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73. Injustice in Words: Backbiting

1. Reviling is the open and loud dishonoring of a person.Backbiting is the secret and quiet injuring of a man's goodname. Thus these two sins have a resemblance to two sins that dealwith external goods, namely robbery, which is open and violent, andtheft, which is secret and quiet. If the backbiting is lying, itsname is calumny or slander; if it is harmfultruth, its name is detraction.

2. Backbiting is a sin, and when it is done with fullknowledge and consent and in serious matters, it is a mortal sin.Slight things said about another do not seriously injure hischaracter, and may be venial sins.

3. Backbiting is a great evil, but it is not the mostserious evil against one's neighbor. It is, for instance, lessgrievous than adultery or murder. Rut, in its genus orkind, backbiting is more grievous than theft, which it resembles.For Scripture says (Prov. 22:1): "A good name is better thangreat riches."

4. St. Jerome says (Ep. ad Nepot.): "Takecare not to have an itching tongue, nor tingling ears; neitherdetract others, nor listen to backbiters." He who willinglylistens to backbiting, shares its guilt.

"A man should keep himself down, and not busy himself in mirabilibus super se."
St Philip Neri

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"When the devil has failed in making a man fall, he puts forward all his energies to create distrust between the penitent and the confessor, and so by little and little he gains his end at last."
St Philip Neri

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"The essence of perfection is to embrace the will of God in all things, prosperous or adverse. In prosperity, even sinners find it easy to unite themselves to the divine will; but it takes saints to unite themselves to God's will when things go wrong and are painful to self-love. Our conduct in such instances is the measure of our love of God."
St Alphonsus de Liguori

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