Author Topic: Scrupulousity  (Read 2110 times)

Offline drummerboy

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2021, 01:08:23 PM »
Some helpful thoughts from Fr. Anthony Cekada (+) regarding scrupulosity.

http://www.traditionalmass.org/articles/article.php?id=4&catname=9

This resource helped a lot when I was having severe scrupulosity 10-12 years ago, its not a traditional source, per se, but their recommendations and rules are similar to those on the Fr. Cekada link.  It is a ministry of the Redemptorists so they naturally rely heavily on St. Alphonsus.

https://scrupulousanonymous.org/
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Offline drummerboy

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2021, 01:15:30 PM »
This seems to be me. Mine gets triggered by reading austere books or sermons. Most recently on Sensus fidelium where the priest was talking about bad confessions and recidivists and I got so much anxiety and will literally think for hours on if the sermon applies to me. I currently have a list of like over 30 things I consider to be mortal sins and I just went to confession like a month ago

I can only speak personally. I also suffer from scruples, as well as the associated problems of depression and anxiety. I'm fully traditional, but I avoid Youtube sermons from trad priests like the plague. They often leave me discouraged, tempted to despair and frightened for my salvation. I'm well aware of my sins, and they're in my face every day, and I don't care to dwell on them; nor is my path to holiness increased by doing so. But daily I remind myself that God would have poured out his blood for me even if I'd been the only sinner in history. Or I remind myself that even if I committed every sin that it was possible to commit (which I obviously don't), it would still be essentially finite, and therefore nothing compared to the infinite ransom that the God-man paid on the cross. Or remind myself of the priceless life of grace that's in me, and how every act made in a state of grace -- sin alone excepted -- increases this grace in me. And so on.

I am also very careful about what saints I read. St Therese is my go to, along with St Francis de Sales. A healthy dose of St Thomas, or good commentaries on him, can be restorative, because St Thomas's antropology is essentially optimistic. (Read some of Josef Pieper's work, which really brings this out. Fr Garrigou-Lagrange is also great.) And above all, I read scripture, which is God's own words and therefore good for all people at all times and places. But very many saints I avoid, or at least large doses thereof: it doesn't work for me, doesn't help my sanctification.

Finally, I very strongly recommend an article by Fr Christian Kappes called 'The Four Temperaments and the Catholic Soul'. It's online. It's extremely wise, thoroughly orthodox, but also has some advice that may seem surprising. Read the part that applies to melancholics.

Same here, I still struggle to read any religious literature nearly 12 years after my severe bout of scruples, before that I read it voraciously.  When the priest gives the semi-annual sermon on sins of the tongue my scruples go in overdrive and am quiet as a mouse for about a week!  It seems that much of the traditional Catholic literature, with its (rightful) emphasis on preserving the state of grace, created the impression that one will suddenly find themselves with a mortal sin on their soul.  One should remember, esp. those with scruples, that it is not that easy to commit a mortal sin.  A well formed Catholic would literally need to interiorly say to themselves "I will commit a grave sin."  One does not simply walk into mortal sin  ;)
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Offline TandJ

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2021, 03:24:33 PM »
This seems to be me. Mine gets triggered by reading austere books or sermons. Most recently on Sensus fidelium where the priest was talking about bad confessions and recidivists and I got so much anxiety and will literally think for hours on if the sermon applies to me. I currently have a list of like over 30 things I consider to be mortal sins and I just went to confession like a month ago

I can only speak personally. I also suffer from scruples, as well as the associated problems of depression and anxiety. I'm fully traditional, but I avoid Youtube sermons from trad priests like the plague. They often leave me discouraged, tempted to despair and frightened for my salvation. I'm well aware of my sins, and they're in my face every day, and I don't care to dwell on them; nor is my path to holiness increased by doing so. But daily I remind myself that God would have poured out his blood for me even if I'd been the only sinner in history. Or I remind myself that even if I committed every sin that it was possible to commit (which I obviously don't), it would still be essentially finite, and therefore nothing compared to the infinite ransom that the God-man paid on the cross. Or remind myself of the priceless life of grace that's in me, and how every act made in a state of grace -- sin alone excepted -- increases this grace in me. And so on.

I am also very careful about what saints I read. St Therese is my go to, along with St Francis de Sales. A healthy dose of St Thomas, or good commentaries on him, can be restorative, because St Thomas's antropology is essentially optimistic. (Read some of Josef Pieper's work, which really brings this out. Fr Garrigou-Lagrange is also great.) And above all, I read scripture, which is God's own words and therefore good for all people at all times and places. But very many saints I avoid, or at least large doses thereof: it doesn't work for me, doesn't help my sanctification.

