Scrupulosity is when a person believes something is a sin when it is not. They experience doubts and suffer intense feelings of guilt and shame. As I have stated before, the mind is the primary target of the devil, and scrupulosity is an attack on the mind. It is another strategy the devil uses to pull people away from God and thrust them into anguish. People can struggle with scrupulosity at any time throughout their spiritual lives, during their conversion, with spiritual attacks, and even when they are strong Catholics. It is good that the person doesn’t want to offend God. It shows that they love Him and are cognizant of sin. But scrupulous people take these doubts to an unhealthy level, which can lead them to deny themselves the sacrament of the Eucharist because they often fear they are in mortal sin. There are different degrees of scrupulosity, some mild and others more severe. When a person is suffering spiritual oppression, these afflictions are more on the extreme side. Demons work to keep their victims (us) from Jesus, so they trick them into believing they are terrible sinners. Whatever the apparent sin may be, it compulsively occupies the person’s thinking, and they spend hours a day fretting over their sinfulness, which brings them great anxiety.
“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his kindness endures forever.”Psalm 107:1
I believe this condition is a temptation from the devil, and the souls who act on them give the devil permission to torment them. They scrutinize everything; the things they say, think, do, or don’t do. They believe it is all a sin and run to confession constantly. This pattern becomes an obsession they can’t seem to escape. It is a kind of mental sickness deliberately caused by the devil and unknowingly accepted by the victim. They can’t see it is the devil who debilitates them. They just believe they are awful sinners who are repeatedly disappointing God.
Here is an example of scrupulosity so you can recognize it. Let’s say you go to confession and receive absolution. Then, a few minutes later terrible thoughts enter your mind. They could be blasphemies against Christ, sexual things, filthy words, or some other unspeakable thing. You immediately become upset and think you are in mortal sin again, even though you haven’t finished your penance yet. No! This is the devil messing with your head. If you are calm and praying one minute, and jolted from your peace the next, then those thoughts are not coming from you. They are coming from the devil. For a sin to be considered mortal or deadly, the person must be fully aware that they are about to commit a serious sin and then deliberately act on it. Bad words or thoughts unintentionally entering the mind are not deadly sins.
“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and rich in kindness.”Psalm 145:8
The demons are twisting your view of God and yourself. They are deceiving you, and that is changing your thoughts and behaviors. They are causing fear and doubt, and anxiety about salvation. They are confusing what you know to be true about the Church, the sacraments, and God’s mercy. But God loves you. If you can focus on that, then it could be the start of breaking these obsessive thoughts and fears. It is kind of like mind over matter. You have to use common sense, which is extremely difficult with spiritual oppression, but it is not impossible. When these things happen, you can ask the Blessed Mother or your guardian angel to help you. Or repeat Jesus’s name over and over again. Whatever it takes to keep your attention on God and off of the terrible thoughts. It is a way of rejecting them.
“Taste and see how good the Lord is; happy the man who takes refuge in him.”Psalm 34:9
There are a few things you can do to combat this scrupulosity. The first thing would be to go to confession with the same priest all the time. If you do this, they will be able to identify the problem and help you through it. Other remedies would be prayer, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and, if possible, meditation. When it comes to prayer be careful not to put excessive demands on yourself, this is another symptom of scrupulosity. In adoration, you will find peace. It won’t always be easy to stay but remain with Jesus anyway and He will heal your heart. The more you keep your mind on the Lord, the less power the evil one will have over you. Maybe start your day with some special prayers. Keep a picture of Jesus and Mary in a prominent place in your home. Whatever you think will help you. You will need the strength and grace of the Eucharist to overcome scrupulosity. We cannot get through these diabolical attacks without the Eucharist. So don’t let the evil one keep you away from Jesus. I believe anyone suffering from scrupulosity, no matter the degree, is being manipulated by the devil and his demons. They never miss any opportunity to harm us. Scrupulosity is a horrible suffering for anyone who goes through it. Place your trust in God, receive Jesus in the Eucharist, and speak with a priest, and you will overcome it.
