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 On Taking Scandal 
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New post On Taking Scandal
This is really worth reading in light of all the rumblings still going on despite the successful outcome of the SSPX and rome negotiations. Our priest has always had an aversion to people informing him that they are 'scandalised' about something or other and this explains his attitude completely.



Father Frederick Faber, Spiritual Conferences, "On Taking Scandal".

To give scandal is a great fault, but to take scandal is a greater fault. It implies a greater amount of wrongness in ourselves, and it does a greater amount of mischief to others.

Nothing gives scandal sooner than a quickness to take scandal. This is worth our consideration. For I find great numbers of moderately good people who think it fine to take scandal. They regard it as a sort of evidence of their own goodness, and of their delicacy of conscience; while in reality it is only a proof either of their inordinate conceit or of their extreme stupidity. They are unfortunate when this latter is the case; for then no one but inculpable nature is to blame. If, as some have said, a stupid man cannot be a Saint, at least his stupidity can never make him into a sinner. Moreover, the persons in question seem frequently to feel and act as if their profession of piety involved some kind of official appointment to take scandal. It is their business to take scandal. It is their way of bearing testimony to God. It would show a blamable inertness in the spiritual life if they did not take scandal. They think they suffer very much while they are taking scandal; whereas in truth they enjoy it amazingly. It is a pleasurable excitement, which delightfully varies the monotony of devotion. They do not in reality fall over their neighbour's fault, nor does it in itself hinder them in the way of holiness, nor do they love God less because of it, ---- all which ought to be implied in taking scandal. But they trip themselves up on purpose, and take care that it shall be opposite some fault of their neighbour’s, in order that they may call attention to the difference between him and themselves.

There are certainly many legitimate causes for taking scandal, but none more legitimate than the almost boastful facility of taking scandal which characterizes many so-called religious people. The fact is that an immense proportion of us are Pharisees. For one pious man who makes piety attractive, there are nine who make it repulsive. Or, in other words, only one out of ten among reputed spiritual persons is really spiritual. He who during a long life has taken the most scandal has done the most injury to God's glory, and has been himself a real and substantial stumbling-block in the way of many. He has been an endless fountain of odious disedification to the little ones of Christ. If such a one reads this, he will take scandal at me. Everything that he dislikes, every thing which deviates from his own narrow view of things, is to him a scandal. It is the Pharisaic way of expressing a difference.

Men marvellously like to be popes; and the dullest of men, if only he has, as usual, an obstinacy proportioned to his dullness, can in most neighbourhoods carve out a tiny papacy for himself; and if to his dullness he can add pomposity, he may reign gloriously, a little local ecumenical council in unintermitting session through all the four seasons of the year. Who has time enough, or heart enough, or hope enough, to try to persuade such men? They are not sufficiently interesting to us to be worth our persuading. Let us leave them alone with their glory and their happiness. Let us try to persuade ourselves. Do not we ourselves take scandal too often? Let us examine the matter and see.

Now, here is a thing which I have often thought upon. Certainly no one can remember every thing in the voluminous lives of the Saints; for it would take a lifetime to read them all. But I do not remember to have read of any Saint who ever took scandal. If this is even approximately true, the question is decided at once. Big men, swollen with self-importance, who see the faults of others with eyes of lynxes, and criticize them with clever sarcasms, and delight in the pedantry of a judicial frame of mind, can only humorously apply to themselves the name of the little ones of Christ. Yet books tell us there are two kinds of scandal, ---- the scandal of the little ones of Christ, and the scandal of Pharisees. It follows, then, that these men must be Pharisees. But I say that, if this remark about the Saints is even approximately true, it must give us a check, and make us very thoughtful, if we are earnest men, although we are not Saints, and what belongs to Saints is by no means safely applicable to us in all respects. Let us suppose it not to be strictly true. Let us suppose it only a rare thing for Saints to take scandal. We can draw a sufficiently broad conclusion from this to be very practical to ourselves. For we may infer that it is a matter about which persons aiming at being spiritual are not sufficiently careful. Every time we take scandal we run a great risk of sinning, and a manifold risk as well as a great one. We run the risk of impairing God's glory, of dishonouring our Blessed Lord, of giving substantial scandal to others, of breaking the precept of charity ourselves, of highly-culpable indiscretion, and, at the very least, of grieving the Holy Spirit in our own souls. Here is enough to make it worth our while to inquire.

