Gossip is terrorism, The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

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They say women gossip more than men. Men, actually, gossip just as much except they do it better and call it “networking.” The difference is in the content of gossip.

Let’s admit it. We all enjoy the guilty pleasure of talking about others. We gossip about the latest scandals – who’s having an affair with whom, who got fired – juicy stories of celebrities and people we know. Harmless it may seem, we are actually damaging their reputation when we carelessly publicize people’s mistakes and bad deeds; more so when facts are false. Gossip becomes malicious when it is a lie or when the intention is to ruin people’s reputation.
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Pope Francis said, “Gossiping is like terrorism because the person who gossips is like a terrorist who throws a bomb and runs away, destroying: with their tongue they are destroying and not making peace.”

First of all, we should not judge anyone because “the only Judge is the Lord.” Since we do not know the intentions of the heart, we assume ignorance and human weakness instead of malice and bad faith. Even in the worst of circumstances, we try to make excuses for those who commit mistakes or do something disgraceful.
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We keep quiet if we cannot speak kindly of someone. Pope Francis advised us to bite our tongues whenever we have the urge to say things, which encourage division.

There are times when we have to warn others of danger: about a corrupt official or an unfaithful fiancé. An obligation of justice and charity may require us to reveal a mistake or fault only to the interested parties, to those who can remedy the situation, but not to the entire community.
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With the advent of the internet, gossip can bring even greater damages. Spreading rumors is not limited anymore to the immediate community for a limited period of time. Gossip spreads faster and becomes available forever, 24 hours a day, and for the entire world to know!

To be forgiven from the sin of gossip, we have an obligation to make up for the harm done to the good name of the offended person. Oftentimes, it is difficult to take back what has already circulated.
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We will always be tempted to gossip and to enjoy listening to it. We have to be reminded that, “taking pleasure in evil earns condemnation.” (Sirach 19:5) The important thing is to struggle so that we stop the cruel terrorism of gossip.

(Reference: “Pope Francis: Gossiping is like Terrorism” by Rosie Scammell (September 4, 2015 ); “The Faith Explained Today” by Fr. Joe Babendreier; Sirach 19: 5-17; “The Ultimate Guide to Internet Safety” by Victoria Roddel; “The New Word on Gossip” by Nigel Nicholson, Ph.D., professor of organizational behavior at London Business School )

“Abortion remains a grave and serious wrong.” The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

9Abortion is one of the greatest evils in the world. In fact, a Catholic is automatically excommunicated (even without the Church’s intervention) the moment he/she commits abortion. The mother who asks for the abortion, the father who pays for it, and anyone who encourages the woman to do it – besides being guilty of mortal sin – are excommunicated for deliberately and knowingly committing this sin. This includes doctors and nurses who perform the abortion. Their crime is even more heinous because they are the ones who kill the baby.
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To be excommunicated does not mean that one is banned from church or he/she is not a Catholic anymore. It means that the excommunicant is still obligated to attend Mass but is deprived of all the sacraments (except the sacrament of confession). He/she cannot receive Holy Communion or be confirmed until he goes to confession and the excommunication is lifted by a competent authority (the local bishop or priests to whom the bishop has delegated this power).
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Pope Francis recently declared Dec. 8, 2015 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception) to Nov. 20, 2016 (Feast of the Sacred Heart) as the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. During this year, all priests will be allowed to absolve those who have committed abortion and who, with contrite heart, ask for forgiveness. News went viral regarding this, and some even mentioned that the Pope has shown “more understanding” regarding abortion. We have to be clear that the Pope’s gesture does not mean that abortion has become a lesser evil.
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The Pontiff wrote that because of the contraceptive mentality of our time, many people are unaware of the extreme harm of what they are doing; such as when they take contraceptive pills which are abortifacient, or when they fail to realize that life begins at the moment of fertilization. He is also aware of those women who felt that they had no other option and were pressured to undergo an abortion. The Holy Father’s compassion toward those who suffer the scar of abortion, however, does not stop him from being firm to the Church’s sacred teachings. Abortion remains a grave and serious wrong.
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(The Faith Explained Today by Fr. Joe Babendreier; “Understanding Pope Francis’ gesture rightly ” by Archbishop Socrates Villegas; Pope Francis’s Year of Mercy Letter; “Catholicism: Excommunication and Other Penalties” For Dummies)