Finally, I very strongly recommend an article by Fr Christian Kappes called 'The Four Temperaments and the Catholic Soul'. It's online. It's extremely wise, thoroughly orthodox, but also has some advice that may seem surprising. Read the part that applies to melancholics.

Same here, I still struggle to read any religious literature nearly 12 years after my severe bout of scruples, before that I read it voraciously.  When the priest gives the semi-annual sermon on sins of the tongue my scruples go in overdrive and am quiet as a mouse for about a week!  It seems that much of the traditional Catholic literature, with its (rightful) emphasis on preserving the state of grace, created the impression that one will suddenly find themselves with a mortal sin on their soul.  One should remember, esp. those with scruples, that it is not that easy to commit a mortal sin.  A well formed Catholic would literally need to interiorly say to themselves "I will commit a grave sin."  One does not simply walk into mortal sin  ;)


Have you discussed these sermons with your priest? Have you listened to the Fathers of Mercy channel on YouTube? I really love their stuff.

I went through a very dark time when I first converted (and really still am going through it today) where Iím tempted to believe God doesnít love me, that Iím not forgiven, have to make complete reparation of all my sins. Confession only brings more torture to me. Some days I wonder how much longer I can handle it. Many days I just want to die. Itís awful. I can hardly take care of my children and I am always reluctant to let them go to confession or to let them receive communion because Iím afraid of sacrilege. The worst part is not having access to any priests that can help. It really is laughable when people say Iím scrupulous and not to be when these very writings or sermons seem to confirm to be that scrupulous is the only way to be. It would almost seem that if you arenít scrupulous after hearing some sermons then your conscience is dead. Please I only ask for prayers for whoever reads this as Iím in a very, very dark place mentally right now and I havenít felt any meaningful peace since my conversion 11 years ago and thereís no one who can help me
« Last Edit: January 17, 2021, 03:38:51 PM by TandJ »
 
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Offline james03

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2021, 04:38:27 PM »
Good stuff being posted here, thanks to all who contributed.  God loves you so much, He shed every drop of His Most Precious Blood for love of you.  And He did this seeing every sin you ever committed.  That is the Love of God for you.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

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Offline MundaCorMeum

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #19 on: January 18, 2021, 09:14:36 AM »
Fr. Isaac Relyea posted this conference on YouTube a couple of weeks ago.  He talks at some length about the issue of recidivism and its effects on the validity of sacramental confessions.  He relies primarily on the writings of St. Alphonsus Liguori, so I have no doubt that the content is orthodox.  However, I have to admit that I felt somewhat depressed after listening to it.


Fr. Isaac and St. Alphonsus should be off limits for those of us with scruples.  Despair inevitable....fair warning.

To those who already mentioned St. Teresa of Avila and St. Francis de Sales....yes, absolutely. They are balm to the troubled soul.
 
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Offline MundaCorMeum

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #20 on: January 18, 2021, 09:23:46 AM »
Quote
I get a little twitchy just thinking about reducing my prayer life to only these prayers

Depends on what you mean by "twitchy".  If prayer for you is your opportunity to be in the Charity of God, something that uplifts you, and the thought of reducing that makes you "twitchy", then you don't have scruples.

If the thought of reducing prayer to the minimum required by the Church fills you with dread.  You have scruples.  On the surface, scruples is the belief that God lays traps for you to damn you.  It's completely opposite: God is trying to save you while allowing you free will.

Down deep, scruples is a fear of your free will, and it is looking for the ability to say "It wasn't my fault!" while you burn in hell.  God wants to save you, so Love Him for that.  Live a Catholic life, and when you fail, say an act of contrition and head for the confessional, trusting in the Love of God.  Pray also for the virtue of Hope.  God gives you opportunity after opportunity to repent, and the Grace to repent.  Trust in the Love of God.  Charity is the King of Virtues.


It's stems from a little of both.  I wouldn't fear hell if I reduced my prayer life,but it would feel atleast venially sinful.  My time in prayer, particularly scripture, brings peace, too, though.  I don't do it just so I won't feel guilty. I genuinely enjoy time in prayer with Our Lord, because I love Him.

I think scrupulosity also manifests as a form of subtle pride.  You spend so much time thinking about yourself and your sins, and it becomes your focus.  When the reality is that Christ belongs at the center....not me or my sins.  Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less - literally.

