My background is that I was a Cafeteria Catholic for many years, addicted to sins of impurity with self, presumptious in thinking that I could sin and God would forgive me without going to Confession. I was sure I was going to Heaven. Then 21 months ago I watched some videos about Hell, repented of all my sins and went to Confession for the first time in at least 7 years. I started learning everything I could about my Faith, started praying the rosary, reading Scripture, and frequenting the Sacraments. I have done a 180 degree turn–I’m terrified of Hell and terrified of making a bad confession. I think about sin constantly and tend to blow them out of proportion. I can see pretty easily to advise other people…but much of the time I am “blind” to figuring out the severity of my own sins. Here is my latest worry: The other night I was feeling kind of “desirous” but my husband wasn’t feeling well. So I was trying to ignore the feelings and focus on what I was doing on the internet. I was fighting the feelings but still feeling miserable, and I moved my legs to put them up on the chair legs. After I did this, I thought, “Oh no–did I do that deliberately to experience pleasure?” And then I thought immediately, “That’s ridiculous” b/c I was NOT thinking that before I moved my legs. I dismissed the thought right away…but it came back last night (the fear that I had done that deliberately). And so last night when I was sitting on the sofa I kept moving my legs to try to “reassure” myself that I had done nothing wrong that night. But in doing that, I started thinking, “But what if NOW I’ve done something wrong?” I wasn’t seeking any kind of pleasure–I was just trying to “reenact” the moment I guess–to reassure myself that I hadn’t sinned–to kind of “test” myself. Now I feel like I’ve sinned in “reenacting” it. I don’t even know if that makes sense. But I was sitting on the sofa in overwhelming fear thinking,“What if I’m sinning NOW?” and yet I kept moving my legs–to try to reassure myself that I hadn’t sinned. I’m not sure if I feel guilty b/c I may have put myself in a near occasion of sin (even though I did not want to sin) or if I feel guilty b/c I have doubted my own conscience and God’s mercy once again, or if I feel guilty over my past still, or if I feel guilty b/c I really sinned?? I had planned to go to Confession tomorrow anyway…now I don’t know WHAT to confess. I’m afraid if I don’t confess this, I’ll be making a bad confession. Yet HOW do I confess this? I am beginning to think that I’m losing my mind.
Um . . to sin, you have to KNOW it . . .
you have to know it was serious matter, know it was wrong, and do it anyway.
If you were not trying to sin, and the subject matter does not sound too grave (at least from what I read), then where is the sin in that? The only potential sin could be that you did not respect your husband enough to let him in on what’s going on - certainly not a mortal sin. But it might help you gain perspective by talking with him too.
If you feel it is a sin then confess it. But never forget the Mercy of Our Lord. I feel you are being attacked by your own inner demons. Expel them! What you have is fear and fear is not of God! It is from Satan and his demons. See the first letters in this sentence… False Events Appear Real. Sins of the flesh is the hardest to overcome since we are sometimes our worst enemy. If you like to read then may I suggest the Diary of St. Faustina. Long but Good book that may help you understand confession and God’s wonderful unimaginable mercy. It has helped me a great deal with my impurity and so will the Blessed Mother who is most Pure. This is another thing that helped me as well. When you receive Jesus in communion ask him for his pure heart. That is what my spiritual director told me to do and although it took several attempts it will strengthen you. And last but not least… Remember Christ said to deny yourself pick up your cross Daily and follow him if you wish to follow him. God Bless!
Veronica… it sounds to me like you have slipped into scrupulosity. I have suffered from this for years and now started a new therapy (with a priest/psychologist). I know how terrible terrible it is to get stuck up on a thought of “was this a sin or not?” or “is this an obligation or not?”
I also can SOOO MUCH relate to what you wrote about “maybe NOW I sinned”, trying to reenact the movement. I have had this with thoughts. Trying to go over a thought again in order to find out what my motivation was, what i had felt, how conscious I had been… and then suddenly worrying that now THIS GOING OVER IT AGAIN was a sin, because of course this time it was conscious (but forgetting that the intention was not to feel pleasure but on the contrary, to make sure I had NOT felt pelasure).
