Ten Commandments

Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous: Version 2

In 2013 Father Thomas M Santa (CSsR) issued a revision of the “Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous” which were originally authored by Father Don Miller (CSsR) in 1968 and revised by Santa in 1996. I have included below a rewrite of these commandments from a Protestant perspective, which I hope will be useful to many. This rewrite is based off the 2013 revision, I have also left the rewrite I did based off the 1996 revision towards the end of this page. I highly recommend reading the 2013 edition from Santa which includes his commentary on each of the commandments.

  1. You shall not confess again any sin which has been previously confessed, even if you doubt whether a confession was made or that it was done in an adequate manner.
  2. You shall not confess anything about which there is any doubt that it is a sin, you shall only confess sins that are clearly and certainly sin.
  3. You shall not repeat apologies or any other actions you may have taken to correct a wrong because you feel or think that you may not have executed the apology or corrective action properly or completely.
  4. You shall not abstain from communion.
  5. You shall not worry about thoughts, images, etc. which you have regarding sex, violence, religion, or other sinful actions unless you, by a deliberate and conscious act of the will, create them with the objective of offending God.
  6. You shall not worry about feelings (including sexual or violent) or emotional outbursts unless you, by a deliberate and conscious act of the will, create them with the objective of offending God.
  7. You shall obey the instructions of those in spiritual leadership over you when they instruct you not to make a confession of past sins which have been previously confessed.
  8. You shall take doubt regarding your obligation to do or not to do something as proof that you are under no obligation.
  9. If you experience doubt before performing an act regarding whether or not it is sinful, you shall assume the act is not sinful and proceed to act without any dread of sin.
  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.

 

Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous: Version 1

Father Don Miller (CSsR) wrote in 1968 “Ten Commandments for the Scrupulous” and these have been a source of hope and refreshment for many – both within and outside the Catholic faith. These were then revised by Thomas M. Santa (CSsR) in 1996. Below I have rewritten these ten commandments in a manner that is adapted for Protestant believers. I hope they will be a blessing. On this page I’ve rewritten these ten commandments in a manner which makes them more understandable to Protestant readers.

  1. You shall not confess again any sin which has been previously confessed, even if there is doubt that a confession was made or that it was confessed in a sufficiently adequate manner.
  2. You shall not confess any sin about which there is any doubt that it is a sin, you shall only confess sins that are clearly and certainly sins.[1]
  3. You shall not repeat your apologies or other acts to correct a wrong because you feel or think that you may not have executed the apologies or corrections properly.
  4. You shall not abstain from communion due to feelings of doubt or guilt when you have confessed these sins to God.
  5. You shall not avoid thoughts, images, etc. which bring to mind Christ and which are in and of themselves innocent, but which may bring invading blasphemous or sexual thoughts following them. These thoughts, invading and not chosen, are not sinful.
  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.[2]
  7. You shall not disobey the instructions of those in spiritual leadership over you when they instruct you not to make a confession of past sins which have been previously 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.[3]
  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.[4]
  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.[5]

 

 

  1. [1]Santa’s commentary on this point is so valuable, I must repeat it: “Now I can almost hear some of you saying, ‘I am not sure if I doubt that I sinned or if I am just trying to fool myself to believe that I am doubting that I sinned.’ This thought in itself demonstrates that you are in fact doubting and so, therefore, the commandment comes into play: You shall not confess doubtful sins.”
  2. [2]This is a direct quotation from the original ten commandments for the scrupulous. Santa’s commentary is further helpful, “Because we simply do not have absolute control over our interior faculties, the emphasis of the commandment is on clear and certain consent. Only a free consent, that is clear and certain, constitutes a sin. You can not accidentally or involuntarily be guilty of sin.”
  3. [3]This also is a direct quotation from the original commandments. Note that these commandments are not meant for all, but for the scrupulous. See here Santa’s commentary and quotation of Liguori, “This commandment underlines the basic moral principle that doubtful laws or obligations do not bind the scrupulous conscience. The great saint, and our patron, Saint Alphonsus Liguori teaches: ‘When there exists in a scrupulous person the habitual will not to offend God, it is certain that he or she acts in doubt and there is no sin….'”
  4. [4]This is a direct quotation from the original commandments. Santa notes Alphonsus remarking similarly, “Scrupulous persons tend to fear that everything they do is sinful. The confessor should command them to act without restraint and overcome their anxiety. He should tell them that their first obligation is to conquer their scruples. They should act against their groundless fears. The confessor may command the scrupulous to conquer their anxiety and disregard it by freely doing whatever it tells them not to do. The confessor may assure the penitent the he or she need never confess such a thing.”
  5. [5]This is a quotation from the original commandments. Santa encourages as evidence of the truthfulness of this commandment meditating upon Isaiah 43:1-4, Romans 8:26-39, and 1 John 4:7-19.

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