"If your eye causes you to sin you cut it out"


Anybody here ever think about how far to take this? Not literally - but I have been struggling with this a lot.

When I commit a little sin, I usually find something that is important to me that may have helped cause the sin. And then I feel like maybe I have to remove these things from my life. Let’s say for example (just an example, not a personal one) you are a musician and interested in music, and you talk to somebody else about music and get so excited you maybe tell something about another person you shouldn’t have (maybe gossiped, or broken confidentiality). Woulc that mean you have to cut out music from your life now???

Or do you interpret this passage as meaning only grave sins that you feel you can’t get rid of without “cutting” something from your life?



I think this is God’s way of emphasizing the seriousness of sin. In your sample, Jesus is saying it would be better to cut out music than to keep sinning. Remember, Jesus also forgives. If you can refrain from sinning without getting rid of music than I don’t think you need to get rid of music. If you honestly can’t stop yourself from sinning it would be better to give up music. Basically, any suffering on earth for the sake of salvation is better than suffering eternal damnation.


good question, i would also like to know the answer


‘Just as the blessings promised by God are unutterably great, so their acquisition requires much hardship and toil undertaken with hope and faith. This is clear from Christ’s words: “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24); and: “he who does not hate father and mother, brothers and sisters, wife and children, and even his own soul, cannot be a disciple of mine” (Luke 14:26). Most people are so lacking in intelligence as to want to attain the great and inconceivable blessing of the kingdom of God, and to inherit eternal life and reign for ever with Christ, while living according to their own desires - or rather, according to him who sows within them these clearly noxious vanities.’

St. Symeon Metaphrastis

It is necessary to hate sin, and to hate the occasion of sin to truly be pure of heart. To die to the world, to gain Christ.

In other words, to gain Christ we often have to hate good things because they get in the way between us and Christ, and because we love them and prefer them to Christ – and so we must reject them vehemently so that we can truly love Christ interiorly, rather than merely being a facade or whitewashed tomb.

It is not evil to hate good things, it is a necessary interior adjustment so that a person only loves Christ, and that when a person perceives any good thing, he perceives it properly instead of focusing on it.

This hatred is not an intellectual desire that people come to evil, but an interior adjustment to break our own evil attachments. It is an intellectual and emotional repelling, rather than desiring for these things, a disgust to replace disordered attachment.

We ultimately have to give up every single thing we have – some perhaps we will gain back, though we will no longer perceive these things the same way – but we must give up all to God to break our attachment to it, and to put it to the test in regards to the ways it may and does make us sin.

This is why fasting and generally living a life with few belongings, for the most part only that which is necessary, mortification, etc. is so important.

The devil teaches self indulgence in the sensual pleasures, often under the guise of Christianity, as a false ‘angel of light’ or ‘wolf’. Many popular books and teachers promote these subjects. But the people who do so are anti-Christ, not Christians, awash in the world.

St. Padre Pio met at least two different blind people in his life – Both asked to be healed. One, a Jew, he healed, but only after he had been baptized and so acquired spiritual sight. The other, he refused, telling that person that if he gave the man his sight, he would lose his soul.

Physical mutilation is normally a sin so we are not allowed to indulge in it even slightly without extenuating circumstances.

But cutting off everything that is not a part of our body, there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Music, friends, family, good deeds, small things and large – anything that gets between a person and God – must go. Nothing is as important as Him.

‘For even His chastisements and His punishments are the greatest part of His beneficence, the greatest form of His providence. Whenever therefore thou seest that famines have taken place, and pestilences, and drought and immoderate rains, and irregularities in the atmosphere, or any other of the things which chasten human nature, be not distressed, nor be despondent, but worship Him who caused them, marvel at Him for His tender care.’

St. John Chrysostom

‘A great help to advancement in spiritual life is to have a friend whom you will permit to inform you of your faults.’

St. Ignatius of Loyola


Sounds like the dream stealers to me, Kathrin. I think your example is removing something that is too remote from the sin to be necessary. Even if there were no music in your life, there would still be people to talk to.

The things to be cut out need to be more connected to the sin. For example, the internet porn addict needs to get rid of internet access. The embezzling bank employee needs a different kind of job. The person whose friend is an incorrigible bad influence needs to break off the friendship. The drunk needs to stay out of bars and liquor stores, no matter how many friends he loses as a result. Do you see how closely these things are connected?

Kathrin, this is your same old fear and your same old question, posed differently. God wants you to have dreams and enjoyment and happiness in your life. You are not required to give these up if you happen to commit a sin.

Another thing, just for the scrupulous, is that your perception of what is sinful is faulty, so deciding to cut out a part of your life on the basis of thinking it’s leading you to sin, could easily be based on a mistake. Don’t let that happen. Always take it to spiritual direction before you make such a decision. And don’t worry that the priest will steal your dreams, either. :slight_smile:



Hmm… I went on the subject generally rather than a direct reply, but for so slight things – if scrupulosity is involved — it may be scrupulosity rather than wisdom to cut certain things off, i.e. seeing certain things as causative of sin rather than dealing with the real roots, and so being driven out of doing the good things you are capable of doing.

