Can we be sure our sins are forgiven, if scrupulous?

Hi,

If a scrupulous person finds the best confessor whom he can find, but still doesn’t trust him, because the scrupulous person is convinced that they need to redo their confessions, what can be done, if not despair?

Dear friend,

Scrupulous people are obsessed with an irrational fear of hell. They continually examine their past behavior in an attempt to not leave anything out that would give God the opportunity to throw them into hell. Despite this, they never feel that they have covered everything well enough. So they begin again. This is very tiring—not to mention, frustrating. It also has very little to do with the state of the soul.

In the past, scruples were often considered a matter of weak faith. Today, we know that scruples are a form of obsessive compulsive behavior and are more of a mental illness than a moral fault. It is a heavy cross that they have been given, but one that can make saints of them because of the pain that they can offer to God.

The answer to your question is not despair, but the willingness to go AGAINST the feelings of fear. This takes heroic effort. But once one begins to realize intellectually what is really going on, going against the feelings becomes possible—with the help of a therapist and a confessor or spiritual director who is experienced in such matters.

It is important to realize that God loves scrupulous people and is fully aware of their innocence regarding the sins they fear they have committed.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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