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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Gossiping vs. sharing news AND holding hands for prayer

Aug 14, 2017

What’s the difference between sharing news and gossiping? Like…criminals; or people in the news?

         In a time when the term “fake news” has come into common use by some to describe information that is put forth by members of the press that in many cases seeks to slander others, it is good for us to consider if there is a distinction between “passing on news” and gossiping. 

          At the risk of not giving the answer that is being asked here, let me start out by acknowledging the Christian command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” When it comes to any of our neighbors, whether they be people we know well and see frequently or people we will never meet in person but have come to know through any form of media (whether that be news, entertainment, books, etc.), our call is to seek their good and aid them in receiving eternal life from God. Just as you and I probably do not care to find out when people have spoken about our failures or negative points, even if they were accidental or honest failings (but still true stories), why is it acceptable for you or me to speak of the sins of another or of what may have been failures in judgment to do what is true or good? Likewise, while living “in public” certainly brings the responsibility to be role models, might we all learn to regularly ask ourselves how we have been as role models to those in our own lives before passing on the story of a public figure who has fallen? (After all, what kind of modeling is it to point out the failures of another when, as Jesus has said, we should take the wooden beam out of our own eye first?)

        As I write this, I realize my own weak points in living what I am writing and testify that I must continue to grow in virtue in this area of loving neighbor as self. That said, I think it is important to any who take interest in knowing the news and who believe they need to talk about the lives and doings of public people (or even private people in your own locale) that in loving your neighbor, silence is usually better than speech.  Before speaking, remember that we will all be judged according to both our actions and our words – by whether we have loved or torn down others.  For there is nothing fake about how our words affect – including words we may want to speak about others whom we may never meet.

Why don’t we hold hands when we pray like protestants?

       Admitting that I am not familiar with the motivation for Protestants to hold hands in prayer, I appeal to this simple fact in worship:  that in our Catholic worship, such actions as holding hands have never been envisioned because the point of worship is to offer ourselves to God who is the source of our unity. That many hold hands at
various points (particularly during the praying of The Lord’s Prayer) is not an act that was ever envisioned in the Catholic liturgy. Outside of the liturgy (say in a family’s home when they gather to pray together), the practice of holding hands in prayer may be a way to express outwardly a greater unity toward offering one prayer. However, in the liturgy, and particularly at Mass, that unity is already shown by our interior union in God dwelling within the hearts of believers, and is manifested outwardly both in the words we say as with “one voice,” and in an even greater way in our receiving Holy Communion, which is God’s own way to bring about unity in us

      On a related note, it is truly not proper for the people to extend or outstretch their hands during such times as The Lord’s Prayer in the manner of how the priest extends his hands. While many find it personally meaningful to be able to extend their hands in what is called the “orans” posture, this posture belongs in a real way to the priest who serves on behalf of the people, offering through Christ to the Father the prayer of all the people. An image that comes to mind recently (thanks mainly to the ability here to offer the Masses ad orientem) is to consider how the priest stands at the head of the assembled people so that through his standing in the place of Christ the Head, all the prayers of the people are more clearly directed to the Father in heaven through Christ, with the priest serving as a funnel through which all the prayers are united and through Christ are offered up. Therefore, for the people it is most proper to unite your minds and hearts, with your hands closed together in a posture of prayer as we pray together, allowing the priest to truly be the servant/leader that he is called to be.


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