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Articles: Pastoralia

Fighting Scrupulosity
Rev. Anthony Cekada

      This pamphlet will help you if you have difficulties with scrupulosity. It contains some special advice for the scrupulous.


Signs of Scrupulosity

      1.   Fear you are committing sin while doing things even devout people don't find sinful.

      2.   Frequently changing your mind for trivial reasons (or no reasons at all) about whether something is sinful; one minute you think something is not sinful and the next minute you think it is sinful.

      3.   Constant worry or anxiety about sin, without being able to figure out a reason for the worry.

      4.   Constant worry about your confessions, even though the priest has told you that there was nothing wrong with them.

      5.   Stubbornness with the priest in confession — thinking that you are right about something being sinful and that he is wrong — which leads you to go to a lot of different priests for confession, without really heeding the advice or instructions you receive from any of them.

      6.   Repeatedly asking whether or not an action is sinful, even though the priest has told you the answer to the question before.

      7.   Repeatedly confessing as sins — "just in case" — things which the priest has told you are not sins.


Some Helps

      1.   Think of scruples as a disease you have to get rid of. Resolve to get rid of them with the help of the priest.

      2.   Ask God to help you get rid of scruples. Say a special prayer for this intention every day.

      3.   Hate scruples and act against them. Don't think about things which give you scruples.

      4.   Look upon God as supremely good and as a loving Father.

      5.   Say your Morning Offering every day and offer all you do during that day in advance to God.

      6.   In your daily prayers, thank God for all the wonderful things He has given you: family, friends, temporal blessings, etc. Thank Him for being able to get to Mass and Holy Communion. Thank Him for being able to go to confession where He shows His mercy and love for us in a special way.

      7.   Avoid idleness. When alone and plagued by scruples, distract yourself by doing something which will otherwise occupy your mind.

      8.   Let the priest do the worrying for you for the time being.

      9.   Remember that scrupulosity can be overcome with patience and prayer.

      10. Memorize the following rules:

a.   I must hate my scruples.

b.   I am permitted to do anything I see devout people do.

c.   I have not committed a mortal sin unless there was no doubt that it was a mortal sin.

d.   I am not obliged to confess anything unless there is no doubt that it was a mortal sin.

e.   I must accept these rules and follow the advice the priest gives me.


Going to Confession

      1.   Examine you conscience beforehand, but for only five minutes.

      2.   Tell the priest you have a problem with scrupulosity.

      3.   Do not mention a past sin, unless you are

a.   Absolutely sure it was a mortal sin and

b.   Absolutely sure you never confessed it.

      4.   Always trust the priest.

      5.   Never confess a doubtful sin.

      6.   If the priest tells you that something you have thought, said or done is not a sin, believe him and don't worry about it.

      7.   Confess only the species (kind) and number of mortal sins. If you don't know the exact number, give only an approximate number.

      8.   If you have no mortal sins to confess, confess one or two types of venial sins you have committed.

      9.   Accept the priest's judgment about whether or not something is sinful.

      10. Do what the priest tells you to do. You must obey the priest.


Going to Communion

       1.  Just having a doubt about whether or not you committed a mortal sin should not keep you away from Holy Communion. Doubts are not sins.

      2.   Unless you are absolutely sure you are in the state of mortal sin, make an Act of Contrition and go to Communion.



      Never become discouraged. God loves you. He is infinitely good and infinitely merciful towards you. He wants you to be happy forever with Him in heaven, and he left the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist to help you to get to heaven. With His help, you can overcome the scruples which trouble you.

      Go in peace.

(Pamphlet 1985)

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