HOW CAN I OVER COME MY SCRUPLES
THERE IS CLEAR HELP WITH SCRUPULOSITY
Today, few people understand what true scrupulous thinking is and can guide others correctly with this condition towards a wonderful life of peace, spiritual growth and towards a saving faith.
Disordered scrupulous thinking is when we have an inordinate fear of sinning which leads us away from God or a fear we have sinned when we haven’t. For someone with true over scrupulous thinking or defective scruples this can be a real problem with spiritual growth and trust in God if it lingers.
“A conscience is scrupulous when, for a frivolous reason and without rational basis, there is a frequent fear of sin even though in reality there is no sin at all.”
–St. Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church
Many people suffer from anxieties over many things and sinning can be one of them. However, having scruples as the saints say can be very beneficial. Therefore, if guided correctly, learning how modify our thinking and actions, from God’s grace, all of our anxieties can be gone, and we can grow wonderfully in faith.
Good Scruples – Bad Scruples
Despite today’s negative thinking on scruples and some horrible misconceptions, being scrupulous can actually be good as St. Henry Suso says:
“Persons afflicted with scruples are the most favored by Divine Love, and the surest to arrive at Heaven.”
–St. Henry Suso
However, if we are suffering much with anxiety, we might not understand how this is so.
Let’s look at its definition.
A Scruple: to hesitate or be reluctant in doing something that we think may be wrong.
Don’t we want to hesitate and be reluctant in doing something wrong? Of course. Who wants to sin without restraint and not even care if we are offending God? We want our conscience–our scruples-our fear of sin–to stop us from sinning.
How can we even love God, with a true love, if we don’t even desire to turn from our sinful ways? We can’t.
“[We must] turn from darkness [sin] to light [The Way] and from the power of Satan [desiring sin] to God [desiring God], so that they [we] may obtain forgiveness of sins” (Acts 26:18).
A heart that doesn’t want to avoid sin or amend our ways, who doesn’t hate/fear sin, can’t even obtain forgiveness of our sins. Therefore having scruples is necessary if we want Eternal Life.
Too much scruples or defective scruples is what we want to avoid, since, as with anything good in life, it can be done in excess or become pushed outside of reality. This is where scruples can harm our spiritual growth.
Effects of Good Scruples (desires coming from God):
- Possessing great Fear of the Lord: fear of sin and its consequences–servile fear: fear of God’s punishments from sin or finial fear: fear of losing or offending God whom we should be loving (a requirement for salvation) (Proverbs 8:13)
- Honestly wanting to know our sins: daily examination of conscience and repenting when any sin is recognized (1 Timothy 4:16)
- Growing in self-knowledge of our misery, knowing we can do nothing truly good without Him; gaining humility (John 15:5)
- Desiring, with all our hearts, to not sin and live for God’s will: growing in love with God (John 8:11)
- Wanting to work hard to seek God’s grace, and remove our sins: seeking God’s help to love Him (Proverbs 2:!1)
- Striving to become a saint: wanting to sin no more, to reach Christian perfection (1 Corinthians 1:2)
- Wanting to atone for our sins committed after baptism: seeking to make right our wrongs to love God and save souls (Colossians 1:24)
- Avoiding people, places, things, etc. that tempt us to sin: removing all occasions of sin (1 Corinthians 15:33)
- Working to increase our contrition/hatred for sin: seeking to grow in contrition to reach true contrition/finial fear of Lord (Luke 7:47)
- Trusting in God and His will: understanding that if we stay persistent in striving to truly follow Christ–The Way–no matter how much we sin–God will teach us how to truly hate all of our sins and bring us to a saving faith (John 14:6).
Above are the good symptoms of scruples, which the saints followed to find true love for God, true contrition for their sins, wonderful peace and of course Heaven…lets emulate them.
These are the scruples we want to have, but tragically most don’t understand the way the saints traveled and bounds of people, who mean well, but are very misguided are leading many with these great scruples away from The Way. To learn more please read, “What is Fear of the Lord.”
Effects of Bad Scruples:
- Fear of sinning when there is no sin (disordered scruple)
- Being over consumed with wanting to know our sins–wasting our thoughts–which prevents us from focusing most of our thoughts on how to love and please God (immoderate scruple)
- Doing religious practices obsessively mainly out of fear of Hell, not trust/love for God (immoderate/disordered scruple)
- Crying, outside of moderation, over our great sinfulness (immoderate scruple)
- Not finding good in everything…even our sins, which are God’s lessons and how we are humbled (disordered scruple)
- Feeling discouraged over not successfully stopping sin (disordered scruple)
- Not feeling our best effort–where we are in our faith–is enough (disordered scruple)
- Blaming ourselves for all of our suffering/punishment (immoderate scruple)
- Thinking we have sold our souls to the devil or are possessed by the devil, if we haven’t done anything to promote possession (disordered scruple)
- Doubt our confession was good–from where we are in our spiritual life, thinking we did not do the best we could in confessing our sins. Believe we won’t receive at least helping grace from God even though we thoroughly examined our conscience, didn’t intentionally omit or reduce the gravity of any sins, believe we are firmly resolved to not commit the sin again, truly plan to modify our life and seek God’s grace for help to amend from fear of the Lord. (disordered scruple)
- Don’t feel we have been forgiven of a sin–even though our contrition is great and we would rather suffer anything, even death, that commit the sin against God again, since we can’t bear offending God, whom we should be adoring. (disordered scruple)
- Great doubts if we are living justified–forgiven of all sin–even though from accepting God’s transforming grace, we have grown and grown into great contrition for our sins, no longer habitually chose any sin, hate every sin we have ever committed so much we continuously feel we would rather do or suffer anything, even death, than commit a single offence against Our Beloved Lord (disordered scruple)
- Living outside of peace–having anxiety over sinning and fear death–even though we are walking on the Path of Life or seeking to to one day walk on the Path of Life, which is proven since we are growing in our hatred for sin, continuously amending more and more sin, and growing in virtue/becoming more and more like Christ. (disordered scruple)
St. John Vianney describes someone who has true (disordered) scruples as a person being in "a fog as is unable to discern between right and wrong, between sin and temptation. [Who] persists in seeing grave moral evil where none exists."
