Issues arising from my legalism (traffic laws, school rules, rock music, working on Sunday)


I joined the forums this afternoon, and I posted an introduction. I mentioned that I have mild scrupulosity/legalism/perfectionism, and I have a few questions that have really been bugging me recently. All I want to know is the truth. Does the Church have anything to say about this? Please specify whether you think each is a mortal sin, venial sin, imperfection, or nothing at all.

  1. What about exceeding speed limits by 0-5 mph in perfectly safe conditions, or in conditions where the traffic is overwhelmingly driving above the speed limit?
  2. What about things such as not using turn signal? I recently learned that I am required to signal 100 feet before every turn, even on my bike! If there is absolutely no traffic around, is it sinful to refrain from signaling or stopping at a stop sign, especially if I am on my bike?
  3. I often ride my bike through apartment complexes that I just realized are private property. There is a sign that says no thru traffic, but I think it is mainly directed at cars. There is a sort of gate, but bikes and pedestrians can easily go around it. I have gone through there consistently for over a year and no one has ever told me not to come through, and I have seen other non-residents pass through it. Most importantly, it is the safest way to get back into my neighborhood.
  4. What about school rules? I have heard from principal not to use cell phones in the bathroom/locker room, but sometimes I need to get in touch with my parents or check on something else, and this is the only way. It is not technically in the rulebook, however, and I have seen others doing it. Also, we are also not supposed to use cell phones during school hours without teacher permission, but in some places people do and the teachers never say anything. What about these situations?
  5. I enjoy listening to rock music, but sometimes there are a few bad words and unchristian themes. I try to avoid anything blatantly anti-Christian, but it is hard to do. I must emphasize that I listen because I enjoy the music, not because I want to embrace the ideas of the music. Is it a sin if I don’t change the station every time any bad word etc. comes up? Do you think I should stop listening to The Vengeful One by Distrurbed []](]), even though I listen to it because I like the music, not necessarily the ideas?
  6. Finally, what about working on Sunday? I always try to avoid doing school work, yard work, cleaning, etc. on Sunday, but often I question whether it is OK to do something on Sunday. I know that going to Mass is the most important thing. I read that letting other things like sports and hobbies affect your Sunday schedule, i.e. when you go to Mass, is a sin. Is this correct? To what degree should I abstain from work on Sunday?

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate these responses. I have just been so confused about all this and praying about it for so long. It stresses me out and it is starting to damage the quality of my life. I absolutely want to follow God’s law, but I know that Jesus told the Pharisees to overall follow the spirit of the law. Once again, please mention whether you think each is a mortal sin, venial sin, imperfection, or nothing at all.

Sorry if this is the wrong section to post, I am new here.

God Bless,

Listen to Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, The Eagles…you won’t hear bad words & hear some good music.

You better do your school work on Sunday, especially if there’s a test on Monday! :wink:

God understands our problems. He doesn’t expect us to neglect our necessities because it’s Sunday. Go to Mass & then do what must be done.

Thank you so much for replying! You make a good point.

You need objective spiritual help, because there is nothing “mild” in your questions. That is full-on scrupulosity in my opinion.

Please talk to your priest and tell him of your scrupulous its issues.,l none of the things you have questioned are sins.

Thank you for your reply. You are right, I need spiritual guidance. Please pray for me.

I feel for you in your scruples. Just remember Christ’s suggestion that there is nothing wrong with rescuing a working animal on the Sabbath. Don’t stress the little things. Road rules are for safety. God gave us common sense for most situations in life. Just as essential work is not sinful on Sunday; nor is home work or study. God does not judge us with a slide rule; but with a loving Heart. Don’t be too harsh on Brother ***. Find happiness in your relationship with Christ. He doesn’t care if we walk on the cracks. God Bless.

Dear Nathan,
As others have mentioned, none of your concerns are sinful.

  1. We are to go with the flow of traffic, and the speed of traffic, so sometimes we need to exceed the limits.
  2. not signaling is not sinful, but it’s not very smart. A car can come out of nowhere suddenly, and it’s always smart to signal. It’s good practice too.
  3. why would this be a sin? Not following a vague regulation is not a sin.
  4. not following school rules, when you have a good reason – like contacting your parents – is not sinful.
  5. as someone else said, try to avoid nonChristian music. There is plenty of good music without cursing in it.
  6. we are not Protestants, who are forbidden to work on Sunday. But it’s best on Sundays to enjoy mass, family time, relaxation such as sports, and good deeds such as visiting the sick, nursing homes, people in jail, etc.
    Think about what St Augustine said: “Love, then do what you will.”


