The following comes from an Oct. 15 story in the CatholicStand.com webpages.
Do you never feel forgiven no matter how many times you confess your sins?
Do you obsess over blasphemous thoughts that invade your mind against your will?
Do you agonize about whether or not something you’ve done is sinful, even when other faithful Catholics and even your priest assure you that it’s not?
Is your conscience so hyper-sensitive that you cannot find peace with God?
If so, you might want to start reading up on a condition called scrupulosity. It is one of the most painful psychological states there is — it can feel like hell to the sufferer.
I was surprised to learn that Fr. Paul Marx, the late, great pro-life hero, suffered from scrupulosity as a young seminarian. He recounted in his autobiography that the agony of that condition was worse than any other pain he had suffered in his life (and he suffered an incredible amount of physical and psychological pain in his worldwide, decades-long mission to end abortion).
I know from personal experience how devastating scrupulosity can be. A family member of mine suffered from it, and when things became torturous for her, intervention was needed. There is an understanding now that scrupulosity is one type of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); recognition of that fact is how my relative was able to get her scrupulosity/obsessive thoughts under control. The relief is beyond description.
Scrupulosity is incredibly harmful and can lead souls right out of the Church. Martin Luther suffered terribly with feelings of total depravity — he could not feel “clean” no matter how many times he received absolution. His scrupulosity led to the formation of his doctrine of sola fide (salvation by faith alone) and the idea of “eternal security,” i.e., that sin, even grave sin, cannot jeopardize a Christian’s salvation. It’s not a stretch to say that scrupulosity was a catalyst for the Protestant Reformation, which tore the Body of Christ asunder.
I had a dear friend, now deceased, who grew up Catholic in the 1950s. She suffered from torturous scrupulosity as a girl, causing her ultimately to leave the Catholic Church….
Scrupulosity is not a condition unique to Catholicism by any means, however, as Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and those of other faiths are affected as well.
If you think you are scrupulous, there is help! First, understand that you likely have a form of OCD and it can be treated. Second, please read the monthly Scrupulous Anonymous newsletters and the “Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous“ (along with the “revised” Commandments). Third, read the book, Understanding Scrupulosity: Questions, Helps, and Encouragements, by Thomas M. Santa. And fourth, find a spiritual director or confessor who has experience dealing with scrupulosity.
To read the entire story, click here.