Knowing the difference between sin and no sin is vital to understanding if we are truly scrupulous or not. Many of us today are being called scrupulous when we are just blessed with Fear of the Lord and a keen awareness of our misery (sinfulness)…which are wonderful blessings from God, and needed to obtain a saving faith.
If only people with these blessings were taught how to walk in the Way of Perfection, they would learn how to live in great peace….growing in fear of the Lord and humility. But correct guidance is very hard to find.
Correct Scurples Leads to Great Peace
With the correct scruples being embraced as good and from God…not trying to run form them or remove, a soul will desire to perfectly love/obey God and “always try to find out wherein lies the greatest perfection” (St. Teresa of Avila), so to always seek to love/please God by not sinning. Sure there is a correct way to do this and a wrong one, but having correct scruples causes a souls to want to perfectly love God…always doing His will and not their own.
People embracing their good scruples, who fear of sin, don’t do it in distress because those who have grown in their faith have learned how to TRUST IN GOD to bring the into a saving faith through their fear of the Lord. They have come to know God’s love for them and have grown in great love of Him knowing He is leading them towards a saving faith.
The key to never having any anxiety with our sins is through letting go of our will and having complete Trust in Him…“Happy the one who trusts in the Lord!” (Proverbs 16:20)…but we must be striving to truly follow Him by learning and changing so to grow into His image or our trust will simply be in vain.
We can’t trust in God to save us, if we aren’t allowing Him to take away our liking for our sins and lead us into a mature, saving faith, in Christ. Please read the article on the home page of this site to learn more.
“[Only] those who have grown to maturity [into a saving faith] in the grace of God will find the joy of adopted children in the kingdom of heaven”
–St. Andrew Kim Taegon
We must grow from some faith into a true saving faith and that won’t happen unless we come to truly TRUST IN HIM.
But to come to even fully understand why we must Trust in Him, we need to know why “the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
We need to learn what our goal is with our faith, why it is so hard to travel to Heaven and why the “crown of Life” so challenging to obtain…then we need to fully understand why we really need Our Savior so we don’t die from ignorance. That way we will be sure to be amoung the “few.” Please read, “How to Trust in God.”
“Many are called [to Heaven] but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14)
Remove Disordered Scruples but Not Good Scruples
All disordered scruples we want to remove all together They keep us from God, that is if for us, our scruples are in fact disordered.
Even with people with great faith, who want to perfectly love God, might, once in awhile, suffer from exaggerating reality, being so sensitive to sin that they see sin where there is no sin. This is because the greatly faithful can’t bear offending God, whom they want to love and can strive too hard to please God and then rely on their own power to amend their ways and not enough on God’s mercy (help).
We want to learn how to modify our scruples so our concerns/fears about sin aren’t too little or too great and are moving us towards Life, so we can find “The Way of Peace” (Romans 3:17).
“My child, know that the greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and an exaggerated anxiety.”
–Jesus to St. Faustina
For many our concerns “scruples” are in fact quite founded and not without reason. Therefor, our anxiety isn’t exaggerated…but justifiable.
Lets say we haven’t grown greatly in our faith yet and don’t have great fear of the Lord nor are we even seeking it–like sadly most are–as we prove since we aren’t correctly seeking God’s grace, removing sin after sin growing in Christ’s image, then we should be outside of peace and have anxiety over our sins. They are killing us!
If we don’t have Jesus, Our Savior, removing our habitual sins, leading us to a SAVING FAITH (true love and true contrition for our sins) by truly striving to live the faith–to not sin–then we should be terrified to suffer the eternal consequences of our sins. We are still rejecting Jesus for sin from lacking true sorrow for them (not being resolved to amend them). To learn more please read “What is True Sorrow.”
Trying to force someone to not fear death when we aren’t TRULY living the faith, nor even trying with all of our heart to stop offending God…only leads us to our eternal doom.
“He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9).
We need to learn how to obey the faith that saves…we need to learn how to truly follow Christ and be truly sorry for our sins if we fail…and we aren’t sorry if we aren’t even trying to obey…to become a real perfect saint.
Removing fear isn’t how we trust in God…that is ABANDONMENT OF THE FAITH.
Fear is the “beginning of wisdom” (proverbs 9:10)…the beginning of real faith. Fear is supposed to motivate us to repent and change, so we can one day perfectly love God. When we fear God, Jesus sends us much transforming grace to teach, strengthen, and guide us to come to truly hate every one of our sins.
We must live the faith to be saved by it. Fear is a blessing. Please don’t remove our fear…it is meant to motivate us to SAVE US. To learn more please read the article “What is Fear of the Lord.”
“The fear of the Lord [fear of sin and its consequences] is a fountain of life, turning one from the snares of death [spuring one to avoid and stop sinning so to love God]. (Proverbs 14:27)
Some of our scruples are just the correct amount of fear. But for all of our immoderate scruples, we want to reduce them to a correct level–to what is appropriate for us–at the current place we are in our spiritual life, so our scruples will benefit us…not hinder us.
Some people will have some good scruples and some bad. Even though there are sadly many who still have no good or bad scruples. Nonetheless, we need to honestly look at ourselves and see which scruples we have that are good, which ones need to grow, which have gotten out of control and which need moderation, and which ones need to leave all together. Then change our life accordingly (as I will explain). After that we will obtain the perfect amount of good scruples so we can follow Christ to Heaven. To learn more please read “How to be a True Follower of Christ.”
