Is Scrupulosity a Sin?

I’ve always thought that it wasn’t until I read this post a while back. Now I’m not so sure.

Scrupulosity is a condition. It is not willfully desired or sought. To persist in that condition without seeking advice or counsel might be sinful.It is a form of OCD.
Therefore, any mental or physical condition is sinful?

The author of the article is the founder of Scrupulous Anonymous.

Please do some research before putting out such a statement as “scrupulosity is a sin”.

That could be very damaging to someone who is already afflicted with this condition.

Homosexuality is a condition. Homosexual acts are sinful. Intemperance is sinful. Alcoholism is a condition and disease. Not any or every mental or physical condition is sinful. Some are.

“He who sins is a slave to sin”. Call it a condition or disease. Slavery is slavery. Jesus came to free us of sin. If we say we have no sin then He did not come for us. Maybe all sins that enslave us are OCD.

The scruplous suffer, because they are deluded by themselves or the evil one into believing they are in sin, when they are not. They refuse to believe that they are not sinful. The pope can shout at them, you are not guilty and they will not believe it.

The scrupulous would do anything to not sin. The way for a scrupulous person to escape the slavery of scruples and be free is to know that he is committing sin and needs to repent of it.

If he refuses to believe his confessor when he is told he is absolved of all sins then he lacks faith in God, in God’s mercy, in the sacrament, in the Church. He refuses to give up his burden and be freed. It may be a mental condition.

The scrupulous insists he is sinful in a thousand ways, when he is not, but denies that where he is sinful, being scrupulous is a sin.

We all try to justify our sins whatever they may be. One way is telling ourselves that our sin is not a sin. My parish priest has a parishoner come to confession every week. The confession takes almost an hour. The man is a friend of mine and he is a very holy man. He spends hours on his knees. The priest does not know what to do to help him get past the nit picking at himself. If he thinks he might not have said his rosary devoutly enough he thinks he is damned. He imagines that he might have skipped a bead or said eleven Hail Marys instead of ten. He refuses to stop flogging himself over imaginary sins. Who could not pity this man? In faith he has to believe God loves him and forgives him. If he can not accept this he can not know mercy.

Ineresting that the author would cite Saint Alphonsus di Liquouri. St. Al said he suffered the worst case of scruples of anyone in history, that it was sinful and the only way he was able to be set free of it was by obeying a confessor who forced him to accept that God forgave him. It is many years since I read his life story, but I think I recall this correctly.

This does not mean that scrupulosity is not a psychological condition also. Sin can make one crazy. The article does not say scrupulosity is not a sin, if I read it correctly, but that desperation is not a sin. Also interesting. Despair is one of the six sins against the Holy Spirit. The article does not carry any canonical influence. It expresses the opinion of the author. Scrupulosity is a sin, because the person refuses to accept mercy. It tells the person that he is unforgivable, that his sin is great than God’s mercy. It is a refusal to accept God’s love and mercy, a sin against faith, because it refuses to believe the truth that God loves and forgives us. The person makes himself his own judge, taking judgement from God.

I know a man who became suicidal as a result of suffering religious scrupulosity. He eventually abanddoned all the faith and placed himself under the care of a psychiatrist and a neurologist. I like Saint Alphonsis cure better. Confess the sin and accept the authoirty of your confessor to absolve you of scruples.

Many saints addressed scruples.

Here is a quote from Saint Joseph Cafasso to a penitient confessing this sin.

“Uneasy about your prayers? I forbid you to repeat even small parts of them. Troubled over the examination of conscience? Omit the daily examen. You want to go to confession everyday? No, once a week is enough. It is useless to make long confessions; just answer my questions, nothing more. You are afraid you did not have contrition for your sins? That regret indicates you were sorry. You went to confession to someone else last week after making your confession to me? I refuse you absolution today. Come again in a week. You did not go to Communion as often as I told you to do so? I refuse to authorize you to receive at all this week; you are not worthy; when you learn to be more obedient, I’ll tell you when you may go again. You are troubled about your preparation for Communion? Don’t make any. You should always be ready to cmmunicate. Just see if you have any venal sins, make an act of contrition, kiss a crucifx and receive without fear”.

From Bl. Julian of Norwich

“When they begin to hate sin and amend themselves to the laws of Holy Church, still there persists a fear that moves them to look at themselvesand their sins committed in the past. And they take this fear for umility, but it is a reprehensible blindness and weakness”.

Scruples have always been matter for confession. Why would that be if it were not sinful?

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks and God bless

I’m an atheist. And yes, it’s a sin.

And it really makes me upset when I see my Catholic friends fussing over accidently saying “Gosh darnit” when they stub their toe.

Exalt –

You don’t know what kind of “scruples” we’re talking about. We’re not talking about being overly careful not to sin; we’re talking about an obsessive-compulsive condition. The kind of remark you just made could make someone with this kind of scruples unable to function for days on end. So please, don’t post unless you know what you’re posting about.