Yes music a sin.
Listen to music that does not have sinful words.

Rules, yes it’s Catholic to keep good rules, Jesus said render to the law what’s owed to the law.
But if you do need to check your phone validly that is ok

There is also venial vs mortal sin.

would God bless you for driving within the limit? Yes.
God gave us the speed limits to prevent accidents.

My answers are in red

Answer to Question 1:

Custom often has the force of law, and where that custom is not dangerous, it is likely not sinful. Nevertheless, the speed laws should generally be followed, since slower driving speeds, although annoying in a way, are safer. All that said however, this is probably an imperfection, certainly not a mortal sin, probably not even a venial sin. Ask a priest.

Answer to Question 2:

Again, the law is just, and should be followed. However, again, it is probably a simple imperfection. The only exception would be if being cited would cause severe financial strain on your family, or other obligations, in which case, the gravity would depend on the severity of hardship. It is best to ask a preist.

Answer to Question 3:

You have every reason to believe that what you’re doing is legitimate. There is no wrongdoing in this at all.

Answer to Question 4:

These rules should be followed, but, as the old axiom says, necessity knows no law. Hence, if it is necessary (and it doesn’t need to be life threatening emergencies) to contact parents or others, it probably is acceptable. Otherwise, however, it is rude. However, this certainly isn’t a mortal sin, and is only at most a venial sin. I would ask a priest.

Answer to Question 5:

No style of music is sinful in itself. Is it a sin not to change the station when foul language comes up? No. You can’t prevent that. Do be careful however, that you don’t start using it yourself. What you listen will come out of your mouth as well, most of the time. You may not even realize that you’re singing along and you inadverntly sing these words. Of course, since it is inadvertent, it is not sinful. But, it is something to watch out for. All that said, however, since you seem very scrupulous, I don’t want to burden you too much, and you should talk to your priest about how to deal with them.

Question 6:

Okay. This one is difficult, because many Catholics are very lax about this, so much so, that in 1830 Our Lady appeared to some French villagers in tears because people would not abstain from working on Sundays and Feast Days (Our Lady of La Salette). In general, yes, it is a sin to let amateur sports get in the way of going to Mass - it’s the primary way we sanctify the day. A twofold distinction is made by moral theologians regarding labor. One type of labor is called servile labor, which is labor that mainly involves the body and is not done for recreation, and what is called liberal labour, which is labor that mainly involves the mind or is recreational. What is forbidden on Sundays other Feast Days of Obligation is unnecessary servile labor. Works of charity, daily necessities, and innocent recreation are not forbidden. So, for an example, moving heavy furniture around the house, cleaning toilets, washing windows, mowing the lawn etc., would be forbidden on Sundays and Feast Days barring necessity (necessity is somewhat wide; it would be permitted to clean your toilet it got very dirty on Sunday, for instance). Cooking, washing dishes and the like are not forbidden since they are necessities. If it were necessary to lift a coffin for burial, that would be permitted and in fact, meritorious, since burying the dead is corporal work of mercy. Playing sports, running and the like is also permitted, since it is innocent fun. Now, intellectual labor, like doing homework, is not forbidden, although if it were to seriously interfere with the Sunday rest and consume lots of time, it would be probably be contrary to the Spirit of the law, if not the letter). Also, other things which are debatable, are things like going food shopping, going clothes shopping and the like, because we all need food, clothes etc. Clearly, shopping for daily necessities is permitted, since we need to eat and it is necessary (again, necessity here could mean you realize you’re out of something and you need it for cooking). However, doing a whole week’s worth of food shopping, is probably wrong. You’d need to ask a good priest about this. In a word, what you would think of as chores that can be done another day, are forbidden on Sundays and Feast Days. Any questions should be answered in the catechism or by a solid orthodox confessor. In general, doing unnecessary servile labor on a Sunday or Feast Day is a mortal sin, since it is directly contrary to the Third Commandment, however, short time will render it venial. The Catechism of St. Pius X has a great section on this commandment.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate these responses. I have just been so confused about all this and praying about it for so long. It stresses me out and it is starting to damage the quality of my life. I absolutely want to follow God’s law, but I know that Jesus told the Pharisees to overall follow the spirit of the law.