Sadly, because we live in a time of great darkness, many lack true understanding of the faith that saves and so many good people, even the faithful among us, have become deceived and now think having fear of sinning is something bad.
As a result, instead of learning how to use our fear of sin to bring us into a life of great peace…that wonderful most needed gift from God, is most tragically being removed by the misguidance of others, which leads to death…not Life.
“The gift of fear of the Lord is definitely the basis [of the Holy Spirit]. It is the fear of sin.”
–Pope St. John Paul II, Spiritual Diary
We must have a fear of the Lord–fear of sin.
All sin is terrifying!
The consequences of sin are horrible:
- Every sin wounds God’s Sacred Heart of Love in Heaven,
- Each sin we commit caused additional pain to Our Lord during His crucifixion,
- Every sin we choose rejects grace and separates us from Him,
- From that rejection of grace, sin creates much blindness to The Way preventing us from knowing how to obtain Heaven,
- From being weakened in grace we are now increasingly susceptible to more and greater sin
- Sin produces great suffering on earth, purgatory (for the few saved souls who grow enough in their faith to reject all of their sins but still don’t atone for those committed after baptism) and hell (for the majority who refuse to hear, repent and change)
Our sins hurt God, others and ourselves so greatly, we could never fathom the injury of a single sin. We must fear sin!
“The just man shall scarcely be saved” (1 Peter 4:18)…so if “the just man who has [truly] observed the divine law, has pardoned enemies, has respected the saints, has practised chastity [purity/morality], [lived in] meekness, and other virtues, shall scarcely be saved” (St. Alphonosus)...”Where shall the ungodly and the sinners appear?” (1 Peter 4:18).
“Let us fear nothing so much as sin.” –St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church
If we fear sin, we are one of the blessed, who have received God’s gift from the Holy Spirit…not someone with a problem. Don’t allow someone to convince us other wise. They are sadly deceived.
Fear Sin – Great Grace
Fearing sin doesn’t mean we lack faith but actually quite the opposite. It means we have the “beginning of wisdom,” since “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). It is the beginning of understanding why we need to repent and change…it’s the beginning of real faith…a faith that can proceed towards Life.
Without fear of sin–wisdom–we won’t ever obtain happiness on earth or eternally. ” We simply won’t truly understand how sin is terrifying, and need to change. Without wisdom, we seek to change for reasons outside of faith…like seeking to be a good person or have a better life, but athiests do this too. Those aren’t reasons based upon faith–fear of the Lord.
When we have wisdom–true wisdom–we seek to amend our ways so to avoid God’s punishments (His justice) and/or to love God. Wisdom–fear of the Lord–fear of sin–makes our intentions driven from faith..inspired by God.
If our fear of sin is from a concern we are to suffer death from our sins–we have servile fear–and/or if we are horrified to offend God whom we should be loving with all of our heart and chose to change for that reason–we have finial fear. Those two fears alone are the “beginning of wisdom.” Praise God if we have any one of them! We will begin with the first and end with the latter, but praise God for fear. We can now begin to find the Path of Life. Each fear is good and necessary as one lead to the other and towards perfection.
“My beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
Most people with a fear of sin are misdiagnosed as having scrupulosity, with the connotation of it being something bad, when it isn’t. Sure it might be mismanaged and cause too much anxiety (from a lack of understanding and trust), and perhaps it has gone to a few extremes, but we most certain don’t want to remove our scruples all together, as scruples are wonderful GIFTS FROM GOD.
Some people suffer from an inordinate fear of sinning–a conscience which is scrupulous for a frivolous reason without ration–who think they are sinning when they aren’t. But this is very rare and mostly for people quite advanced in faith who can’t bear offending God by the slightest offences. Most people, not so close to sanctity, who are given knowledge of a sin from God, don’t understand what is sinful and what isn’t, they are told it isn’t sinful.
The reason why most people just don’t understand what is a sin and what isn’t…what is mortal or what is venial, and what the real goal in life is…to perfectly love God, is because they have been deceived. To learn more about what makes a mortal sin please read, “What are the Mortal Sins,” since understanding what keeps us from accepting God’s saving mercy is greatly misunderstood.
However, if we are sinning and suffer anxiety over it, to over come this, we need to learn how to follow Christ correctly and trust in Him. It is by truly striving to live the faith and trusting in God to save us, that all anxiety will leave. Our fear will stay, but anxiety will leave, and our trust will increase. That is why, the saints instruct us to, “live in fear and trembling lest he fall [into deadly sin]” (St. John of Avila)….our fear is very good.
But fear is good only if used correctly. The vast majority who are suffering from a fear of sinning, are not growing in wonderful peace, removing sin after sin and growing in holiness mostly because of misguidance.
People want to help, but even people who seem very qualified, just don’t know how to provide the correct assistance. This is because, most of us want to run from reality if there is suffering, guilt or fear involved. We don’t want to experience anything outside of pleasure, so we do all we can to escape discomfort…thinking it’s bad.
As a result, many have been told having scruples–fear of sin–is something we don’t want. Like I said, many try to guide others away from having any fear of sinning, which couldn’t be worse direction no matter what kind of scruples someone might have.
Misunderstand the Saints
Some people make a grave error and mis-interpret the guidance of the saints, in regards to how to deal with scruples. Some don’t know if the saint is referring to good scruples, too much scruples, or defective scruples. While others simply don’t understand the faith well enough and misunderstand The Way the saints are speaking about.
Then even others will think the saints are speaking to them–someone of less than saintly faith–and they follow or give the saints guidance–that is meant for someone of great faith–and as a result they wind up stripping themselves and others of advancing in their faith, being deceived, striving to remove their gift of Fear of the Lord (fear of sin and its consequences)…tragic!
Don’t Understand Forgiveness
Many have been so horribly misconceived and think once we turn to God wanting to stop sinning, we are forgiven. But that too is very far from the truth that saves.
