Valid Confession Scruples


Let me start by saying that I have issues with scrupulosity. I recently went to confession, and after leaving started to doubt whether the priest used the proper form of absolution. I didn’t really have any reason to doubt it, besides the fact that after saying my Act of Contrition and hearing the penance, I was focusing upon that. I zoned out a bit, and didn’t realize til I left the church that I wasn’t positive I heard the absolution. Now I know those sins are still forgiven, even if he did forget to say the prayer of absolution. However, my concern is whether I should mention those sins at my next confession. On the one hand, I want to be thorough, but on the other, I don’t want to enable my scrupulosity. I have serious issues with it, and it seems to get worse when I do research. It just so happens that I was reading an article on invalid forms of Absolution right before my last confession, so I wonder if that influenced me to have these doubts.

Anyways, my question is, does anyone have any advice? I could really use some help, both for this particular situation, as well as my overall struggle with scrupulosity. Sometimes it’s okay, but other times it almost becomes paralyzing, making it impossible to move or think about anything else. At those times, I just have to hand myself over to Jesus, and trust in his loving guidance.

So any advice?

For right now, you should just assume that everything was fine, and that you made a valid Confession.

You should talk to a priest about your scrupulosity problems. If you end up with the same confessor as last time, you can even tell Father, “Since I have scrupulosity problems, could you please say the absolution clearly and audibly?”

And in general, since you know you have scrupulous tendencies, you should assume every time that everything was fine, and that you made a valid Confession. Your job is to walk your body to Confession, confess, do your penance if any, and then walk your body home (or back to your car, or however you do it). Just be Brother Donkey, and don’t worry about the rest.

You need to find an experienced confessor to guide you regarding scruples, make him your regular confessor, and then trust in Christ’s Sacraments. This is really an anxiety issue, not a religious one. Christ is not trying to trick you.

I know it is an anxiety issue, but I could still use some religious advice, at least for this particular situation. I have a regular confessor who I trust at my school, but now that I am home for the summer he is out of reach.

That’s really good advice. Thank you. I do have a priest who I talk to about these things, but he isn’t around me right now. Perhaps I should send him an email about this?

Not hearing the words of absolution as they are spoken - does not make the Sacrament invalid.

I will re-post an older post of mine

A person struggles with scruples - what ought they do?

A person with scrupulosity --ought to have a* “regular confessor” *who can direct them --and even give them some general principles/rules to follow -to apply (principles for them due to their particular scruples -they are usually not for those with a normal conscience). Thus with their direction they can dismiss scruples. Such is the age old practice in the Church.
Scruples are to be dismissed not argued with.
*Scruples are like a barking dog or a hissing goose -one does not stop to argue with a barking dog or a hissing goose does one? *

Such ‘obedience’ (except in what is manifest sin - such as if he told them it was ok to murder someone or something certain like that) is key. Such is the age old practice.

As to counseling - that could be helpful depending on the case -but one would want to look for a counselor who can assist one in following the Churches Teachings - not go contrary to them (I have heard CA staff mention Some person with scrupulosity may yes also suffer from OCD - but the two are not simply equated.

Here was a recent post from Jimmy Akin of CA that I saw in the Register and saved for those who struggle with such.

Also I will add that a person can go through a case of “transient scruples”. Which is good news in a way. For they are more easily dealt with.

Such can be due to being a convert to the faith. Such is noted in theological works in terms of (some of) those who have a conversion (even if they were a Catholic all their life - but now have had a more intense turning to Christ and seeking Christian perfection).

Such can even be helpful for they can make one be more sensitive in conscience in a good way. Helpful that is if you have a regular confessor who can judge your case - and who can then direct you and help you in forming your conscience and in doing so the “transient scruples” can clear up and one can go forward with a better formed conscience and commitment to the Lord.

In any case - a regular confessor is key for those who struggle with scruples - be they transient or a more persistent difficulty.

My friend, do you really think that a Catholic priest in the confessional is going to forget to absolve you?

This is why I came here. Sometimes I just need a dose of reason. Thank you.
Thank you everybody for your wise words and advice.

OP, is there a confessor that you’re going to in order to address your scrupulosity? If not, would you be willing to commit to having a priest help you?

My confirmation sponsor is a priest, and he has been helping me. Perhaps I should take it to the next level however…


Nicely said, Mintaka. :thumbsup:

That is one of the best explanations I’ve ever heard on this subject. Heads up I’m totally stealing that line.

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