Where Am I?

Before I start I should say that I am battling OCD/Scrupulosity with the help of a therapist and a psychiatrist. I have been doing this for about a year now. In terms of professional help, I am taken care of. This post may be more about me tracking the journey than actually asking any help. I guess what I am really looking for is some spiritual direction.

Last year, I reached a point where the anxiety got so high I was having panic attacks. Remarkably, though, I was still able to make a coherent confession and receive communion. What a grace! With medication my anxiety was brought down, and therapy helped me to deal with the panic attacks. But with scrupulosity, there is the constant (pathological) doubt which really damages your ability to trust anyone. You are always questioning everyone’s motives, as well as your own motives. You end up not being able to tell if what you are doing is just responding to compulsions or actual danger. This is called the level of insight, and it’s difficult to move from low insight to clarity without the help of a therapist and a spiritual director. Ideally, it would be one person who could function as both. I have had a spiritual director in the past that understood the psychological aspects of scrupulosity, and that helped me greatly.

But now I am stuck, going between my therapist and my pastor, and that creates an opportunity for misunderstanding, which feeds the pathological doubts, which makes it difficult to progress spiritually and in therapy.

Now, due to the OCD, I’m not able to discern clearly whether I am in a state of grace or not. It’s due to the compulsive questioning; the more you think about it, the less and less clear it becomes. This keeps me away from confession, as well as from communion. I can tell this is clearly not God’s will, but I don’t see how I would be able to return to a state of grace that would “stick” (without compulsive questioning).

So in the mean time, I am just wondering, where am I spiritually? Is my suffering from OCD of any benefit to my soul? Can I unite my mental suffering to that of Christ’s for the salvation of souls? Is living this way my “calling”? I am always thinking about the good I could do if I didn’t have this condition. Does anyone have any idea about how I would go about answering these questions?

I’ll be honest, I dont know. But I 100% think that offering up your suffering to Our Lord will please him, and will help you grow in grace and holiness.

I’ll say a prayer for you

Whenever doubts about the state of your soul arise, say this prayer:" Lord, if I am in the state of Grace, preserve me in it. If I am in the state of sin, deliver me from it."
Then turn the matter over to God and trust in Him.

I’ve spent 15 minutes searching for Fr. John Riccardo (Detroit priest) talking about suffering. I think this talk is a little slow in getting started, but hang in there for a great explanation of the spirituality of suffering. I hope it helps you. – With prayer

hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/b/a/4/ba4537899193ebb9/Alpha_201S4-Suffering.m4a?c_id=8577685&destination_id=13713&expiration=1481681021&hwt=cacd2897683c34b526c51786afbf9d58

Have a talk with your pastor about this. Tell him as you told us, how your OCD causes you to doubt your state of grace (worthiness to receive Communion), and ask him if it’s okay to receive Communion anyway. He may have some good advice for you.

You can certainly offer up your sufferings. You are by no means called to be scrupulous. Scrupulosity certainly does not come from God, that is certain. St Ignatius Loyola who had scruples even wrote that it’s the devil who causes these things when he sees a devout person not willing to sin as he wants
God isn’t calling anyone to have a malformed conscience, so that they may torture themselves with. Scruples, in fact, if not rejected, can be detrimental to our salvation (but don’t think that scruples are sins :o)
According to St Alphonsus Liguori, bishop, doctor of the Church in moral theology, and a scruple sufferer, the scrupulous persons FIRST priority is to GET RID of scrupulosity. Having a scrupulous conscience is similar to having a very lax conscience, since both are not according to the truth of morality, and both are errors.

However, until you get rid of your OCD, you can indeed offer those sufferings, which is extremely laudable and a holy practice to do.

Scrupulosity is indeed a cross, probably one of the worst crosses one can have. However, you can indeed overcome them with obedience to your spiritual director (and you can also perhaps build a connection with your therapist and Spiritual director), as well as the “Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous”. Read those ten commandments daily for the scrupulous daily, and whenever you have a scrupulous anxiety

You can also read the Catholic encyclopedia on it:
newadvent.org/cathen/13640a.htm

as well as reading those scrupulous anonymous newsletters online that are available monthly

I’ll pray for you friend,

God bless you

Your thread really worries me, and makes me wonder if this forum is doing more harm than good for you?