Wanting to amend our sinful ways is simply only the very beginning of wisdom (the beginning of real faith…not a saving faith), like I said, that is if our desire to stop sinning is with the goal of becoming a perfect saint–to sin no more–driven from fear (servile or finial fear–wisdom). Anything under having the goal of becoming a perfect saint isn’t even the beginning of wisdom…but still a lukewarm desire to change.
To have true contrition as the saints and the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach, we must grow in faith to have enough humility and contrition which is so great, “we are willing to endure any suffering rather than offend God in the future by sin” (Baltimore CCC #393), which must bedriven by imperfect contrition (servile fear) or perfect contrition (finial fear). To learn more please read the article, “What is Fear of the Lord.”
But sadly, most are far from having this kind of contrition, and greatly need Our Savior, as we still habitually choose many many sins from a lack of sincere desire to suffer or even be inconvienced in order to work towards amending our sins. Reality is, we hardly put any effort or do anything to see we turn from evil (sin) other than worry about it, which isn’t the solution for anything. To learn more please read the article “How to Stop Sinning.”
“Not unfrequently [but frequently] the ordinary confessions of persons leading an everyday life [not striving for true sanctity] are full of great faults, and that because they make little or no preparation and have not the needful contrition [to be forgiven].“
–St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church
Now for some, moved greatly by grace, this contrition can happen instantly (at least for a moment), but for most to even gain a momentary TRULY humble (knows ones great sinfulness) contrite (truly sorrowful) heart for even one sin is hard. However to obtain it for all of of our trespasses every committed, for many, it takes a life time of seeking God’s mercy (transforming grace) to learn to truly hate what we constantly chose–sin. Honestly, we simply can’t be truly sorry for any sin if we aren’t daily imploring God’s mercy, making and implementing resolutions, learning and modifying our life to CHANGE. To learn more please read, “How Bad Confession Can Damn Us.”
“Bad confessions damn the majority of Christians.”
— St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church
This is where faith comes in. By having faith: trusting in God to save us–no matter how wretched we are, with peaceful trust in God, we run to Him over and over again, for grace after grace (help), to teach, guide and strength us, so we can grow one day into having true hatred and true sorrow for our sins.
Truly, we must seek Our Savior to grow and grow in our contrition from just some sorrow into to gaining a true contrition for each and every sin if we wish the salvation of our souls. Such lukewarm teaching on how to be saved, which is spreading today, only leads to poor confessions and tragically death. Please don’t be deceived. Please read the article “The Lack of True Sorrow for ONE Sin Rejects God’s Gift of Eternal Life.”
“The way to happiness leads through the confessional.”
–Pope St. John Paul II
Oh, how many people striving for holiness, who God has blessed with a great fear of sin, who understand the horror of sin, who know the power given through the sacrament and want to attend frequent confession to repent and seek God’s grace so to grow in holiness, are turned away!
The priest, not intending any harm, simply doesn’t understand the blessings from confession, the difference between…venial or mortal sin….over scrupulous or perfect scruples…horribly the devil has deceived many of God’s chosen ones. “[The confessors said] that which was a venial sin, they told me was no sin at all; of that which was most grievously mortal, they said it was venial. This did me so much harm.” –St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church
“[A faithful lady] was troubled by some scruple…wished to go to confession…and for that purpose went to the church…the father rector…said, ‘Tell her to go home; there is no necessity for her to go to confession.’…[later] she was in the church, and in great distress of mind. St. John of the Cross came out of his confessional…went up to her, heard her confession at once, and sent her home calm and tranquil, delivered from all her troubles.”
–Fra Joseph of Jesus and Mary, Life of St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church
There are times when confession shouldn’t be frequented such as:
- if we believe we must frequent confession or we will perish; we need to understand even if we can’t frequent confession, if we truly desire salvation, God will provide a way;
- if we only confess the same sins over and over again; we need to gain greater fear of the Lord so we will truly accept God’s transforming grace and work hard to amend our ways;
- if we can’t see our sins and only make up sins that aren’t even sins; we need to learn what true sins are and how to make a correct examination of conscience, so we can make a true confession;
- if we grow in anxiety–not peace–after each confession; we need to learn how to trust in God so to embrace His Way of Peace.
Confession is a wonderful way to grow in holiness, as it is God’s chief gift to assist us in the removal of sin, but it is only wonderful if it is helping us to increase our happiness.
If we are growing in greater anxiety with each confession, then we are attending confession for the wrong reasons or not making a correct confession. If that is so, we must modify our way of thinking if we wish to receive the fantastic healing mercy that is waiting for us from frequenting the sacrament of reconciliation. To learn more please read “How to Confess Well.”
“[True] repentance and contrition are an effect of love of God; anxiety is an effect of self-love”
–St. John Vianney
Many saints frequented confession daily…not for any of the above reasons but to grow in love with God by repenting for their sins against their Beloved Lord and accepting His healing transforming grace so to grow towards perfect love of Him…and they did.
When to Frequent Confession:
If we want the blessings the saints received, we need to change our reasoning as to why we want to frequent confession too. We should frequent confession if we:
- See Our Sins: We of course have to be given the grace to see our sins (enough to have sins to confess) so we have something to confess
- Trust in God’s Mercy: We must want to grow in trust and trust in God’s mercy, to some degree, to bless us with at least helping grace–if not saving grace–from confession, if we have some amount of contrition and desire to amend.
- Able to Remove Our Sins: if we are open enough to accept enough of God’s grace, we will be able to successfully stop or avoid our sins, or at the very least, begin to change in the degree/frequency we commit the sin working towards complete removal. However, if our contrition is very great after each fall, and we don’t seem to be amending very well (as long as this doesn’t perpetuate for a long time) confession can and should still be continued, as God will endlessly forgive and help/strengthen us to sin no more if we are sincere in our desires–at least during confession…but we should know our fall after fall is from relying too much on ourselves and not enough on the unfathomable power of God.
