Can you help with being scrupulous over past sins?

I have be scrupulous for quite a few years now and even was told so by a priest. But when my mind is tired my past sins come to my mind and are overwhelming. I think I have confessed them because at that time I would keep going to confession everytime I would think of another one. My priest told me that these sins are forgiven even the ones I may have forgot to confess. But I still think of the things I have done wrong many years ago…20 to 30 years ago…birth control…masturbating…going to far on a date with the guy I was dating…stealing from work…things serious like that…I can’t really remember now if I told these things in confession because I was young and scared…but now being older 64 … these past sins keep coming back to haunt me. Do I need to go back to confession and confess them now …I have told the priest with my confessions I am mostly sorry for all my sins of the past. This scrupulosity is sometimes hard to live with but still keeps me on my toes as to not try and sin this bad now. I really do believe God has forgiven me because I am truly sorry…but the guilt can be overwhelming as to the person I was and the things I did. Am I forgiven or should I reconfess these sins that I may have not been to descriptive with many years ago in confession or may have not remembered to confess back then. Thank you for any help you can give me.

Dear friend,

Scrupulosity is primarily a psychological matter rather than a spiritual one. It is a form of obsessive compulsive behavior. What bothers you is not the sin itself so much as the “feeling” of guilt and the fear of hell. Such obsessive compulsive behavior is fed by fear—most often, irrational fear. Such behavior is a cross the Lord has allowed you to bear. This cross offers you an opportunity to express your love for Him by trusting Him in the face of such fear. The one thing that a person with scruples should NOT do, is go over past sins. That is a luxury that you cannot afford. Just trust that all that Jesus endured for you is a sign of His loving mercy. Hold on to His love rather that you scrupulous fears. Keep you focus on Him.

Feel free to contact me privately by clicking on my name above. You are in my prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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