The Dangers of GossipI have just finished rereading an earlier posting from Father Gordon MacRae at These Stone Walls.. Readers of this blog may have read other postings I have made about this fine priest. Please feel free to wander down the left hand side of this page, and click on the links. Father Gordon, as you might know, ministers in the Men's State Prison in New Hampshire. Would that he were going there daily to minister, but no, he does it from the inside because, as those who have researched him or even read his own accounts, Father Gordon has been an inmate of that prison for more than 19 years. You see, he was convicted on no credible evidence of sexual abuse of a child, who was able to suck a significant amount of money from the Diocese of Manchester New Hampshire.
But, Father Gordon is a fine priest, and in my opinion a holy man, though again by his own accounts a sinner. In that he is a sinner, he is no different from me, or you for that matter.
The big difference between Father Gordon and me, or you again, is that the main prison that he is in is physical, and can therefor be deemed real for all intents and purposes. The prison that I inhabit, and you I would hazard a guess, is one of unrepentant sin, and diminution of the many gifts that Our Lord Jesus has given to us for our Daily Bread. So, though I can get up at any moment from this computer and wander outside in the sunshine, I will carry my prison with me.
Father Gordon knows that he is in prison. Me, not so much! There is something to be said for the prison that you inhabit being a physical bricks and mortar prison, even if you cannot leave it, for you can see it, you can touch it, you can even taste it, though I would not really want to do that. In a prison of the physical dimension, you can at least acknowledge it, and thereby choose to not allow it to take over your life, whereas the prison of my own sinfulness follows me everywhere, and impacts my life silently often, or leads me to sinful actions, words, or thoughts.
But that is not the only prison in each of our lives. We have the ability to imprison others with our tongues, and also with our thoughts.
Father Gordon, in this latest post, wrote about a priest of his diocese who told a person attending mass, when asked about how to visit Father Gordon in prison, to avoid him saying “He’s dangerous, and you should stay away from him.” Though this was a blatant uncharitable act, it is not uncommon, and Lent is a wonderful time for us to examine our own consciences about the words, thoughts and deeds in our lives that imprison others.
The woman in this article by Father Gordon wanted to know how to visit Father Gordon in prison. Jesus himself urged believers to visit those who were imprisoned as though they were Him, and the penalty for not performing acts of love to those less fortunate than ourselves was the ultimate penalty of eternity in Hell But, her parish priest did not encourage her to live the Gospel, but instead slandered Father Gordon.
For some time now, My Dear Wife and my prayer partners and I have been praying for all clergy in the world to grow in holiness. We have also been praying for ourselves to grow in holiness and for all of our family members to convert to faith in Jesus Christ or to revert, for all those baptized who have left the faith.
The priests of the Manchester New Hampshire Diocese have shunned Father Gordon, as have their leaders. Shame on them for this uncharity and slander against one of their own.
But, lest we "Tut, tut", put our thumbs under our suspenders, and then wag a finger at them in our own self righteousness, let us instead look in the mirror and ponder on who that is in physical, mental, emotional or spiritual prison in our sight needs a shoulder to lean on, or to cry on, needs our financial assistance, and most importantly needs our prayers.
Judging another is such an easy thing to do. It is far harder to look at ourselves.