Confession/Scrupulosity

Hi everyone,

I have not been to Confession in a few months, mainly because I get to be really, really scruplulous. I try to look at examination of conscience things, but I get so confused as to what actually counts and what doesn’t, and I’m terrfied of making a sacriligious Confession by spurting off all these sins that I don’t know if they actually need to be Confessed or not Confessing mortal sins in kind and number, and end up going to Mass and making a sacriligious Eucharist. I know that if you honestly forget something, it is still forgiven, but I have religion teachers who, trying to get kids to live a good Christian life and not fall into traps, speak harshly and like everything is a sin and that we need to go to Confession a lot, and it worries me. I pray that God will let me truly know if I have offended Him, and that brings me some peace. After bascially everything I do, I ask myself if it is a sin, is it grave matter, and I just confuse myself and worry myself that if I go to Mass I’ll be making a sacriligous Eucharist. I’m always saying Act of Contritions. Bad thoughts pop into my head at every second of the day, and I am always praying Hail Marys to chase them away but they come back. I can hardly even look at men anymore. I feel the need to like read about everything that I do to see if it is a mortal sin or not. If I pass up an opprutunity to go to Mass or Adoration during the week because of schoolwork, I feel like I’m sinning. I would go to a priest about this, but I don’t even know what I’m thinking half the time, and it is just so confusing. I’m so worried. I have a pretty decent prayer life, I go to Mass every Sunday, I say a daily Rosary, I do Adoration once a week, and I do other prayers like novenas and Lectino Divina sometimes. Weekly Eucharist and rosary are my strength, and without them this scrupulosity would be a million times worse. I feel like I need to go to Confession, but I don’t know what, how, or if to Confess. I’m really scared.

Any help/prayers is appreciated.

God bless all of you!

-Jeanne

You can confess mortal and venial sins, so there’s no such thing as a sacreligious confession by confessing things you don’t *have *to confess. You can **always **confess **whatever **you think you need to confess and the priest will guide you. Tell the priest in confession that you suffer from scrupulosity and he will help you.

The best thing you can do is speak to a priest about this, even outside of confession if you need to. Placing oneself under obedience to one single confessor is the single most effective spiritual treatment for scrupulosity. You would have definite guidelines to determine what is sinful and what is not, when to confess and when not to, and when to receive Communion and when not to. It also might not hurt to consult a doctor about OCD if unwanted thoughts bother you very frequently.

Make an appointment and discuss your troubles, and I can almost promise you things will be better very soon.

Just go. There’s nothing sacriligious about it. It is OK to even confess venial sins. And if you aren’t sure it is a sin, just tell it to your priest and let him give you spiritual direction. Most importantly, do not be afraid.

What is there to fear? Have faith in the Lord, not your own efforts.

St. Anastasius taught: "

Therefore, when someone falls from the Spirit through any wickedness—that grace indeed remains irrevocably with those who are willing to repent after such a fall. (Discourses Against the Arians, 3, 24-25, ca. AD 358)

Remember this: “The Lord is my shepherd…I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23

  1. Go to Confession
  2. Before you confess your sins tell the priest that you have this struggle
  3. Ask for his help as you make your confession to combat this problem
  4. Be happy.

It is VERY important for you to get a *regular confessor *…who can guide you in this difficulty. This is age old wisdom…in the Church.

He can also give you various principles to follow…to simplify things for you…both in your life and in your confession…

Or he may suggest another Priest who is very practiced in this area.

Some general comments…

It is very important for one who has a tendency to scruples or a scrupulous conscience to have a regular confessor.

Remember too that one is only obliged to confess a mortal sin. Such goes for everyone.

So when you examine your conscience…start there. Am I actually conscious …of any mortal sins that I know of? If you have any…note them… These are to be all confessed.

Then after that …ask what venial sins have I committed? And then pick some of these… I would suggest you limit yourself to say what you can count on one hand. And then intend all your sins that you are sorry for in general…

one can even just confess one or two venial sins you are sorry for (if you do not have any mortal sins) and your confession is fine and good.

(do not take too long in your examine…)

Then in confession…say the mortal ones first if any…then add what venial sins you are confessing (but in general). If you do not have any…great…then say a few of these…

"I accuse myself of murder 2x

I also accuse myself ways I have not been good to my wife, of been impatient, of not working as well as I could, some intemperance and selfishness.

And all the sins of my life, especially against chastity and of anger (pick some category of sins your particularly sorry for from you life)."

Doubtful sins need not be confessed and are often recommended to those with scruples to not confess them (though you can bring things up to your confessor especially for guidance …as to what is sin and what is not…or what is serious.). If one does confess them say it is “doubtful” in some way.

If you forget a venial sin that you wanted to confess…but were sorry for all your sins…you can take it that it was absolved…and need never be mentioned (not that it was needed to be mentioned in the first place).