I am also wondering… did you come back to the faith out of fear? Well, we can say, important is that you did come back… but do not build it on fear. Build it on LOVE. God called you… into His LOVE.
I highly highly recommend talking to a priest, best somebody who knows you, your confessor… tell him how you feel, how much you suffer from this fear of sin. Tell him simebody suggested it sounds like scrupulosity.
And I would recommend HIGHLY this reading to you: fatherdoyle.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/scruples-and-their-treatment.pdf
Especially the beginnign and the section about scruples regarding holy purity (begins on page 18/19).
Now as this text is ment for people suffering from scrupulosity, and I cannot be SURE that this is really what you suffer from, even though it sounds like it to me, I can not tell you to follow its advice before you talked to a priest/confessor about it. You can also tell your confessor about the advice given int he article and go from there. In any case if you DO suffer from scrupulosity it might be wonderfully freeing to read it.
BESR BEST BEST WISHES
edit: I just saw in other posts of yours that you are aware that you have scruples
I agree with the above poster that you are a victim of scrupulosity. This is the link to a website that has helped me tremendously.
Please pay special attention to the “Ten Commandments for scrupulosity”.
I wish peace of the risen Lord to you.
Veronica, I have TOTALLY been there! Going over things again and again, "reenacting and all. I still struggle occassionally with scrupulousity. We wonder how to confess things about all our motivations. You need to pray, confess (if you feel it is really necessary) seek a priest who is patient, and belive it or not try to RELAX. I KNOW thats difficult. But here is a little assurance: you fear hell, as we all should, and you love God. If there is plus side to scrupulousity its that it shows a heart deeply afraid of offending the Lover of our souls. The human heart is a wonderful barometer for christians. King David was terrible with chastity, he sinned badly and arguably often. Scripture still calls him a “man after God’s own Heart”. Why? Because despite his own vices his true disposition was always lamenting his sins (i would guess even while committing them too). You obviously are terrified of displeasing God and your utmost desire is to avoid hell and be with Him forever. The downside is that scrupulosity robs of the memory that God desires our Salvation more than we do. We start to obey out of fear instead of love. How sad is this? You need to pray and get counseling. I reccomend meditating on the Divine Mercy. Imagine yourself as being very small and hiding in the Wound in Jesus’ side. Place yourself imaginarially in His Sacred Heart that is racing for you! Stay there! Think about the fact that He WANTS you there! And once there, close your eyes and RELAX! You’re Home is there. And then remember, “Be stil, and know that I Am.”
Close: to sin mortally, you have to know it: grave matter, full knowledge and intent. (One can sin venially without any of these three conditions. Of course, if one sins venially, then it isn’t (technically) necessary to confess these, nor is it the case that a venial sin damns one eternally. In fact, reception of the Eucharist, when one is not in a state of mortal sin, absolves one of their venial sins!)
If you were not trying to sin, and the subject matter does not sound too grave (at least from what I read), then where is the sin in that? The only potential sin could be that you did not respect your husband enough to let him in on what’s going on - certainly not a mortal sin.
The sin that the OP is concerned about, it seems, is lust and/or masturbation. From what she’s written, it would seem that this isn’t a mortal sin: as you mention, there wasn’t intent. Even in the ‘re-enactment’, if the intent was to discern whether she had meant anything the first time, there’s not intent.
I agree with the others who say that this sounds a bit scrupulous. Perhaps the OP might consider talking with a trusted priest about the question of scrupulosity in general?
Many people seem scrupulous in some ways and totally lax in others. That is why we need a guide, to know what is truely right from wrong.
I would suggest that you find a good priest and tell him quite candidly about your thoughts you are having. This is not to make it painful for you but that he may understand what you go thru emotionally over this issue. Then he can offer you some good help if he knows the facts first.
Be at peace.
I’m sorry, but this is not quite correct. If one truly has no idea that they are performing a sinful action then even though the action itself is still a sinful action the person will not in any way be culpable for this sinful action. In otherwords, they will not even be guilty of comitting a venial sin. Culpability cannot exist without knowledge.