Let us see, first of all, how much evil the habit of taking scandal implies. It implies a quiet pride, which is altogether unconscious how proud it is. Pride is the denial of the spiritual life. Spiritual pride means that we have no spiritual life, but the possession of that evil spirit instead of it. Pride is hard enough to manage even when we are conscious of it; but a pride which has no self-consciousness is a very desperate thing. It often seems as if grace could only get at it through a fall into serious sin, which will awake its consciousness and at the same moment turn it into shame. Now, the habit of taking scandal indicates that worst sort of pride, a pride which believes itself to be humility. Any thing like a habit of taking scandal implies also a fund of uncharitableness deep down in us, which grace and interior mortification have either not reached, or failed to influence. If we pay attention to ourselves, we shall find that, contemporaneously with the scandal we have taken, there has been some wounded feeling or other in an excited state within us. When we are in good humour, we do not take scandal. It is an act which is not for the most part accompanied by kindness. A genuine gentle sorrow for the person offending is neither the first thought nor the predominant thought in our minds when we take the offence. It is the offspring generally of an unkindly mood. Sometimes, indeed, it springs from moroseness, brought on by assuming a seriousness which does not become us because it is not simple. We precipitate ourselves into recollection, and find that we have fallen over head and ears into sullenness. Neither can taking scandal be very frequent with us without its implying also a formed habit of judging others. With a really humble or a naturally genial person the instinct of judging others is overlaid and, as it were, weighted with other and better qualities. It has to exert itself and make an effort before it can get to the surface and assert itself; whereas it lies on the surface, obvious, ready, prompt, and predominating, in a man who is given to taking scandal. Is it often allowable to judge our neighbour? Surely we know it to be the rarest thing possible. Yet we cannot take scandal without, first, forming a judgment; secondly, forming an unfavourable judgment; thirdly, deliberately entertaining it as a motive power inclining us to do or to omit something; and, fourthly, doing all this for the most part in the subject matter of piety, which in nine cases out of ten our obvious ignorance withdraws from our jurisdiction.

It also indicates a general want of an interior spirit. The supernatural grace of an interior spirit, among its other effects, produces the same results as the natural gift of depth of character; and to this it joins the ingenious sweetness of charity. A thoughtless or a shallow man is more likely to take scandal than any other. He can conceive of nothing but what he sees upon the surface. He has but little self-knowledge, and hardly suspects the variety or complication of his own motives. Much less, then, is he likely to divine in a discerning way the hidden causes, the hidden excuses, the hidden temptations, which may lie, and always do lie, behind the actions of others. So it is in spiritual matters with a man who has not an interior spirit. There is not only a rashness, but also a coarseness and vulgarity, about his judgments of others. Sometimes he only sees superficially. This is if he is a stupid man. If he is a clever man, he sees deeper than the truth. His vulgarity is of the subtle kind. He puts things together which had no real connection in the conduct of his neighbour. Base himself, he suspects baseness in others. If he saw a Saint, he would think him either ambitious, opinionated, or hypocritical. He sees plots and conspiracies even in the most impulsive of characters. He cannot judge of character at all. He can only project his own possibilities of sin into others, and imagine that to be their character which he feels, if grace were withdrawn from him, would be his own. He judges as a man judges whose reason is slightly unsettled. He is cunning rather than discerning. To clever men charity is almost impossible if they have not an interior spirit.

