Lent is almost upon us!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus,
Lent is almost upon us! You should have just received our annual Lent and Easter schedule and a message for Lent in a mailing from our parishes. If you did not receive it, please contact either parish office. In just a few days we will have Ash Wednesday. I encourage all to take time to come to HolyMass that day so that
there is a clear beginning for Lent and so that the graces of Lent, especially those offered on Ash Wednesday may be most fruitful for all of us. Please note that Ash Wednesday is a day of abstinence from meat and a day of fasting (that is one normal meal and two half meals). Please see the mailing for more detailed instructions.
What do you plan to do for Lent to grow closer to Jesus? Along with HolyMass and prayer, the best way to grow closer to Jesus is the Sacrament of Confession. I encourage everyone to receive this Sacrament of God’s Mercy at least once a month. If it has been some time since your last sacramental confession, I encourage you to come to God’s mercy in this Sacrament during Lent.
Another practice for Lent can be to choose to avoid certain or self
-correct certain sinful behaviors. One action that is all-toocommon and not understood clearly as a sin is the act of ‘reviling’.
“To “revile” is to verbally dishonor someone, to rail against a person, to talk abusively, to make abusive or angry criticisms, to shame another. St. Thomas Aquinas called reviling via the written word, “…when a man publishes something against another’s honor, thus bringing it to the knowledge of the latter and of other men.” In other words, it is when someone publicly makes angry criticisms against another rather than seeking to resolve a difference in private. Backbiting is to revile a person to a third party in secret. Derision is reviling with jest or ridicule. Cursing is to command or desire evil on another.
Is reviling a mortal sin? St. Thomas Aquinas answers in the affirmative, quoting the Gospel of Matthew: “Nothing but mortal sin deserves the eternal punishment of hell. Now railing or reviling deserves the punishment of hell, according to Matthew 5:22,
“Whosoever shall say to his brother . . . Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Therefore railing or reviling is a mortal sin.”
Words can injure people. When a self-appointed judge reviles another person publicly, it not only can hurt the person being reviled, it can do harm to that person’s friends and family as well. If a person dishonors another with the intent of dishonoring, it is, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, a mortal sin “no less than theft or robbery, since a man loves his honor no less than his possessions.”
(Trust me, the same goes for women.)
There can be an exception when reviling is not sinful, but it is exceedingly narrow and not a guarantee against sin. If the intent is not to dishonor but to correct, then it may sometimes be a venial sin or no sin at all, so long as the intent in the mind of the reviler remains not to dishonor but only to correct. Thus, when speaking publicly about another person, one must use caution. If there is any question about the intent in the mind of the speaker or writer who decides to publicly play the role of judge against another person, then that role-player must use words with discretion and moderation, lest he or she sin. If there is any intent whatsoever to dishonor the other person, the reviler sins. And sometimes even with the best of intent, the reviler sins anyway by injuring the other person. St. Thomas Aquinas warns: “Never -theless there is need of discretion in such matters, and one should use such words with moderation, because the railing might be so grave that being uttered inconsiderately it might dishonor the person against whom it is uttered. On such a case a man might commit a mortal sin, even though he did not intend to dishonor the other man: just as were a man incautiously to injure grievously another by striking him in fun, he would not be without blame.”
The bottom line is: People are not objects. People are people, imperfect sinners like everyone else. We owe others the benefit of the doubt. We owe it to others not to bring dishonor.
Should we suffer reviling? What if you are the one being reviled? St. Aquinas said, “Just as we need patience in things done against us, so do we need it in those said against us.” We are bound to be prepared to submit to be reviled, if that is the surest way to bring peace. However, St. Thomas Aquinas also said we are not always bound to suffer the injury of reviling, reminding us of the words of our Lord when he received a blow. “Why strikest thou Me?” (John 18:23).
Sometimes it is right to take a stand against reviling for two reasons. First, we may “check” the reviler for his or her own good, to hopefully stop the sinful action consistent with Proverbs 26:5,
“Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he imagine himself to be wise.” The second reason is for the good of others who are mislead into sin by the reviler.”
Why do people revile? St. Thomas Aquinas said people revile out of anger, quoting Aristotle, “…anger listens imperfectly to reason.” So I am convinced it is not worth the fleeting release of anger, possibly masquerading as justice, however seemingly righteous in the moment, to publicly correct someone else. Reviling
can so easily be a mortal sin. Injury, once done, cannot be undone but only healed. If we strive not to injure in the first place, we’ll do more to bring justice to society than we could ever bring about by publicly railing against our peers.” (From an article by Stacy Trasancos at www.integratedcatholiclife.org)
May our Lord help us all to grow in holiness and the strength to reject sin in our lives this Lent! God bless you!
In Christ through Mary,