Every few days or weeks, a wave of new rumors sweeps through the Parish about something or other. It’s always something like “What’s this I hear about St. Jane and women priests!?” followed up with”You must do something to address these rumors!” And it always comes from the same sources, which I pretty much know by now, depending on the subject of the rumors.
The latest is that St. Jane is only allowing Communion in the Hand which, for some reason, is a hot topic of conversation and for some other reason – or lack thereof – has people up in arms over absolutely nothing. If it were an isolated incident, and if it were not so predictable, I’d probably be bothered by it.
It’s a steady stream of dreck, and figuratively speaking you just need a fly swatter.
But Who would say such a thing?!
The questions never asked, during our COVID-stressed existence are, “Who said that?” Or, “Why did they say that?”
Most of the rumors I hear are false. Some I haven’t been able to address because I haven’t known the facts. (And you might ask yourself why I did not know the facts, which is a good question, and one which I’m usually able to find out.)
In Boy Scouts years ago a rumor started that our Scout Leader was resigning. We were all shocked and surprised. That very night my scout leader called me and asked where I’d heard the rumor, and I told him quite honestly that I’d heard it from my David. He then called David.
David took the fall because I think at that point it was so generalized in some large group setting that no one knew who’d started the rumor. It wasn’t much of a fall, our Scout Leader just set the record straight.
But it was a lesson. Never take rumors as true until you know more. And always question the source.
The Father of Lies
You belong to your father, that is, the devil, and are eager to gratify the appetites which are your father’s. He, from the first, was a murderer; and as for truth, he has never taken his stand upon that; there is no truth in him. When he utters falsehood, he is only uttering what is natural to him; he is all false, and it was he who gave falsehood its birth. And if you do not believe me, it is precisely because I am speaking the truth.John 8:44-45 Knox translation
Very beautiful things start in the Church, things truly started as a fruit of the spirit, which get torn down and destroyed by the works of the flesh. They’re stolen, to go off elsewhere and start on a foundation of sand, deceptions, and intrigue. In the inevitable frustrations that develop, rumors and blame start, to deflect attention from where it actually belongs, and sometimes to assuage guilt.
That’s when you know you’re dealing with the father of lies, and not the Author of Life.
A Toxic Brew
It’s all unnecessary.
So I started tracking rumors to their source. Instead of answering questions, I asked them. I started giving advice instead of asking for it. Instead of watching the Parish get trampled like a doormat – that applies to groups across the board, and to no one group in particular – I re-established boundaries. People hate that kind of thing.
Toxic people are usually unhappy, and it’s usually not a lifelong way of being. Some may be going through an unhappy phase of life, just miserable in their lives. Some might not have grown up yet, and consider acting like a spoiled teenager is the norm for those approaching or past middle age.
Frustrated souls start rumors constantly.
Be at peace and occupy yourselves with the Father of Life, who is our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus never started rumors, though he did end many of them.
It’s easy to mess with a priest or a parish – the stupidest people are more than capable of doing it. Tho in these bizarre times, maybe it’s better to remember that age old adage – never mess with the people who know where the bodies are buried.