How do you know if it's scrupulosity or you just don't know what you're doing?


#1

I have been a Catholic since 2004, but I have only been going to confession regularly for less than a year, regularly being about once a month. Sometimes more, under unusual circumstances, but that has only happened a couple of times, when I didn't mention something I felt I should mention. However, what I didn't mention, while serious, was not objectively a mortal sin.

When I came into the Church, I wasn't given really good information about making a good confession, and was not instructed to make a general confession at that time. I came from a very active Prot. lay ministry background that was very much of the "everything is sin and it all sends you to hell" variety. My instruction for my first confession was to confess whatever, going back however long I chose. Consequently, my first confession, while being the best I knew to do at the time was objectively pretty much a hot mess. Since then, that matter has been taken care of.

The reason I ask about scrupulosity is because I find myself really focusing on my next confession and trying to figure out what I will need to confess about two weeks before my next confession. Which is better than the two hours it used to be.

I also use several examinations of conscience, in case I might have missed something. What I don't know is if this is a problem with scrupulosity, or just a matter of someone who is relatively new to regular confession finally beginning to figure out what to do, and what to confess - what is sin and what is a character imperfection. As far as mortal vs venial, I know all the definations, but how that breaks down in relation to my life, it's not so easy. Mainly because the reality is that I never want to deliberately do anything to offend God or harm our relationship. Which removes one of the three conditions necessary for mortal sin to be mortal sin - willfullness. Which means I don't (knowingly) commit mortal sin. Which means I don't commit mortal sin, since you have to know it's a mortal sin before you do it. Which sounds awful prideful to say.

I don't know if I am being scurpulous, or if I just haven't really been to confession all that much and I'm still learning what is what. I could ask my confessor or my spiritual director, but...I don't go to confession again for 3 more weeks, and I don't see my spiritual director for a few more days. And I'd rather get a feel for the answer from a nice anonymous forum.:shrug:
Thanks!
Kris


#2

I don't see anything in your post that indicates scrupulosity. It sounds more like, as you said, you're fairly new to this and you just want to be sure you do it right. And there's certainly nothing wrong with that.


#3

[quote="klm120861, post:1, topic:321494"]
I don't know if I am being scurpulous, or if** I just haven't really been to confession all that much and I'm still learning what is what**.

[/quote]

It's great that you're going to confession more often and approaching the sacrament with such care. As God heals you, more and more opens up within you, and you learn more about yourself and about confession. It's just that it's still new to you--keep learning!.:)


#4

[quote="klm120861, post:1, topic:321494"]
I have been a Catholic since 2004, but I have only been going to confession regularly for less than a year, regularly being about once a month. Sometimes more, under unusual circumstances, but that has only happened a couple of times, when I didn't mention something I felt I should mention. However, what I didn't mention, while serious, was not objectively a mortal sin.

When I came into the Church, I wasn't given really good information about making a good confession, and was not instructed to make a general confession at that time. I came from a very active Prot. lay ministry background that was very much of the "everything is sin and it all sends you to hell" variety. My instruction for my first confession was to confess whatever, going back however long I chose. Consequently, my first confession, while being the best I knew to do at the time was objectively pretty much a hot mess. Since then, that matter has been taken care of.

The reason I ask about scrupulosity is because I find myself really focusing on my next confession and trying to figure out what I will need to confess about two weeks before my next confession. Which is better than the two hours it used to be.

I also use several examinations of conscience, in case I might have missed something. What I don't know is if this is a problem with scrupulosity, or just a matter of someone who is relatively new to regular confession finally beginning to figure out what to do, and what to confess - what is sin and what is a character imperfection. As far as mortal vs venial, I know all the definations, but how that breaks down in relation to my life, it's not so easy. Mainly because the reality is that I never want to deliberately do anything to offend God or harm our relationship. Which removes one of the three conditions necessary for mortal sin to be mortal sin - willfullness. Which means I don't (knowingly) commit mortal sin. Which means I don't commit mortal sin, since you have to know it's a mortal sin before you do it. Which sounds awful prideful to say.

