I’m here because I’ve been struggling with obsessive-compulsive problems my whole life, and in later years, scrupulosity. Basically I’ve done a lot of bad things in the past which I’m truly sorry for and I’m trying to be a good Christian. Over the past 3 months I’ve gone to confessing quite a lot to confess my past sins. I have a tendency to re-confess sins out of doubt or ‘just to play it safe’. I’ve had one-on-one talks with different priests which gives my peace of mind, however it’s not long before I feel terrible again.
Today I just wanted to run a few things by you all to get some clarity.
In past confessions I have confessed to viewing pornographic material, the nature of which I mentioned. Since that confession I’ve remembered some videos I’ve watched that the nature of which I forgot to remember. Do I have to confess these details and if so must I withhold from receive communion until I’ve done so?
Also, I find my self over analyzing my confessions and sins in order to conclude as to whether or not I’ve committed a sin. This drives me insane and causes my to become confused and doubtful of my confessions. Do you have any advice to help control this, because it’s gotten to the point where I convince myself every little thing is a sin. Such as having a fleeting impure thought from where I’ll be like “That was sinful. But I didn’t mean to have it. But I feel like I somewhat invited it. But I didn’t dwell on it. Yea but I still had it”. This then causes me to become very annoyed, tired and confused.
I also doubt whether or not I’ve confessed a sin and argue with myself as to whether or not I should re-confess it just in case. I also argue with myself as to whether or not something is sinful.
Over all I’m very confused and would greatly appreciate your help.
My advice to you would be to schedule an appointment with the priest of your chosing. Tell him exactly what you have said here. Then follow whatever he tells you to do. I would recommend doing this outside of the confessional where you can have a relaxed chat without having to worry about the other people in line or anything like that. I would also recommend always going to the same confessor. That way he can help you with this.
When people fall into scrupulousity, it can happen for several reasons. You mentioned that you struggle with being obsessive-complusive. New converts also tend to have problems with scrupulousity, simple because we tend to over-analyze things in an effort to make sure we are making good confessions, because we’ve never made confessions before. This also tends to be true of a lot of people, even cradle Catholics, who have only infrequently gone to confession if they start going to confession regularly. Basically, for people like that, it’s mostly a matter of figuring out what’s what and as they learn what is sin and what is not and get more comfortable with confession, it gradually goes away. One thing that helped with me when I was at that figruing it out state was that I always went to the same confessor. That way he knew me, knew where I was at in my journey, and could guide me and stop me from re-confessing old stuff.
Confession, reconcialiation, is a Sacrament of Healing. Remember that. It’s about restoring you back to the person God created and intended you to be. Also remember that a forgotten mortal sin is just that, a forgotten mortal sin. It is covered by the absolution you already received. It does need to be mentioned at the next confession, but it is absolutely not - I repeat - not a reason to not receive the Eucharist. Though the Enemy would like you to think so. Also remember, not all sin is mortal. For a sin to be mortal, it must be a serious sin, you must know it is a serious sin, and then with complete knowledge of the seriousness of the sin, you must then freely choose to commit the sin. A fleeting sinful thought is not a mortal sin. Therefore it is absolved through the Penitential Rite during the Mass.
Another great help is daily Mass if you can make it and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament if possible. There is great grace there.
Do make that appointment with your priest and talk to him. He will guide you in what steps to take. Do whatever you are told. And may God richly bless you and bring you peace.
I think your problem is the same I had some years back… The biggest problem you face
Is to forgive yourself…it’s fine to be forgiven during confession… But it’s hard to forgive yourself for your own misdeeds because you relive those misdeeds… Somehow you must clear your mind…
First of all, if a thought fleets through your mind unsolicited, it is NOT a sin. It’s a little like the old elephant-in-the-room joke where you tell someone that whatever they do they must not think of an elephant and they find that all they can think of are elephants! The sin is if you have an impure thought and then either act on it or willfully allow yourself to wallow in it. Re-thinking a confession after you have made one to the best of your ability is a waste of time too and seldom does any good come from doing so.
What you suffer from is scrupulosity—which is an expressed form of a specific type of OCD. You REALLY should probably consider getting some outside help, as I rather doubt that religion is the only area where your OCD effects your life negatively. Try to imagine what your life could be like if you didn’t have to spend so much time second guessing every aspect of even your thought process. Please try to get some outside therapy and help. You will feel SO much better I promise!
Secondly, let me just tell you this: I fell away from the Catholic church for about 30 years. I came back about 2 years ago when my mom died. I went to confession before her funeral so that I could go to communion–but it was a pretty general confession where I more or less simply told my pastor that I’d missed 30 years of Mass and sacraments and had failed in nearly every area of life as a Christian during that time. Now fast forward to a year or so. i’m a little OCD like you and so I’d lay in bed at night and about 2 a.m. wake up and remember a specific sin–often a “big” one–that I hadn’t specifically mentioned, so I’d rack my mind trying to remember how often I’d committed said sin, if it really were the exact same sin as opposed to a different new one that I also hadn’t specifically confessed, whether I had confessed it in every aspect thoroughly and back I’d go to confession and confess it—only to come home, wake up doing the same mental process and back to confession I’d go. I never really felt “right”. Finally, Father caught on to my mind set and here’s what he told me–though I can’t remember his exact words. Scrupulosity is in itself a sin against faith because basically what you are doing is doubting that Jesus can and does forgive you. You go to confession, but you never really feel “clean” afterwards because deep inside you can’t really accept that you’ve been forgiven. To Jesus, if you read the Gospels, faith was everything. It even says in the gospel that when Jesus visited His own home town, He couldn’t perform miracles and ultimately left because since He was a local boy and everyone had known Him growing up, they lacked faith in Him as a savior/teacher/worker of miracles etc.
Moreover, Jesus is less concerned that you list every wrong thing you have done and how many times exactly you did it in every gory detail than that you are truly intent on doing better in the future. If you want to do better simply because you are scared as hell of going to hell, that’s imperfect contrition—but it is still contrition and you will be given absolution, and yes, that absolution counts. Perfect contrition is when you want to do better because of your love for God and sorrow for hurting Him–and of course that’s what we all hope to come to. We may not always even be at that point though–and Jesus still forgives us because we’re getting there and our heart is contrite.
You truly need to visit with a therapist. If you can fix the OCD–and you CAN, you will fix the scrupulosity which holds back your spiritual growth. Good luck!
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