- Have a Scruple (fear that we have sinned): If we have not been told our concern is invalid, then we should confess any fear of sin–especially if we feel greatly guilty. If we have true known disordered scruples, of seeing sin where there is no sin, then we shouldn’t confess those scruples (even if they distress us) and only confess our real sins. To learn how to see if our sins are true sins or not please read the article “How Can I See My Sins.”
If we have been refused confession after we believe we have sought it with the correct intentions, don’t despair; seek another priest to hear our confession and if God wills our confession to be heard, it will…if not, trust in what He allows as the greatest good for our souls.
If it is appropriate and not disrespectful, if our personality can remain meek, it sometimes can be very helpful to explain to the priest why we wish to frequent confession (and I suggest we greatly exercise caution…so we never argue with God’s chosen priests). That way they can perhaps gain understanding and see our desire to confess is for reasons of faith (to grow in grace and holiness)…not disordered fear.
But even our best Holy Spirit guided explanation might not change anything, as sometimes that is God’s will, which is good–as everything that is God’s will is good. Therefore, please don’t become angry, accept God’s will as perfect for you, learn what He wills and pray for the priest that God has placed into your life.
However, if the priest not permitting us to frequent confession is our spiritual director, then we must obey–even if we believe our motives are correct. We must not seek another priest to hear our confession. Obedience is most certainly the greatest good and God’s will.
But we do want to consider if our spiritual director is the right priest for us, as he might be leading us incorrectly, and away from the Light. Therefore, pray; it may be time to leave the spiritual directing relationship. But always remember, we very well might be the ones suffering the blindness…therefore, pray and pray much for guidance from the Holy Spirit….don’t allow our pride to blind and damn us.
We must be so humble, and always looking for God to guide and teach us not only through God’s magnificent priests words but especially through the least of His people, as much of the time God’s greatest guidance comes from those we least expect it…if we have enough humility to see.
Not understanding the value in frequent confessions doesn’t mean that particular priest is suffering any greater darkness than someone who does promote frequent confessions. That isn’t a test of true faith. We all suffer from some degree of darkness since we lack perfection and someone could understand confession pretty well but be so far from truly understanding The Way that his guidance wouldn’t be of any help either. However, we do know, when selecting a spiritual director, if there is one available for us, he must at least be learned in the understanding of what is sinful and what isn’t and not prevent someone, with correct desires, from frequenting the sacraments as they are the means to help save our souls.
Sin or No Sin
For someone to come to the point in life to where we might become so sensitive to sin, that we might see some things as sinful which aren’t is especially prevalent for those of great faith (close or at a saving faith or sanctity). Those who have reduced bounds and bounds of sins and have grown in wonderful grace/virtue, who now can’t bear sinning the slightest offence against their Beloved Lord might exaggerate reality because their desire to love God is so great.
But for the rest of us with lesser faith, if we think we have sinned, we most likely have. To learn more please read, “How to See My Sins.”
Therefore, much of the time when someone tells us we haven’t sinned, when we think we have, they very well might be confused, so be alert.
Now, there are times even someone, who hasn’t advanced greatly in faith, from ignorance, might believe they have sinned when they haven’t. But like I said, this is mostly only a problem for those of great faith and highly sensitive towards sin.
When a priest or anyone lacks of understanding of what is sinful and what isn’t it is mostly because they lack all the facts leading up to the sin.
For example: Lets say, three people confessed that they missed Mass, which is a grave sin. The confessor asked, “why?” Then one stated, He was on vacation and no Mass was available; the other said he was taking care of his sick father and couldn’t go; and the last remarked she was not able to get a ride. Now, all of those excuses are technically valid if there was truly no way they could have attended, which would make that sin, not technically sinful.
However, the first penitent (the person confessing) neglected to tell the priest that when he was planning his vacation he didn’t even plan his trip to make sure that God’s commandments would be fulfilled and negligent to see if there was a Church/Mass available from having the wrong priorities which resulted in no Mass being found on Sunday.
The other person confessing didn’t mention that when he was taking care of his sick father, he could have asked his brother to help out for an hour, so he could have attended Mass, but since he didn’t really take attending Mass that seriously he neglected to even try going.
And the last person confessing said she couldn’t get a ride to Mass, because the regular person who takes her wasn’t available, but since she lacked a passion for attending Mass, she never even looked for another person or service to take her.
As you can see, knowing the correct information and intention leading up to the scruple can make all the difference in determining if something is sinful or not.
Confusion with what is sinful and what isn’t is a big problem today. To over come this, we want to seek the best confessor we can find “whose faculties are trained by practice to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). But when problems still occur, the solution is to state our sin very clearly and actually say completely why our sin is a sin.
For example, when confessing our sin instead of just saying, “I didn’t go to Mass,” we should say, “I didn’t go to Mass because I was up late the night before and from not wanting to be discomforted I chose to abandon the cross and decided to sleep in. From neglecting to place Mass as my first priority, I also got caught up in my day and missed the afternoon Mass too.” Now the priest knows clearly why your sin is a sin and shouldn’t mistakenly declare it as not sinful from having a lack of information.
By stating our sins clearly it won’t only help the priest but it will help us discern the sin under the sin giving us greater means to amend the sins that lead to the sin we can see so we can never chose that offence again.
But if God hasn’t given us the knowledge to understand “Why” something is a sin (why we commit the sin), we won’t be able to help and a confused priest might lead us astray. Therefore pray God gives us greater knowledge of what is truly sinful and why we commit it.
We Are Dripping in Sin
The reality is we sin so many sins, it is unbelievable; we just aren’t aware of most of them. Truly we are dripping in sin. Don’t waste our precious time trying to see all of them…spend most our our time trying to love God by living to fill His will. This is pleasing to God.