Re: the original topic –

Scruples is not a sin. Some of the attitudes that feed into scruples may be sinful, but it’s primarily a psychological condition.

Scruples is brought to the confessional not because it is a sin, but because the father confessor or spiritual advisor needs to know about the condition in order not to exacerbate it. A priest is also in a unique position of authority that aids in the treatment of scruples.

How could scrupulosity be a sin when the scrupulous person is mentally disabled in this matter? Disobeying the confessor who is working with a scrupulous person could be an act of disobedience. To overcome this disorder, the subject must absolutely trust and obey the directions of their confessor. To do otherwise is to head in the direction of despair and other nasty consequences.

the work cited from St. Alphonse was specifically relating to his own spirituality, not a blanket condemnation of scrupulosity as a sin.

anyone who fears they may suffer from this spiritual problem should find a good confessor and spiritual director, confess only to that priest, follow only the counsel of that priest and director, read only the spiritual reading and undertake only the spiritual exercises (beyond the norm, Mass, sacraments, daily prayer etc). prescribed by their confessor or director.

they should never consult third parties, priest-shop, spirituality-hop, and especially should stay off internet forums where they discuss and ask advice about their personal sins, struggles and spirituality. It will not be helpful, and will probably be damaging to do so.

there are links, probably above, on the the spirituality forum to rules and assitance for the scrupulous.

above all, participants on a Catholic internet forum, should avoid the presumptuous arrogont posture of telling another individual directly: you are a sinner, you are sinning, your action was sinful.
the most we can do here is clearly state, with authorotative links if possible, Church teaching on a moral issue or question. No one outside the priest in the confessional has the right to tell another individual he is sinning, or to attempt to diagnose the state of his soul–any more than we have the right to offer gratuituous medical or psychological diagnosis to a specific individual.

An atheist, indeed! Now that likely IS a sin.

No theologian am I - but scrupulous, I am, and have been for years.

It’s not a sin - it’s a cross. It’s not a matter of not listening to our confessors - we scrupulous people DO listen to our confessors. But perhaps, if there’s sin at all, it’s that it finally gets to us so badly - we stop going - to confession and the sacraments - not because we don’t want the sacraments…Trust an expert, there’s a great desire to receive daily - the Blessed Sacrament. But there’s no greater cross than after going to confession feeling you’ve committed some sin (while trying to overcome the hurdles and obey your confessor’s advice) - and perhaps not make it to the Communion rail - for fear of committing a sin and then sacrilege if you receive.

There’s no sin - but there’s a cross - and for some of those who are scrupulous - understanding their Faith - that cross is heavy.

Rule of thumb: Unless one, upon reflection, can say with moral certainty: “I have committed a mortal sin,” one should approach the Sacrament of the Altar and receive, saying: “Lord, let the reception of Your Body be not to my condemnation but to the health of my mind and body.” Do not make what is venial, mortal. I know from experience that if I have committed a serious sin, I am sure of it. If however I am careless in my life with venial sin, it sometimes doesn’t seem appropriate to approach the Sacrament because of a lack of reverent humility. Then, it is that I must recollect myself, resolve to do better and take the Holy Eucharist Which is the Medicine for my soul. Trust. We must decrease, He must increase. Amen.

Originally Posted by Conservative
No theologian am I - but scrupulous, I am, and have been for years.

It’s not a sin - it’s a cross. It’s not a matter of not listening to our confessors - we scrupulous people DO listen to our confessors. But perhaps, if there’s sin at all, it’s that it finally gets to us so badly - we stop going - to confession and the sacraments - not because we don’t want the sacraments…Trust an expert, there’s a great desire to receive daily - the Blessed Sacrament. But there’s no greater cross than after going to confession feeling you’ve committed some sin (while trying to overcome the hurdles and obey your confessor’s advice) - and perhaps not make it to the Communion rail - for fear of committing a sin and then sacrilege if you receive.

There’s no sin - but there’s a cross - and for some of those who are scrupulous - understanding their Faith - that cross is heavy.

this is totaly me, what can i do? it is a cross.

Saint Francis de Sales took the following action with his very severe problem with scruples. He refused to leave prayer until the matter was solved, finally praying that even should he go to hell, yet would he praise God. In that moment, embracing his cross, God relieved him of his malady of scrupulosity. Scrupulosity can be a psychological debility. Scrupulosity can be a burden and as such often afflicts beginners in the spiritual life. Finally one must cease to be the focus of oneself and NOT rely on one’s feelings for the just man lives by faith. Do the right thing, as they say in AA, and the feelings will follow. And if they don’t, well count yourself blessed to share our Lord’s desolation.

thank you Xip i will pray more, God Bless you!