We shall also find that, when we fall into the way of taking scandal, there is something wrong about our meditations. There are times when our meditations are inefficacious. With some men it is so nearly all through their lives. The fact is, that the habit of meditation will not by itself make us interior. When a man's spiritual life is reduced to the practice of daily meditation, we see that he soon loses all control over his tongue, his temper, and his wounded feelings. His morning's meditation is inadequate to the sweetening of his whole day. It is too feeble to detain the presence of God in his soul until evening. Like general intentions, it has theological possibilities which are hardly ever practical realities. It is like a shrub planted in the clay; if we do not dig around it and let in the air and moisture, it will not grow. Its growth is stunted and impeded. This is a perilous state of things, when our meditation is but an island in a day which is otherwise flooded with worldliness and comfort. For we must remember that comfort is one of the worst kinds of worldliness, and is most at home in our own rooms, at a distance from the gay, noisy, and dissipated world. We are not far from some serious mishap when mortification and examination of conscience have deserted our meditation and left it to itself. A habit of taking scandal often reveals to us that we are in this state, or are fast tending to it.

It also poisons much else that is good, and desecrates holy things, almost making them positively unholy. It infuses somewhat of censoriousness into our intercessory prayer. It turns our spiritual reading into a silent preachment to others. It charms away the arrows of the preacher from ourselves, and aims them with a pleased skill at others whom we have in our mind's eye. It plays into the hands of whatever is unkindly and unlovely in our natural dispositions; and it makes our very spirituality unspiritual by making it uncharitable. All this complicated evil it implies as already existing in us; and it fosters and increases it all for the future, while it is implying it in the present. It is plain, therefore, that it would be well for us to take scandal at our taking scandal, seeing what a degrading revelation it is to us of our own misery and meanness. We are aiming at a devout life. We have only just extricated ourselves from the swamps of mortal sin. We know something of the ways of grace. We have the models of the Saints. We are more or less familiar with the teaching of spiritual writers. We are not obliged, either because of our ignorance or because of our weakness, to look to the conduct of others as the rule of our own. Hence, in our case, taking scandal is neither more nor less than judging, and we must treat the temptation to it as we would treat any other temptation against charity, ---- namely, check it, punish it, detest it, resolve against it, and accuse ourselves of it in confession. We must beware also of its artifices. For it has many tricks, and they are often successful. Masters, parents, and directors are quite familiar with a device of those under their care and control, and who criticize, suggestively at least, their government or direction: this trick consists in their accusing themselves of having taken scandal at the conduct of their superiors and directors. It is ingenious, but soon wears out. Directors learn early to stifle their own curiosity, and not allow their self-deluded critics to tell them what has scandalized them, as they cannot even listen to it without compromising their dignity and forfeiting their influence. In a word, we shall find it the truest and the safest conclusion to come to, that we must regard the temptation to take scandal as wholly and unmitigatedly evil, a temptation to which no quarter should be allowed, and to whose eloquent pleadings of delicacy of conscience no audience should be given but that of calm contempt.

Now that we have considered the existing evil which a readiness to take scandal implies in us, we may consider the way in which it hinders us in the attainment of perfection. It hinders us in the acquisition of self-knowledge. Watchfulness over ourselves is nothing short of an actual mortification. We eagerly lay hold of the slightest excuse for turning our attention away from ourselves, and the conduct of others is the readiest object to which we turn. No one is so blind to his own faults as a man who has the habit of detecting the faults of others. It also causes us to stand in our own light. We ourselves actually intercept the sunshine which would fall on our own souls. A man who is apt to take scandal is never a blithe or a genial man. He has never a clear light round about him. He is not made for happiness; and was ever a melancholy man made into a Saint? A downcast man is raw material which can only be manufactured into a very ordinary Christian. Moreover, if we have any sort of earnestness about us, our taking scandal must at last become a source of scruples to us. If it is not quite the same thing as censoriousness, who shall draw the line between them? We know very well that it is not at our best times that we take scandal, and it must dawn upon us by degrees that it is so often contemporary with a state of spiritual malady that the coincidence can hardly be accidental. At the same time, the act is so intrinsically ungenerous in itself that it tends to destroy all generous impulses in ourselves. No one can be generous with God who has not a great, broad love of his neighbour.