I, too, have anxiety issues, but visiting a psychiatrist and taking SSRI’s and antidepressants did not help.
I started developing tics, and had to keep moving my body or start pacing, which doubled my social awkwardness!

Do therapists really care about the minds of Catholics?
Your problem is not sin, as you do take yourself to confession… maybe examine yourself less… maybe rather talk to a priest face to face.

You are a human and need people to treat you as one. Relax.

Thanks everyone I appreciate the responses.

Whenever doubts about the state of your soul arise, say this prayer:" Lord, if I am in the state of Grace, preserve me in it. If I am in the state of sin, deliver me from it."
Then turn the matter over to God and trust in Him.

I think this is very wise advice, but I’m not able to practice this at this point. Until I conquer the fear of making a mistake, my doubts are paralyzing.

You can certainly offer up your sufferings. You are by no means called to be scrupulous. Scrupulosity certainly does not come from God, that is certain. St Ignatius Loyola who had scruples even wrote that it’s the devil who causes these things when he sees a devout person not willing to sin as he wants
God isn’t calling anyone to have a malformed conscience, so that they may torture themselves with. Scruples, in fact, if not rejected, can be detrimental to our salvation (but don’t think that scruples are sins )
According to St Alphonsus Liguori, bishop, doctor of the Church in moral theology, and a scruple sufferer, the scrupulous persons FIRST priority is to GET RID of scrupulosity. Having a scrupulous conscience is similar to having a very lax conscience, since both are not according to the truth of morality, and both are errors.

However, until you get rid of your OCD, you can indeed offer those sufferings, which is extremely laudable and a holy practice to do.

Scrupulosity is indeed a cross, probably one of the worst crosses one can have. However, you can indeed overcome them with obedience to your spiritual director (and you can also perhaps build a connection with your therapist and Spiritual director), as well as the “Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous”. Read those ten commandments daily for the scrupulous daily, and whenever you have a scrupulous anxiety

You can also read the Catholic encyclopedia on it:
newadvent.org/cathen/13640a.htm

as well as reading those scrupulous anonymous newsletters online that are available monthly

I’ll pray for you friend,

God bless you

Thanks this is really helpful.

I find my situation to be particularly confusing because this is partly my fault. Always choosing the “safe” route seemed to be the reasonable, right thing to do… never thought it would end up cutting me off from God’s mercy. :shrug:

So now I just trying to find my way back to God’s mercy.

I forget to mention, you should study the Church’s moral theology about the scruples that you have. Here’s a page that might help a little:
littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/clarity-for-scrupulous-souls-simple-explanations-of-grey-sins/

Just because you have scrupulosity doesn’t mean that it’s your fault. How could you have a fault, since you intended to not offend God in the slightest, and you thought that to do so was to always err on the side of caution? In fact, that was meritorious, since you always chose the safer route–no fault. Simply obey your spiritual director in his directions as if you were physically blind, and you had to place absolute trust in him.

Some helpful things to ask your Spiritual Director:
How often should I go to Confession?
How often should I go to Communion?
What if I’m not sure if I am in a state of grace or not?
What if I am not sure if I am unsure if my past confessions were valid?
How often should I examine my conscience? How long should I examine my conscience each night? How long should I examine my conscience before confession?

Here’s a list of articles from Littlest Souls on scrupulosity:
littlestsouls.wordpress.com/tag/scrupulosity/

And this article composed by the Fraternity of St. Peter
olmcfssp.org/cms/images/uploads/Scrupulosity_7.15_.12_.pdf

Just as you are zealous in striving to avoid sin and be on the safe side of things, be even more zealous to avoid scruples. You must increase your zeal against scruples by your absolute blind obedience to your Spiritual Director (but follow the 10 commandments for the scrupulous as well), as well as frequently reading those links I gave you against it. Pray daily against scrupulosity.

