I think I listened to my heart


I have a probelm with feeling too responsible for other people.
But besides that I also AM a person who wants to help and share.

I helped a woman again, gave her money for a bus ticket. Even though I knew that friends/family would not agree. I decided to help her again because I could and I believed her.

Last week I talked to a priest about her and he said to only give her only a little bit and not make her dependent, that it was ok not to feel responsible for her.

But today I helped her anyway.
Even though I felt bead because somehow I also went against what the priest had said. I wonder if I sinned now? I don’t think so, because I had good intentions. I don’t think this was just scrupulosity/compulsion. My friend says it makes him sad because I encourage bad behavior (e.g. if the woman is lying, or took the risk to come here without enough money to get back). I was between a rock and a hard place somehow. I believed her and like her and I think I did the right thing… or not… I am not sure. I think I listened to my heart. Is it ok to give if a priest suggests better not to…
(I tried to call him but he wasn’t home. Then I left him a message saying what I had done.)



Do not listen to your emotions, they are not constant. Listen, instead, to your conscience, for it is the Voice of God. You can hear God’s Voice if you recollect.

The sin depends: did the priest give you advise or did he order you? If it was the former, it is not a sin. If it was the latter, it is the sin of disobedience.


The wisest thing to do if that happens again is to keep a list of the agencies that help the needy and direct the person there. Give to support that agency, perhaps the St Vincent de Paul at your Parish.

If there are no such agencies in your area, then do not give out cash. If the woman needs a bus ticket, walk to the counter and buy a non-refundable ticket for her.


Kathrin, I can hardly see your action as being sinful given your motivation to help. I agree with Eucharisted that it would only be a sin if you directly disobeyed your priest after asking him for advice.

The question of whether you should continue to give should be based not on you and your needs, but on the woman’s needs. You know that you are truly giving unselfishly if you can say with certainty that your gifts are not in violation of your conscience that tells you that you are being taken advantage of, and if you can say with certainty that you are not enabling this woman to continue in her sin.

If you can say with certainty that your gift will not cause this woman to continue in her own sin, then it is within your discretion to give. If you believe after careful consideration of all of the facts that your gifts enable dependency or sin in some way that doesn’t truly help this woman, then you should stop. If that is the case, then your giving is undermining both you and the person you are giving to.


I think the priest gave me advice, he didn’t order me. How would I know he ordered me though? Giving advice and speaking an order can sound quite similar… we were only talking on the phone that time.

Angels Unaware, that is kind of what my friend said I was doing: Enabling the woman. He said that was not the Christian thing to do. But I don’t agree! Ok, my friend looks out for me too, he knows I tend to be very very giving and maybe sometimes naive, and he sees that I live very simply myself, so it’s not like I am a millionnaire or something who could just walk around hand out money ;-). My friend thinks this is part of a pathology in me, this having to give, not being able to pass anyone sometimes.

Now this woman comes from another country and she was here before and I paid for her to go back. She says she has children and things in her country are very bad socially, financially. She said that time that she wanted to come back again to make money here so she can send something home. Aparently this time somebody had a job offer for her, but it didn’t work out, so she was playing in the street again and sometimes not even making enough money for herself to spend the night (no free homeless shelter in our town).
Yesterday I talked to her and she seemed desperate, she said there was a bus going today and the next only on Sunday, I was really wavering, I felt sorry for her… OF COURSE it was her own responsibility, coming here again, she should have known… but she also said this time she wouldn’t come back like that anymore, I think she wants to try and stay there with her children (they are staying with her Mom). I wanted to call this priest I had talked to and ask him for advice, I was so tempted to just give her the money for a ticket, I went to my bank and looked at my balance and saw I had more than enough for my own vacation next week and it wouldn’t hurt me to give her the money.
I couldn’t reach the priest so I took her with me to go look for him, and she came all the way to the church, and we talked a bit on the streetcar (for which she paid herself), and finally I sat down on a bench next to her and explained to her that I had looked at my balance and seen that I could afford to help her again. I felt I did the right thing. I was going to get her the ticket directly but I am working today. Turns out though that the bus leaves after I get off work, and yes, she WANTS me to come and see her off. Isn’t that a sign she is telling the truth? I am not sure if I’ll make it but I can try.

Ok, enough, long story, sorry ;).



