Confession/mortal sin/scrupulosity

I went to confession this morning and confessed all sins I could remember - even ones I have forgotten in past confessions. I felt very good afterward, and attended daily Mass. But as the day went on, I started to get a little depressed. I had this slight feeling that I will always have a mortal sin on my soul, and that I will most likely end up in hell. But I truly do think I understand the greatness of God’s love and mercy. So why do I feel this way?? Then, to add more to this sadness, a lustful thought popped into my head. I tried my hardest to keep it out, but I think I might’ve let it in purposely a couple times. Now I fear even more that I am in mortal sin. Plus, I do think I am a little scrupulous. Should I go to confession again tomorrow?? Please help! :confused: :frowning:


May the Lord of all goodness and mercy bless you! I understand totally what you are feeling. I too have dealt with scrupulosity. You are trying very hard to please God and doing all that you can to avoid sin and remain pure. Let me address different parts of your post. May God give me the grace to help you.

  1. You said that you felt good after confession and at daily Mass, yet later on you began to feel depressed. Reject these feelings of depression. They are temptations! The demons can use your scrupulosity to discourage you to give in to sin, leading you to think, "What’s the use. I’ll always fall into mortal sin and in the end die and go to hell!"
    No you won’t!

  2. "A lustful thought popped into my head."
    This is in no way sinful. Only if one consents with the will does one sin. You cannot sin but with an act of the will. Just because you felt extremely tempted to accept the thought of lust does not mean that it is sinful. Temptation does not equal sin.

  3. "I tried my hardest to keep it out but I think I might’ve let it in purposely a couple of times."
    This is for you to judge. I cannot judge your soul to see whether you consented or not, but I think this is the scrupulosity acting in you. Also, this sentence contradicts itself. If you tried your hardest to keep the lustful thought out, then you did not purposefully let it in. Either you did all you could, with God’s grace and remained pure, or you gave in with full consent of the will. “I know this is wrong, but…” I don’t know what you were thinking at the time, but do not dwell on it. If you did not knowingly give in to the thought and actually feed on it but rather rejected it, then I suggest that you do not go to confession again, but rather recieve Communion and ask our Lord and Lady to help you remain pure, and also to have a true and good concience.

I will be praying for you.

There is a song I like about God’s forgiveness.
A man asked God what was the worst sin he had committed.
The Lord replied, “What sin? I forgot the moment you confessed.”

These are the three elements that must all be present for a mortal sin:

  1. Grievous matter
  2. Sufficient reflection
  3. Full consent of the will

Remember also that venial sins are removed as you receive Holy Communion.

Thank you for your responses. I do feel a little better.

But the thing is, I always have situations where I can’t tell whether the sin was venial or mortal, or maybe not even a sin at all. No matter how much I examine my conscience and replay the situation and think about what exactly happened, I never know for sure. Does anyone have any advice on this?

You are thinking too hard, falling into unfounded guilt which is not from God.
One suggestion I have heard for those who tend to overly focus on their sins is instead of doing an examination of conscience (still necessary before confession), but to perform an examination of consciousness. How has God acted in your life throughout the day? Focus on the blessings you have received, not your faults. Remember that you are a child of God. You are made in His image, transformed by grace.
About a month ago, the priest at Mass said that he has never heard anybody confess that they have not used the power each of us has. God dwells within us. See His image within yourself, not only in those you meet.

One day, years ago now, I did go through a week in which I was consciously aware of my sins. The more I focused on my sins, the more I felt God’s love and forgiveness.
We are not called to be God, simply the creatures he has made us to be. We are not called to be Jesus, in the sense that He walked the streets of Galilee. Rather we are to be as completely as possible the person, the creature, that God has called us to be.

I also like the prayer of Thomas Merton. I do not know Lord if I am following your will, but I do believe that my desire to follow your will means that I am indeed following your will (paraphrased). So relax. Be generous to yourself. See yourself as God see you, not the distorted view that Satan would press upon you.
Yes, do pray the prayer to St. Michael.

