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Thoughts for the Week


Third Sunday after Epiphany

Thoughts for the Week - Fr R Taouk 
21st January 2018

On the Sin of Slander by St. Francis De Sales

Rash judgment causes anxiety, contempt of our neighbour, pride, self-satisfaction and a hundred other very destructive effects. Slander holds the first rank among these and is the real plague of conversations. How I wish that I had one of the live coals from the Holy Altar to touch the lips of men so that their iniquity is taken away and their sin cleansed in imitation of the Seraph who purified the mouth of Isaiah (6:6-7). He who would rid the world of slander would remove from it a great part of its sins and iniquity. Whoever unjustly ruins the good name of his neighbour commits sin. Moreover he has the obligation to make amends though differently according to the various kinds of slanders. For no one can enter Heaven with the goods of another and among all external goods, reputation is the best.

Slander is a kind of murder, since we have three kinds of life: The spiritual life consists in the grace of God, the bodily life depends on the soul, and the social life consists in reputation. Sin takes away the first from us, death deprives us of the second, and slander strips us of the third. With a single stroke of his tongue, the slanderer usually commits three murders. He kills his own soul and that of the one who listens to him by a spiritual murder and he takes away the social life of the man whom he slanders. As St. Bernard says, he who slanders and he who listens to the slanderer both have the Devil in them, one in his tongue and the other in his ear. David speaking of slanderers says: They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent (Ps. 139:4). The serpent's tongue is forked and has two points, says Aristotle. Such is the tongue of the backbiter that with a single sting he poisons the ear of the listener as well as the reputation of the person of whom he is speaking.


I implore you, then, never to calumniate anyone either directly or indirectly. Beware of attributing false crimes and sins to your neighbour, of exposing those which are secret, of exaggerating those that are known. Neither interpret badly his good work nor deny the good which you know to be in him. Do not hide maliciously, or decrease it by words. For in all these ways, you will greatly offend God, especially by accusing falsely and denying the truth to the prejudice of your fellowmen. In fact it is a double sin to lie and do harm to our neighbour at the same time.


Those who for the sake of defaming begin with a respectful introduction or say compliments and jokes in between, are the most subtle and poisonous detractors of all. I affirm, they say, that I love him and that otherwise, he is an excellent man; nevertheless, the truth must be told; he was wrong in committing such a treachery. She is a very virtuous girl but she was surprised, and such small insinuations. Do you not see the craftiness? He who wishes to shoot with a bow draws the arrow as close to himself as possible but it is only to shoot it forth with greater force. These detractors seem to draw their slander to themselves, but it is only to hurl it with greater force so that it penetrates deep into the hearts of the listeners.