I’m just really unsure if this is mortal sin or not, and I’m posting this because I am worried that it is…last weekend I was having breakfast with a friend and saw someone while at breakfast who treats me strangely (not badly, just weirdly) and I wanted very badly to discuss this with my friend. I thought about how I shouldn’t, but I decided to do it anyway. So I know this fulfills two conditions for mortal sin, I just do not know if it is grave matter? Could someone please help me out, because I want to receive Communion tomorrow if it is not mortal but if it is I want to know so I can refrain. Thank you!
Anyone? Please? I just want to know if it’s grave matter…I really need help…
How malicious were the facts that were revealed? Were they of the kind to cause your friend to have a worse opinion of the object of gossip? Additionally, were there unecessary revelations (about the person) that, without the gossip, would have been kept private? Did you exaggerate for the purpose of caricaturizing or dehumanizing the object of gossip? For the purpose of mockery? (Also degrading) Were they outright untruths?
You have to examine whether any of your words fell into the category of detraction, calumny, etc – to result in loss of reputation or loss of respect by others.
Sometimes people just want to get validation as to whether their impressions are overreactions, and are asking for guidance from a friend. That’s different. If she received it in that spirit (not resulting in a negative change of opinion about someone), it might have been unwise, and flirting with injurious gossip, but not enough to do serious harm.
What serious harm have I caused, or potentially caused, in the eyes of others who will encounter this person? That should be the question you ask yourself. Some people on CAF know that I was an object myself by a jealous co-worker-- in of all places, a parish, by a person in a superior position to me. Reputations can be impossible to recover – even (as in my case) wrongly, untruthfully shaped reputations based on nothing but malice and motivated by power.
If it’s just that the object of gossip was described as “weird” – with the result that that behavior made you feel uncomfortable and you didn’t know how to respond – it might not even be a venial sin, unless you consented to magnifying the description and, as I said, dehumanizing her or relishing the prospect of having your friend regard you as superior to the object of gossip. (‘Tee-hee, aren’t we better than her?’ type of thing)
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond…I was beginnign to think I was just being stupid. It was not horribly serious- we’re college kids and I wasn’t revealing that she’d done some terrible thing. But it probably did make my friend look at her more negatively. I’m just going to try to grab Father right before Mass for confession anyway because I just don’t know. Thank you so much again for your well thought out answer!
This is a tough one for me, because I think I tend to be over scrupulous about gossip. It’s probably the sin that I end up confessing the most… It usually involved me telling my mom something that I heard or saw, that isn’t even necessarily usually “bad” (because if it were bad it would be so much easier to draw the line and not say anything… although sometimes it is harder to tell…) and then wondering if it was gossip… I usually end up doing what it looks like you did and catching father for confession before Mass. I had one priest tell me that it wasn’t a sin, but I figure if something stays on my conscience and keeps bothering me than it’s best to go to confession. Actually now that I think about it, since I’ve been confessing it regularly for a while the incidence of it happening has gone down… so I think it has been a deterrent.
I think this is a common sin, especially among women. I was at a conference where several sisters who live in a community say that even in the monestary it can be a problem. My confessor also said that a lot depends on why you are talking about a person or situation. Is it to receive guidance and advice? Is it to vent because you feel hurt and angry (harboring anger is a sin as well) or am I gossiping just to be mean and feel I have one up on the person? Am I trying to hurt the other or spread rumors or just show that I know something that no one else knows? Those are the questions we need to ask ourselves when contemplating the sinfulness of talking about others.
Well, I caught Father before Mass and made the FASTEST confession of my life. So I got to receive Communion and stop worrying. Thank you for all your help!
Glad you saw him and got that off your conscience! This is one that I struggle with also. I find that “least said, soonest mended” as the old saying goes and try to just keep my mouth shut!