A letter from Saint Therese the Little Flower to her cousin Marie concerning scrupulosity.
Letter from Saint Therese to Marie Guerin, May 30, 1889
My dear little Sister,
You did well to write me, and I understand everything … everything, everything, everything!…
You haven’t committed the shadow of any evil; I know what these kinds of temptations are so well that I can assure you of this without any fear, and, besides, Jesus tells me this in the depths of my heart…. We must despise all these temptations and pay no attention whatsoever to them.
Should I tell you something that has given me much sorrow?. . .
It is that my little Marie has given up her Communions… on the feast of the Ascension and on the last day of Mary’s month!. .. Oh! what sorrow this has caused Jesus!. . .
The devil has to be very clever to mislead a soul in this way!… But don’t you know, my dear, that this is the only goal of his desires? The evil one knows well that he can’t make a soul that wants to belong totally to Jesus commit a sin, so he tries to make the soul believe it has. It is already much for him to put disturbance in this soul, but to satisfy his rage something else is needed; he wants to deprive Jesus of a loved tabernacle, and, not being able to enter this sanctuary, he wants, at least, that it remain empty and without any Master!. . . Alas, what will become of this poor heart?. . . When the devil has succeeded in drawing the soul away from Holy Communion, he has won everything …. And Jesus weeps!. ..
Oh, my darling, think, then, that Jesus is there in the Tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone-, He is burning with the desire to enter your heart … so don’t listen to the devil, mock him, and go without any fear to receive Jesus in peace and love!. . .
However, I hear you saying to me: “Thérèse is saying this because she doesn’t know . . . she doesn’t know I really do it on purpose … it pleases me . . . and so I cannot receive Communion
since I believe I would commit a sacrilege, etc., etc. ” Yes, your poor little Thérèse does know; I tell you that she understands it all, and she assures you that you can go without any fear to receive your only true Friend …. She, too, has passed through the martyrdom of scruples, but Jesus has given her the grace to receive Communion just the same, even when she believed that she had committed great sins …. And so I assure you that she knew this was the sole means of ridding herself of the devil, for when he sees that he is losing his time, he leaves you in peace!. . .
No, it is impossible that a heart “which rests only at the sight of the Tabernacle” offend Jesus to the point of not being able to receive Him; what offends Him and what wounds His Heart is the lack of confidence!. . .
Little sister, before I received your letter, I had a presentiment of your anxiety; my heart was united to your heart. Last night, in my dreams, I tried to console you, but, alas! I was unable to succeed!. . . I am not going to be any more fortunate today unless Jesus and the Blessed Virgin come to my help; I hope my desire will be fulfilled and that on the last day of her month, the Blessed Virgin will heal my dear little sister. But for this you must pray, pray very much. If you could only place a candle at Notre-Dame- des-Victoires… I have so much confidence in her?. . .
Your heart is made to love Jesus, to love Him passionately; pray so that the beautiful years of your life may not pass by in chimerical fears.
We have only the short moments of our life to love Jesus, and the devil knows this well, and so he tries to consume our life in useless works ….
Dear little sister, receive Communion often, very often.. . . That is the only remedy if you want to be healed, and Jesus hasn’t placed this attraction in your soul for nothing. (I believe that He would be pleased if you could receive the two Communions you missed, for, then, the devil’s victory would be less great since he would not have succeeded in separating Jesus from your heart.) Have no fear of loving the Blessed Virgin too much, you will never love her enough, and Jesus will be pleased since the Blessed Virgin is His Mother.
Adieu, little sister; pardon my scribbling which I can’t even read over since I don’t have the time. Kiss all my dear ones for me.
Thérèse of the Child Jesus
Prayer to Overcome Spiritual Enemies: Father Ripperger
Eternal Wisdom, come down into my soul that all my enemies may be driven out; all my crimes melted away; all my sins forgiven. Enlighten my understanding with the light of true faith; inflame my will with Thy sweet love; clear up my mind with Thy glad presence, and give virtue and perfection to all my powers. Watch over me especially at my death, that I may come to enjoy Thy beatific vision in eternal bliss. Amen