Must you obey your conscience or confessor/director when you are scrupulous?


#1

Note to Moderators: I could not tell if this topic most properly belonged under Moral Theology, Catholic Living, or Liturgy and the Sacraments. If you move the thread, would you let me know in a post below? Thanks!


The consistent advice I read in literature about scrupulosity is that the person who has this malady should blindly obey his/her confessor because obedience is the only way a person will overcome scruples. Another way I have seen it explained, is that a person’s must substitute the confessor’s conscience for his/her own.

On the other hand, if I understand correctly, a person has the obligation to obey the certain judgement of his/her own conscience.

What happens when a scrupulous person’s conscience demands or urges something that is contrary to the advice of said person’s confessor or spiritual director. To which is one accountable? Is the obligation to obey one’s own conscience “waived” so to speak? Is the obligation to obey one’s conscience absolute?

Please pray for me!


#2

I think the whole point of a scrupulous person getting spiritual direction in the first place is because they recognize their conscience is not properly formed and they need outside help to correctly form it. If you leave the door open a crack for the scrupulous person to disregard their spiritual director’s counsel in favor of their own malformed conscience, that’s likely going to lead them to second guess pretty much everything the spiritual director says, which sort of defeats the purpose of spiritual direction.


#3

Obey your confessor or SD unless it is a totally obvious mortal sin (like he suggests you assasinate someone). Your confessor is very unlikely to do that.

The point of obeying your confessor when you have scruples is that scrupulosity is like having an unmoored conscience. It just goes all over the place, like an energetic undisciplined toddler. What your conscience needs is some mooring, and this is what obeying your confessor absolutely does. Eventually your conscience will learn to stop climbing the furniture, run out the door, hide in the kichen cabinets and start behaving itself :slight_smile:


#4

pray for y’all too? :o

both, just don’t exaggerate too much now.

God bless Ya

  • john

#5

The consistent advice I read in literature about scrupulosity is that the person who has this malady should blindly obey his/her confessor because obedience is the only way a person will overcome scruples. Another way I have seen it explained, is that a person’s must substitute the confessor’s conscience for his/her own.

Unless you are told otherwise by your one spiritual director, that is what I would do and I would tell your director that you are letting them be your conscience.

On the other hand, if I understand correctly, a person has the obligation to obey the certain judgement of his/her own conscience.

That’s a very delicate matter, and that applies generally to those who are not scrupulous.

What happens when a scrupulous person’s conscience demands or urges something that is contrary to the advice of said person’s confessor or spiritual director. To which is one accountable? Is the obligation to obey one’s own conscience “waived” so to speak? Is the obligation to obey one’s conscience absolute?

You need to obey your spiritual director. It’s literally an open and shut case.

The obligation you might say is waived, but it’s not even there in the first place for the scrupulous.

Please pray for me!

:gopray:


#6

The general principle is to obey your confessor absolutely and unconditionally. The scrupulous cannot follow his own conscience because it’s malfunctioning; it’s what causes the suffering of the scrupulous in the first place. If the scrupulous listened to his own conscience he will end up terribly paralyzed such that he will be unable to function in life.


#7

The word of the confessor outweighs the conscience of the scrupulous person. It is the only way to obtain freedom and peace. The confessor has substituted his conscience for your own. You can trust in your confessor and be at peace.


#8

Dearest Ana, prayers for you!


#9

Let’s reverse the situation and swing the pendulum the other way: Should a sociopath blindly obey their confessor, or follow their “conscience”?

A poorly formed or disordered conscience can be as much an enemy as no conscience.


#10

One knows one is scrupulous (ones confessor has noted this) that one struggle with scruples - and one thus judges to submit themselves ones judgement to that of a regular confessor. That is the right judgment of ones conscience. That is following ones conscience.

Obedience.

A person with scruples ought to have a “regular confessor” who knows them and their scruples and who can then direct them and even give him “general principles” for him to follow (he can be in quite a different boat than others). Taking responsibility for them (discuss this with your confessor).

Obedience then to his direction is key. And such is the age old approach in the Church established by Christ on St. Peter. Obedience (except of course manifest sin - such as he tells him it murder his secretary or use contraception! -such is manifest sin. Clear. Certain.)

The age old practice in dealing with scrupulosity is that the responsibility falls then on him (the regular confessor who knows the scrupulous penitent and thus directs him as “his regular confessor”) -even if he makes a mistake -the age old approach is that it is his mistake not penitents. Discuss this with your confessor.

Scruples are to be dismissed - not dialogued with or argued with.

A classic quote: Contra scruplos agendum est, et fixo operis pede certandum

(Act contrary to scruples and with a firm foot overcome them) -with the direction of ones regular confessor.

When scruples arise - turn to God and let them pass by (forget the source of the quote).

And finally to borrow an image from a Carthusian Monk from centuries ago - treat scruples like one would a barking dog or a hissing goose -one does not stop to argue with a barking dog or a hissing goose does one?


#11

Put your own conscience on “hold” and do or do not do whatever your confessor tells you. He is there to help you and stands in place of Jesus Himself.


#12

A person with scrupulosity -* mistakes *their doubts and fears – their scruples for being a right judgement of conscience. They do well to place themselves (see my post above) under the direction of a regular confessor - such is a right judgement of conscience.