Just because you have scrupulosity doesn’t mean that it’s your fault. How could you have a fault, since you intended to not offend God in the slightest, and you thought that to do so was to always err on the side of caution? In fact, that was meritorious, since you always chose the safer route–no fault. Simply obey your spiritual director in his directions as if you were physically blind, and you had to place absolute trust in him.

Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I have been fighting this for a long time now and the constant needling of my conscience has made it very difficult to see straight. I’m talking with my pastor but I’m already questioning his advice. I won’t bring up the issue here because that will only make matters worse, but essentially it comes from having to work two people, my therapist and my pastor, each who don’t understand the other’s domain.

Just as you are zealous in striving to avoid sin and be on the safe side of things, be even more zealous to avoid scruples. You must increase your zeal against scruples by your absolute blind obedience to your Spiritual Director (but follow the 10 commandments for the scrupulous as well), as well as frequently reading those links I gave you against it. Pray daily against scrupulosity.

Your last comment made me pause. I didn’t realize that I should pray against scrupulosity. For whatever reason it doesn’t occur to me that God might find that pleasing, or that he might patiently help me out. How do I change this attitude? How can I build trust with my pastor? Or should I seek a spiritual director?

Hi,

Yes you should pray against scruples. You can stop this attitude by recognizing that, although scruples are started when someone usually is converted/takes their faith more seriously, the effects of it are disastrous. Like I said, scrupulosity is an error, just like a lax conscience. A lax conscience sees no sin where there is, and a scrupulous conscience sees sin where there isn’t. Both are errors and need to be formed according to the teachings of the Church. This should be among your primary prayer intentions.
Thus, if scruples are an error against truth and can lead to despair and insanity if untreated, why not pray against it? Christ said “ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find”, so it’s not bad to pray against scruples, it’s necessary. In fact, you should absolutely hate and despise your scrupulosity, about as much as you hate mortal sin–both can take your salvation.
You can build trust with your pastor/spiritual director by recognizing that a scrupulous person’s conscience cannot be trusted. It’s like you are physically blind, and you claim that you see a mirage, even though the eye doctor says there is nothing there, but you would still distrust the doctor. I posted a link from the Fraternity of St. Peter, which has a section on spiritual direction and prayer. Follow that advice it’s really good. Here’s the link again:
olmcfssp.org/cms/images/uploads/Scrupulosity_7.15_.12_.pdf
By all means seek out a spiritual director, which is why I said follow your spiritual director blindly. This can be your pastor or not. St Philip Neri said “he who has himself as a spiritual director has a fool for a spiritual director”–this is so applicable to you. I don’t know how old you are, since scrupulous people tend to be somewhat younger (definitely not always). If you are in school, you study hours and hours for a final exam. That’s a lot of work for a grade. Study against your scruples the same way and follow the advice of your spiritual director like he’s your professor.
Another link, this time on spiritual direction (but also follow that fraternity of St Peter link I gave you):
spiritualdirection.com/

I gave you a ton of links, follow them, and it’ll console you a lot
Also recognize that some great saints had this. St Ignatius, St Alphonsus Liguori, St Therese, St Maximilian Kolbe, St Drexel, St Dominic Savio, and the list goes on… You can be like them if you follow the advice of your spiritual director and those links.

Here’s another link:
catholicpamphlets.net/pamphlets/Are%20You%20Scrupulous.pdf

You’ll see a Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur at the end of the pdf

and
littlestsouls.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/consolation-for-scrupulous-souls-some-advice-from-st-alphonsus/ this one implies the importance of obeying a confessor/spiritual director

I’m really ever doing this with the links, but I hope that they provide help

I’m talking with my pastor but I’m already questioning his advice. I won’t bring up the issue here because that will only make matters worse

Whatever advice he gave, accept it blindly. As long as he’s not telling you to do something outrightly objectively sinful (like robbing a bank or drinking and driving) and is pious and knows the Faith well, then even if he was somehow wrong, you will not be held accountable for obeying him (the littlest soul article I posted talks about that). You may find that he’s perhaps frequently imperfect, but that still doesn’t prohibit you from obeying him blindly

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