Furthermore, it destroys our influence with others. We irritate where we ought to enliven. To be suspected of want of sympathy is to be disabled as an apostle. He who is critical will necessarily be unpersuasive. Even in literature, what department of it is less persuasive, and thus less influential, than that of criticism? Men are amused by it, but they do not form their judgments on it. There are few things in the literary world more striking than the little weight of criticism compared with the amount and the ability of it. We like to find fault ourselves; but we are never attracted to another man who finds fault. It is the last refuge of our good humour that we like to have a monopoly censure, Then, again, this habit entangles us in a hundred self-raised difficulties about fraternal correction, that rock of narrow souls; for a man's presumption is mostly in proportion to his narrowness. Men awake sometimes, and find that they have almost unconsciously worked themselves into a false position. This is a terrible affair in spirituality, It is harder to work ourselves right than to recover our balance after a sin. Yet the supposed obligation of fraternal correction is always enticing us into false positions. It also calls our attention off from God, and fixes them with a sort of diseased earnestness upon earthly miseries and pusillanimities. It is bad enough to look off from God by looking too much on ourselves; but to look off from God in order to look upon our neighbours, is a greater evil still. It deranges the whole interior world of thought, upon which the exercise of charity so much depends. It hinders us in acquiring the government of the tongue. It prevents our succeeding in good works where zealous and free co-operation with others is needed. It is the cloak which jealousy is forever assuming and calling it by the name of caution. Finally, we think all these things virtues, while they are in reality vices of the most unamiable description.

I do not think I have exaggerated the evil of this quickness to take scandal. I confess it is a fault which vexes me more than many others, and for many reasons. Its victims are good men, men full of promise, and whose souls have been the theatres of no inconsiderable operations of grace. It seizes them for the most part, just at the time when higher attainments seem opening to them. Its peculiarity is, that it is incompatible with the higher graces of the spiritual life, that it defiles that which was now almost cleansed, and vulgarizes that which was on the point of establishing its title to nobility. When we consider how many are called to perfection, and how few are perfect, may we not almost say that we do well to be angry with that evil which so opportunely and so effectually mars the work of grace?

In what does perfection consist? In a childlike, short-sighted charity; charity which believes all things; in a grand supernatural conviction that every one is better than ourselves; in estimating far too low the amount of evil in the world; in looking far too exclusively on what is good; in the ingenuity of kind constructions; in an inattention, hardly intelligible, to the faults of others; in a graceful perversity of incredulousness about scandals, which sometimes in the Saints runs close upon being a scandal of itself. This is perfection; this is the temper and genius of Saints and saint-Iike men. It is a life of desire, oblivious of earthly things. It is a radiant, energetic faith that man's slowness and coldness will not interfere with the success of God's glory. Yet all the while it is instinctively fighting, by prayer and reparation, against evils, which it will not allow itself consciously to believe. No shadow of moroseness ever falls over the bright mind of a Saint. It is not possible that it should do so. Finally, perfection has the gift of entering into the universal Spirit of God, Who is worshipped in so many different ways, and is content. Now, is not all this just the very opposite of the temper and spirit of a man who is apt to take scandal? The difference is so plain that it is needless to comment on it. He is happy who on his dying bed can say, "No one has ever given me scandal in my life!" He has either not seen his neighbour's faults, or, when he saw them, the sight had to reach him through so much sunshine of his own that they did not strike him so much as faults to blame, but rather as reasons for a deeper and a tenderer love.

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On the last day, when the general examination takes place, there will be no question at all on the text of Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs of Justinian. Charity will be the whole syllabus.

- St. Robert Bellarmine


Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:39 pm
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Scary stuff.


Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:37 am
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Oldavid wrote:
Scary stuff.


Only for those that don't keep to the rules.

Seriously, Father Faber had a great understanding of human nature, his words are gold and he makes understanding them almost effortless. With all this in mind, it makes the struggle of putting them into practice less difficult as at least we can be clear on what we are striving for. I will post some more Father Faber when I have the time for those that can take it! By the end we shall all be saints!

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On the last day, when the general examination takes place, there will be no question at all on the text of Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs of Justinian. Charity will be the whole syllabus.

- St. Robert Bellarmine


Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:28 pm
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Katie wrote:
Oldavid wrote:
Scary stuff.


Only for those that don't keep to the rules.

Seriously, Father Faber had a great understanding of human nature, his words are gold and he makes understanding them almost effortless. With all this in mind, it makes the struggle of putting them into practice less difficult as at least we can be clear on what we are striving for. I will post some more Father Faber when I have the time for those that can take it! By the end we shall all be saints!

I think we have to be a bit brutal about this, Katie.
Who could live up to the above? A deaf, blind, mute perhaps?

The Letter of the Law is a cruel master that should be programming robots in a factory.


Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:38 am
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Oldavid wrote:
I think we have to be a bit brutal about this, Katie.
Who could live up to the above? A deaf, blind, mute perhaps?

The Letter of the Law is a cruel master that should be programming robots in a factory.


Well, I hope you realise I was being facetious. Of course it is scary reading something that shows just how much we fall short of what we should be but it is also uplifting and encouraging. Practising Catholics have lived and will live up to the above, perhaps not at each and every occasion, with the help of God's grace.

Don’t you think that the moral law can be kept, with the help of God’s grace, with the saints being the ones who do so more than the rest? Father Faber is just putting one very small aspect here (more is coming...) into a form I that I like and find clear. If we are Pharisees then Father Faber has given some very good clues for us to work it out. If we are Pharisees then we've got some work to do. We can't progress without self-knowledge. You think he is scary, you ought to read Fr. Hunolt. (Oh, I think you may have?) We all know what the confessional is for and priests would rather that the lines are long than short. So God knows how hard it is to keep clean. So there is your answer - yes, we all break the law all the time and the fault is not in the law. The amount of times that even the just man sins isn't an indictment against the letter of the law, is it?

The fact that men don’t always keep the law isn’t an argument against the law but an argument in favour of the existence of the effects of original sin.

I like being exhorted to being better, it gives me hope. I’d much rather that than a pat on the back for what a good girl I am. :wink:

Maybe this scuffle belongs on my forum? You’ve been looking for one of these opportunities for weeks.

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On the last day, when the general examination takes place, there will be no question at all on the text of Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs of Justinian. Charity will be the whole syllabus.

- St. Robert Bellarmine


Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:58 am
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Katie wrote:
The fact that men don’t always keep the law isn’t an argument against the law but an argument in favour of the existence of the effects of original sin.

I like being exhorted to being better, it gives me hope. I’d much rather that than a pat on the back for what a good girl I am. :wink:

Well, I am most certainly on your side on this one, Katie! (Whoever you are.) These sorts of things are given us as a target to shoot at, a goal. I have always loved Fr. Faber's way of writing too. That above is very consoling and I intend to print it off and present it, in multiple copies, to our children.

And if you folks want to read something "scary", read the first half of Fr. F. X. Schouppe's book on Purgatory. :-)

Katie wrote:
Maybe this scuffle belongs on my forum?

Hmmm...well, first of all, I don't view this as a "scuffle": it is simply different ways of viewing the matter. Although I completely understand Oldavid's view, I think he is being too humble about it: being afraid he couldn't live up to it. Of course he couldn't (and neither could I...on my own) without help from God, but God will give us the help if we try. All He wants is our willing cooperation. "...to men of good will.", and if Oldavid's will isn't good, then none of ours is.

