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August 1997

1997, Articles, Raiati

Secrecy / August 17, 1997

We have a common saying which is “what is said in secrecy shall remain in secrecy”. This means that you are not to reveal what your friends have entrusted you with for they confided in you. There is no doubt that people would be hurt or offended if others knew about their private matters. People may entrust you with their family affairs, their worries or their work problems for they see you are capable of giving advice, or they do so just out of complaining. You might also have heard of these matters from people who enjoy the misery of others.

You might as well know details you were entrusted with so that you help out. And if you ever revealed this information or the name of the one who told you about, you would be creating a conflict between the person who confided in you and the one to whom you spoke. Thus, it has been said in the Bible “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.” (Proverbs 11:13). You might have no intention of divulging information but it is gossiping that has led you to speak.

Whenever you feel pressure for a significant person has spoken ill to you of another significant person, do not tell what you have heard so that you remain trustworthy and avoid conflict between the two of them. If they trusted you with a matter and you saw you are capable of helping, use the good utterance of what you have heard for the benefit of people and not their grief.

The priest is not the only one to be bound by the secrecy of confession. Thus, each one of us is bound to keep to ourselves what we have heard unless the utterance might jeopardize the safety of the government or sabotage the church. For instance, if any clash occurred in the parish, the bishop must be aware of such incident so that the unity of the believers shall remain intact. Any other disclosure shall be gossiping. Revealing the worries and sins of people is tattling, for tattling is disclosing true matters that are not to be disclosed.

Constructive criticism is one you make with someone you want to reform. Sometimes, you may analyze what people say as long as they are talking about it and it is already revealed. You may have an objective criticism about what you have heard but you may not dispraise the one who spoke it. And sometimes you may analyze a disclosed behavior or stands already revealed, but never offend people because of cruel criticism hiding rancor.

A lot of false news is spread in the church community. And when examined, the majority turns to be untrue. Why he who knows something about a clergyman does not go to him and admonish him rather than spreading the news among the chatters and the gossipers? So-and-so has sold something, or so-and-so has bought another thing. How can one prove any of this? The title-tattle causes a great deal of pain and sadness in people’s souls.

Silence is salvation. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” (James 1:26). And the greatest saying is: “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” (3:6)  

The rule is to praise people in their absence and to keep their misdeeds unrevealed so God shall overlook yours. Say only what is necessary and useful. For if what you said secretly is not revealed, yet it might mislead.  If you ever knew something in this matter, let go of it so that you won’t be led in desperation and lose your hope. If you found out that someone has committed a misdeed, pray for this brother and forgive his sin, for if you reproach him for what he has done you might commit the same. If someone has sinned, do not blame or punish them for this leads you to rancor.

Translated from Arabic – 16.12.10

Original Text: “الكتمان” – 17.08.97

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1997, Articles, Raiati

Peace of Christ / August 3, 1997

The Great Litany in the Divine Liturgy and other services starts with the deacon saying: “In peace let us pray to the Lord”, which means that we want to be in peace with God so that we can pray. Then we say: “For peace of the whole world.” The audience may think that we are asking for peace between nations, but the explanation comes shortly after that when we say: “For the peace of God and the salvation of our souls.” This sentence clarifies that if there was peace between us and the Lord, we will be able to spread calm in our private relationships, in the family and the whole society. Peace that resists the interests of nations, individuals and disputes in the family or the parish is bestowed upon you from above.

          Unfortunately, every nation comprises good people and many wise people, but they are not policymakers. And “Man is a wolf to man”. Wars between strong nations and weak ones will persist, unless all nations witness substantial moral reforms, as well as development and prosperity, so that they understand that their real interests lie in the growth and development of all nations together, while preserving every nation’s uniqueness, genuineness and right to be different. It is by believing in the freedom of others as a condition for peace and as a completion of our own peace that people’s lives would be at their acme.

          It would then be possible to achieve durable peace between several countries after they realize that war destructs them all, builds nothing and does not make them gain control; and that if you exclude someone, he will rebel against you to exclude you. It began to seem – after a hard slog – that peace across borders is possible for human values became stronger than animosity in souls. The European Union is a good example, for it is the fruit of a quest for cooperation and unity, after tasting the bitterness of wars and adopting Gospel principles, translating them into social values. Undoubtedly, there are some basic religious-based deep-rooted convictions that turn into a policy.

          Basically, the United Nations tried to establish peace based on human rights that became accepted standards put in a human and mundane frame, without any apparent relation to the Gospel. However, they are certainly derived from the Gospel.

          Do we dream of global peace? It depends on honesty, yet this quality is nowhere to be found in most countries. Honesty is the result of abstention from racism and the desire for expansion and economic control. Indeed, it will stay for decades, or even hundreds of years, a nebulous concept.

          It is justice that we seek, for no peace is possible without a justice for everyone. Peace may be imposed, yet it will not last. In one way or another, it has to be “peace of God” in order to survive on earth. This is the meaning of the annunciation upon the birth of Jesus Christ: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth”. If you receive something bestowed upon you from above, you shall turn it into peace and spread it here on earth.

Translated from Arabic – 02.09.10

Original Text: “سلام المسيح” – 03.08.97

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