Buried Alive! The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

11There is a story in the newspaper about a woman who was buried alive in trash, which she had accumulated for the past thirty years. When she was rescued, she explained that the trash was really her treasure. We may be somewhat like her when we avoid going to confession. The “trash” of our sins keep piling up until we are buried alive in them.

Sometimes we do not want to get rid of our sins because we are attached to those “earthly treasures.” We are afraid the priest will ask us to make changes of our sinful lives.

Moreover, many of us tend to disguise, ignore, or glamorize sins by giving them other names or interpretations. We refuse to see them for what they really are – that sins are the rejection of God and His laws. St. John Paul II said, “learn to call sin, sin. And do not call it liberation or progress, even if the whole of fashion and propaganda are against you.” He tells us “…to rediscover the sense of sin.”
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Sin weighs us down. It prevents us from soaring high to God. Sin clips our wings spiritually because it clouds our intellect, weakens our will to do good and avoid evil, and prevents us from loving God.

Many of us consider ourselves good people. When asked to go to confession, we believe that we have not committed any sins. This self-assessment is so different from that of the saints. The greatest saints actually considered themselves the greatest sinners. Their humility and love for God made them acknowledge that they were less than perfect and that they needed improvement.
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We cannot remain buried alive in sin. The first step is to acknowledge that we are sinners! It hurts to admit the truth. Next step is to be sorry for our sins (because they offend God), resolve to change our evil lifestyle, and go to the sacrament of Penance. God’s love and mercy will rescue us from the trash of sins and give us spiritual strength to seek instead heavenly treasures.

(Reference: “You can become a Saint” by Mary Ann Budnik; Pope John Paul II, General Audience, April 1981 and September 1986)

Be Happy! The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

6Everyone has his own definition of happiness. For some, it is to own a big and beautiful house; for others, it is to play great golf games. For some, it is to travel to different countries; for others, it is to have unity in the family. We all want to be happy and we are created to be such.

We’ve heard about the fall of Adam and Eve. It brought about original sin which caused us to be ignorant, to lose our self-control, and to be strongly inclined to evil. Moreover, media bombard us with false formulas for happiness. We are made to think that happiness can be bought; that all celebrities are people to imitate; that God is a “killjoy” to our fun with His Commandments.3Flaunt the latest gadgets, sign up on some online dating services even when married, be the dynamic executive and let the maids take care of the family – this generation, with its deformed outlook on life, on the family, on religion and on morality, seeks a life free from boredom, discomfort, and pain. It glorifies material riches, power, and fame. 9People, after intoxicating themselves with pleasure, soon experience boredom and emptiness – a proof that we are created for something which cannot be fulfilled on earth. Pope Paul VI pointed out that the “technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but has great difficulty in generating joy.” An unhappy king was told that he would find happiness by wearing the shirt of the poorest man; and he discovered that the poorest man was cheerful and had no shirt at all. Our hearts are made for something intangible.
8 St. Augustine stated, “Our heart is restless until it rests in our Lord.” However, let’s admit it. Many of us find God boring. The Mass is meaningless and the prayers are mechanical recitation of Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s. So how can we discover happiness in God?4 They say that beneath the turbulent sea is a calm and beautiful world. Christianity is similar to that. Externally, it may not attract us but as we plunge deep in our spiritual lives, we discover that there are so much beauty, goodness, and love that are beyond our imaginations. St. Thomas Aquinas, a genius, did not finish his Summa Theologiae, the best theological book ever written, because when he was looking at the crucifix, he realized that what he had written was nothing compared to what God truly is.