Scrupulous people pay attention to accidental details that are not really to do with the fundamentals whatsoever, and that has to be worked on rather than slicing and dicing at irrelevant distractions.

They also go to extremes instead of being proportionate and appropriate in the level of response to difficulties. :eek:


Betsy - you know me quite well by now;).

This is really something I have often thought about.

And yes, I KNOW it’s wonderful feeding ground for any “dream-stealing” parts of my brain. Because of course somehow everything you do is somehow connected to everything else in your life, and of course I would focus on the connection that would make me feel worst… that IS scrupulosity, that part I know.

A friend of mine (a very good friend, to whom I can talk very well) said once that we will always make little mistakes, and if for every little mistakes we would cut our big dreams, we wouldn’t get anywhere.

So Shin - yes I guess proportion is a main factor here.
But then this is also where I struggle. Proportion can be very subjective.
Let’s take the internet example. Ok, the porn addict needs to stay away from it if he can’t stay away from porn sites otherwise, that makes sense.
But let’s say, similar to my example above, you want to tell somebody about an internet program and you feel proud (possibly sinful) that you understand it so well, and to under^line the accomplishment, without really meaning any harm, you mention another person who had problems with it. So you may have committed two sins, probably both not mortal: Some degree of pride, and some small harmless slandering.

Ok. Does that now mean you have to remove the internet? Or remove that program from your computer, because it made you feel too proud?

Or let’s say you cook. You cook a good meal for somebody, and get compliments. You like to cook very much, it is your hobby, you enjoy learning new recipes and make people happy with good food, etc. In a weak moment you mention somebody else’s mistake, like somebody burned something etc.
Does that mean you have to give up cooking?

These kinds of things. Are they out of proportion?



Kathrin, I think you are a musician so you might not work in a typical office environment. But in a typical office environment, co-workers talk about each other, all day long and it is usually not anything pleasant that is being said.

So following your line of reasoning, I am going to have to give up my office job because there is too much backstabbing and gossipping going on and no matter how much I try to refrain from it, I occasionally fall into it. In fact, I might not ever be able to work again because most office environments are this way!


One needs to “crush” ones evil inclination through self mortification.


My dear friend

Our Blessed Lord is just trying to drive home the evil and malice of sin and how we should avoid it like the plague. Some music is no good. It’s very hard to say in general what to do. It’s best to pray for more of the gifts of the Holy Spirit so one can discern best. You can also look at these sayings in a positive light - love does no wrong, therefore love is the perfect fulfillment of the law. Love God and your neighbour and you’ve fulfilled the law perfectly. One needs to learn how to love, then do it.

Hope this is useful

God bless you:thumbsup::slight_smile:


I meant to ask generally. Music I only used as an example because I think it’s something a lot of people could relate to.

I went to confession today. It was not the priest I went to the last two times, but also one I have talked to before, who remembered me. I had a VERY VERY good confession. He understands scrupulosity too.
I seem to have been lreally ucky with priests. Or priests are just generally good!!:):thumbsup: Really.



Yes, they’re WAAAAYYY out of proportion. It’s an example of the warning I gave to the scrupulous in the earlier post. You are mistaking small imperfections for sins.

There are both positive and negative things in everyone’s life experience, and including them without malice in one’s conversation is not in any way sinful. It’s just true to life. How is it helpful or good to pretend that nothing bad ever happens?

And there’s no harm in taking moderate pleasure in one’s own accomplishments. It’s an unfortunate quirk of the language that we use the term “pride” to refer to the legitimate satisfaction we might have in our own accomplishments. Shouldn’t it make us happy when we have succeeded in learning to do something well?

Let’s see how far we have to go to make your examples really sinful.

In the first about the internet program, you would need to have no other motive than self-promotion and putting down the person about whom you spoke who had trouble with the program. Presumably, you want to tell the other person about the program in order to give them helpful information. That’s a good motive. You’re not bringing it up because you want to tell someone else how stupid the third party was who had difficulty. If you were, that would be sinful.

And BTW, as an aside, the sin of slander involves telling an untruth about someone. When you reveal an unpleasant truth about someone without a good reason, that’s called detraction. But to illustrate the fact that there is some difficulty involved in using the program by including someone else’s experience is a good enough reason, so it’s neither slander nor detraction.

In the cooking example, again you begin with good motives - to exercise your skill, to feed the hungry, and to please the people you are serving. While it might be more perfect to leave out the mention that someone once burned the same dish, it doesn’t become sinful unless you name names and mention it specifically to make the other cook look bad. “Betsy’s not nearly as good a cook as I am - she burned this when she tried to make it. She such a bad cook she shouldn’t even go in the kitchen.”

And again, your examples are only*** incidentally ***about the internet or cooking. They are not related closely enough to warrant cutting the internet or cooking out of your life. If you were required to cut something out, for these examples, it would have to be talking. That’s what’s intimately involved with the actions in question.

