Essentially, I've become more aware of the propensity in myself and others to gossip, and it's begun to bother me, which it never has before.
I've been listening to OLiC Archives, specifically a 6-part series on Lent, and the Prayer of St. Ephraim. For those unfamiliar with this prayer, here's the text:
O Lord and Master of my life,
Grant not unto me a spirit of idleness,
of lust for power,
and of vain speaking.
But bestow upon me, Thy servant,
the spirit of chastity,
and of love.
Yea, O Lord and King,
grant that I may perceive
my own transgressions,
and judge not my brother,
for blessed art Thou
unto ages of ages.
The hosts are going through the prayer, delineating every vice, and then all of the virtues will follow. Of course, as they go through, they're including *lots* of quotes from the Fathers, which is another reason I wish they were able to have all the production notes up. It'd mean I could find all the quotes they use!
I did, however, find one of them. It's from a longer homily by St. John Chrysostom.
7. Of how many evils are we now full, without being conscious of them? We bite one another, we devour one another, in wronging, accusing, calumniating, being vexed by the credit of our neighbors.
And see the difficulty. When a man wishes to undermine the reputation of a neighbor, he says, 'Such an one said this of him; O God, forgive me, do not examine me strictly, I must give account of what I have heard.' Why then do you speak of it at all, if you dost not believe it? Why do you speak of it? Why do you make it credible by much reporting? Why do you pass on the story which is not true? Thou dost not believe it, and you entreat God not to call you to strict account? Do not say it then, but keep silence, and free yourself from all fear.
But I know not from whence this disease has fallen upon men. We have become tattlers, nothing remains in our mind. Hear the exhortation of a wise man who says, "Have you heard a word? Let it die in you, be bold; it will not burst you." Sirach 19:10 And again, "A fool hears a word, and travails, as a women in labor of a child." Sirach 19:11 We are ready to make accusations, prepared for condemning. Even if no other evil thing had been done by us, this were sufficient to ruin us, and to carry us away to Hell, this involves us in ten thousand evils. And that you may know this certainly, hear what the prophet says, "Thou sat and spoke against your brother." Psalm 50:20
But it is not I, you say, but the other [who told me]. Nay rather, it is yourself; for if thou had not spoken, another would not have heard: or even if he should hear it, yet thou wouldest not have been to blame for the sin. We ought to shade over and conceal the failings of neighbors, but you parade them under a cloak of zeal for goodness. Thou becomest, not an accuser, but a gossip, a trifler, a fool. O what cleverness! Without being aware of it, you bring disgrace upon yourself as well as on him.
And see what great evils which arise from this. You provoke the wrath of God. Do you not hear Paul saying about widows, "they not only" (these are his words) "learn to be idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, wandering about from house to house, and speaking things which they ought not." 1 Timothy 5:13 So that even when you believe the things which are said against your brother, you ought not even in that case to speak of them; much less, when thou dost not believe them.
But thou [forsooth] lookest to your own interest? Thou fearest to be called to account by God? Fear then, lest even for your tattling thou be called to account. For here, you can not say, 'O God, call me not to account for light talking': for the whole matter is light talking. Why did you publish it? Why did you increase the evil? This is sufficient to destroy us. On this account Christ said, "Judge not, that you be not judged." Matthew 7:1
But we pay no regard to this, neither are we brought to our senses by what happened to the Pharisee. He said what was true, "I am not as this Publican" Luke 18:11, he said it too in no man's hearing; yet was he condemned. If he were condemned when he said what was true, and uttered it in no man's hearing, what fearful [punishment] shall not they suffer, who like gossiping women, carry about everywhere lies which they do not even themselves believe? What shall they not endure?
8. Henceforward let us set "a door and a bolt before the mouth." Sirach 28:25 For innumerable evils have arisen from tattling; families have been ruined, friendships torn asunder, innumerable other miseries have happened. Busy not yourself, O man, about the affairs of your neighbor.
But you are talkative and hast a weakness. Talk of your own [faults] to God: thus the weakness will be no longer a weakness, but an advantage. Talk of your own [faults] to your friends, those who are thorough friends and righteous men, and in whom you have confidence, that so they may pray for your sins. If you speak of the [sins] of others, you are nowise profited, neither have you gained anything, but hast ruined yourself. If you confess your own [sins] to the Lord, you have great reward: for one says, "I said, I will confess against myself mine iniquity to the Lord, and Thou forgavest the impiety of my heart." Psalm 32:5
Do you wish to judge? Judge your own [sins]. No one will accuse you, if you condemn yourself: but he will accuse if you do not condemn; he will accuse you, unless thou convict yourself; will accuse you of insensibility. You have seen such an one angry, irritated, doing something else out of place? Think at once, even thou on your own [faults]: and thus you will not greatly condemn him, and wilt free yourself from the load of your past transgressions. If we thus regulate our own conduct, if we thus manage our own life, if we condemn ourselves, we shall probably not commit many sins, and we shall do many good things, being fair and moderate; and shall enjoy all the promises to them that love God: to which may all attain, by the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, with whom to the Father together with the Holy Ghost, be glory, power, honor, now and for ever and world with end. Amen.
*sigh* As the hosts so often, say, 'ouch'.
I am determined not to be this person anymore.