Scrupulosity …What Do I Do?

by Paul Fallzoffhishorse.

Are you really in the proper condition to receive the Body of Christ?  Do you struggle with the details of your spiritual journey?  I do.  

Do I need to confess that?  Have I confessed that already?  When that selfish thought enters my mind, I know that it was not of God.  

Am I in the State of Grace?

The Lord said, “But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) Whelp I guess that means I’m pretty much done receiving Holy Communion for the foreseeable future.  How many meal portions did I enjoy that were unnecessary?  How many greedy or selfish thoughts did I have?  How many times did my emotion of anger rise up over things that, quite frankly, were not even worthy of the effort?  Or maybe it’s not as trivial as that.   Maybe I’m struggling with grave life issues and my conscience seems to be working against me to the point that it seems pointless to try.

The negative circular thinking and often “over-thinking” of an addict or a “habitual sinner” can be a trap, and it is not of God.  Not every person that God calls gets knocked off their horse and blinded so that they can finally see the light.  For the vast majority of us, it’s a slow transition from old habits and ways of thinking that make us feel in control towards a relationship with Christ where the yoke is easy and the burden is light (Matthew 11:30), and breaking from those chains can be a lonely, trying and tiresome time.

The truth is that we are not worthy to receive the Body of Christ, and that was all part of His plan, albeit just a part.  For the sinner though, His mercy is the key to finding the narrow path.  We are NOT sinning when thoughts enter our minds.  What we choose to do with them is where the sin comes in and we can dismiss or entertain them.  I think a lot of us have poisons floating around in our subconscious that the devil can use against us, but that doesn’t chain us to a future of being subject to them.

Scrupulosity is a trap

I definitely have struggled with this.  Scrupulosity is a trap. There’s a trick to knowing that you’re a sinner and that we fail, but relying on God’s mercy and allowing His love to direct us, not your fears, is where we encounter Him. It’s not an easy juggling act to do. For me, it’s taking a lot of practice. The way I think, I would NEVER be entitled to receive Holy Communion, and in some ways that will always be true were it not for HIS MERCY. You cannot deny justice and must confess what you actually do or entertain in your mind.  You must guard against the sin, but not focus on it. If you’re focusing on the sin then you’re not focusing on the Lord. An exorcist once said that the devil’s motto is “Anything but God” (Fr. Chad Ripperger I think.) and if that’s where your thoughts are leaning then you need to start looking in the other direction as often as possible.

The key for me so far has been the SETI@home program.  That’s right!  The SETI@home program (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence).  It uses dropped cycles on your home computer and an internet connection to download and analyze radio telescope data.  It makes use of your home computer’s unused processing power or dropped cycles (and if that transition doesn’t stick in your mind for quite a while, then I don’t know what will).  I just started doing that in my mind with God–filling that empty or pointless space used in my brain with prayer and communion in adoration.

Prayer Is Key

Whenever I catch myself planning for something that actually does no good to plan for (and yes, my family budget still stays at a steady three month forecast), I pray.  Whenever I start to think about things that I know will lead me to places I don’t want to be, inevitably away from God, I pray.  Whenever I’m worrying about something that is actually completely out of my hands, I pray.

It’s not a grandiose thing either.  I don’t have an extra phone case strapped to my belt with prayer cards at the ready.  I just wing it.  Most of the time I’m not even actively praying in the traditional sense, I’m just reciting small bits of things I remember like a mantra.

“Jesus, I trust in You.”

“Jesus Christ only Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

“Glory to God in the Highest…”

“Holy, Holy, Holy Lord…”

“Hail Mary full of grace…”

“Glory be to the Father…”

“Come, Holy Spirit.”

Sure, in terms of “prayer math” and “valuation” this is nothing like Adoration or a rosary, but it “counts” for me, for my soul and for God.  “…And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:4) Scripturally speaking, my use of that quotation may be a bit of a stretch but putting God in my thoughts counts just like dragging my butt, out of bed in the morning to make it to Mass on Sunday counts, even though it isn’t technically part of the Mass.  If that undirected space in your daily thought processes causes you to wander to “dropped cycles,” self-inflicted turmoil, or worse, temptation then start taking them back.  You should still have plenty of time to check your fantasy football stats or whatever else you deem to be important and value-adding for your life.  What’s important is that you walk that walk, not just with your feelings and actions, but in your thoughts as well.

And don’t allow yourself to over think this process either.  You can’t start numbering your dropped cycles and then bring them to the confessional where Father will totally be confused, and then you’ll have to explain that you got it from this idea of searching for aliens… and yeah, don’t do that.  If you notice these dropped cycles in your mind, use them for prayer and the more you practice this the more frequently you will start doing it out of habit.

God has written His name on our hearts

I’d like to tell you that one day God will write His name on our hearts and all the struggles will go away. “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26) This is definitely true, but the Bible is not a fairy tale.  The Bible is our love story with God, and it even comes with an instruction book.  (You dudes out there should probably actually read this one though.)  Your struggle exists in that little space between entertain and dismiss in your mind.  The path to your beloved and His love and mercy rests solely in Him.  At some point, you’ll no longer have to wonder about whose name is really written on your heart…  and until that day comes, you don’t have to do the devil any favors and make it harder on yourself.  Get in the habit of saying no to the things that keep you from God and one day you won’t even notice that you’re doing it because you choose to say no.  He will make the struggle easier, but you have to continually choose Him in those little mental forks in the road.

When in doubt I confess it. The devil would have it otherwise.

I could write and write about this issue because I am a serious over-thinker. The reality is that I spend too much time thinking about everything, what people think, how I will interact with them, what my next plans are (and “God laughs” as my pastor would say). To a certain extent that is normal, but to the extent that I do it, it’s a trap.

If the sin is venial then the sacrament of Holy Communion will wipe that clean.  You should still confess it and talk to a priest, but you can still go to Holy Communion at that point. If you have the thought, see the trigger and entertain it, that’s where the mortal sin comes in to play and you should make your way to the Confessional before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Bring those burdens to the altar and leave them there as many times as you can.

CCC 1394 Page 352 The fruits of Holy Communion

“As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him:

Since Christ died for us out of love, when we celebrate the memorial of his death at the moment of sacrifice, we ask that love may be granted to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We humbly pray that in the strength of this love by which Christ willed to die for us, we, by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, may be able to consider the world as crucified for us, and to be ourselves as crucified to the world. . . Having received the gift of love, let us die to sin and live for God. ”

Written by Paul Fallzoffhishorse 14

Husband. Father.  Struggling addict.  Unworthy servant of the Lord

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One thought on “<strong>Scrupulosity …What Do I Do?</strong>”

  • Quite helpful for us Catholic men. I’m glad it has that element of helping us who are looking to receive Jesus in a worthy state of grace

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