Please,please help - i did something terrible


#1

Dear CAF,

Please help me. I don’t know if I have posted this in the wrong forum, if so, please move this thread to the correct forum.

I am in a very tight spot. I am a college student currently applying into medical school. I have had a research professor for the past two years. Although in the beginning everything was going very well, gradually my research professor started to treat me very badly – I can’t explain all the details – but by the way he spoke to me, by the way that he looked at me – the horrible backhanded insults that he said to me, I knew in the gut of my stomach, that he was jealous of me. I can’t explain all the details – I can’t explain everything that happened, but I had this very strong feeling in the gut of my stomach that he didn’t like me.

Every time that something bad would happen – either he insulted me or gave me a look, I would always doubt myself and defend him in my mind, telling myself, “You’re just thinking too much, you are just being too overly sensitive.” I started to pray to God about this entire situation, asking God to take away my feelings if I was misunderstanding my research professor. But over the years, the feeling never went away. I was praying that God would protect me if this professor continued to bully me. I was feeling so sad.

Another reason why I was feeling super sad and stressed out about this was the fact that undergraduate research is extremely important to universities – universities want to see students who have a strong research background, and a strong letter of recommendation from a 2 year research professor is so needed.

I prayed about this for a long time, because on one hand, I need a strong letter of recommendation from my research professor, but on the other hand, it would be a DISASTER if he wrote something bad about me in the letter of recommendation. If he wrote something bad about me in that letter of recommendation, it would severely hurt my chances of getting in medical school. On one hand, I need a letter from him, but on the other hand, I have no idea of what he would write about me. On one hand, he bullies me terribly, but on the other hand, I might just be misunderstanding his personality – and it is all just a misconception. I was so confused and scared in this situation.

I spent the longest time in prayer, and I decided to finally ask him for a letter, I was so nervous, but then I asked him. On the first day that I asked him, he responded kindly and nicely to me and said of course he would write for me a letter of recommendation. Over the next few days, I prayed to God that if this professor would hurt me in this letter, then give me some sign. I prayed, “God, if my research professor is going to write something bad about me in this letter of recommendation, then, please, I beg you, to let me know.”
He finally submitted the letter, and everything was over. I trusted in God and accepted his letter.

I remember one night when I made a clear decision in my head. I made a resolve to trust God in this situation and to send his letter. Under the law, it is illegal for students to read their letter of recommendation. It violates confidentiality. I prayed, “God, I don’t want to sin against you by breaking this confidentiality law. I trust in you, and I will send this letter. Please help me, God.”

*

Then a few weeks had passed after I submitted his letter. However, a few days ago, a thought (imagination) popped into my mind. I know that my professor often leaves his office, leaving his laptop computer inside his office, while he goes to conferences or meetings elsewhere. The thought popped into my mind to quietly sneak into his office when he is not there, and hack into his computer to find the letter of recommendation and transfer it into my own computer. When this thought popped into my mind, I felt so tempted. I felt so tempted, but I decided to NOT follow through. I decided to confess and put my trust in God. I did not want to sin against this professor or against God by reading this letter of recommendation.

However, yesterday, I was at my school, and then the temptation was so strong. I knew that he was out of his office. I knew that his computer was not there. I went into this office, trembling, and then opened up his laptop and got my letter of recommendation, and quietly left for home.

I read his letter of recommendation, and it turns out that he wrote for me an amazing, beautiful letter of recommendation (despite some small grammatical/spelling errors here and there).

*

However, after this entire episode, I felt so dirty. I felt so ashamed, and scared to pray to God anymore. I felt ashamed and sad inside. I felt so tired.

I’m scared that I have sinned against God, and that God is going to punish me by not helping me get into medical school. I’m scared that I have done something terrible, and that God will give me the consequences in the future. I’m so ashamed.

I’m scared that God is upset with me.

Is there any advice that you can please give me. If I go to confession, my sins are going to be forgiven, but will I face the consequences in the future? Will God still help me? I feel guilty and sad inside for what I have done. Please help me. I’m crying inside.


#2

Let your confessor be your guide. God is not a man. He is your loving Father. In the Lord; in Jesus you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. (Ephesians)

Peace


#3

[quote="hazcompat, post:2, topic:334071"]
Let your confessor be your guide. God is not a man. He is your loving Father. In the Lord; in Jesus you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. (Ephesians)

Peace

[/quote]

I agree with the above...Take this to your confessor and let him guide you.