One of the traps of scrupulosity is making imperfections into sins and venial sins into mortal sins. You’re making some good progress with the more compulsive aspects of this, Kathrin, and, with the help of that good priest, I’m sure you’ll continue. Don’t make any decisions about avoiding parts of your life because you think they’re occasions of sin without consulting him. OK?



This is something I also feel a bit scrupulous about.
I know we have talked about sticking with the same priest.
But for example this time a different priest was in the confession room and it was also really very very helpful.
And after mass last night the priest who said the mass, to whom I have talked before, came up to me and asked how I was doing and we talked a bit too and it was so good. He is such a positive, happy, shining person.
Is it bad to talk to more than one priest? To talk to whoever is there right then, especially if it is somebody I have had good confessions with before?

Ok when I was in San Francisco again this winter, I tried to always go to confession with the same priest. That felt good. He knew me and I knew that practically every Sunday before the mass I went to he was in his confessional.

Here it’s a bit different, for example not the same priest every week.

Or what if I move again. Or like probably next month I’ll be away from here for a while.
(Ha, maybe I caught what my problem is here: Something like: I am afraid that because you said “OK?” it might mean I’ll have to say yes ok and for the rest of my life stick to it otherwise I will have lied to you.)

With a mind like this is it surprising that I have been told that I am afraid of commitment? :wink:

One priest (the one I called really positive before) once told me (not during confession, just while talking before or after mass) that if thoughts like these came up, not to dwell on whether it means I have to cut something out of my life, just live on as before and also not run to confession right away, but wait until the next confession (for example, next Saturday) and then do whatever the priest says. I told him that has really helped me: If in doubt, live on as before and not dwell on it too much.
I feel my obsessive scrupulous thoughts have become… a little bit less persistent? Like they go down again faster.

I also have a good friend (male, but not boyfriend) I can talk to, that I can just ask quickly if something sounds out of proportion and then I can stop the dwelling before it eats itself into my brain, so to say.

The priest congratulated me that I wa sdoing a bit better. That felt so good. I felt he was really happy about it too.:):slight_smile:

The friend I mentioned also thinks posting in this forum is dangerous for me. A priest said something similar once too.I have become more careful not to post too personal things, too ambiguous spiritual dilemmas. Make it more general. Difficult sometimes though. And even if I ask generally “what do you think about the bible passage so-and-so”, somebody might write something that the scruples/“dream attackers” could hatch on to… Somehow I feel a tiny bit more “above” it though.
(Not above in the sense of pride!!):wink:

Oh, interesting also: The priest at confession yesterday said scruple means little stone, gravel or something, like something you have in your shoe and it keeps bothering you… good word, really.



Well, Kathrin, you are very lucky to have three priests who understand you. That would not be expected to cause a problem unless they give you conflicting advice. From what you say, it doesn’t sound as if they are contradicting one another. Maybe you should ask them what they think about your sticking with only one of them. I’m guessing they’ll tell you that what you’re doing now is working well for you and you don’t need to change.

And it IS working well for you. I can see that you are making progress. Really.

If you say “yes” to my “OK” and then change your mind, it’s not lying, it’s changing your mind. You can’t give up your freedom to act for the rest of your life on the strength of something like this. And as we’ve said before, CHANGING YOUR MIND IS NOT LYING.

I think the main danger for you in posting here is that people who don’t understand you will give you answers that are a huge problem for you. Not that they are wrong, but that they are inappropriate for you as a scrupulous person. That happened earlier in this very thread. Some time in the future, I’m sure you will reach a point where you don’t have to ask these kinds of questions any more. Until then, it looks as if you have three choices. First, you could search all your old threads and find the answers there, since the same problems keep coming up. Or you could PM someone who has been helpful to you. Or you can post publicly and take your chances.

Maybe there’s a fourth possibility. You could, in the spirit of the Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous, simply assume that all your questions are scrupulous and you don’t have to worry about any of them. I know that sounds crazy dangerous to you, but I’ll bet that 99% of the time it would be the right thing to do.

Feel free to PM if I can help.



What you say sounds right along the lines what pretty much every priest I talked to has said.

Yes I think it is better. Except for today. Sometimes if it’s a bad day one fear fades into the next. Right now I am worried because I listened to a radio program that for me somehow could be seen as studying, and it is Sunday, and I waited to read a spiritual e-mail from somebody, so maybe it was work that hindered me from proper worship etc etc… BUT! I didn’t even do it really purposely. AND: I still read the e-mail afterward. As soon as I became aware of this, actually. AND: It may not even have been really work. Ok, I may have learned something.
So: STOP. It won’t help dwelling on this. See if I let a thought like this take root, then come the “cut it out” thoughts again, for example I would have to give up the studies again or something. Yikes, me. Ok. I wrote it down and unless you or somebody else writes “hey girl now HERE you really HAVE sinned, you have preferred listening to that program to the Lord, and maybe you have even learned something from it and so you actually worked on Sunday” should not dwell on it - ok, unlikely that somebody would say this. Sounds kind of too small an issue. But then maybe not. Ha ha. See how it goes? :wink:


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