SCRUPULOUS: What if my regular confessor contradicts one of the principle commandments for the scrupulous


I’m kind of terrified right now after reading a sermon from St. Alphonsus de Ligouri. As you all probably know, I’m very scrupulous.

He basically says that to disobey one’s confessor is to disobey God. He would no longer need to be tempted by the devil, because his act of disobedience would make him a devil himself. And he quotes many other saints and scripture sharing similar sentiments.

Heres the thing that is really making me anxious and nervous.

I am always wondering “Is this a sin? Is that a sin? Am I obligated to do this? That?”

Now I was reading St. Alphonsus’s advice on this matter (which seems to be a common principle for scruples to obey) that “For the scrupulous, If one is in doubt about what he is about to do is sinful or not, or if he is obligated to act or not act, he can freely assume the act is no sinful nor is there any obligation”

BUT, my regular confessor says “if one is in doubt about whether something is a sin, and commits the act anyway, he sins.”

So now I’m worried that I am sinning every time I am conflicted with the above-mentioned situation about acting in doubt. I’m not sure what to do. I’m tempted to find another confessor but, according to the sermon, “After having made choice of a confessor, you should not leave him without a just and manifest cause.”

I am also worried that he will say something is sinful when it really isn’t. For example, he might say it is a sin to play the piano. Would I be doomed by disobedience by playing the piano knowing that the common rational view is piano playing is lawful?


Does this confessor know that you suffer from scrupulosity? That seems like an odd thing to say to a scrupulous person.


Perhaps you should read the story of Charles Linburgh , a good read that will
Focus your mind on something interesting , Something interesting once you discover it’s worth


He may need a new confessor. Not all are equipped to properly handle scrupulosity.


The priest who writes for Scrupulosity Anonymous says “If you are scrupulous and you cannot swear on a stack of bibles that you committed a mortal sin, then you probably didn’t”.

You need to talk to a priest that understands scruples. The normal rules do not apply.


The priest, if he knows that you have scrupulosity, telling you that “if in doubt, you sinned” or telling you that playing piano was sinful, would, IMO, be just and manifest cause to leave him.


Seek a confessor that works with the scrupulous. Your Chancery may have a suggestion for someone in your area.
I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but scruples is a tough one to combat.
Be assured of our prayers.


We had a wonderful priest at our church, but unfortunately he retired. To go to confession to him was a major source of peace.

One young man was waiting for him, even though there were other priests hearing confession. This man told me the priest he liked was a Marine years ago.

It is too bad when they retire, though. Finding another one like him is hard.

Also, ever hear of a generic confession?" I didn’t know about that until I read a book written by Thomas Santa, a priest who knows a lot about scrupulosity.


Liguori was the one who actually HELPED with this exact kind of rigorism when Jansenism became popular in France.

It APPEARS that the advice you received from the confessional is, frankly, mediocre. There are subtleties which are being passed over. (But maybe there was more going on.)

One is that there are different kinds of judgments (or “doubts”)… The answer is that you, as a scrup, must judge twice - once instinctively, and then again based on your self-knowledge of making faulty instinctive judgments. If you go through that process and still are inclined by your conscience one way, and decide to go the other, yes, it is a sin, even if your conscience was wrong. We always are bound to obey the conscience.

Second is that a perplexed conscience is not inclined one way or the other… So it can’t really be violated. If you “aren’t sure” if something is a sin, then you are clearly not violating your conscience. This doesn’t mean it can’t be a sin, but it does mean that mere uncertainty about sinfulness is not in itself a sufficient condition for sin. If you’re not sure whether to pull the lever sending a train whichever way to however many innocent people tied to the track, but you’re not sure if you should leave it alone as it speeds into the nuclear power plant that might kill more, well, the uncertainty is going to be there in either chosen action.

Third is that a carelessness about whether or not something is a sin is itself a sin. In this sense, the advice is spot on. Scrups have the opposite problem though… They care so much that their perception gets warped and they fall into all kinds of trouble.

Here is another thought - Alphonsus is offering both pieces of advice. Shouldn’t that tell you that he is conditioning the one piece of advice (to obey one’s confessor) with the other (to disregard scruples)?


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