BTW, Katie, has your Dad ever sung the Katie song to you when you were little? (Hee hee!) ;-)

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Kenneth G. Gordon


Mon Aug 13, 2012 3:56 pm
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Hello Ken!

I am pleased to find that we agree on much, including how wonderful Father Faber was and I am pleased that I've been of service to you.

I wouldn't doubt Olddavid's will for half a second. He is my forum favourite. Partially because he is the most loyal poster there. :)

If this conversation ever had the potential to devolve into a "scuffle" it won't now thanks to your fair comments and your peacemaking. I think we will need you to pop your head into the Royal Mail now and again to separate Old and me.

I've never heard of the Katie song. I'll have to head off to Google shortly.

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On the last day, when the general examination takes place, there will be no question at all on the text of Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs of Justinian. Charity will be the whole syllabus.

- St. Robert Bellarmine


Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:08 pm
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Katie wrote:
I've never heard of the Katie song. I'll have to head off to Google shortly.

Well, it is from the 1890s. "K-K-K-Katy, Beautiful Katy, You're the only G-G-G-Girl that I adore!, When the M-M-M-Moon shines, over the cow-shed, I'll be waiting at your K-K-K-Kitchen door.", Etc. :lol:

Oldavid probably knows it.

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Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:45 pm
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Righto, Kate and Ken, you have made me wince and squirm my way through it all again!

But still I am unsure of what he means by "taking scandal". Just when I think I have the idea of what it means he comes up with another instance that makes me anxiously scratch my head.

Would you that seem to know explain it for a drongo?


Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:57 pm
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Oldavid wrote:
Righto, Kate and Ken, you have made me wince and squirm my way through it all again!

But still I am unsure of what he means by "taking scandal".


I have always taken it to mean that some person deduces or thinks he recognizes that someone else has committed a sin, or many sins, and gets very upset by his own deduction, possibly saying something to someone else about it (gossiping), when there was actually no sin involved at all.

"Taking scandal" means "being scandalized", deciding an action of someone else is sinful, inaccurately, unnecessarily, and against true charity, which tries to view the actions of every man as having been done from the best possible motives.

Anyone who is truly humble would almost never "take scandal", would never "be scandalized", by the actions of anyone other than himself.

It can also be viewed as an unnecessarily strict, and probably unjust, view of another's actions.

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Kenneth G. Gordon


Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:12 am
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
All good, Ken, and the essential point is that a scandal is a stumbling block, so it's a cause. What does it cause? Sin. So when someone says "I was scandalised" then he is admitting that he sinned, but blaming somebody or something else. He is saying "I stumbled" because of that stumbling block.

So there are two parts - one, observing another's actions and inferring sin on his part, then sinning oneself, in one of several possible ways - imitating him, judging him, calumniating him, detracting him, etc. - as a result. That is "taking scandal".

There's a lot of scandal being taken these days!

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Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:31 am
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
I did post a reply predating that of John above. But, being a complete i.t. dunce, I seem to have vanished it.

It took a long time to pen and I don't care to try to repeat.

Perhaps the best I can hope for is to be a teddy bear in a grizzly bear suit pinned to a specimen tray.


Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:24 am
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
Old,

Sorry to hear you lost your post - that always gets me.

For yours and others clarification I will next post the moralists McHugh and Callan on the definition of scandal. Knowledge is power! (Though I shudder to think of the consequences of you having power...) :roll:

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On the last day, when the general examination takes place, there will be no question at all on the text of Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs of Justinian. Charity will be the whole syllabus.

- St. Robert Bellarmine


Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:45 am
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New post Re: On Taking Scandal
This is the first part on scandal.


McHugh and Callan, Moral Theology, On Scandal
McHugh and Callan, Moral Theology (Wagner, 1958), Vol. I, p. 584, 585, and pp. 600-604.

