Thoughts for the Scrupulous


Painting by George Dunlop Leslie

By Thomas E. Tobin, C.SS.R., 1965, with Imprimatur and Imprimi Potest

This article lists short sentences that those who suffer from scruples can cling to in moments of anxiety. These axioms keep from pressing the panic button.

Scruples are basically an emotional and not a moral problem.

Make a decision and stick with it, leaving the rest to the mercy of God.

Try not to give in to impulsive behavior. Resist it once with all your strength and it will be easier the second time.

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault with what he had done (Cardinal Newman).

Put a bothersome scruple out of your mind as you would a temptation, which it really is, since it makes you emotionally unfit to praise God.

Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

It is not the past, distant or immediate, that counts, but the willingness now, this very second, to begin to renew the fight to overcome mistakes or to conquer scruples.

I have learned to take one thing at a time. I try to separate the essential from the non-essential.

Once you have resolved something in your mind don’t go back and dwell on it.

God is not a tyrant who is out to “get you.”

Learn to know Christ as a person; realize He is a lover before He is a judge.

What do you fear? Is not He all-powerful to support you? He loves you and will not permit you to perish while you have confidence in Him (St. Margaret Mary).

Love drives out fear.

I remember that I love God and truly do not wish to offend Him. I remember also, that to commit a mortal sin one must deliberately decide to pay the price of eternal damnation for the privilege of sinning. I just cannot believe that I am that foolish.

Strive to keep your attention riveted on God rather than on self. By following the path of love, you will reach God much sooner than by concentrating on avoiding all the venial sins and faults by too much self-inspection.

A Question: “How do you keep your children from becoming scrupulous?”

These answers contain much wisdom:

I think working to overcome your own scruples is the best way to keep them from your children. Children learn by imitation. When I am concerned about making them over-conscientious, I refer them to the confessional for the proper answer to their questions.

I hope to provide the kind of control that they can depend on and to give them an example that will not embarrass them. If they can grow up trusting in our leadership, I think they might, as adults, avoid over-dependence and excessive self-inspection. They will be free, then, with God’s help to rely on His grace in their lives.

While providing this control, I try to remember not to be critical. Children’s misdemeanors must be firmly corrected, but with love and kindness. We should speak more about their good qualities than their faults.

Let them be children. Restrain your impulse to measure their few years by your many. Discipline should be suited to the fault, and should manifest that you are concerned with the children’s welfare as human beings and persons.

I have no right to expect perfection either from myself or from my children. I resolve to do my job as parent as well as I am able with the help of God.

I have confidence that He will not allow their souls to be injured just because I do not know any better.

We try to maintain in our home a calm, worry-free atmosphere so that our children do not become too tense and introspective. We suggest that when they examine their consciences, they make a sincere effort and then trust in God’s mercy.

As a teacher, the most important thing I try to do in my catechism classes is to stress the love of God (this helps me too) and the personality of Jesus as kind, thoughtful, loving and interested in others.

Even His justice is seen as a further act of love in His all-out endeavor to tell us what we must do in order to save our souls.

Sin is a real offense against God and love is the motive for avoiding it.

I stress the idea that God is not standing over us with a whip, just waiting for us to fall. I try also to emphasize the importance of learning from our Lord’s action. When He fell on the way to Calvary, He got up again.

So we, too, spiritually must get up and shake off the dust, and then go on in our own lives.

It would do much in the home if all the members of the family were to be as kind and courteous to one another as they are to guests. The visitor receives bright smiles, pleasant words, constant attention, and the fruits of efforts to please. But the home folks are often cross, rude, selfish, and faultfinding toward one another. Are not our own as worthy of our love and care as is the stranger temporarily within our gates? -Fr. Lasance, My Prayer Book

Painting by Eugenio Zampighi

The Catholic Boy’s and Girl’s Traditional 30-Day Journals! Let’s keep our youth engaged in the Faith! Let’s teach them how to be organized, how to prioritize, how to keep on top of, first, the Spiritual things in their lives, and then the other daily duties that God requires of them… Available here.



The book is filled with wonderful advice on how to live a happy life…

Here is a complete guide to mature, responsible, even noble behavior in our complex modern society. Written in the 1930s by a wise Jesuit priest and steeped in the wisdom of the ages, these pages teach the timeless principles that have led countless souls to true success and lasting happiness….

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

%d bloggers like this: