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The Ten Commandments of Scrupulosity

July 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Dan Burke, Scrupulosity, Sin

Moses Smashing Tablets Rembrandt


Important Note: If you do not specifically struggle with scrupulosity, this advice is not likely to apply to you. If you have any questions about the advice or overcoming the struggle of scrupulosity, it is very important that you meet with your spiritual director for guidance.

  1. You shall not repeat a sin in confession when it has been confessed in a previous confession, even when there is a doubt that it was confessed or a doubt that it was confessed in a sufficiently adequate and complete way.
  2. You shall not confess doubtful sins in confession, but only sins that are clear and certain.
  3. You shall not repeat your penance after confession or any of the words of your penance because you feel or think that you had distractions or may not have said the words properly.
  4. You shall not worry about breaking your fast before receiving communion, unless you actually put food and drink in your mouth and swallow it in the same way that a person does when eating a meal.
  5. You shall not hesitate to look at any crucifix or at any statue in church or at home or anywhere else because you may get bad thoughts in your mind and imagination. If such thoughts occur, they carry no sin whatever.
  6. You shall not consider yourself guilty of bad thoughts, desires, or feelings, unless you can honestly swear before the all-truthful God that you remember clearly and certainly consenting to them.
  7. You shall not disobey your confessor when he tells you never to make another general confession of past sins already confessed.
  8. You shall believe and act accordingly, so that whenever you are in doubt as to whether or not you are obliged to do or not to do something, you can take it for certain that you are not obligated.
  9. If, before you perform or omit an act, you are doubtful whether or not it is sinful for you, you shall assume as certain that it is not sinful and shall proceed to act without any dread of sin whatever.
  10. You shall put your total trust in Jesus Christ, knowing that he loves you as only God can love, and that he will never allow you to lose your soul.

By Father Don Miller, C.SS.R.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • faith

    I really disagree with some of these ideas in this post. I would love to have Fr. John’s take on these.

    • Dan Burke

      Thank you for your feedback. Father John reads most of our posts to ensure that we stay on the theological rails so to speak. He replied that the post was orthodox in content but that it lacked context that may allow for misunderstanding. He indicated that the post is only for those who suffer with scrupulosity. Those who do not, should ignore the advice. When I have a moment I will go back and write a brief introduction to this effect. Thank you for your concern and thank you for helping to keep us on track.

      God bless,


  • Guest

    God Bless you Father John, for the 10 Commandments on Scrupulosity. You shall never realized just how much peace reading the Commandments has flooded my heart! The Commandments sound like they were written specifically for me by a person who has known me all my life and knows the torments I have been subjecting myself to. Praise be Jesus God.

  • Jonny

    Plagiarism really IS a sin. C’mon Father, you should have credited Fr Santa CSSR (see Or am I being too fussy? No, maybe I’m not. Actually I am. Maybe saying this is too harsh. But fear to speak out is also a sin. Where’s that “Post as” button, quick!

    • Dear Friend, Father John did not post this, I did. As well, you might want to look more carefully at the link you provided and the post you are references. They are different. We give credit to the author of the original work at the bottom of the post. The author of the post in the link you provided refers to the author I quoted. You might want to be a bit more cautious when accusing someone of something like plagiarism. Even if we did make a mistake in the post that does not mean it is necessarily intentional as the accusation of plagiarism implies. In our case, the appropriate credit was provided.

  • Sean

    This is very helpful for me… thanks Fr. Miller.

  • ann mcdonald

    I found the 10 commandments helpful. They answered some of my
    questions. Thanks 

  • Angel

    I never thought I was scrupulous but reading these makes me begin to wonder….begin to realize that I actually break some of these!

  • I’ve had suspicions that I have a problem with scrupolisity. But I wasn’t sure. For certain, I’ve always had a strong conscience. This list helped realize that this is what I’ve been going through. I also read th 2 part article on scrupulosity. There are times when I get paranoid that I am being sinful just because I treated myself to something special once a week or bad thoughts plague me. Or attend Mass but feel too guilty to receive Communion. Thank you for these articles!

    Yet, in reading them, I’ve also realized that God has been helping me overcome this all along. For instance, when I feel too guilty to receive Communion, a voice in my head is telling me not to let the bad thoughts get to me and to fight them by going to receive Communion. When I feel guilty over eating a better meal than normal, a voice counters this saying that I am not hurting God just because I’m having a really good meal when I’m hungry.

    Thank you again! God Bless!

  • Hi Dan

    The ten commandments are helpful and I will do my best to follow them. when you feel you did something wrong I always thought the holyspirit is increasing my awareness of sin.This happens in prayer alot, and after a huge conflict, interior or exterior. you have children so maybe you can help me to understand how God sees scrupolosity. Say one of your children kept comming to you and was just so concerned because he or she did not feel like doing homework or rather the child says I just feel tempted to not do my homework and/or rush through it and I dont mean to think about it but I do. Your child comes to you with the same scenario but then its about temptation to not do house chores ot to be mean to a friend. this child your child has been feeling bad and not eating meals and not sleeping and it has gone on for months. what as a father of this child would you think feel? what does God think and feel about one of his children going through scrupolosity? Is there a difference? Thank you for posting the ten commandments!!

  • Gina101

    Wow. I didn’t realize there were so many on this list that I do. Thank you for this list and the permission it gives me to just let these things go and trust Jesus. ?

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