Also venial sins can be forgiven in many ways…such as the Our Father, act of contrition, reading Sacred Scripture, Holy Communion etc…though it is highly recommended to confess them…at least some of them …but I would not try to hunt them all down and round them all up for confession. But do not wait for confession either :slight_smile:

If you *forget *a mortal sin (not a doubtful mortal sin…but a mortal sin) then you are to confess it in the next confession once you remember (unless you forget it again!) But one need not run back to confession…such can be absolved “indirectly” in that absolution. For you either intended to be contrite for it and confess it…but forgot it or in general you were contrite etc and not intentionally hiding it…even if it did not occur to you at the time of your examine etc.

As to Scruples in general…

Scruples are to be treated like a hissing goose or a barking dog…one does not stop to argue with them…one keeps walking. (From a 15th Century Carthusian)

Rejoice for Christ is Risen and he gives us true life!~

All of the advice given below is good. I can’t add a whole lot to it other than the evil one does attack those who are a threat to him. The attacks will fail as they are in vain. Trust in Our Lady’s protection and invoke St. Michael. Know that he is not more powerful than the allies we have here and in heaven. Receive the Eucharist as often as you can (allowed). I will pray for you. Be at peace. The Lord can see you are truly trying to do the right thing. He loves you more than you know!

(from previous posts of mine)

Regarding thoughts

while Jesus makes it clear that one can sin in ones thoughts…just cause some lustful thought happens does not mean that one sinned…

(and one can have a sufficiently good reason to think about sexual matters…for instance studying moral theology…but care must be taken to avoid things that would be a problem…but that is another question)

What should we do with* unwanted* sexual thoughts or other bad thoughts…thoughts against God etc? Those pesky temptations that can come …even though we are not seeking them etc…

(there are of course some things we should avoid that cause them perhaps…and there can be sin if it is something one should reasonably avoid (one should not obsess or scruple here)…but often they come uninvited)

First…Relax. Do not worry.

Now are they mortal sins?

For a mortal sin one needs a grave matter …full knowledge AND deliberate consent!!!

A. If you do not want the thought…it the thought displeases you: it can be a sign actually that you did not give consent or do not give full consent.

B. Even if you felt a temptation for the thought – and were drawn to it —but rejected it and maybe even turned to God : again a sign not full consent.

C. But what if one has a tempting thought --say of a sexual nature and even hesitated for a moment…but then rejected it for one did not want to sin? : it can be partial consent perhaps (and thus a venial sin)-- or it may be no sin at all but rather a strong temptation that drew you but then you saw what was happening and turned away.

D. A temptation can even be very strong or the thoughts very often – but this does NOT mean one has consented! so worry not…even it they go on for a long time…

remember --for it to be mortal there must be that deliberate consent!

What to do? on the spiritual side–relax first of all and remember the above.

Next – know that the more one fears the thoughts the more likely they are to come… or said another way --the more a person seeks to avoid the thoughts the more likely he will have a problem with them. (but do not worry about this either!)

for example: for the next 10 seconds try NOT to think of an apple.

tick tock …

tick tock…

Ok what did you think of? Most likely an apple.

So it is best to ignore them and just not consent and then turn your attention to some other good thing…for instance whatever you are doing. Simply do not consent and move on. and do not worry.

another point – thoughts can just happen --they are the stuff with which we think…it is up to us to consent and take them further or not. and just because they are REAL VIVID and almost “think themselves” does not mean per se that one has given ANY consent.

they can be annoying…but need cause no actual harm …

(Now difficulties with thoughts can happen to anyone…and has for centuries…nothing new!..but I will note too that “some” have a condition known as OCD (I knew someone with this once…it was a painful experience)…and thus should seek further professional help to work at overcoming it and to live a more peaceful life)


Another help…is the distinction between “first thoughts and emotions” (as Baur calls em) what they call the prima of the prima…“the first of the first” (as one of my Professors called em…he was a Dominican)…these are involuntary things that just come up…such are not sins. They can tempt one of course to sin…or one can then proceed to some sin…but they are the stuff of the mind and emotions which “happen to one” …and really the are opportunities for growing in virtue etc as well…

How to deal with these? First of relax…don’t scruple…don’t fear them…to try to swat them all as the come…just simply turn to other things…or the thing you are doing…or to God…(of course do not consent)…but if you are too defensive against them…they may get worse actually…and confuse you more…instead turn to God or again other good things…accept that hey…somethings wild thoughts will come to you…

(and these can happen to all of us by the way…)

There is a story from the desert of the early Centuries of the Church where a younger hermit when to an older one with the problems of thoughts happening to him all the time…the older hermit told him to go outside open his cloak and catch the wind.

The younger hermit said such is not possible…

the older hermit replied --neither is it possible to stop all the thoughts that can come to you…your choice is to say “yes” or “no”.

So relax about “unwanted thoughts”…sometimes they just come…you know like unwanted phone calls from politicitians and salepersons etc…but you can always say “no thank you” or just ignore the call and go about your business

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