I think the only sin being committed here is your pestering your priest incessantly about your own emotional conflicts. The priest gave you very clear cut advice. You chose to disregard it, based on your conversation with the woman and your financial ability to help. You can’t read minds to know if she is lying, but you trusted her, it seemed a good, helpful action, so you bought the ticket. You made a prudential decision with all the facts and your own values considered. That is good. The disturbing thing is phone calls to the priest, voicemail, dragging this woman to church with you to find him, etc. It seems to be you are a bit obsessed about this needy woman. There are many good options suggested to you here, none are sinful. The priest also gave good advice. It’s up to you to balance the factors. Get a bit of a grip and don’t be a burden to a busy priest every single time you have a simple decision to make.


Charity hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things. I too did something similar to your story. After the morning mass this morning someone who had also attended mass asked me if I drove. I answered with the question, do you need a ride which ultimately led me to drop him off where he needed to go. In the car ride, he mentioned his sleeping bag’s zipper being caught and probably needing to exchange it for a replacement. Immediately I thought I could buy him a new sleeping bag but I didn’t do that. In the car ride, he was also sharing with me that he had the gift of healing. After I dropped the man off, he left with a joke almost like he had been deceiving me the whole time. But then I had a brilliant idea which was to go and buy this man a sleeping bag and drop it off at the Cornerstone rescue mission (which is where I dropped him off) which I did. Sometimes I too get the thought that I am being used. But a flood of things from the church come to mind-- especially St. Paul’s Charity being the greatest; The teaching of giving to those that cannot repay; And the multitude of saints such as St. Francis giving his wealth away. If she were your mother and she was sinning, what would you do for her? Ultimately life is spending time with God and doing what Christ would do. =)


I do feel a bit bad about calling the priest so many times. :frowning:
Fortunately, maybe, he knows that I struggle with severe scrupulosity, and we have talked about that before.
On the other hand I know he has been very very busy.

I guess if I go to confession with him Saturday, I’ll have to confess a sin I committed against him…

I didn’t mean to do something bad though. I was caught in a compulsive thing a bit, ok. Compulsive/scrupulous in the sense that I felt guilty about going against the priest’s advice even though I wanted to help the woman. Felt like I had to ask his permission. It became one of the scrupulous spirals… he knows I have been struggling with this though. He has told me before I can call if I am not sure I committed a sin. I haven’t been doing that very much.
I think I was desperate that evening. :frowning:

I am still glad I helped the woman. Even though the people around me tend to think it was wrong.



My dear, this is just a suggestion, I don’t know you well, but sometimes what seems to be a spiritual struggle is a psychological or medical one. Severe scrupulosity is often a symptom of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is a medical condition that has to do with brain chemistry, it is not anything to be ashamed of, and can be treated. You may want to talk to your doctor and see about a referral to a specialist in that area. Sometimes compulsive behavior is not under our control, and if we are not able to exercise our will freely due to illness, that diminishes or even negates the sin. So do not be hard on yourself.



thanks. I do know that. I have had other bad OCD-type phases. I am still taking medication too.



Re: asking the priest

One of the traditional ways of treating “scruples” (the OCD-ish spiritual disease) is indeed to have the priest command the sufferer about all sorts of matters. So it’s likely that your priest is familiar with this sort of situation, and there’s no need to feel bad about your wish to consult him about all this stuff in order to be sure.

Re: giving the money

There’s all sorts of schools of thought on giving money and other things to beggars or people in need. As long as you’re not giving away what you owe to others, or what you need for your own life and welfare, you can give alms. It’s for you to decide what to do about these things, and it’s for you to decide to consult other people. I don’t think you can make a wrong decision here; they are all correct ones.


I went to confession today.
Not that priest was there but one who is from the same monastery and is familiar with the situation too. I think it’s ok. :slight_smile:



Dear Kathrin,

God bless you for helping!


~~ the phoenix


Dear Kathrin
You are a good person a good desciple to Christ.By your actions you are being a good example of a Catholic and more importantly an excellent desciple to Our Lord.Did Jesus not teach us to look after those who cannot?It is one of the teachings of the Catholic church.I always give to homeless and refugee families.If i am being taken advantage of so be it, I am doing what Jesus taught me to do.It would be a sin to walk away also very un-christian and un-catholic and unkind.I sponsor a child in Uganda,give monthly to Cancer research and Cafod.I have fostered 2 sisters for 4 years whose mum died.One is back in care now but i retained parental resposibility to show this child i still care…by the way the other sister …gave me a grandson she is my middle sons partner!!!God works in mysterious ways.God Bless keep up the good work.Money is not the only way of helping people either.


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