I don't think I have the "it's not my fault" syndrome, but I absolutely could be wrong there.  My sins and faults are absolutely my fault, but my scrupulosity and despair stem more from the idea that no matter how hard I try, I can't be holy or virtuous.  I feel like I simply can't please Our Lord, no matter how hard I try.  So, it makes me afraid to let Him into my heart, and I put up walls, because I don't want to offend Him, which it's inevitable that I will.  Making myself vulnerable to that disappointment is too much to bear. 

However, I will still serve Him until the day I die.  I don't want to give up; I just don't think I'll succeed in actually making it to heaven, because I'm too sinful.
 

Offline james03

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #21 on: January 18, 2021, 10:56:49 AM »
Understand that reducing prayers for 3 days is just a test to see if you have scruples.  If following what the Church requires makes you think you are sinning, even venally, then you have scruples.

And yes, at the core there is pride.  Fr. Ripperger tells people with scruples: "You're not that important".  And you aren't.  If you go to hell, God can make a billion more people if he wants.

Quote
I don't want to give up; I just don't think I'll succeed in actually making it to heaven, because I'm too sinful.
  Considering the sinful life I led in my youth, I doubt that.  God gave me the gift of grace to repent.  I highly doubt your life now is more sinful than what I was living.

The Good News is Good News because it was the greatest bargain ever given to mankind.  Receive the sacraments, pray (and what is REQUIRED is minimum), and when you mess up, say an act of contrition and have a firm purpose to go to confession.  That's the basics.  Pray for the Virtue of Hope.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."

"Although He should kill me, I will trust in Him"
 

Offline nmoerbeek

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2021, 04:13:42 PM »
Easy test for scruples.

For one week, only say a morning offering in the morning, and an act of contrition before bed.  For one week, that's it, no other prayers or devotions.

If you feel like you are sinning or are at risk of going to hell during this period, you have scruples.

I don't agree with your advice. Are these your own ideas or did you read them somewhere?    Prayer is an affirmative law, "Pray without ceasing" 1 Thessalonians 5: 17/

Prayer  is an obligation. Neglect of prayer can be either a mortal or venial sin. What pious authors disagree on is when we start committing sin by neglecting prayer, or how great of a sin.  You can read about this in most Pre Vatican II moral theology books.

Furthermore, Christians are bound to pray when they find themselves in temptation, which is a daily occurrence. 

« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 04:21:16 PM by nmoerbeek »
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Offline nmoerbeek

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #23 on: January 18, 2021, 04:20:14 PM »
It is a much bigger problem in my opinion that people falsely diagnose a fragile conscience, which is a gift from God, with scruples.  It is a normal part of spiritual development that we reach a point where we fear venial sin and even take great pains to avoid it. 
"Let me, however, beg of Your Beatitude...
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Offline james03

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #24 on: January 18, 2021, 05:22:30 PM »
Quote
I don't agree with your advice. Are these your own ideas or did you read them somewhere?    Prayer is an affirmative law, "Pray without ceasing" 1 Thessalonians 5: 17/

Yes it's my own "test".  Again, it is a test.  If you can't go 3 days COMPLYING with the requirements of the Church without fearing you are sinning.  You have scruples.

And do you really think it is a good idea telling people with scruples there is an affirmative law to "pray without ceasing"?
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."

"Although He should kill me, I will trust in Him"
 

Offline nmoerbeek

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2021, 06:35:26 PM »
Quote
I don't agree with your advice. Are these your own ideas or did you read them somewhere?    Prayer is an affirmative law, "Pray without ceasing" 1 Thessalonians 5: 17/

Yes it's my own "test".  Again, it is a test.  If you can't go 3 days COMPLYING with the requirements of the Church without fearing you are sinning.  You have scruples.

And do you really think it is a good idea telling people with scruples there is an affirmative law to "pray without ceasing"?

 The law to pray without ceasing comes from the New Testament, and is directly spoken of in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  To pray without ceasing is a requirement of Christian Love.  You are telling people to ignore a positive law, and then telling people that if they feel uncomfortable (which every pious Christian should if they took your test) that they are suffering from a very specific spiritual disease. This is a bad test, as most devout Christians should rightfully feel agitated from abandoning their prayer life to embrace a minimalism a 4 year old easily exceed by praying before their 3 meals.

Prayer is a vital necessity, telling people suffering from scruples to pray less is asking for spiritual disaster.  They should rather make many prayers like "Jesus I trust in you"  "My Jesus Mercy"  "Lord, I have put all my hope in thee, let me not be confounded".