Sure, we want to know our sins, as we could leave a great sin not repented/amended if we don’t spend the time to look. We want to look for sins daily, but go about looking to know our sinfulness in moderation. God will enlighten them to us as He wills, mostly over time, as we grow in grace, if we allow Him. We won’t have to spend hours upon hours to see them. They will be easily seen if we just look with humility.
If we want to obtain Eternal Life, it is found by spending our time trying to love God, which is spent by trying to not commit sin…not focusing so much on the sins we have committed, but moving on and focusing more on HOW TO PREVENT NEW SINS FROM OCCURRING, so we can one day perfectly love Him. Please read “How Can I Become a Saint” to learn more.
This great sinfulness of ours is a fact we must accept…but it isn’t a fact to bring us into great despair, as we beat ourselves up and toil and toil to see every sin. That isn’t God’s will. Allow this reality of our great misery to humble us and help us grow in great fear of the Lord so to open us up to understanding God’s truly unfathomable mercy.
“[God] knows our frame [weak nature]” (Psalm 103:14) and deals with us [if we are humble] as a mother with her little baby whom she cherishes and nurses even if it strikes out at her.”
–St. Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church
Just look to how Our Lord constantly calls us, loves us and tries and tries to save us even though we are literally drowning in sin. We greatly afflict and reject Him over and over again; we don’t even hear Him most of the time, and He doesn’t spurn us…yet, He continues to call us to Him.
Please don’t let our great misery tear us down but allow it to bring us to our littleness…our nothingness, so we can gain true humility. And from true humility, may we let go of wanting to control and allow God step by step to remove one sin at a time and give us one virtue (quality of God) at a time, until we are perfect…all along, during this journey, as we truly trust in Him.
The whole of perfect peace comes from trust in Jesus–believing if we follow Him–He will lead us away from sin–that keeps us from peace–and toward a saving faith, as long as we don’t prevent Him.
All we need to do is truly strive to follow Him with our whole heart…that is have a heart willing to accept our falls (whatever God allows to happen), learn from them (grow in knowledge of God’s blessed ways), and move forward with taking the next step in removing sin, growing in contrition/love of God and doing His will as we grow in holiness/happiness towards the purpose of our faith…the salvation of our souls.
Lack of Scruples
Today we can clearly see how most people need more scruples in our decision making since most have no desire to even ponder right from wrong and only act on impulse…never mind have a fear to avoid or stop sinning and do God’s will.
If we have some fear of sinning, we are among the blessed.
This lack of scruples is because the understanding of God’s justice has been removed from most of our consciences and been replaced with the presumption of salvation. We are told, Jesus died for our sins…just believe and you will be saved. We are told to trust in God’s mercy, when we haven’t even grown in faith to truly hate all of our sins and are still rejecting His saving forgiving mercy. We are told so much that keeps us from seeking a saving faith, which steers us towards removing our scruples. We live quite deceived.
Tragically most sin without restraint and the only thing that inhibits them from sinning are the earthly consequences that go with sin (like being embarrassed) or if we have some desire to be good it is mostly from our pride. However, not wanting to sin out of fear of the Lord: fear of God’s punishment from our sins or fear of offending God, whom we should be loving, simply is a lost value today.
Yet, we must gain true Fear of the Lord and good amount of it, so we can come to truly hate all of our sins and accept God’s forgiving saving mercy. Therefore, the correct amount of scruples–the correct fear of sin–that moves us into being vigilant and working towards avoiding and amending our sins is most necessary.
Learn How to Use Our Gift
Those afflicted with suffering from having a concern about sinning need to learn how to use that gift to grow closer to God–and when we do so our anxiety will leave. I will do my best to teach us how to do just that. But please believe having a fear of sin is most certainly a gift from God.
However for some, after they grew so wonderfully in faith and learned how to amend sin after sin and were living lives as wonderful images of Christ, went too far with fearing sin–as the devil tries to take anything good and make it into something bad and they actually lost some of their peace through fear…like St. Padrie Pio and St. Theresa de Lisieux. So this can become a problem, but it is mostly only for those who have greatly advanced in their faith as I mentioned before.
The rest of us–unless we suffer from obsessive compulsive issues–most likely have too little scruples or just the right scruples for us….we just don’t know how to use God’s gift to advance us towards Heaven. And even if we have obsessive compulsive problems…that is far better than not having enough scruples and those compulsions can be moderated and used to spur us in the right direction–so our anxieties can leave and faith can increase.
With any “fear” people can have, we can have a justifiable fear or an unjustifiable fear. We can have a good amount of fear that causes us to take proper action or a stifling fear that halts us in our tracks. We can have a fear that is truthful or a fear that is exaggerated. Fear can be good or bad.
Bad fear is any fear that causes exaggerated anxiety. Such as:
- fear we have sinned when we haven’t,
- fear which prevents us from running to God for assistance with a trusting heart,
- fear our sin is so great we won’t ever be forgiven,
- fear that God won’t tolerate our repeated sins, even though we make a new resolution daily, strive to change and are greatly sorrowful each time we commit it
- fear we aren’t growing fast enough in our conversion, even though we are giving our whole heart daily to seek God and are changing and learning
- fear that we must perform a particular religious act immoderately to grow in holiness
- fearful-constantly worried–outside of peace–thinking we are always in mortal sin and sinning (even if we are) and doomed
A bad scruple is linked to anxiety, when there is nothing to be anxious about. A good scruple is linked to motivation to change.
A bad fear–for all except the first fear–is basically a lack of trust in God’s mercy…as we seeking our will and not God’s. The first fear is the devil leading us astray so to distract us from focusing on loving God.
Overcome Bad Fear:
To over come these wrongful fears we need to:
- let go of our will…not seek to do what we want, but seek to accept what God allows, which is God’s will. And daily seek God to teach us as we learn from our failures,
- obey our spiritual director, if we have one (but please be very careful that your director truly knows how to help with scruples correctly…as today, sadly most don’t…it is better to have no director than one misguiding us),
Pray at 3:00pm–the Hour of Great Mercy–for God to give us a heart that truly trusts in Him. To learn more please read “What is God’s Will.”
