Saturday, April 5, 2008


Author Colleen Hammond has a post on the endless harm that can be caused by backbiting. The Eighth Commandment tends to be forgotten. Her quotes include the following:
An insult wounds and outrages one who is present; backbiting attacks those who are absent and seeks to weaken their reputation. The passion of this evil has so infested the world that people who have totally renounced other vices still fall into this one. One might say it is the last trap the devil sets for them. (St. Jerome)

Do not tell me, I would be a slanderer only if I lied. I am committing no slander if I tell the truth. Error! Speaking evil of others, even if the evil be true, is always a crime. (St. John Chrysostom)

A person who backbites performs the devil's work. Backbiting is an unruly demon. Everyone flees a backbiter like unhealthy mud, like a leech that feeds on blood, a beetle that feeds in the mire that is, on other's defects. (St. John Chrysostom)

Backbiting is a devil that never rests. (St. Antiochus, Homily, Detract)

The backbiter proves, first, that he has no charity. And then, what is his purpose, if not to get others to detest and hate their neighbor? Therefore, the backbiting tongue wounds charity in everyone who listens to it. It kills and stifles charity as much as it can. (St. Bernard)

We have an obligation to restore the neighbor's reputation. No restoration, no pardon (St. Augustine).

When the devil cannot devour someone by leading him into evil, he attempts to defile his reputation in order to weigh him down beneath the outrages of men and the backbiting of evil tongues, and thus draw him into his clutches. (St. Augustine, Epistle 137)

It is a common principle that restoring their neighbor's reputation is obligatory, not only for those who have revealed an imaginary crime, but also those who have revealed a true but secret crime. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

The person who maliciously robs his neighbor's reputation is held to restoring it on the same level as someone who steals. If what you said is secret, even though it is true, you are obliged to restore his reputation. Otherwise, you will not go to heaven. (St. Vincent Ferrer)

Do not argue about a matter that does not concern you. (Sirach 11:9)


Anonymous said...

How easy it is to commit this sin.

elena maria vidal said...

Yes, it is.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to tell you "thank you" for the amazing transformation I am witnessing among a squabbling Catholic community whose eyes are being opened to their destructive behavior, because of these recent posts of yours which I have passed on to them. I pray that their newfound sensitivity continues, so the rends can heal, but the first step in the right direction is taken, at least. Your posts were so timely, I know it is God working through you. You are a real blessing, Elena!

Your friend in Christ,
(whose daughter's name "Mimi" is stuck in her blogger profile at the moment...long story!)

elena maria vidal said...

It truly is damaging and something so many of us have fallen into due to misplaced zeal. Thank you for your kind words. May God be praised!

Alexandra said...

"Everyone flees a backbiter like unhealthy mud..."

All except the other back biters! The first glimpse of this, and I turn the other direction. Seek out the good, and avoid the bad because they are unlikely to change. At least that has been my experience. Backbiters tend to want to bring you down to their level, so they can have you join the ranks of the miserable. The devil at work to defile the Holy Trinity in our souls. Pray for them from afar.

May St. Michael intervene to protect you.