Catholic Books Okay For Use By Scrupulous Persons


I am very scrupulous. I have a lot of trouble reading Catholic Literature, even the Bible because all I see is sin and hell and it scares me to death. Are there catholic books or Bible passages that are “safe” for scrupulous persons? If you are/were scrupulous, what books were you able to benefit from? Which ones bothered you or hindered your progress? (so I can avoid them.) I don’t just mean books about scrupulosity (though those titles would be appreciated) I am talking about out of catholic literature which books are okay for scrupulous individuals to read and which would be best to be avoided by them. Hope this makes sense. :blush:

Thanks so much!


I have struggled with scrupulosity all of my life, even before my conversion to Catholicism. The book “Understanding Scrupulosity” by Fr. Santa was invaluable to me in helping me better understand my condition and what mortal vs. venial sin really is. The Scrupulous Anonymous newsletters on the Liguori website are also very helpful.

As far as other spiritual literature, it’s hard to say just what might help or hurt you, since we are all at different places in our journey and have different “issues” when it comes to the subject of scruples & sin. For me, there are two that, although they do mention sin/hell at various points, emphasize our Lord’s mercy and love for sinners and His desire for ALL to be saved: St. Faustina’s “Diary” and Sr. Josefa Menendez’ “Way of Divine Love.” These were both in the life-changing category for me and affected me very deeply (in a positive way!). “He and I” by Gabrielle Bossis is also in this category, and though not nearly as well known it is well worth your time! I can’t think of anything in there that would make you worry off the top of my head. It was a very comforting, uplifting read for me.

I have read the advice before for scrupulous persons to avoid “ascetic literature” in general. I would also suggest from my own experience avoiding books about hell and purgatory and “spiritual warfare,” and avoiding Fr. Altier’s “Examination of Conscience” (which can be found in both printed booklet form and online, and has been one of the WORST things I ever encountered as far as my scruples are concerned. Believe me, that sin list of his had me obsessing at all-new heights…or rather, lows). You know what subjects usually trigger you better than I do: avoid those like the plague! Whether in books, or posts here on CAF or elsewhere. Rely on your confessor for guidance on these sensitive issues and trust what he tells you rather than seeking answers in reading material. That will help you a lot, believe me. Look for books that will help form you in a better understanding of a God who does not simply judge and condemn, but loves and shows mercy and deeply desires your salvation. I think the tendency for us, as people who struggle with scruples, is to see Him as the “God of fire and brimstone” and focus only on our unworthiness rather than seeing the big picture.


I’m very sorry you and so many others have this trial :frowning: Although I’ve never had trouble with scrupulosity, several books in particular have been very helpful (some of them may be easier to track down than others)

Father F.W. Faber, All for Jesus:
[/LIST]About the title, & to avoid misunderstanding: the author writes about the easy ways - not about the hard & really difficult ones. As he says, he is not writing for Saints, but for us “lesser mortals” (my words, not his), to make clear that however conscious we are of our sins, we are not forbidden to love God: on the contrary, our poverty makes our need to love God all the greater. The whole purpose of the book, that gives it its tone, is to draw the reader to love God.

Abbot Louis de Blois (AKA Blosius), Comfort for the Faint-Hearted: ****
[/LIST]Barry Ulanov, The Way of Saint Alphonsus Liguori:
[/LIST]They are all very good. There are others, but I forget their titles.

If I were scrupulous, I would probably not know where to look. Something else that should help: any life you can get of Saint Philip Neri. He is **particularly **important, because he is known as the “Saint of Christian Joy” - this gives him a special attractiveness :). About half a dozen lives are available in English - this is a very good one (the reviews of it are favourable, & rightly so): ****
[/LIST]As to what books should be avoided, I don’t know any titles, but if there are any books that encourage looking at one’s misery and sinfulness and stopping there, I’d avoid them. Blosius’ translator makes this very point: if we look only at our misery, and not at God’s mercy, then of course we will be discouraged.

St. Alphonsus & Blosius should be very helpful to anyone tormented by fear that they may have committed mortal sin, for both give the matter a good deal of attention.

Does that help at all ?


I read this book over 20 years ago, and it has always comforted me. Please take a look inside the book (via this link) and explore the first couple of pages. Then look for it in your local library or christian bookstore. It is a short, yet very powerful and comforting book.


what about St Therese of Lisieux?
or Divine Mercy in My Soul…

anything that encourages trust in God and in His Mercy :slight_smile:


St. Therese of Lisieux grew up during a strong Jansenist (rigid morality, for one) influence in France. She worked all her life to avoid Jansenism, even in her “Little Way”. Something that was helpful for me especially that is about her life and Way: I Believe in Love, by Fr. Jean CJ d’Elbee. I would also recommend books by St. Alphonsus Liguori as the previous poster mentioned. You could read books by St. Frances De Sales, but with those I would recommend being a little careful as there are parts that a super-scrupulous person could mis-interpret. The Practice of the Presence of God by brother Lawrence, The Seeker’s Guide to Mary by Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda and definitely any books about the story of Mary of Guadelupe, are others I would recommend.


If you feel your choice of spiritual reading might pose a real problem for you in this way, it would be best to follow the classic advice for those who struggle with this: to find one confessor or spiritual director, stick with him, and follow his advice not only with regards to matter for confession, but also on spiritual reading, penitential practices and other spiritual exercises. Ask for one book at a time that he recommends, and avoid trying to read a variety of writers on a variety of topics all at the same time.

The monks were each assigned one book from the library as their spiritual reading for Lent by the abbott, and had to finish that before getting another. The Rule of St. Benedict is sound for any life, but for instance for a lay person, some guidance would be needed to adapt his precepts to daily life in the world.

Unless you have some guidance from a good spiritual director, some people such as those who are scrupulous, or new Christians for example, or young adolescents, or people with OCD, should probably not dip into some of the great spiritual classics of earlier eras, that were written in a different time and place (and language) for a different sensibility. All of these, such as Francis de Sales, Ignatius, John of the Cross, big and little Terese are exellent and timeless, but some background in the time and “Catholic culture” in which they were written is necessary to filter some of what they say. Someone who lacks some background in the culture which produced these works and their intended audience, might become lost or confused by some of what they read. Any of the people I have described above should also stay away from non-Catholic writers, or dissident Catholic writers.

I second what others of have said, stay with spiritual writers whose focus is on trust in Divine Providence, mercy, love of God, self and others, and say away from those who write about sin and repentence. Also stick with the advice of your trusted confessor on how to prepare for confession, not on general guides for a general audience. Also work, with his guidance, on service to others and how you can live out your Christian commitment in concrete ways, directed toward others rather than too much inward focus.


I always recommend “The Story of a Soul”… the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. She herself, suffered from terrible scruples at one point in her life.

But despite this terrible trial, she developed a profound, childlike trust in God… which made her one of the greatest saints of our Church.

St. Therese of Lisieux, please pray for all scrupulous souls.


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