1445. Scandal.—Scandal is derived from a Greek word signifying a snare or trap prepared for an enemy, or a stone or block laid in the road that he may stumble or trip over it. In use, it is applied in a wide or general sense, and in a strict or special sense. (a) in its wide sense, it refers to any kind of harm, especially of a spiritual or moral nature, that one brings on others. (h) in its strict sense, it refers to a fall into sin which one occasions for others by misconduct.

1446. The following are some examples of the word “scandal” as employed in its wide sense: (a) It is used to signify physical or natural injuries of various kinds. Thus, the servants of Pharaoh called the plagues brought on Egypt by Moses a scandal (Exod., x. 7), and the Psalmist says of the sinner that lie laid a scandal (calumny) against his brother (Ps. xlix. 20). Those who spread defamatory gossip are called scandal-mongers, and “scandal” often signifies opprobrium or disgrace, as when Shakespeare speaks of the wrangling of nobles as a scandal to the crown. (b) The word “scandal” is also used to signify moral injuries distinct from inducement to sin. Thus, the shock and offense given to virtuous persons by blasphemous language spoken in their hearing is described as a scandal, and one who would prevent another from following some more perfect course or practice to which there is no obligation (such as entering religion, saying grace at meals, etc.), is sometimes said to scandalize.

1447. Definition of Scandal — In the strict sense, scandal is defined as “any conduct that has at least the appearance of evil and that offers to a neighbor an occasion of spiritual ruin.”

(a) By conduct is understood external behavior or manner of acting in the presence of others. Thus, scandal differs from sin, for sin is committed, not only by external acts done before others, but also by internal thoughts and desires and external acts that are secret.

(b) Scandal is conduct which is evil at least in appearance, that is, sinful, or from the circumstances seemingly sinful. Thus, an act is not scandalous, if it is morally indifferent or a less good, and is perceivable as being such.

(c) Scandal tends to spiritual ruin, that is, to a fall into sin, great or small. Here scandal strictly understood differs from scandal in the wide senses given in the previous paragraph.

(d) Scandal is an occasion of a fall into sin, that is, it sets an example of sin before the attention, and thus suggests to the will that the will imitate the sin. Scandal is not, however, the cause of sin, for a person causes his own sin in yielding consent to the suggestion offered by scandal.

(e) Scandal is to another. A person may be said to scandalize himself in the sense that by his looks or acts he puts himself in an occasion of sin (Matt., v. 29, 30), or inasmuch as he maliciously makes the acts of a virtuous neighbor an occasion of sin; but scandal is more properly understood of an occasion of sin prepared for one’s neighbor.

1448. Causes of Scandal.—There are various divisions of scandal according to the kinds of external acts. (a) There is scandal in words, as profane language or calumnies spoken in a gathering of people. (b) There is scandal in acts, as when one is perceptibly drunk or fights in a city street. Scandal applies also to things, in so far as they are the result of acts or related to acts, such as disedifying books, pictures, dress. Thus, one gives scandal by having sinful objects on display, such as profane mottoes on one’s wall, obscene advertisements or announcements on one’s billboards. (c) There also may be scandal in omission, as when one is conspicuously absent from Mass on Sundays.

1449. The following kinds of sinful acts are not scandalous, for they are unknown to others, and hence cannot suggest sin:
(a) internal acts, such as wicked thoughts, desires, emotions; (b) external acts concealed from others, such as inaudible profanity, intoxication not noticeable by others, omission of an obligatory penance about which others have no knowledge.

_________________
On the last day, when the general examination takes place, there will be no question at all on the text of Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs of Justinian. Charity will be the whole syllabus.

- St. Robert Bellarmine


Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:01 am
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:13 am
Posts: 194
New post Re: On Taking Scandal
I will not post all the sections of McHugh and Callan for the sake of relevancy. One can download the whole book here http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/35354/pg35354.html

To sum up, I think some of the important distinctions on scandal are: The difference between a) scandal given and b) scandal taken and then the difference between a) scandal of the weak and b) Pharasaic scandal.


