Lots of people are obsessive-compulsive. Some folks straighten pictures, wash their hands, check the door to see if it locked … Over and over and over and … In the world of religion, of faith, this is akin to scrupulosity. Not exactly the same thing I admit, but close. In the world of faith it is deadly. It is tantamount to believing God to be faithless, unloving and vindictive towards us.

When a person is scrupulous in religion everything is blown out of proportion. The most venial of venial sins becomes the most horrendous of all mortal sins. No examination of conscience is ever good enough. A minor matter honestly forgotten in the confessional makes not only the confession bad and so a sacrilege but everything after that, like a communion faithfully taken before the omitted triviality is recalled, a sacrilege. Every word, every tendency, every thought, every memory, even those that should be overcome and actually are conquered, becomes hell-fire fodder for the mind of the scrupulous.

I share this for simple reasons. The people caught up in scrupulosity rarely see it. They’re to busy looking for and at perceived faults to see the truth. The truth being that they are making mountains out of mole hills and burying themselves in the process. So it needs to be pointed out. Everyone, I think, would do well to look closely at themselves in regards to this manifestation of a lack of faith in the goodness of God.

Years ago I was told a story, a true one, about a little old lady that raised and sold fishing worms. She sold 100 for $1. She would scrupulously count them out one at a time. Then, after having counted out the one hundred, she would take a hand full and toss them in with the others. When asked why she did this she would say, “In case I miscounted. I don’t want to go to hell over a worm.” That sort of faith in God is just sad.

I tended towards scrupulosity once in confession. The good father was quick to point that out in no uncertain terms. He told me that if I ever became scrupulous I would never know peace. And a lack of peace isn’t worth all the fishing worms in the world.

Published in: on March 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm  Comments Off on Scrupulosity  
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