Scruples in Temptations: Did I Sin?
I admit to being a scrupulous soul and am often plagued by doubts about whether I have given in to temptations or not. A good priest has been very patient and understanding, and has reassured me that I have not sinned in spite of incessant temptations. Why does God let temptation afflict souls that are sincerely trying to do his will, because I really experience horrible moments at such times? Annie
The priest you confide in is the one you must trust. You have told him what is in your heart and conscience and he is best placed to support you in your doubts. Have confidence in him. What I add will, I hope, just provide a little extra encouragement for you.
Let’s consider how we feel when we think we do something that annoys or upsets a prominent person.
We find a parking space in the church grounds, delighted that it is the last free parking spot there. We park, leave the car and go into the church. How embarrassed we feel when a tap on the shoulder and a voice in the ear lets us know: “You have parked in the bishop’s place and he can’t start Mass until you move!”
We feel thoroughly ashamed of ourselves, even though we had no thought of delaying the bishop and the Mass.
This example illustrates that the higher the dignity of the person we inconvenience, the greater our sense of embarrassment.
If we had headed off another driver vying for the same last available parking spot, we may have simply waved and said: “Sorry, but I was first.”
A scrupulous person in this instance would be mortified, fretting that they had offended the bishop and the other. Others would laugh it off.
When the same person imagines that they have offended the immense dignity of God himself, they naturally can become overawed and crushed by irrational guilt. They feel insecure, not knowing God as well as they know their fellow humans. In all these cases, there is no intention to give offence or to sin.
So, does God will you to endure horrible moments of temptation when you are determined not to offend him? No, he does not.
People with troublesome scruples are too often self-centred, forgetting that our God is Jesus Christ, the one who is as human as the rest of us. When we pray to him we are, because of God’s enormous love for each one of us, talking to a close friend. We pray honestly, laying our cards on the table, and revealing our anxieties.
Then, to take our minds off our self-centredness, we must think of others and how we can spend more time caring for their needs.