As for my own personal take on the matter...
You ask if you might be liable for some sort of punishment in the future...I think that you are suffering your punishment right now. The guilt and shame that you feel is a quite adequate punishment...and also the most helpful since this guilt will be most helpful in learning the lesson to trust in God and to let go of things once you've placed something in God's hands.

But - as we say - the best thing is to take this to your confessor.

Peace
James


#4

If your professor really did not respect your work, he would have declined to write the letter.

Consider this a lesson learned for you. Go to confession and keep moving forward.

MommyK


#5

I don't think it matters if you read the letter after it's been submitted as long as the author submits it directly to the school.


#6

I agree that you should talk to your confessor, I also think you should pray this professor throughout your life that God will watch over him and bless him.


#7

I don’t think the issues is so much about reading the letter as it is about sneaking into the prof’s office and getting on his computer…and more importantly about having first committing to simply trust in God…but then being tempted to “double check” - or “check up on God” - so to speak.

Peace
James


#8

You can't get help from us. You have to go to confession. Maybe I don't get it, but I don't think wanting to read the letter is so bad. Most of the time the letters of recommendation I've gotten, the person has sent me a copy, even if I'm not allowed to see the copy he sends to the correct destination. What's really wrong is going through your professor's computer. I hope you don't get in big trouble for it!


#9

I know this has pretty much been said already, but I'll say it again for the purpose of reinforcement.

What you are experiencing is guilt because you did something you know was wrong. Go to Confession. God will forgive you. Just tell the priest pretty much what you said here. He'll help you. And most importantly, you'll receive the graces of the Sacrament.


#10

[quote="JRKH, post:7, topic:334071"]
I don't think the issues is so much about reading the letter as it is about sneaking into the prof's office and getting on his computer....and more importantly about having first committing to simply trust in God...but then being tempted to "double check" - or "check up on God" - so to speak.

Peace
James

[/quote]

My point is just that he's worried that he did something illegal, or that will disqualify him from medical school, but it doesn't rise to that level because he didn't actually tamper with the letter.


#11

@Sonoftherosary,

you said you prayed to God as, “God, if my research professor is going to write something bad about me in this letter of recommendation, then, please, I beg you, to let me know.”

God put that thought into your head, do you not remember what you prayed for (above) God let you know what the professor wrote through your actions. I was reading this post and actually laughing at how concerned you were. Yes, it could be deemed unethical but you shouldn't be ashamed or guilty, in some way you should be happy at the positive remarks the professor said. :)

God Bless


#12

I honestly don't even see why going through his computer is a sin. Although, since you feel very guilty, you should go to confession and tell your confessor all this. I think you are over reacting. You misjudged your professor which led to an extreme amount of concern for you because you are entering into an extremely competitive field. You had tons of stress, and you didn't trust in God for a second, and now you feel terrible.

I think your punishment is punishment enough. God is chastising your heart to trust more in him.


#13

[quote="crumblymunky, post:12, topic:334071"]
I honestly don't even see why going through his computer is a sin.

[/quote]

Certainly it's a sin. Morally and ethically, it's a breach of trust, of confidentiality, an invasion of privacy, etc. Practically, it is quite possibly a violation of school policies.

The OP needs to confess and discuss within that framework.

However, letters of recommendation are often made available to the candidate by the requesting body. I always provide a copy to the person for whom I'm writing.

Another question to ask: what if, while you were on his computer, you discovered something horrible?


#14

[quote="crumblymunky, post:12, topic:334071"]
I honestly don't even see why going through his computer is a sin. Although, since you feel very guilty, you should go to confession and tell your confessor all this. I think you are over reacting. You misjudged your professor which led to an extreme amount of concern for you because you are entering into an extremely competitive field. You had tons of stress, and you didn't trust in God for a second, and now you feel terrible.

I think your punishment is punishment enough. God is chastising your heart to trust more in him.

[/quote]

You don't see a problem in secretly going on someone else's computer without their knowledge or permission and taking a confidential document? Remind me to password protect my login screen if you ever come by to visit. :p


#15

On the matter of why going through his computer is a sin…
It is a sin because it is a violation of the second great command - to love your neighbor as yourself. My guess is that you (and I and the OP) do not want other people going through our computers…so we should not be going through theirs.

The CCC says this…
One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law….”(CCC 1862)
And since the two great commandments form the most basic standard of moral law, when we do unto others what we do NOT want them doing to us…we have sinned.