#13

The trouble is this: the priest who was my spiritual director since early 2012, is 2000 miles away. I moved across the country and was without a spiritual director for many months; April of 2013, due to a very trouble mind, I reconnected with my spiritual director over the phone and he offered to continue giving me spiritual direction over the phone for one hour once a month. I am very grateful for his generous offer, and always will be, but after our last conversation in May of this year, I believe it is best that I discontinue spiritual direction with him because of practicality issues. For one, I realize that his priority is to the people of his own diocese. Also, I need therapy. He told me this, and urged me to get professional help, though the context was not scrupulosity by a depressive state. Through an online search, I found a Catholic therapist in the same city that I will be heading back to for college.

I think it’s best to find a spiritual director in the area, because things would just get more complicated in doing spiritual direction over the phone. Not to mention that it’s been almost two years since I last went to confession with my spiritual director precisely because our conversations were limited to phone calls and a few emails.

Second Problem: I have gone to confession with various priests. Sometimes, I purposely go to confession with a different priest so I don’t burden the ones I’ve been to before, especially if my confessions are within proximity of each other. My parent’s home is in a rural area in which there is only one Catholic Church and one priest – the pastor. He became my regular confessor after I moved from San Diego. But I’ve also gone to confession many times with the elderly priest who fills in for the pastor when the pastor is out of town. Then I went to college, two hours away from my parents to a major city, and naturally found other confessors during my year in college.

Third Problem: A priest I met with recently – who is a chaplain at the Catholic elementary school next door to my college – is one I have gone to confession to a few times. I like him quite well, he’s an Irish priest and is an OBGYN doctor by background.I asked him if he could be my spiritual director, and he explained he is not keen on it. He did however recommend another priest by name. He did not however, recommend me asking “Will you be my spiritual director” because he said some priests will back away from that. He also told me that he sees that I am a nervous person and that I would benefit from someone who is direct with me.

Fourth Problem: How does a priest give me his conclusive objective judgement about whether I am scrupulous without him violating the seal of the confession? Since they will have to “gather” from my confessions, whether I am scrupulous? But they are not supposed to use information they’ve obtained from confessions.

The most recent indication of my scrupulosity was my second to last confession, when I was done reading my notes, the priest asked me when my last confession was after having looked at me in a humored and bemused way during confession. That and two years ago a certain priest denied me absolution because he said he heard no sins and that the purpose of confession is to confess sins and other people are waiting. And that wasn’t even during the time in which I was going through the mental Hell I am going through now!

Given the above complexities, should I seek out a priest I’ve never confessed to before, to get a “fresh” perspective, so to speak?


#14

Unless your confessor is recommending you break a commandment…
listen to your confessor. Just listen. If you can perform that “task”, you are moving ahead.

The root of obedience is “ob-audiere”, “to listen”. You will not lose your autonomy or free will by being obedient.
God the Father loves obedience, his Son personifies it, the Spirit will fill you with his gifts if you practice it.


#15

I just hope that the confessor I find to help me, will give me orders because if he only makes suggestions or recommendations, I will feel as though my doubts are not eased and sometimes such approaches by priests make me feel worse :frowning:


#16

A regular confessor is often better than no regular confessor for someone with scruples. Even if he lacks understanding of such. But then one can seek out one perhaps that does - or contact your diocese and ask for recommendation.

But yes -without entering into scruples and indecision - seek a confessor who can give you a “yes” or “no” - who at least understands that you struggle with scruples (I assume you have been told by a Priest that you do). It is best if they have experience and understanding of such - but even if they do not have a great deal of understanding - they need to at least understand that you need clear -brief directions.

The Priest you approach in confession - tell him of your scruples (I assume again you have been told such is the case) - and ask him about being your regular confessor or to recommend someone else.


#17

You discuss the matter “in confession” - identifying yourself. They are not to use information from your confessions - outside of confession to your detriment etc.

In confession - one identifies oneself (he will know it is you already if your going to him regularly - but one would still identify yourself for the purpose of on going direction.

As to the first part there above - do not say “spiritual director” say “I think I may be scrupulous and need a regular confessor who can direct me as my regular confessor.” One can discuss then with him what I noted in the first post up above.


#18

I heard this recommended on Catholic Answers and saved it to offer those in need:

catholictherapists.com/


#19

Have either of them said your scrupulous?

If so - there you go.

Then go seek out a regular confessor and lay things before him.


#20

As one who has suffered from scrupulosity, I have a few pieces of advice to give you.

  1. Find a confessor and follow his advice as the people above have indicated. I think they have already thoroughly addressed this point.

  2. Offer ALL of your sufferings to Christ no matter how unworthy you feel. I believe that the times when you gain the most merit is when you suffer with little consolation, feel completely unworthy and like your suffering is meaningless.

  3. Go to mass and receive the sacraments often. God will shower abundant graces upon you if you do.

  4. Cultivate a devotion to Mary. A few times I felt like God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit looked down at me from heaven with condemnation and there was no way I could be forgiven of my iniquities. At those times and on several others Mary has been and continues to be a great help and consolation for me. To start, you should wear the scapular and pray the rosary daily. Also, Blessed Mother Teresa said that she always received help after praying an express novena (The Memorare recited nine times in a row) and I too have found that after praying a express novena that Mary helps me in some way.

You will be in my prayers. :gopray:


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