You’re quite scrupulous. It’s clear you mean well, so I wouldn’t worry so much about mortal sin. I highly doubt you’re in mortal sin. Remember that a mortal sin requires grave matter (of which, only one is grave), full knowledge (clearly you don’t have it any of these cases), and full consent (which cannot be given without full knowledge). So you need not worry so much. Find a good, solid orthodox confessor, and do whatever he tells you.

Benedicat Deus,

Oh no, working so Sunday is sinful, provided it is unnecessary servile work, and the Catholic Church is clear about that. Read the messages of Our Lady of La Salette (approved by the Church). My answer above answers the question.

Benedicat Deus,

When you say home work, I assume you mean homework, like school work, in which case it is not sinful, you’re correct. However, working around the house, like doing domestic projects such as moving furniture on the like is sinful, the gravity of which is generally mortal except if it was only for a short time.

Benedicat Deus,

I disagree. There is no formal church teaching that moving furniture on a Sunday is sinful. You are not the magisterium and do not have the authority to declare something a sin. To the OP, I urge you strongly to get spiritual direction from a priest, maybe a priest who hears your confession regularly. You can ask him your question.

Thank you so much for the helpful responses, especially Latinitas!

The responses given by Latinitas are not in line with Church teaching. Please discuss your issues with a priest. I would suggest you print out your OP when you have this discussion, then listen to him and only him on how you should proceed.

God loves us and does not expect us to live in a way that we are terrified of sinning at every turn. Please get some help.

Peace be with you.

Let me suggest that “answers” are not the solution to your questions. Yes, there are answers to just about anything, and trying to live the answers can be burdensome to death. Before answers are fruitful, you must be receptive to Christ, or the answers become burdensome trivia that will torture you, which is where you are at here. You will never sort through answers without trust.

Trust is the answer to scrupulosity. In trust you give up your demand for sure answers to every eventuality, give your life to Christ, and trust him in the midst of your imperfections. In the midst of your imperfections, you will find Christ. If you demand the sure answers and if you demand perfection of yourself, Christ has no room to work in you. He knows you and loves you in the midst of your imperfections. Imperfection and uncertainty are part of being human. Welcome!

Trusting Christ is going to require you to listen to others and trust them as well. Especially a good confessor. Do not burden yourself with satisfying every eventuality. Do the best you can, and let Christ into your life. In Him, these things will be taken care of, not through your management of them.

A relationship with Christ is the first and only answer to your questions. We all tend to avoid that relationship by immersing ourselves in insurmountable details, as your post indicates. Don’t avoid him. Surrender your life to him in trust. Find good friends and a confessor, and trust.

But there is Church teaching which says that unnecessary servile labor on Sunday is sinful, and moving furniture qualifies as such.

I’ve asked a priest about this by the way.

Benedicat Deus,

Maybe, maybe not. Depends on the specifics.
You don’t have the specific knowledge to declare this activity sinful, especially for a poster suffering from scrupulosity. Don’t fan the flames.

I appreciate all the responses. You have probably not read my introduction post, but it is important to note that I am only in high school and my family is divided religiously.

For years, I have alternated weeks between Mass at the Catholic Church and Sunday school at the Baptist church. I asked my mom a couple months back about whether I can start going to Mass every week now that I have a car, but she is staunchly anti-Catholic and does not want me exposed to the Catholic Church except when I go to Mass with my dad every other week. If I want to be a practicing Catholic as an adult, she says that is OK, but not while I am in high school. Of course, I will become a practicing Catholic as soon as I am out of high school and away from my parents, but it is simply not up to me at this point.

This has been gut-wrenching since I realized some years ago that the Catholic is the one true church guided by the Holy Spirit. So I must say that for the time being I cannot go to consult a priest in person, and I will probably have to wait a year or two when I am free from the chains of my parents.

If it were neceesary to move furniture, say for instance, for a flood or fire, or the like, it would be acceptable. If it were necessary to move it for a handicapped person or to stop children or others from hurting themselves, that would be acceptable as well. But, for instance, to move furniture as part of a home project and redecorating would not be. Activities of that sort need to cease. This is not fanning scrupulosity. This is a plain exposition of what the Church teaches regarding the Third Commandment. I’m not making this up myself. I’ve asked two priests at a highly orthodox and well-reputed Catholic parish that I attend, and they both gave me these answers. I do agree, though with the other posters, that it is best to seek out a priest for advice.

Benedicat Deus,

I hope God is not as strict as you …there will be plenty of people in hell who could only move some furniture on Sunday!

How do you feel about committing adultery or stealing on Sunday? Not to mention Murder! :eek:

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