In this era where there are so many distractions, we need to make time for silence – to reflect and to pray more. We will learn that the secret of happiness is to recognize how much God loves EACH ONE OF US as if each one were the only child. We, in turn, fall in love with Him and forget about ourselves. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta preached: “We can find true happiness and peace when we are in love with God.” She also taught: “By forgetting yourself, you find yourself.”5 Happiness is accepting the “undeserved” sufferings, such as an incurable illness, the loss of fortune, the death or infidelity of a loved one, and trusting that our all-loving and all-wise Papa knows what is best for us.

Happiness is realizing the horror of sin and experiencing God’s mercy and compassion as He welcomes us back when we are sorry for having offended him.

And perfect happiness? We are not far from it if we struggle one step at a time in this journey of love (of doing God’s will) until our hearts rest in our Lord in heavenly paradise. 10

Dying Young? THE ABCs OF CATHOLIC DOCTRINE By Lianne Tiu

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If “lola”dies at the age of 95, we normally do not question her death. Rather, we are eager to know her secret for long life. However, if a young person dies, we are often “shocked” and may even experience a crisis in our faith, blaming God for the death.
4Sometimes when a person is diagnosed with an incurable illness such as cancer, aside from seeing a doctor, he goes to an albularyo (faith healer), mangtatawas (an “occult practitioner” who drips molten candle wax into a basin of water and interprets the resulting form as the cause of an illness), manghihilot(a masseuse who use incantations to invoke the help of spirits to heal a patient), or mananambal(an “occultist” who uses sorcery to treat maladies) hoping to get cured by them. According to Fr. Jose Syquia,* the devil is behind these rituals so we should not be deceived by them.
6We have to understand that although we want physical healing, Jesus never promised everyone a long life. He instituted the sacrament of anointing of the sick which gives spiritual as well as physical strength. But He did not institute it to eliminate death. He instituted this sacrament to give sick people the strength they need to face death. The Church never promises to work miracles to heal an incurable sickness.
5Anointing of the sick heals the soul, and the body if it is expedient. If the recovery is not good for the person dying, God will not grant recovery. Only God can judge. Maybe the sick person is ready for heaven. Maybe he will suffer setbacks in the spiritual life if he lives. God will cure the sick person if it is spiritually good for him. However, we should not expect a sudden miraculous recovery, as if the sick person will just rise up from bed and resume a normal life. Our Lord usually works through natural causes.
2God is more interested in our eternal salvation. We may die young or we may live long – we just have to trust His infinite wisdom.

*Fr. Jose Francisco Syquia, director of the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Exorcism

(Reference: “The Faith Explained Today” by Fr. Joe Babendreier; “Occult, Pagan Practices Ruin Faith in God, says Exorcist” inquirer news)

Are you suffering from sickness or old age? The ABC’s of Catholic Doctrine By Lianne Tiu

11It is hard to accept physical decline and the limitations that come with ailments or with aging. One must reject the temptation to think that his life is no longer of any value or that he is no longer important to others.

In itself, illness is a trial of faith. It can destroy some and strengthen others. Some go into rebellion or plunge into night of despair. Some take it calmly because they put all their trust in the Lord.
9 A person suffering from sickness or old age still has his appointment with “tomorrow”. However, it is a “tomorrow” that is not centered on success or on public recognition of his personal merits. Rather, it consists of God’s positive judgment of him. God is pleased not so much on the results of one’s action but on the love he puts into it.

Thus, the key to the problem is to adjust, to accept one’s situation and to try to find meaning in it. In the face of pain, sickness, fatigue and old age, the only proper attitude is that of loving acceptance (after employing all human means to overcome them). These sufferings can be opportunities to express one’s love for God, to unite himself with Him, to pay for his past sins, to gain virtues, and to send graces to his friends.

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This should be the goal: to transform the suffering into an offering. When he knows how to accept it, it purifies.

(Reference: Ethical Practices in Health & Disease by Michael Monge, M.D.)