Great short book about gossip

I wanted to post to let people know about a very short book I’m reading called Sins of the Tongue–The Backbiting Tongue, by a priest named Fr. Belet. It’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle. I think the Kindle version may even be free. It’s one of the best spiritual books I’ve ever read, incredibly enlightening as far as the grave nature of speaking ill of others/detraction/gossip.

I think it was written in the 1870s, but is still easily understandable and to the point.

Thank you for bringing that book to our attention. It’s an important issue.

You’re welcome! I’m about halfway through it. I’ve read the Amazon reviews and it’s been a very powerful spiritual resource for many.

I’ve ordered it. I got it on and saved a little money. I recall you mentioned it on a previous thread, and this is a subject I’m interested in. Can’t wait to read it!

Never heard of, good to know. Thanks.

I wouldn’t recommend this for the scrupulous. There are some confusing stories in it

That’s interesting view. Which stories did you find potentially confusing for the scrupulous?

Thanks for the recommendation…I will check it out.


Have the book on my kindle and agree with this caution for the scrupulous. I do wish there were more good and accessible books about the deadly effects of gossip around.

Well for me it was the part about

"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 be true, you are obliged to restore his reputation. Otherwise you will not go to heaven.
“But how can I restore it? you may ask. You must tell everyone present when you spoke ill not to believe you, that you spoke out of wickedness. If the person you defamed knows about it you are duty bound to ask his forgiveness, etc. Many have been damned for such defamations because words pass and we forget having said them; they make no scruples over them and never think of confessing them.”

Now, I’ve been under the impression that all sins committed but forgotten can be forgiven in a regular confession (even if forgotten and not mentioned specifically) so how can this book say a person can be damned?

Yes, I think Fr. Belet may have overstated that.

I’m about halfway through the book and still working on it (but also reading another book).

Good point about the forgotten sins. I definitely understand your concern. Scrupulosity can be such torture to endure, especially if worrying over being damned for forgotten sins.

I see the quote you’re referring to, but the book isn’t unequivocally stating that we’re in a hopeless situation of being damned for sins we’ve forgotten (and I totally see your point that this is potentially confusing/a mixed message).

The book recalls the story of Saint Vincent who was visited by a soul from purgatory who was bound to make reparation after death for his slanderous words about Saint Vincent. We don’t know whether that man recalled what he’d said about Saint Vincent or whether it was a forgotten conversation, but he was nevertheless bound to make reparation, and in God’s divine mercy, was saved and not damned.

I know some overly scrupulous Catholics who, despite their problems with scrupulously, will gossip, speak ill of others and tear down reputations through detraction. This can be a grave yet often overlooked sin even among the scrupulous.

It would be a shame for a scrupulous person to avoid this book out of fear of becoming stressed or upset by its contents, when the alternative would be for them to remain unaware of the gravity of the sin of detraction and, if they’re guilty of the habit of the sin of detraction, to continue in this mortally sinful behavior.

I’m just happy to find a resource that brings to light the moral obligation that–as difficult and humiliating as it might be, and how much our nature rebels against it–we are bound to make reparation if we have hurt another’s reputation (and to do so during our lifetime on earth if we recall it, and if it’s within our power to do so).

I just finished the book. I appreciate its thoroughness, as it cites many passages from Scripture and ties in a great many sayings of saints and philosophers, and anecdotes from their lives.

What I most enjoyed was the discussion of the often-overlooked role of the listener, who can either fan the flames of gossip or throw cold water on them, and whose spiritual well-being depends on that choice. It’s interesting that the Catechism (2477-2481, 2488-2489) does not say much about this, at least not directly.

Thanks for writing back. It can also be problematic because a scrupulous person will wonder how far they are to go back and make reparations. And what kind of gossip to make reparations about. For instant a scrupulous person will wonder about sins all the way back to elementary school gossip and lose sleep wondering how to repair gossip from childhood. I think clear examples or the kind of gossip which requires reparation and the limits in which it’s required might be good. Is reparation required for saying “I don’t like so-and-so” or only for serious gossip which totally makes people shun a person and them lose their job and so forth…

Also the story about St. Vincent… I tried to find the source for the story and was u able to. Ever since the St. Lawrence of Port Maurice “Fewness of those Saved” was debunked on here I’ve been careful to always check for the original sources to make sure that particular Saint actually said what was claimed. So far I’ve not been able to

I agree, Beryllos, the section on listening to gossip was enlightening.

Travisandjill, thanks for mentioning the source for the St. Vincent story. I can’t locate it either.

It would be great if a modern author would revisit this topic with a book that’s short and concise like this one, but with a little more clarity. The topic was brought to my attention when Fr Groeschel mentioned it on his show about 10 years ago.

I had much the same thought, but was not sure how to bring it up charitably.

I could also envision a brochure or newsletter article for teens and young adults about online gossip, rash judgement, and flaming. Maybe someday I’ll do that.

I hope you do!:slight_smile:

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