Thursday, May 05, 2011

Good Articles on Scrupulosity

Did you know that a few of our saints suffered from scruples?  One was St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists and the other was St. Therese of Lisieux.

Not too long ago I became concerned that I may have a tendency for being too scrupulous.  The conflict arose because the books I read during my spiritual reading (e.g. books by St. Francis de Sales, ) strongly suggest regular weekly confessions.  The saintly authors warns the reader to be careful not to offend God in even the slightest ways.  Even venial sins are encouraged to be confessed because if we are not vigilant, they can lead to more serious sins.  We know that it is the mortal sins that must be confessed as soon as possible.  The venial sins are forgiven at Mass.  Yet, some of our dear priests feel going to confession regularly is not necessary and in fact, may be a sign of scrupulosity.

That is why a spiritual director or regular confessor is important...even vital to our spiritual growth.

I went online to see if I could find answers to a particular concern.  I did find a few articles which I found very helpful and insightful.  I am sharing them here just in case anyone could benefit from them.

1. Catholic Culture: Scrupulosity and How to Overcome it
...Such people are convinced that because of the presence of evil in their life, God must be displeased with them. As a result, any sin — any manifestation of weakness or imperfection, often the most minute and insignificant — becomes their primary preoccupation, and an intimate relationship with the Lord is impossible.

This type of affliction is often called a "tender conscience," but a more accurate description of people who suffer in this way is that they are scrupulous...

2. New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia - Definition of Scruple

3. Catholic Spiritual Direction: What if I Have Nothing to Confess, Should I still go to Confession?

...The sacramental grace of confession is primarily the forgiveness of sins, but it is also, secondarily, the spiritual strengthening of the soul. This is why it is called a sacrament of healing. It heals (reconciles) our relationships with God and with the Church, which have been wounded or broken by personal sin, and at the same time strengthens those relationships. When we break a bone, the body will repair it with an extra dose of calcium, so that the bone is actually stronger at the break point after the healing than it was before the injury. Something similar happens with confession. God pours out his strengthening grace in a special way on the aspects of our spiritual organism, so to speak, that we present to him in confession.

Now you can understand why the devil works so hard to keep us away from frequent, regular confession. If our relationship with God has been ruptured (by mortal sin), he doesn’t want it reconciled. But even if it has just been wounded (venial sin), he doesn’t want it strengthened.

This sacrament, however, proffers even more benefits to the soul than the sacramental graces of forgiveness and strengthening. Making a good confession requires the arduous task of self-reflection. Ongoing self-examination is, all spiritual writers agree, a basic ingredient in spiritual progress. We have to discover, with God’s help, how miserable and needy we really are, spiritually speaking, in order to open ourselves confidently and eagerly to God’s action. Going to confession is also like doing a major spiritual workout. Through the process of self-examination, repentance, confession, and penance, we exercise every major spiritual-muscle group: the theological virtues (faith, hope, love for God), humility (it’s not exactly self-inflating to kneel down and systematically expose our faults and failings), justice, prudence, fortitude (it takes courage to step into a confessional), and self-denial. This sacrament is like a gymnasium of Christian virtue. Frequent and regular workouts therein will do wonders for our spiritual health...

4. Catholic Spiritual Direction: Scrupulosity which includes links to the following:

- Understanding and Overcoming Scrupulosity – Part I
- Understanding and Overcoming Scrupulosity – Part II
- 10 Commandments of Scrupulosity
- Is it a sin to have bad thoughts? How do I deal with bad thoughts? How can I be sure to avoid the unforgivable sin?


Anonymous said...

Interesting and informational - Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A great book to read is "Frequent Confession",by Benedict Bauer. When I lived near a church that gave "Evenings of Recollection" by Opus Dei priests they had confession every Friday. It was wonderful. The priests were well trained. They encouraged it. Looking back now I so do miss it. I had such a refinement of spirit. They stressed how it strengthen the soul to fight against our weaknesses. They also reminded us that it was a spiritual exercise for the soul as exercise is for the body. It kept you spiritual fit. I took my children to weekly confession thru their entire childhood. I can see the results as extremely beneficial. It foster keeping their souls clean and ready and strengthened. It fostered a good habit. The pope goes to confession everyday. We are all called to be saints. I can't say enough. Some weeks it was simple and took little time and other weeks it was longer and complicated. Just like life. I recommend reading "Frequent Confession". It is a spiritual classic.

EC Gefroh said...

You're welcome.

Thank you very much for this recommendation. It sounds like something I would love to read.

Alorsie said...

I definately agree with anonymous, confessing weekly is a good habit and it helps a lot. In the case of scrupulosity though - I can say this because I suffer from OCD scruples-- you feel the need to confess at least on a daily basis or say , you've just confessed and an hour later (or even earlier) you're terribly anxious about having sinned (mortal sin, especially) or having done a bad confession.
I think that the difference between being scrupulous and just confessing frequenlty to receive more grace to fight our weaknesses, is the level of worry and anxiety! One can confess weekly or even daily like the Pope but don't feel anxious or terribly worried about their sins (thinking over and over about them); we have to take in count that repenting or being sorry for having offended God doesn't means necessarily to be terribly anxious about it...
Take care :)

EC Gefroh said...

Good point Lors.

Anonymous said...

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