I don't know if I am being scurpulous, or if I just haven't really been to confession all that much and I'm still learning what is what. I could ask my confessor or my spiritual director, but...I don't go to confession again for 3 more weeks, and I don't see my spiritual director for a few more days. And I'd rather get a feel for the answer from a nice anonymous forum.:shrug:
Thanks!
Kris

[/quote]

Hi Kris,

I think that this is maybe best left to a good spiritual director... but based on what I understand, taking Confession and sin seriously, and not wanting to offend God, is not the same as scrupulosity. Scrupulosity is when you always feel unsure if you really consented to a sin or not, and never know, and you think many things are sinful which aren't sinful at all (for example, if you have a temptation and DIDN'T consent, you still always feel like you have, and can't really tell the difference). That's my understanding at least...

we should take sin seriously though. If you look at the Saints.. they took sin and Confession really seriously. But they weren't scrupulous. Scrupulosity also often involves a distrust in God's Mercy, but the Saints had great trust in it. I suggest maybe reading about them :) that could help.

Regarding mortal sin - I think the willful consent is just consenting to the sin... doesn't have to be expressly rejecting God as in thinking about God at that moment. Simply by choosing the sin, the person is rejecting God, already. For example, let's say I gossipped about someone to such a degree that it ruined their reputation in a serious way. It would be willful consent if I simply recognize that gossip is wrong but STILL choose to do it. My line of thought could go like this: "I know this is wrong... but this person really deserves it.. etc". Even if I didn't think "I know that this would take me away from God..." it's still choosing it (because we know that sin does that and what sin means), if you choose it, even if you didn't really think about God at the time. If you knew something is gravely wrong and breaks the Commandments, but still freely did it (as opposed to accidently, like accidently getting an angry feeling but then rejecting it when you're aware of it) - then in my understanding it's a mortal sin. It could be thoughts or actions, but with thoughts, it depends on whether it's a temptation that you reject, or if you actually consented to it.

As to your situation and whether you sin mortally or not, that is obviously beyond my knowledge! :) If you don't want to offend God with your actions and so don't choose to do those gravely wrong actions, then that's great! :)

(generally speaking: of course if someone still chooses to do the actions, and thinking sin won't offend God, they would be mistaken.)

Hope that helps! If I said something incorrectly, someone please correct me... I might ask elsewhere to make sure I explained it correctly.

and it's fine to think about how to avoid sin, etc, we should be thinking about this, not just 5 minutes before Confession, but I mean it shoudn't be in a scrupulous way.. we should think about how to grow in virtue, how to love God, and sometimes He might show us something we could improve on.

God bless! :)


#5

[quote="klm120861, post:1, topic:321494"]

The reason I ask about scrupulosity is because I find myself really focusing on my next confession and trying to figure out what I will need to confess about two weeks before my next confession. Which is better than the two hours it used to be.

Kris

[/quote]

One of the things that I find helpful is to do an examination of conscience at the end of the day. That helps to remember what failings I had during the day and helps bring them to mind when I get ready to go to confession.

Along with the examination of conscience, I also try to remember what little victories and helps came from God. These I thank Him for. It helps me to remember that He is not far away.

Peace


#6

First of all, I'd just like to say that your post was one of the most careful and deliberative ones I've read here on CAF! For that reason, I agree with others that I see no signs of scrupulosity. Confession takes a lot of getting used to, and I'm glad things are getting better.

I really don't have much advice other than to say what Monica posted...she hit the nail right on the head!

Other than that, my only suggestion would be to really think about what you need to confess a day, or maybe two, before your confession. That way, you're not making venial sins into mortal ones by letting them mull over in your head to long.

And, I may be way off on this, but I think it was one of the St. Theresas who said (and I'm paraphrasing) "When you commit a mortal sin, you'll know it." The serious stuff: I doubt you'll forget it by confession time.

God bless! :)


#7

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