Friday, January 21, 2011


Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof:
but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.

S. Matthew 8
I’m sure you’ve heard the pious diagnosis more than once; ‘he has scruples’. Sure, we can have reservations about things, we can be wary about something, we can be cautious about many things (we probably should be cautious about a lot more) but to really have scruples is a pretty debilitating thing. It means we find ourselves in a spiritual corner totally unable to move, paralyzed by our own fears of what might happen. It’s a problem that confessors frequently come across. Luckily in traddiedom, at least in sane traddiedom, there’s a pretty healthy attitude to dealing with sin. Don’t procrastinate; just go and deal with it seems to be the attitude. Getting tied up in scrupulous knots seems to be more the domain of the pious neo conservative who desperately tries to keep the faith without the aid of the traditional ‘props’ and spiritual counsel. It’s a very lonely path.

However there are those people who just cannot conceive that they could actually have been forgiven of some imaginary or real sin. I heard recently of a devotedly pious person racked with guilt over not attending Mass because they lived under the misapprehension that if they couldn’t go to communion then they shouldn’t attend Holy Mass. Similarly the confessors manuals always warn us of those penitents who can’t get it into their heads that an absolution covers all sins even those you have honestly forgotten. But here we often wander into the realm of the pathological and all the priest can do is encourage the penitent back onto their ‘meds’. But back to the theme of this Sunday’s Gospel.

Yes, ‘Lord I am not worthy’ should be the cry of every believer. Certainly none of us have a right to any of the sacraments. Yes, we need to be very careful about receiving Holy Communion. The sacrileges of our days, fuelled by the catechetical neglect of half a century, have created a scandalous situation which the devil exploits. We are only required to receive Holy Communion once a year. But equally so it is simply by a word from the Lord that our souls can be healed and we become worthy again for him to enter under of roofs. We shouldn’t make a big thing about it, we shouldn’t procrastinate, we should just get on with it. Then our souls can be healed.


  1. Thanks for this post. As the close friend of someone who has struggled for years with scrupulosity, it's nice to hear it from the other side. She even fits the "pious neo-conservative" description.

  2. Many thanks.

    I really like that prayer (hence screen-name.)

  3. Any advice on how to deal with scruples Fr? Unfortunately it's not as simple as 'do something about your sin', because then the scrupulous would be in confession every day. Fr Cekada (sedevacantist) offered this advice, would you say it's good advice?

  4. There's some great advice for the scrupulous in Saint Alphonsus' Theologia Moralis (which is available for free on, being out of copyright.) I don't know the reference, but I'll look it up. It's in Latin and as far as I know there are no English translations available.

  5. Many thanks for your comments. Fr Cekada wasn't a sedevacantist at the time that was written and it does have some sound sense. Remember (1) it is addressed to those who suffer from scruples hence some rather pointed advice, (2) indeed what he describes at the outset I would associate with several psychological problems, and finally (3) disregard the comments attached to the text. They are somewhat confusing.

  6. Thank you Fr. I would be interested in the St Alphonsus thing.


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