing or lessening it, for all these things grievously offend God. But beware of praising vice to avoid slander. […] When it occasions that the vice of another must be spoken of, consider whether it is profitable or useful to those who hear it. You must be exceedingly exact in what you say; your tongue when you speak of your neighbor is as a knife in the hand of a surgeon who is going to cut between the nerves and tendons. Your stroke must be accurate, and whilst you blame the sin, always spare the sinner as much as possible.
(St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life, Book III, ch. 29)
Friday, January 30, 2009
If you have nothing nice to say...
The excerpt below was shared in our bulletin this week: