Today is the feast day of St. Alphonsus Maria de’Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. He lived in Italy in the 1800s, was a scholar and prolific author (still in print in English!), and founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He is the patron saint of confessors, those suffering from arthritis, and, slightly less well known, those suffering from scrupulosity.
I think I mentioned previously that a significant part of my decision to leave Protestant Christianity several years ago was a severe case of scrupulosity (although I didn’t know it at the time). I was continually obsessed with my sins, despaired that I would ever be able to do anything right, and lost all perspective and understanding of God’s love and grace (which is something I STILL struggle with).
Eventually, the constant, crushing guilt was too much, and I finally decided that enough was enough. I became a Deist, and experienced instant relief at the idea that God wasn’t hovering over me every minute, waiting to smite me to hell because of a minor mistake. It was the first time in years that I could consider the idea that God didn’t hate me and wanted to punish me.
When I first started looking into the Catholic Church, I knew that the only way I was going to be able to stay in Christianity was if I was able to control my scrupulosity. I did some research, and happened upon St. Alphonsus, who suffered from scrupulosity himself. I was already excited by the idea that I could ask “Hall of Fame” Christians to pray for me, and St. Alphonsus was the first one whom I petitioned early and often for help. I have a St. Alphonsus medal on my rosary, and every time I say it, I include a prayer to him for aid.
I have to say that in the last 16 months or so that I’ve been on my way into the Catholic Church, scrupulosity is one thing that has really not bothered me. Yay for intercessors in heaven!
St. Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us!
Resource: A Redemptorist community in Missouri publishes a “Scrupulous Anonymous” newsletter, and has some other articles and things about scrupulosity.