You sound like me! :blush:

When I start to over-analyze things, which I tend to do (and sin falls into this category), I can confuse the heck out of myself and become super-scrupulous. What I try to do is to not think about it, but just ask for God’s Mercy and His help in dealing with it.

As of late I do have many sinful thoughts coming into my head, some just pop in there and I also feel that some I put there myself. But I pray to Him to help me with that. The ones that pop in there every now and then I can’t help and most of the time I successfully keep them away by thinking of other things - like what I need to do the rest of the day or tomorrow. Sometimes, however, the urge to think of them is so tempting and overwhelming that I succomb, only to hate myself for thinking them (just for an instant) and then plead to God to help me get rid of the thought(s).

I will pray for you to handle these things with God’s Grace, and I hope you will also pray for those of us with similar difficulties. God will prevail and help us in our need.

I do consider this a good thing in a way, because it means that in all probability Satan is angry with us and is trying to trip us up. That fact in itself means that we are a threat to him. It also means he sees something good in us that he wants to get rid of or at least neutralize. God is with us in those situations, so just keep praying - as I will - for all who go through this type of difficulty.

God Bless,

A thought that might help. Returning to the idea that you are a child of God.
Remember God is a loving God. I do not know whether or not you have children.
How would you feel if your child were sad and kept saying “I’m a bad boy”?
As an earthly father, would you not want your child to say, “My daddy loves me and this is how I know”?
Remember that we are a Resurrection people.

Remember that our relationship with God is a love matter, not a legal matter. Committing a mortal sin takes full consent, that means not just slipping in not even letting a dirty thought cross your mind. Often we cannot help that. It is if you give up and dwell on it that the sin becomes mortal.
Keep fighting but remember that God is a Community of Love, Who always has the initiative in giving you the grace to become, and remain, pure. All you must do is be submissive in recieving the grace which God gives you, even if it involves breaking a habit. (Remember also that sin can be lessened when the sin is an overwhelming habit.)

I also have a similar problem perhaps someone can help me to?
I have scrupulousity, but Lustful thoughts aren’t as bad of a problem. Its thought of Profanity, and Violence.
I also have the Habit of “Fixing my thoughts”. I replay my thoughts and try to “Justify” them, is this wrong?
How can I be sure to be in a state of Grace? What does it feel like to be in Sin? (Mortal)
The 3 conditions for mortal sin I know, I just don’t know how to use them.
What Constitutes Grave Matter?
How do I know if I Willed something?
Knowing that the act is wrong. What if you don’t remember it is sinful, and think about it?

I appreciate your patience with my questions.

angel, first off, pray the rosary every day. Then recite the prayer to St. Michael every day. Ask the Lord to send the Holy Spirit to surround you with His divine protection. As Father Corapi says, this is spiritual warfare and you’ve got to pray like you’ve never prayed before, and keep it up, and ask others to pray for you too. :slight_smile:

I’m just going to address one of these right now. What does it feel like to be in mortal sin? If you think you have a tendency to scrupulosity there is a very important rule to follow. If you do not know whether something was a sin or not or whether you really willed it, treat it as though you didn’t. If you have committed a mortal sin you will have ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT as to whether you have done so or not, that is, if you pay any attention to your conscience at all, and if you are struggling with this certainly you do so. So, if there is any doubt, treat it as though there is no sin, because in actuality it is almost certain that there isn’t, but rather virtue.

I would also like to add that there is a site which is very helpful with lots of articles and helps. You don’t even have to join but just see what is there. Just search “scrupulous anonymous” on google and you will find a Ligourian site that will hopefully help alot.

I’ve definitely had the same problems as OP. In fact my scrupulosity lead me to leave the Church, because I was convinced that I’d pretty much never be in a state of grace and I might as well have a good time on my way to Hell.

What a vile way to think. But thems the facts.