MORAL THEOLOGY
A Complete Course Based on St. Thomas Aquinas and the Best Modern
Authorities
BY JOHN A. MCHUGH, O.P. AND CHARLES J. CALLAN, O.P.

Art. 9. THE SINS AGAINST BENEFICENCE

...

1464. Passive scandal (see 1452), that is, the spiritual fall consequent on the example of another, is of two kinds: (a) scandal given, which is a fall into sin occasioned by conduct really disedifying, as when a youth becomes drunk because he has seen his elders intoxicated; (b) scandal taken, which is a fall into sin occasioned by conduct irreproachable in itself, but wrongly interpreted, either out of malice (Pharisaic scandal), or out of ignorance or frailty (scandal of little ones). The Pharisees were scandalized at our Lord's dining with sinners, because they themselves were unmerciful (Matt., ix. 11 sqq.), and the weak brethren at Corinth were scandalized at the eating of certain meats, because their consciences were tender (I Cor., xi. 23 sqq.).

1465. Sinfulness of Scandal.—(a) Scandal in the wide sense is not necessarily a sin. Thus, St. Peter acted out of love for his Master when he wished to dissuade Him from the Passion, but our Lord, in order to correct more vigorously the wrong ideas of Peter, called them a scandal (Matt., xvi. 23).

(b) Passive scandal is always a sin in the one who falls because of the conduct of another; but it does not always suppose that the conduct which occasioned the fall was a sin, as is clear from the remarks made above on Pharisaic scandal and the scandal of little ones.

(c) Active scandal is always a sin in the one whose conduct occasions the fall of another, since that conduct is either sinful, or has such an appearance of sin that it should have been omitted. But it does not always suppose a sin in the person who witnesses the scandal, for he may proceed without a fall in spite of the obstacle placed in his path.

1466. Is scandal a distinct species of sin, or only a circumstance that may happen to any kind of sin?

(a) Passive scandal is not a special kind of sin. For the scandalized person may fall into any and every kind of sin, and the fact that example occasions his fall does not add any special or new opposition to the virtue against which he offends. Thus, he who breaks the fast because he saw others break the fast, is guilty of the same sin of intemperance as those who gave him scandal. But passive scandal may be an aggravating or an extenuating circumstance, aggravating if the scandal was taken, extenuating if the scandal was given.

(b) Active scandal, if it is only indirectly intentional (see 1450) and is offered by conduct evil in itself, is not a special sin. The reason is that in such scandal one does not specially intend the spiritual ruin of a neighbor, but only the satisfaction of one's own desire. Thus, he who breaks the fast before others to satisfy his own appetite, does not directly wish the corruption of those others, and hence his sin is that of intemperance with the added circumstance of bad example.

(c) Active scandal, if it is only indirectly intentional and is offered by conduct not evil but evil-appearing, is reductively the special sin of scandal, For, since all active scandal is sinful, and in this case there is no other species of sin, the conduct not being really evil in itself, the sin in question must be reduced to scandal. Thus, one who is dispensed from the law of abstinence and who eats meat on a day of abstinence in the presence of others who know he is a Catholic but do not know he is dispensed, does not sin against temperance, but against edification. His sin is that of scandal only reductively, since he does not directly will the fall of others. There is also the circumstance that the law of abstinence may suffer as a result of the scandal.

(d) Active scandal, if it is directly intentional (see 1450), is directly also the special sin of scandal. For this kind of scandal directly intends the spiritual ruin of a neighbor, and so is directly opposed to a special good of another person and to the special charitable act of fraternal correction. Hence, a person who breaks the fast in order to lead his neighbor into a like transgression is guilty of both intemperance and scandal; he who to make his neighbor sin appears to break the fast, is guilty of scandal, but not of intemperance.

_________________
On the last day, when the general examination takes place, there will be no question at all on the text of Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs of Justinian. Charity will be the whole syllabus.

- St. Robert Bellarmine


Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:18 am
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