Examination of conscience, and scrupulosity

My prayer life has grown lately and have been more acutelly conscious of my personal sins and shortcomings, which I attribute as a gift of the Holy Spirit. I practice the daily examination of conscious before going to bed and keep a list of sins to help me confess at my next sacramental confession. Ever since my reversion to the faith I’ve been going to weekly confession and it has helped me tremendously in over coming past habitual sins. The temptation of falling into those habitual sins is still there, but it is weak and doesn’t become a hindrance; thanks be to God.

I am at peace, I feel joy and happiness within me and I don’t believe that I am falling into scrupulosity but where is that fine line of falling into scrupulosity?

Scrupulosity: from wikipedia: Scrupulosity is a modern-day psychological problem that echoes a traditional use of the term scruples in a religious context, e .g. by Catholics, to mean obsessive concern with one’s own sins and compulsive performance of religious devotion.

While it says “modern-day”, I suspect it is far older than that.

As to scrupulosity being a sin, I seriously doubt any well-informed priest would agree. It is a psychological issue.

1 Like

Based on the definition, I don’t see that is my case. As far as scrupulosity being a sin, I agree that this is more akin to a psychological issue, but I do remember reading it some thing to that effect. Thanks!

I don’t see it either.

As to what you may or may not have read, and from whom it was: as I noted, I doubt any priest with adequate training in moral theology and in the application of thge sacrament of Reconcilliation would consider it a sin; that does not encompass those not well trained (including lay people who are wont to express their opinion freely).

I agree with you

Scrupulosity is not s sin. Period. It is more akin to OCD mentally, and while it is a spiritually unhealthy condition that needs to be dealt with, it is a condition, not a choice.

Sins are acts of the will, choices made by a person. Scruples are unfounded fears and obsessions that a person does not usually want.

There are many Catholics here who do suffer from scruples, including myself, and it is not a good thing to be saying “having scrupulosity is a sin.” It is wrong and could cause upset to someone reading this post.


You seem pretty sure you’re not scrupulous, so I’m sure you’re not. Do you have OCD tendencies in other area? Scrupulosity is also called moral OCD. It’s essentially anxiety at the uncertainty of “not knowing for sure” - in this case regarding the state of ones soul, the precise morality of certain acts, etc. It can led folks to confess things that aren’t sins “just in case”… to feel compelled to confess on a certain frequent schedule regardless of whether there are sins to confess… to seek assurance from others about details of moral choices so as to not feel responsible for those choices. The list could go on.

Sorry I didn’t mean to offend, so I apologize. I just remember reading something to that effect, what I read may have been wrong about scrupulosity or it may have been written prior to the development of modern day mental health issues.

Scrupulosity isn’t a sin

No, I don’t have OCD, and based off what you are starting about the uncertainty of the state of one soul, for the most part I do know the state of my soul. I am not anxious on whether an action is sinful or not, nor do I obsessively dwell on an action, or lack thereof, was sinful. When I do sin I feel bad about it, ask God for forgiveness, resolve to not commit that sin again, put it in my list, and bring it up on my next confession. I frequently confess because I recognize my own brokenness and my need of God’s mercy and because of what an ungrateful son I have been these last few years.

Since you have given me a broader understanding of what scrupulosity is, I can say for certain that I do not suffer for this. Now that I understand it, I can only imagine what it is like to live with this affliction and will pray for those who go through this.

I will also edit my original post since I did not mean to upset anyone who suffers from this. Once again I am sorry, please forgive my ignorance.

1 Like

I am not offended, I just wanted to make clear that scrupulosity isn’t a sin. And there is a large volume of Catholic moral theology that deals with scrupulosity – it has been long recognized as an issue. Most comprehensive moral theology texts deal with this issue, and not as a sin but as a condition (even old ones).

The fact that you are aware of the pitfalls of scrupulosity is in and of itself a certain level of safeguard into not going down that rabbit hole. Many who suffer from scrupulosity can’t see it…they’re stuck in a feedback loop.

Philippians 2:12-13 is a good benchmark: “So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for His good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.”

Scrupulosity twists this into a labyrinth that no one can escape.


Believe me, it is much easier said than done. I can be aware of my scrupulosity and OCD, but when I start worrying, rationality falls apart.

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