What’s helped me is to remember God’s mercy and love for us. I think that, if you’re like me, you might tend to underemphasize God’s mercy. You might see how thinking only about how “Jesus loves me” can lead to error. But thinking only about how “Jesus is angry with me” leads to even greater errors. So, while acknowledging God’s awesome and fear-worthy Majesty, I try to contemplate his Mercy more, simply because, for me, I’m more tempted to go to the one extreme than the other.

As for sin; well, always remember that it requires a full consent of the will. Instead of constantly thinking about sin, think about God, and you’ll realize that you’re not sinning as much without even noticing it. Also remember Christ’s saying, “new wine isn’t for old wine skins”. If you’re a convert/revert (which it seems many people on this forum are), don’t try to change too much at once or you might just get exhausted. I have many faults, but I’ve tried to address the “big ones” first, and once I’ve conquered (or, at least, subdued) those demons I’ll start worrying about my cigarette habit and whatnot.

This prayer from Thomas Merton can be helpful:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I don’t see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself,and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.Therefore I will trust you always ,though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear,for you are ever with me. And you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Thomas Merton “Thoughts in Solitude.”

When asked if she was in a state of grace, St. Joan of Arc replied, “If I am in a state of grace, I pray God keep me there. If I am not, then I pray He put me there.”

Beautiful prayer, thanks for sharing :thumbsup:

May heart goes out to all those who suffer with scrupulosity which can be a component of anxiety and OCD. Here are some resources which have been a great help to me:

The book “Understanding Scrupulosity” by Fr. Thomas M. Santa

A free newsletter by Liguori called “Scrupulous Anonymous” You can have this newsletter mailed to your home or you can read it online This month’s issue is especially helpful as Fr. Santa has begun a three part series regarding the cognitive, behavioral, social and affective symptoms of scrupulosity.

If you go to the Ligouri website and type in “Why Am I Scrupulous?” you will find a nice, helpful little booklet

And try to find a copy of “Helps for the Scrupulous” written by Fr. Russell M. Abata. I found a used copy at Alibris as the book is currently not available as a new copy.

Remember Jesus LOVES you so very much!!! I will remember you in my prayers.


Thank you very much, Sometimes I think Being scrupulous is a good thing for me. Because then I never have G-d off of my mind. I heard being able to pray the rosary everyday is a sign of being in a state of grace. Must you kneel during the Rosary?I enjoy praying the Rosary on Ewtn with Mother Angelica. Because if I pray it by myself it usually takes an Hour and a half or 2 Hours. Also, what can I do if I’m unable to pray the Rosary for “every” day? School Year will be kicking up soon, and it’ll be difficult to always pray the Rosary.

While my family did kneel every night as we recited the rosary, it can also be prayed sitting, standing, or walking. Recitation should take about 15 minutes.
Are you praying a scriptural rosary? Are you praying all 20 mysteries? That is the only reason I can see it taking 2 hours to recite the rosary. Generally speaking, a person focuses on a single set of mysteries. Traditionally, the Joyful mysteries were prayed on Monday and Thursday, the Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday, the Glorious on Wednesday and Saturday. This pattern has been changed slightly with the addition of the Luminous Mysteries prayed on Thursdays…
Since the Church dedicates Saturday to Mary, the day she mourned the death of her Son, I will recite all the mysteries on Saturday followed by the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the rosary of Loretto).

I think the reason it takes my so long to pray is my scrupulousity.
Whenever I lose focus when praying or miscount, I always go back one and re-do it for safety.
I pray the Normal rosary 1 Mystery per day. Some Mysteries like the joyful are hard to meditate on for every 10 beads, sometimes I re-invision the same event (if I can’t find anythign else of the mystery to focus on like during the Nativity for ex. I just try to envision Baby Jesus in a cradle for a good portion of it. I always thought every bead had to be a different aspect of the mystery.

Can the Hail Marys and the other prayers be said mentally rather then Verbally? That would cut back on time.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit