Richard fell sick. His father was deeply grieved to see the boy suffering. When the doctor told the father that he could do nothing to help his son, the father began to despair. Death was certain. Richard's father and mother stayed up with him day and night, but only the mother prayed, while Richard prayed for his father.
Finally, the dying boy turned to his father and said, "Daddy, I won't live long any more. Tell me, whom should I believe, you or mother?" That question pierced the father's heart. He could not look into the innocent eyes of his little son. He hid his face in his hands and wept. Then he bent over the boy, took his hand and pressed it to his heart and said, "Richard, my boy, believe your mother. Do what she taught you to do. She is right!"
Not long after Richard's death, his father made his peace with God and tried to make amends for the scandal he had given his own child. But Richard was not there to see it.
Scandal means any action, word, or omission, which can or do cause another to commit sin. Scandal is a mortal or venial sin according to the kind of sin into which one is led. If another is scandalize so that he commits a venial sin, the scandal giver is guilty of venial sin. If he is scandalized to the point of committing mortal sin, the scandal giver is guilty of mortal sin. Our Lord's words express how serious scandal really is: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of scandals! For it must needs be that scandals come, but woe to the man through whom scandal does come!' (Mt. 18:6.) The father was a scandal to his son because through his bad example he could have caused his son to commit sin. Fortunately the good example of his mother saved Richard from this evil.