"Let me, however, beg of Your Beatitude...
not to think so much of what I have written, as of my good and kind intentions. Please look for the truths of which I speak rather than for beauty of expression. Where I do not come up to your expectations, pardon me, and put my shortcomings down, please, to lack of time and stress of business." St. Bonaventure, From the Preface of Holiness of Life.

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Offline christulsa

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #26 on: January 18, 2021, 06:48:44 PM »
James is talking about scrupulous people who believe you are required to do many FORMAL prayers every day under pain of sin.  Hence the test for that particular group to do the basic minimum, to ID scruples.  But we are not even strictly speaking, under pain of sin, required to formally pray every day, or so many times of day, even though that is the constant tradition and recommendation.   If you're not attending to duties of state first, but spending long periods of the day going to daily Mass, adoration, rosary group, etc, because you think that is God's will, while the dishes are piling up at home, and the bills aren't getting paid, you would agree that suggests scruples and some remedy for them.  I'm sure priests have given similar advise. 

And you can still "pray without ceasing" without any formality or hardly even thinking about it throughout the day.  I deal with a chronic pain condition, so every moment I offer it up even subconsciously I am praying.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 06:52:31 PM by christulsa »
 

Offline Jmartyr

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #27 on: January 18, 2021, 07:37:19 PM »
« Last Edit: January 18, 2021, 07:50:53 PM by Jmartyr »
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Offline nmoerbeek

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #28 on: January 18, 2021, 07:58:21 PM »
James is talking about scrupulous people who believe you are required to do many FORMAL prayers every day under pain of sin.  Hence the test for that particular group to do the basic minimum, to ID scruples.  But we are not even strictly speaking, under pain of sin, required to formally pray every day, or so many times of day, even though that is the constant tradition and recommendation.   If you're not attending to duties of state first, but spending long periods of the day going to daily Mass, adoration, rosary group, etc, because you think that is God's will, while the dishes are piling up at home, and the bills aren't getting paid, you would agree that suggests scruples and some remedy for them.  I'm sure priests have given similar advise. 

And you can still "pray without ceasing" without any formality or hardly even thinking about it throughout the day.  I deal with a chronic pain condition, so every moment I offer it up even subconsciously I am praying.

Are you admitting that your opinion and James opinion is guided by conjecture and vibes off of what you think priest would say? There are numerous books on this topic, and that address this topic.  Scrupulosity, which is a serious problem deserves a better medicine.

James minimum of prayer is wrong, and it is so wrong that for a soul to follow it could in fact drive a person into further sin.  Formal Prayer is not an enemy.  Vocal prayer is not an enemy.    Prayer is one of the only ways to overcome the spiritual ailment of scrupulosity.  Scrupulosity is rooted in defects against the virtue of Hope and Charity which are increased through the sacraments and prayer.   A person suffering from scruples does not need less prayer in their life.  Furthermore, James advocacy of a minimal prayer life to give oneself a little test if they are scrupulous is telling Christians to withdraw from calling on God for help.

I can only hope that such advice arises out of ignorance, because on its face it appears to be diabolic.
"Let me, however, beg of Your Beatitude...
not to think so much of what I have written, as of my good and kind intentions. Please look for the truths of which I speak rather than for beauty of expression. Where I do not come up to your expectations, pardon me, and put my shortcomings down, please, to lack of time and stress of business." St. Bonaventure, From the Preface of Holiness of Life.

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Offline nmoerbeek

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Re: Scrupulousity
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2021, 07:59:45 PM »
Probably the best thing I've read on scruples.
https://fatherdoyle.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/scruples-and-their-treatment.pdf

From the source that Jmartyr posted

"First Remedy: Prayer.
The precept laid down by our Lord Jesus Christ to pray in temptation is evidently
applicable to scruples, which are a great danger even to salvation.
Satan would mock at our weakness in our fight with scruples, as Goliath mocked
at David, unless we were armed by prayer with the very strength of God.
And so prayer, however dry and against the grain, is needed by the soul that is a
prey to scruples.
ďWatch ye and pray that ye enter not into temptationĒ (Matt. 26:41)"
"Let me, however, beg of Your Beatitude...
not to think so much of what I have written, as of my good and kind intentions. Please look for the truths of which I speak rather than for beauty of expression. Where I do not come up to your expectations, pardon me, and put my shortcomings down, please, to lack of time and stress of business." St. Bonaventure, From the Preface of Holiness of Life.

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