Friday, May 22, 2015

On Scrupulosity and Peace of Soul

St. Francis de Sales

I haven't suffered scrupulosity very often in my life, but when I have, this explains it:

When a person begins a cycle of scrupulosity they may forget to add the variable of our fallen nature into the equation. Thus, they approach life from a position of believing that they can will themselves to be perfect. This then wrecks havoc upon their psyche since committing sin destroys perfection.

St. Francis de Sales has taught me many things about how to deal with this.

On imperfection he writes:

To attain perfection, we must endure our imperfection. I say: we must suffer it with patience, not love or cherish it; humility is fortified with suffering. 
--St. Francis de Sales, Consoling Thoughts


It is necessary to detest your defects, not with a detestation of trouble and vexation, but with a tranquil detestation, to behold them with patience, and to make them serve to lower you in your own esteem. Regard your faults with more compassion than indignation, more humility than severity, and preserve your heart full of a sweet, calm, peaceful love. 

--St. Francis de Sales, Consoling Thoughts

He also said:

If we are to be patient with others, we must be equally so with ourselves.  

--St Francis de Sales

You can't will yourself to be perfect. And seeing that you can't do that, humility requires that you put up with your own imperfection.  By that, I don't mean you tolerate your own sin. But it does mean that you have to accept the fact that you will never get rid of all your sins. It might sound counter-intuitive to accept one's sinful nature, because it sounds like relativism or surrender.

The truth is: You're not the holy and you never will be. So stop fighting it. Aim for perfection, but reconcile yourself to your weakness.

If you want to be perfect, or as perfect as you can be, you have to exercise humility. Disgust at one's sin is born of the expectation of sinlessness. It's a form of pride. You really think you'll never fall? You really think that you're so holy that you can keep it up on your terms? No. You can't

It might seem like a moral failure not to get angry. After all, isn't moral evil something to be angry at? Won't the anger be a source of motivation for greater perfection?

The problem is that this anger is born of pride. Only humility leads to holiness. It's not a moral failure to just sigh at your sin, confess it and shrug it off. It's exactly what you need.

Christ said "my peace I leave to you."  Being pissed off at yourself doesn't lead to peace. Humility, the acceptance of your weak nature, and your reconciliation of your state in life, is what leads to peace.

And this is one major way of fending off scrupulosity.