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Tom wrote:

Hi, guys —

I often find myself in a conversation with someone in public or with a new acquaintance who is a non-Christian. Usually, the person wouldn't be aware that I am a Catholic and often, like during a recent conversation, immoral behavior of the person is brought into the conversation (e.g. the person may say,

"Wow, I've got a massive hangover today, had a huge night of drinking last night."

Obviously, comments like these are, to the person, a kind of small talk and way of making conversation. However I'm fairly new to this parish and was wondering what would be the most appropriate way to response in this situation.

Obviously I don't want to participate in the other person's sin by saying:

"Wow, sounds like my idea of a good night!"

just to get along (which would be a lie as I am a devout Catholic and drink very little alcohol)
or be too harsh and say

"Wow, you need to grow up".

  • What is the most appropriate response when immoral behavior is brought up in a conversation?
  • Could you suggest a happy medium for a response or whether it's better just to say nothing and change the subject?

Thanks and God bless,


  { Can you suggest a measured response or reply for a person in this situation? }

Paul replied:


Very good question.

This is something every person trying to please God must struggle with. Since this isn't doctrinal I'll offer you my opinion.

We live in the world, which is filled with secular and hedonistic attitudes and lifestyles. Usually, these conversations involves illicit sex or drugs, as yours did with alcohol.

Prudence is the virtue to pray for here, which is the gift of discerning how to act and handle concrete situations in "the here and now" as they arise. You have to discern whether or not saying anything would be prudent, and, if not, perhaps a disinterested non-condoning nod of the head a couple times might communicate you're respectfully listening, but don't approve.

But perhaps you will think of the right thing to say. I often speak to people in question form,
as in:

"Was your headache and the way you acted worth all that drinking last night?"

Or perhaps you could counter with something positive you did last night to subtly make him think about his own behavior.

Each individual situation is different and calls for a different response but whatever is chosen try to make sure God would be pleased.  To that end, keep in mind the modern day phrase:

WWJD — What would Jesus do?


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