Is it possible to be scrupulous and lax at the same time?


I find myself committing sins of thought. I say sins, but sometimes they are just bad/evil thoughts which I do not like, have no desire to dwell on, and wish they just weren’t there. But at the same time, I don’t always seek to banish them immediately. It’s like I let some of them sit some of the time, because perhaps they fit with my mental state. Let me explain further.

I’ll give an example: when I am in the kitchen with my mum, sometimes she irritates me, often because she doesn’t hear what I am saying, or I don’t understand what she is saying, or I think she is fussing, or whatever, and I’ll have these evil thoughts. Many times I won’t seek to banish them immediately, and I let them sit there, adding to my irritation. I think this is something I really need to work on.

But my question is, is it possible to be scrupulous and lax at the same time? The reason I ask is because, although there wasn’t a desire to sin grievously at the time, I still feel there was sin there, and then I wonder if it was a mortal sin, to which my answer is, I couldn’t be sure. But then I think, maybe I am lax, because maybe I don’t take the sins of thought seriously enough, such that I would realise that it *was *grave matter and do something about it, rather than let evil thoughts linger in my mind to match my mental state at the time, e.g. annoyance/agitation etc…?


Hmm… personally, I would say I am VERY scrupulous in some areas and rather lax in others… I don’t think that is what you are talking about though…
Isn’t it more about not being sure whether you are being scrupulous or being lax?
Like: You think something is a sin, then you think probably you are just being scrupulous, but then again you wonder if maybe thinking you are just being scrupulous is being too lax?

Caution here: These circles of thoughts are very common in scrupulosity…

There have been a lot of posts about bad thoughts and what constitutes dwelling on them, when does “dwelling” start, etc… if the thoughts are intrusive they could be a form of OCD and you don’t want them at all, and still, the thought may come up “did I linger a tiny bit too long now maybe?” and then the lingering itself becomes intrusive.
And trying to banish intrusive thoughts immediately may be coutnerproductive and make them even more intrusive - which doesn’t mean you should linger on them, but accept them, not take them so seriously, be aware that they are intrusive thoughts…

Now getting angry at somebody is probably something we pretty much all have had happen to us… a thought of irritation, somebody getting on our nerves… I am not sure if that is sinful or not but I would say certainly not mortally sinful unless you choose definitely, willfully, with evil intentions, to be angry at somebody.
And if you are prone to intrusive thoughts of course the momentary angry thoughts may get hooked up with all kinds of “evil” thoughts, things you think you might do to that person or wish on that person or whatever, but really you don’t WANT those thoughts - that means they are intrusive, unwanted thoughts, even if they originated in a moment of real irritation.

Not saying I am an expert or anything but I know quite a bit about OCD and have suffered from scrupulosity for a long time myself…



Thank you Kathrin, that is a very helpful reply.

I do have OCD. But I am also a sinner, as I remind myself often.

Some of the unwanted thoughts I have are of a variety of kinds. Sometimes they are out of the blue and entirely ‘unsolicited’, other times they are as a result of anger and annoyance, and ‘match’ my emotions at the time, which makes me think they are indeed sinful.

I began this thread thinking/assuming it wasn’t possible to be both, now I am thinking it may well be possible.


You gotta be careful though, you know.
Your OCD may want to give you a hard time by telling you you may be too lax while you’re really very scrupulous.


Trouble is I can’t be sure! lol I guess that’s why they call it the doubting disease.

I found this useful:

Scrupulosity: The Occupational Hazard of the Catholic Moral Life


Dear Bobolink, that is scrupulosity. The scrupulous person continuously believes that they are too lax. You will get one piece of advice around here, please follow it:

Find ONE confessor, and obey him without question.

Are you seeing someone for your OCD? (I’m not looking for an answer)


Yes that is the main advice offered and I agree with it. Unfortunately, I now have two priests arranged to help me… which is not good. One said he’d look into the issue for me, the other said he’d be happy to talk to me about it.

Bit of a mess really.

On a related note, I do see someone for OCD and they said to dwell on the intrusive thoughts: this to me is not acceptable, as one cannot do evil so good may come of it. Dwelling on the thoughts would be sinful, in my view. Yet this is a treatment for OCD. Dwelling on the thoughts rather than pushing them out. I find that sometimes I’m like walking on eggshells and very anxious which actually makes the thoughts worse, I believe.

(Also, as this is a big problem for many, I can recommend Scrupulous Anonymous, as well as that advice of finding a single priest to confess to!)

See me - offering advice to others, but it’s so true!!! This is in reality a very distressing problem for many people, who do love God genuinely, but are burdened with this, which robs joy from the soul.


If you don’t think you are in a state of mortal sin, can you give yourself the benefit of the doubt? I often would be thinking along these lines:

‘‘I may be in a state of mortal sin, but I am not sure so shall not receive Holy Communion just in case.’’

I’d then seek to go to confession.

However, I also think, perhaps I am just lax, maybe I am in a state of mortal sin, but am trying to kid myself or else I am lax and just don’t see the sins for what they are?

It seems to me that you could be in a state of mortal sin, but think you are not. Does this mean that you are or are not in a state of mortal sin? To be in a state of mortal sin, do you have to necessarily know about it? It sometimes seems to me as if it depends on feelings, but I know this is not the case. For me it seems like to commit mortal sin is a matter of the will - is that correct?


I read that for scrupulous people it’s best to assume you’re NOT in a state of mortal sin unless you are sure you are. That is, if you think you MAY just be scrupulous, you most likely are!
Should talk about this with a priest first though!



Hey, I have the same issues, too. Try reading Fr. Thomas Santa’s book, Understanding Scrupulosity. It has helped me tremendously.

Best of luck to you, too.:slight_smile:


To my mind that could be wishful thinking. As in you might actually be in a state of mortal sin but due to your lax conscience or self-delusion or even denial about your soul state. Maybe your sins don’t bug you as much as they should or maybe you just don’t take your sins seriously enough. I mean me of course.This is what I’m thinking. Which is why scrupulosity, and laxity, or just not taking your sins seriously, could go together.

Cheers for that - you have been the final straw in my decision to purchase that book!


Dear Bobo, please talk to you confessor. I know you have recently been to two priests, but after a short, very short, period of prayer, you need to move down to one. The other one will understand, he will not be offended. He knows you are scrupulous and what you need to do.

Speak to your confessor about what you have said above, and also consider Commandment 9 and 6 of the Scrupulous regarding your concern.



Kathrin: I have read those commandments. I am hopefully going to see one of the priests shortly, the other one I’m not quite sure when I will see him.

Spirithound: thanks for your advice.


[quote=Kathrin]Hmm… personally, I would say I am VERY scrupulous in some areas and rather lax in others… I don’t think that is what you are talking about though…

While it isn’t the main theme of this thread I think being scrupulous in some areas and not in others is very interesting and confusing to the person involved, their famaily and friends and to confessors.

Then there’s another aspect - being scrupulous some of the time but not at other times. This must also be confusing.

A personal example of the later is if I am tired, stressed or had a run in with someone I can go over and over trying to make sure I had said exactly what I mean and used the correct tone etc. When things are going fine I don’t do this.


Stress is definitely something that makes it worse for me too.
When I am stressed I am more worried that something might come up and try to prevent anything from coming up, but that usually makes it more likely…:hypno:



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