A List of Axioms for the Scrupulous


by Fr. T. E. Tobin C.SS.R.

There is no magic word to be repeated, no fairy wand to be waved, no electronic button to be pushed that will automatically take away scruples. It takes hard work, long and hard work, to get scruples under control and to keep them under control.

Self-control and self-discipline, together with the ever-present grace of God, are always the basic means of checking and curing scruples. St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorist Congregation is a doctor of the Church, the “Prince of Moral Theologians,” and the official patron of confessors and moral theologians.

His great concern in his preaching and writing (he is the author of over 100 books) was to steer a middle course between the two extremes of severity and laxity which keep people away from God.

He constantly preached the great power of prayer as a means of obtaining all the actual graces needed to reach heaven.

Confidence in God, a virtue so necessary for the scrupulous, was both preached and practiced in a heroic degree by St. Alphonsus. He himself suffered from scrupulosity, and his example and his writings offer instruction and encouragement to all who are afflicted by the same malady.

Here is a list of short sentences that the scrupulous 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.

The education of your children is the result of the combined efforts of both parents. But in his youngest years, the child is almost exclusively under the mother’s guidance. Your efforts are to produce effects that will have their final reckoning in eternity. Although your educational influence is of a nature entirely different from that of the father, your vocation as mother is equal in importance to your husband’s. –The Catholic Family Handbook, Fr. Lovasik

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