This site may help…

I have Tourrette’s Syndrome and a very mild case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I think this causes me to be generally scrupulous, but nothing extreme. Last school year, I had a lot of things going on during my senior year of high school, I was applying for college, etc. It was a very stressful time. This caused my scrupulosity to go to an extreme level. It got to where I would write down everything that I thought might be a sin. Many of them weren’t sins. Many of them I had already confessed, but I would think, what if I confessed them in the wrong way? What if I wasn’t completely truthful? I started to write down practically every sin I had committed in my whole life. Eventually, I could literally feel all of these things that I thought were sins inside my chest. It was exhausting. I eventually got my medication adjusted, and I was back to normal. It was probably one of the most difficult things I have ever gone through in my life, and it only lasted a couple of days. I can’t imagine how hard life is for people who live with severe cases of scrupulosity.

If you do, don’t let it turn you away from God. I think I’ve heard St. Ignatius suffered from scrupulosity. Pray to him. You can read other posts on here by searching for scrupulosity. They can give you direction. Find a good priest that you trust, and tell him your situation in confession.

Good luck and I will pray for you.

First, I’ve heard of Tourrette’s and, in turn, feel for you as well. Yes, life is difficult for certain cases of scrupulosity - particularly, when people all but give up on out of exasperation trying to help.

And yes, I tell the priest - so that he can better understand how to deal with my confession. I won’t let it turn me away from God - I just BEG for God’s help since I’m my own worst enemy. Thanks for the prayers. May God bless you, too!

Thank you Conservative, I think your post hit the nail on the head. Being scrupulous is a cross and a heavy one to bear. In my experience, I think is a vice that can be capitalized upon by satan. He will use it against you and make you think that you are a bad person not worthy of God’s grace. Don’t fall into the trap. Pray hard that you may not fall because this is a powerful thing.

Sigh—I’ve suffered for years, but medication finally helped a lot! Mine was triggered by depression and panic attacks. Although I used to torment myself and wonder what came first, like "the chicken or the egg? " :confused:

God would always give me “life lines” to hold onto when my mind would run wild. One that’s always stuck with me was a quote from St. Alphonsus Ligouri, “Surely noone who prays will be lost”.

O, Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have Mercy On Us!

Scrupulosity IS NOT A SIN, but a sickness. I have suffered from Scrupulosity for many years and thanks to a Redemptorist priest, he really helped me. He gave me a special formula to use and said NEVER make an examination of conscience or a GENERAL CONFESSION. WHy bring up the past when they are forgiven?
The Redemportist have a monthly newsletter free of charge called.“Scrupulous Anonymous” and is excellent. If some one wants copies of these, the address is: Fr Preston Westly
Scrupulous Anonymous
One Liguori Dr
Liguori, MO 63057
I also have OCD which is related to scrupulosity. I have been to a psychiatrist and given medication, but NONE of the meds work.
The best thing for me to do is follow the advice of my confessor and as he told me, he would NEVER give me wrong advice. Whenever you go to a different priest tell him you are scrupulous and shared your condition with your spirituaal director and are using this formula and you are NOT to go into anything else. We have to place our trust in God’s mercy and forgiveness. So, please do NOT consider beingf scrupulous a sin because it is NOT. Thank you and may the Divine Mercy shower His mercies and graces on you. Charles A Rose

Well said, Charles. Interestingly, OCD meds for OCD didn’t work for scrupulosity? Hmmm…Sounds like evil at work when it comes to the spiritual side, right? Good post.

Dear Conservative:

After reading your brief comment, scrupulosity is NOT evil.
Do you think that God would give us something evil. You better pray about it, because scrupulosity is a sickness and I offer my scrupulosity for the poor sinners in purgatory. I suggest that you spend more time in prayer or seek the advice of a good spiritual director.

As I said, please write for a copy of the newsletter I mentioned.

If you think about it, GOd is not out there to punish us. God had to suffer, so why shouldn’t we suffer.

There is a very powerful devotion called, THE DIVINE MERCY. It is a powerful devotion and CHAPLET to recite daily. I am a member of the Eucharist Apostle of the DIvine Mercy through the Marian Priests.

Talk to your priest and lease remember, scrupulosity IS NOT EVIL. There are many saints who suffered from this. I can tell you this because I use to be in the seminary studying for the Catholic priesthood.

Be at peace.

Charles A Rose

Dear Charles -
Either you misinterpreted or I mistyped my reply.
What I was trying to convey is that scrupulosity is caused by evil (the Evil One - since I hate to use his name)…it’s a tool that I believe is used to keep us away from the Sacraments. Scrupulosity, in and of itself, is a spiritually debilitating sickness, which so many tell us to snap out of - or as you say - pray, etc. But it’s like being stuck on flypaper - no matter how hard we try - really tough to break loose.

I think you misinterpreted what I was trying to convey.
God’s Peace be to you, too.

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