Was stepping on an image of a Saint a mortal sin?

Ok I definitely think I’m being too scrupulous about this, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a mortal sin but I get a lot of relief when other Catholics can agree that something I’m having scruples about wasn’t a mortal sin, which is why I’m asking for other opinions.

I’m a college student and remember my Christian morality professor saying one day that as Catholics if someone points a gun to our heads and tells us to step on or trample on an image of Jesus we have an obligation to not do that because that would be sinful.

Well this morning I was trying to reach a box in my house and in order to position myself to get the box within reach I stepped on a book that was laying on the floor that has a picture of St. Francis on the front, I noticed this and looked down at my foot but figured I would just get the box and then shift my footing position. But now my scrupulous side is telling me that I knowingly left my foot on the book and therefore stepped on an image of St. Francis, now I can’t stop having the thought that I have disrespected St. Francis and God in a mortally sinful way.

Of course my common sense self keeps telling me that I’m not in mortal sin cause I didn;t even know for sure if it was grave matter, I wasn’t intending to offend God or St. Francis, and that it just seems absurd that I’m now in a state of mortal sin when I didn’t do anything that would seem like a mortal sin to the average Catholic. Unfortunately though my brain keeps thinking back to what my professor said and I’m having trouble with that.

Thoughts?

Thanks and God Bless!

I hope that you are working with your priest/confessor on your scrupulosity. If not controlled, it can become the sin.

Scrupulosity itself is not sinful, but it certainly damaging to the spiritual life.

To the OP, I would say that, yes, you’re being scrupulous. St. Ignatius of Loyola comments in his Spiritual Exercises that scruples can mean that man who steps on two pieces of straw in the shape of a cross has trampled on the cross and denied the Faith. Obviously this is scrupulosity. Even were the man to have accidentally stepped on a real cross, he would not have sinned. You cannot sin accidentally.

I hope this is helpful,
Benedicat Deus,
Latinitas

If it leads to incredulity regarding God’s mercy, it crosses into sin.

CCC2089 (in part) Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it.

Scrupulosity is not something to be ignored or tolerated. Like a brush fire, it tends to grow until and unless it is put out. That requires spiritual effort. For general information, the following is from Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Mercy:

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THOSE WHO STRUGGLE WITH SCRUPULOSITY

  1. Do not repeat prayers, no matter how badly they may have been prayed, even if the prayers were given to you as a penance during the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).

  2. Do not repeat the confession of sins that have already been confessed and which have never been re-committed.

  3. If you doubt the earnestness of your sorrow in Confession, consider the sorrow as having been adequate.

  4. If you are doubtful as to whether a past action committed was sinful, mention it simply to your confessor.

  5. If you are worrying that maybe you never confessed a certain sin from your past, consider it confessed. If you know for a fact that you have never confessed that sin, then confess it simply. The Holy Spirit does not torment us with doubts and/or guilt; rather, He always brings peace as He awakens our conscience to our sins.
    (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11: “Indeed, sorrow for God’s sake produces a repentance without regrets, leading to salvation, whereas worldly sorrow brings death. Just look at the fruit of this sorrow which stems from God. What a measure of holy zeal it has brought you.”)

  6. Examine your conscience for no longer than three minutes each day, and for no longer than about ten minutes before you go to Confession.

  7. If you have prayed at the time of temptation, you can be sure you did not commit a mortal sin.

  8. If you have a history of scrupulosity, and you have made a General Confession at some time in your past, do not make another General Confession. Once a month is a good norm for the frequency of a regular Confession.

  9. If possible, go to Confession to the same confessor-priest.

  10. Most importantly, cultivate a humble heart by complete obedience to the direction of your confessor. Be patient with yourself. Love is the goal of all our lives. It is important to remember that scrupulosity usually (and, quite often, ultimately) stems from one’s personal pride or arrogance, as though the scrupulous person holds this personal opinion: “I have a higher norm than most normal people.”

Omg. Don’t worry

True, indeed. But scrupulosity is not in and of itself, sinful. I understand what you mean, though. Despair is always mortally sinful, since it can easily lead to obstinacy in sin.

*Scrupulosity is not something to be ignored or tolerated. Like a brush fire, it tends to grow until and unless it is put out. That requires spiritual effort. For general information, the following is from Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Mercy: *

No kidding.

TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR THOSE WHO STRUGGLE WITH SCRUPULOSITY

  1. Do not repeat prayers, no matter how badly they may have been prayed, even if the prayers were given to you as a penance during the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).
  1. Do not repeat the confession of sins that have already been confessed and which have never been re-committed.
  1. If you doubt the earnestness of your sorrow in Confession, consider the sorrow as having been adequate.
  1. If you are doubtful as to whether a past action committed was sinful, mention it simply to your confessor.
  1. If you are worrying that maybe you never confessed a certain sin from your past, consider it confessed. If you know for a fact that you have never confessed that sin, then confess it simply. The Holy Spirit does not torment us with doubts and/or guilt; rather, He always brings peace as He awakens our conscience to our sins.
    (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11: “Indeed, sorrow for God’s sake produces a repentance without regrets, leading to salvation, whereas worldly sorrow brings death. Just look at the fruit of this sorrow which stems from God. What a measure of holy zeal it has brought you.”)
  1. Examine your conscience for no longer than three minutes each day, and for no longer than about ten minutes before you go to Confession.
  1. If you have prayed at the time of temptation, you can be sure you did not commit a mortal sin.
  1. If you have a history of scrupulosity, and you have made a General Confession at some time in your past, do not make another General Confession. Once a month is a good norm for the frequency of a regular Confession.
  1. If possible, go to Confession to the same confessor-priest.
  1. Most importantly, cultivate a humble heart by complete obedience to the direction of your confessor. Be patient with yourself. Love is the goal of all our lives. It is important to remember that scrupulosity usually (and, quite often, ultimately) stems from one’s personal pride or arrogance, as though the scrupulous person holds this personal opinion: “I have a higher norm than most normal people.”

In one way, the scrupulous person is actually “too humble”. Even if the person lives an immaculate life, free from all mortal sin, he believes himself to be the utmost of sinners. I agree, however that pride can a part of it as well, albeit inculpable.

I don’t mean to quarrel; I actually agree with you here.

I don’t want this thread to get off task, however, and I would repeat to the OP that you need to get some help, from a spiritual director, and if very serious, a Catholic psychologist, who can help you with this affliction.

Benedicat Deus,
Latinitas

Even the great Saints relied 100% on God’s mercy. At some level, any degree of the practice of scrupulosity doubts that unfathomable mercy. From Genesis 3, we see that doubt regarding God has its origin in the evil one. While having scruples is not sinful in itself, the practice of scrupulosity seems to be. The same applies to any number of crosses that we bear - from lust, to alcohol abuse, to same sex attraction, to you-name-it. It is only sinful to act on these impulses. If practicing scrupulosity was not sinful, we should not then have recourse to our confessor for help with it.

At least tangentially related is this column by Monsignor Charles Pope on the tactics of the devil. Notice how doubt serves only to feed scrupulosity.

blog.adw.org/2013/07/four-common-tactics-of-the-devil/

If you did it in order to degrade the saint, then it was sinful. However, it was an accident, so it wasn’t sinful.

Like others have said, you need to work on your scrupulosity with your confessor. It can be very damaging to your spiritual life.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.