However, like I said, the devil tricks us and tries to convince us we need to remove our scruples all together. The devil convinces us that having any fear is a lack of trust in God’s mercy but as I have proven, that simply. So we need to look into our fears and see if they Most of the time our fears of sin are very good, they are meant to spur us so we will seek God’s mercy (help) to obtain His assistance in seeking live our lives like the saints before us.
But the saints didn’t start out with great faith…they started with a desire to stop sinning and grew in faith from there. Most of us are still at the beginning of our faith, even if we have been in the faith our entire lives…unless we have learned how to remove sin after sin and are growing in virtue after virtue, we are not in great faith yet. To learn more please read, “How to Become a Saint.”
Sadness Over Sinning
When we are in tears of sorrow over our sins, from the misguided love or another, the evil one tries to take away our sorrow or fear, convincing the misguided one the greatest good it to comfort us by saying, “don’t beat yourself up over your sins…God understands and is merciful” as if having sorrow for our sins is bad, and that God if fine with our sins (when He hates them) and that He will forgive us even if we aren’t sorry. Oh, how untrue is that!
Of course God is fantastically merciful, but not if we remove our sorrow…we must have sorrow to be forgiven. Oh, we MUST have great sorrow for our sins…not just some sorrow. The saints begged God to give them great tears and horrific sorrow for their sins, so there sorrow could become true. Yet, the evil one convinces us sorrow/fear is something bad. But it is wonderfully good. Don’t be deceived!
Truly, without having a fear of sin, we will never obtain a saving faith…since a saving faith is having a horror for sin so great we would do all we can and/or suffer any pain than to offend God again, since we have come to truly hate every sin, out of our great love for Our Creator–it is having true sorrow for all of our sins.
Therefore, if we remove our scruples, “fear of the Lord” –fear of sin–we will die.
So please be very careful who we go to for spiritual guidance. Since today, many, from their misguided love, are guiding us quite incorrectly since they have been darkened to the Way. We need to find someone who has their beliefs about sin and its horror and the need for a saving faith to be in the same line with the teaching of the saints, who found Salvation, so we can be guided to the Light correctly and obtain Eternal Life too.
Now we have to be careful with what we think is moderation, because what is immoderate for one person is right on the path of perfection for another. Everyone is in a different place in our spiritual growth and will need to take different actions as we seek to perfectly love God.
In the very beginning of ones conversion, some anxiety might exist, but if anxiety is increasing as we walk towards the path of Life that is a clear sign that something is very wrong, as becoming a true follower of Christ, leads to a life of wonderful peace in all circumstances, even after we sin, which l will explain later in this article.
“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
But with any blessing, the devil tries to get in and make it into something bad. So be alert. If you allow your fear to become a problem and not a blessing and you allow it keep you from seeking a saving faith or you allow it take away your hope in receiving a saving faith (if you are diligently persisting in seeking it), or if you begin doing things out of moderation hoping to gain a saving faith, then it can be a sign of scruples.
However, if you don’t even know you need a saving faith–true contrition for every sin you have ever committed–a faith the saints toiled to obtain it, to embrace God’s saving mercy for Eternal Life, then you have been greatly mislead and have much to learn. Please click here.
“There are many who arrive at the faith, but few who are led into the heavenly kingdom [since few reject all their sins and embrace God’s saving mercy].
–Pope St. Gregory the Great
Nonetheless, we must fear sin…without it we don’t even have the beginning of wisdom: what we need to start walking towards the path of Life, since “The fear of the Lord [fear of sin and its consequences] is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). Yes, we most certainly need a healthy, holy fear if we want to obtain a saving faith.
That fear is meant to spur us into running to God for mercy (help) so we can grow in humility (understanding of our sinfulness), obtain God’s grace–strength and guidance–that we need to amend our ways. But so many steer us right away from God’s gift and down the path to our doom instead.
Two Kinds of Fear
There are two kinds of fear and both are very good and needed obtain the heavenly kingdom. The first being the fear of punishment on earth, purgatory or hell (servile fear) and the other being the fear of offending God, losing our relationship with Him (finial fear).
St. Catherine of Sienna teaches us, “from the fear of punishment [servile fear] he [the sinner] drives out his sin, and [then he] lovingly embraces virtue [goodness], serving his Lord, whom he has wronged [with finial fear].”
Therefore, we need the great fear of Hell “fear of the Lord” servile fear, to move us into gaining a true love for God “fear of the Lord” finial fear for the salvation of our souls. So, don’t run from your fear learn how to use it to grow in wonderful holiness as God has intended. As Jesus told St. Bridget of Sweeden “do not let anything trouble you but your sins.” Then grow in wonderful peace and holiness using fear to spur you along the way as you grow in greater trust in God’s mercy, if you persist, to take away all of your liking for sin.
To learn more read the article “Fear of the Lord” link at bottom of this article.
Great Fear of Hell
If someone has a horrible fear they will go to Hell if they don’t stop sinning, is that person with a scrupulous heart? Now the answer to that statement can be yes or no.
If someone is sinning and sinning and lacks a horror for sin and isn’t working to gain a horror for sin as they keep continuing the same sins over and over again from a lack of correctly seeking God’s mercy to transform them from their lack of effort to stop, then they most certainly should greatly fear going to Hell as that is what they are choosing. Why would someone not be terrified of that? However, if someone doesn’t have a great horror for sin, but is doing what the saints say to grow in holiness (read the article “How to Grow in Holiness” for help), and is seeking out God’s mercy, and little by little CHANGING, then if they still have a horrible fear of Hell, they are greatly lacking God’s mercy to guide them there. They don’t honestly believe God wants them in Heaven and if they never stop persisting God will most patiently work with their imperfections to make them holy so they can accept His saving grace. However, with today’s generation, so many people are confused and no longer understand what is a sin and what isn’t, what is good fear and what isn’t, what is truly a lack of trust and what isn’t, what are good practices of faith and what isn’t.