It’s really as simple and fundamental as that.

Peace
James


#16

First of all, go to confession.

As for how to get over the guilt and fear, this would be my advice: Learn from your mistake. We have all made bad choices in life, and sometimes we can't exactly undo it, but we can resolve to never make that mistake again. In the future, respect other people's privacy. You do not have the right to know other people's secrets, even if it involves you.

In the future, please avoid sneaking into offices and snooping in computer files or records. That can lead to a lot of trouble with the university, the company, or the law. It could be grounds for expulsion, dismissal, or prosecution. It appears that you got away with it this time, but do not ever again take such a foolish risk.


#17

Secrets don’t make friends and friends don’t make secrets. Why would you put things that you didn’t want people to see onto a computer? I still see no sin in looking on someones private documents. It may be inappropriate, but a sin? It may be an OCCASION to sin, if you found private information and could use it to slander the person, or any other sins that you could possibly commit. But no, looking at private information without an intention to do harm, would not be a sin. It being wrong because it is private is a societal convention and not a religious one.

Still, the whole sneaking/ breaking into his office thing, while also not strictly a sin, becomes one after we add the fact that entering someones office/ space without permission is against the law.


#18

Maybe my idea of the morality of it is a little a skewed since I am the eldest brother of 4, and I have always made sure my little brothers weren't doing wrong. And I've always had access to all of their rooms due to my oldest brother status. And I've had to resolve issues regarding secrets they've kept from each other. So I guess I'm far more use to knowing secrets and solving problems.


#19

[quote="crumblymunky, post:17, topic:334071"]
Secrets don't make friends and friends don't make secrets.

[/quote]

This is not a matter between "friends". Rather it is between a Professor and a student.

Why would you put things that you didn't want people to see onto a computer?

What does this have to do with anything? If I said, Why would you put things into your (personal and private) desk drawer, (or your file cabinet, or whatever) that you don't want people to see...I suspect you could and would say that your desk, file cabinet etc are private things and others should not be snooping in them. Computers are no different.

I still see no sin in looking on someones private documents.

I find this to be rather disturbing...How would you feel about others looking at your private documents??

It may be inappropriate, but a sin? It may be an OCCASION to sin, if you found private information and could use it to slander the person, or any other sins that you could possibly commit. But no, looking at private information without an intention to do harm, would not be a sin. It being wrong because it is private is a societal convention and not a religious one.

Obviously you and I disagree on this matter and I don't see anything above that causes me to question my position. I have provided evidence from Scripture and also from Church teaching in support of my view. So I think that there most definitely IS a religious component.

Do you have anything to offer other than what you "see" or don't "see"?

I don't say this to be snarky...but as I say I have cited both Scripture and the Catechism in support of my view...Can you offer something equal to refute my view? I'm truly interested.

Still, the whole sneaking/ breaking into his office thing, while also not strictly a sin, becomes one after we add the fact that entering someones office/ space without permission is against the law.

One need not break the law in order to sin. This should be obvious given that abortion is legal...

Peace
James


#20

““One commits venial sin when, in a less serious matter, he does not observe the standard prescribed by the moral law…”(CCC 1862)
And since the two great commandments form the most basic standard of moral law, when we do unto others what we do NOT want them doing to us…we have sinned.”

I’m guessing you mean “Love one another” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” as the two commandments you’re referring to right?

I don’t see how looking at someones private information means you’re not loving them. In fact, I’m guessing the student now loves his professor much more. However, I’m guessing that he would not want the professor to know his feelings about him that he expressed in this posting, so in the second commandment, the professor now has the right to know what the student had thought of him prior to this incident.

I wouldn’t say that the student should let the professor know, but that is up to his confessor. Ya know what, I’m just going to say that since everyone else thinks it is a sin, I guess it is a sin too. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with someone looking through my information to see if I had done something wrong, although I also wouldn’t consider their actions a sin.

And also with the abortions point, I don’t see how it applies since every good person is trying to get abortions illegalized. We know it is a sin, and thus we try to outlaw it. I feel like the only reason we outlawed invasions of privacy is because it is a necessary step in keeping people from having their lives ruined by slander and such, which are sins.

So while abortion is not illegal, it is a sin, but an invasion of privacy could be a sin, and is sometimes illegal. Also note that an invasion of privacy is usually only able to be taken to court when slander and negative effects result. If this isn’t standard, let me know.


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