The the devil working hard to confuse us, we sadly wind up going astray or leading others astray. Sadly, for those who have been blessed with having true fear of the Lord (fear of sin and its consequences) many of them are being led astray from the misguided love of another, who does’t want to see them unhappy with their sins or concerned with God’s justice, and they are being told that the blessing of “fear of sin” is in fact scrupulous behavior. Oh, they couldn’t be more wrong. Sadly, God’s “gift of fear” as St. Aquinas says, is being stripped away from those with true fear of the Lord, as they are being brought right into a life of complacency with their sins, being told their sins aren’t really sins, or that they are not important enough sins to be concerned about. Many are told they shouldn’t even worry about their sins since mercy will forgive them (when they don’t truly hate the sin and aren’t honestly seeking to stop the sin-lack true contrition). These poor misguided souls are actually guiding others, who have the wonderful gift of fear of the Lord, right into a lukewarm life towards their eternal doom.
The vast misinterpretation of what the saints say is great. A life of sanctity is found in perusing a life of perfection and that isn’t scrupulous thinking. There is no other way to Heaven as the saints teach. ” ” ( ). Please don’t get caught into the devils trap and look for another easier way, translating what the saints clearly say into something quite different, because we have been convinced we need to justify our lack of seeking to perfectly love and obey God.
God has given us the highest of standards and He expects us to seek to strive to our fullest to follow them. This must be our goal and anyone who directs us other wise is deceived into not follow the direction of the saints, the Church (Catechism), and the Word. However, of course, someone can attempt this road towards perfection outside of moderation, trying to take strides they aren’t ready for (don’t have the grace to achieve) and they will fall into much failure that can lead to great despair. But when this path is proceeded properly great strides, from God grace can be made.
There is a real way to grow in holiness and if we approach it poorly we will not grow in faith correctly nor grow in horror of sin but in complacency with many sins…not into peace but in despair. And if we are growing in anxiety as we peruse to live our faith, we should know we are doing something greatly wrong.
“Live in fear of God…to keep God’s law and commandments always before one’s eyes” (Pope St. John Paul II)
The Saints, the Church and the Word say we must have a great fear of sin (fear of the Lord) as it harms our Lord and can send us into the great fires of Hell for eternity. With so many people very confused as to what a good sence of fear is, countless people who are so blessed with a true and good fear of sin are tragically being told their fear is bad and not what someone, who trusts in God’s mercy should have. This is such a tragedy as “the fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning one from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27). Why would we try to remove it?
The people blessed with fear of the Lord should be congratulated for accepting God’s gift of fear of the Lord since so many scum to rejecting it. They should be taught how to use that blessing to move them to sin no more, hatred for sin, and grow in true trust of God’s mercy that leads to the perfect peace we all desire. Instead they are being moved onto the path of death, from others misguided love of others, and are fighting a battle against God’s gift of fear trying to remove it.
There are some with truly scrupulous thinking but, especially in today’s world being in such darkness, they are few. Some will think they are scrupulous, but if they only had more understanding of the truth, they would see their fears are quite founded. But a lack of adequate spiritual direction leads them astray. This fear can be such a blessing, oh, but if they only knew what to do with it.
Some people greatly fear they will perish in Hell from their sins, and since they aren’t trying to live the true faith correctly, that fear is a wonderful fear to have as it is meant to move them towards seeking a saving faith. But most people see that fear as horrible and a lack of trust in God’s mercy and treat such people as if they are sinning by having servile fear. But truly, if someone isn’t living the true faith–that of love of the cross–seeking to perfectly obey God out of a great horror of offending God…a horror so great they would rather die a 1000 deaths than offend God in the slightest way, they should greatly fear eternal suffering, since they are still rejecting God’s saving mercy. If we aren’t wholeheartedly sorry for any sins, from the least to the greatest, we should be terrified we are choosing to stay in sin rather than love our God and are choosing sin over His saving love. If we only knew better we would never steer someone away from the fear that is meant to save their life.
Our expectations must be to one day “sin no more” as we slowly but steadily walk towards the path of Life following Christ and trusting He will bring us there. Lifting Our Values has a book “Our of Darkness into the Light” to help guide anyone, no matter what prayer life or relationship with God we have, towards the path of Life giving us a truthful, but trusting way at approaching salvation which can truly lead to a life of wonderful peace no matter how much we sin.
True Scrupulous Behaviors
- Too Much Fear of Hell
- Doing Obsessive Things Out of Anxiety
- Over Focusing on Sin
Too Much Fear of Hell
Even though today so few have too much fear of Hell, yet there are some who do. Some of us can develop an unhealthy fear of Hell, a fear that doesn’t move us to greater love and trust in God and to a greater hatred of sin, but moves us into greater anxiety. This can develop with the greatly spiritual person who comes to grow in a true understanding of the consequences of sin at a disproportionate rate to their understanding of God’s unfathomable mercy towards those who wholeheartedly seek Him as has occurred with some saints. When this happens we need to seek God’s help to learn how to grow in greater trust in Him and His mercy and grow in greater comprehension of the fact true sorrow heals all the wounds in God’s Heart from our sins. Therefore, we can sin constantly but if we would rather die a 1000 deaths then offend God in the slightest way, our God of unfathomable mercy most certainly will forgive such a contrite heart? That is how forgiveness and salvation is found. Of course, if we don’t truly seek to change and follow Christ and aren’t even seeking to gain a true contrition (fantastic horror for our sins), no fear of Hell can be too great, unless it is that fear that causes someone to just quit trying and succumb to the fact that they are eternally doomed.
more coming soon