Programmed for damnation

Are scruples good or bad? If we speak of someone as ‘scrupulously honest’ we probably intend this as approval. It suggests a commitment to honesty which is greater than we ordinarily expect, but cannot fail to admire. But we also use the word to describe a neurotic attention to detail which bogs us down, and makes the final decision less important than the process of decision. We may in fact end up by never making the decision at all.

Scrupulosity in this second sense may well be the outcome of a fearful temperament: that is, one which has an exaggerated fear of getting it wrong. Since I have a tendency towards this, I prefer to believe that most people suffer from scruples in one respect or another. I don’t want to be alone in this!

I wonder whether the sort of Catholic moral education most of us received contributes to this. I have written in the past of the ‘computer Catholic’. This is the claim that, in theory at least, one could feed the details of a moral choice into a computer programmed to contain the totality of Catholic moral teaching. It would then, instantaneously, feed back “sin or no sin, mortal or venial, degree of gravity etc.” Now that we have the Internet and Skype we could no doubt make our Confession on line, express our firm purpose of amendment and receive absolution, together with the appropriate penance.

I believe that it was once ruled that one couldn’t make a Confession on the telephone – which might rule out the Internet element – but we would still be left with the issue, where mortal sin was concerned, of full knowledge and full consent. In the old days this might have been a practical issue: did we know that the Church had ruled our action to be grave matter, and was the performance of the act an outcome of duress or freely chosen? Nowadays, with a better knowledge of human psychology that would be harder to assess. And the decision is important in the light of, say, being run over by the next bus. A decision one way would lead to a rap on the knuckles in Purgatory while the other would lead to all eternity under torture. This is rather a big difference. And, with so much hanging on it, scruples were bound to appear.

Today the decision is much more complex. A good example of identifying grave matter and the factors which might reduce culpability is at question 2352 of the Catechism (or you can look it up on ) You will see here how, while this might be pastorally useful, it could leave the potential mortal sinner in a scrupulous quandary. And this may occur with decisions related to bringing up children , honesty at work , potential white lies – and so on.

I am interested to know how many of us suffer from scruples. Are they damaging, or something we have learnt to live with. And, if we want to reduce our tendency to scruples how do we cure the habit?

About Quentin

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64 Responses to Programmed for damnation

  1. Peter D. Wilson says:

    I certainly did suffer from scruples (partly encouraged by a confessor – this was 60-odd years ago) but have since got over at least the more troublesome of them. However, I fear that some of us have overcome them to a degree that I find alarming.

  2. St.Joseph says:

    I would say that Faith and Reason will keep one from not being too scrupulous in our religious life. Can we be too scrupulous , I say yes we can!
    We ought to have a close relationship and understanding with God.
    I had a very scrupulous father, who used to annoy my mother -so much, although he probably meant well. She was very ill with a heart problem and died at 65 from a heart attack 40 years ago, She was very puffed when she walked and my father would rush her to Mass as he hated to be late, and go on without her. I would wait with her, he would insist on drinking some water after Communion, he was an alter server. One Sunday he noticed I had lipstick on going to Mass and he insisted I wipe it off, I would not, he told me to go home, I said to him if I do I wont come back.
    I learnt at an early age that God was not a big angry man up in the sky but a loving Father, different to mine, although I did love him and looked after him until he died at 90.
    I have become ‘more’ scrupulous with cleanliness since my illness, touching door handle, toilets etc etc etc, and food, that is essential to prevent infections. Especially as my husband caught an CDiff infection in hospital and could not get over it and died .
    As long as we are not upsetting or hurting others I don’t think it matters.

  3. Galerimo says:

    Thank you Quentin. You are not alone with this one. Scrupulosity has been a feature of my spiritual journey and maturity too.

    It was at a very early stage in life and my memory of it was the excruciating pain of it. It felt like a steel trap. Absolutely no way out. After months of misery the way out came with a wonderful confessor. He simply named and explained it to me and used a simple directive for me to follow. That worked and I am always grateful to him.

    I once knew a priest who at the end of a good life fell into this condition of scrupulosity. It was so painful to witness what he went through for many long years. There was no relief for him and he died in that condition with all his mental faculties torturing him with every detail during every waking moment. Why?

    • St.Joseph says:

      That reminds me of my father in his later years, when he got to his eighties, and had his hearing completely lost from damage during the war on the tanks, Desert Rats. then he went practically blind.
      I took him to Mass everyday (a lady cooked my guests breakfast 12 a day she was an angel and still is) All he would say walking around with his stick was ‘My Lord and my God’.
      I feel he had a very sad 20 years of conscience torturing him self,maybe so unnecessary.
      He went to confession a lot and he did tell me that the priest told him he was too scrupulous I
      I could not leave him to suffer, I felt it my duty, not only to him but to the Lord.
      I am not a martyr, only maybe my conscience in that situation was to scrupulous too, I have two brothers and a husband who helped, taking him to the bookies and pub!!!
      At least my dad taught me to trust in God! He is Mercy to quote Pope Francis!

  4. G.D. says:

    Once more St J. you say it so precisely and concisely! ….. ‘ I learnt at an early age that God was not a big angry man up in the sky but a loving Father ‘ ….

    I used to be scrupulous from about six months into my conversion as an adult. With the resultant angst, paralysing fears, and inability to decide what was what.
    ( Honesty was my worst ‘sin’! If i was asked ‘do you like my ..’ dress, car whatever, I’d say so. Bluntly and directly. Fine if i did, but not gaining popularity if i didn’t! As i don’t rate material goods much, didn’t get many brownie points! And was ‘sinning’ by hurting others feelings without consideration – but i was only being honest!

    Until several years ago, when the image (knowledge!?) of an unconditional loving God began to be a reality for me.

    I don’t believe our sins are not held in contempt by God or considered as punishable offences.
    Conversely we are not rewarded by God for being good – only God is good – just loved into more goodness. Which is it’s own reward, i guess.
    But it’s only love that is given, not blame or guilt or condemnation.

    I do hang onto an incumbent sense of ‘guilt’ for being a sinner – but now it’s ‘overcome’ by concentrating on, working towards and accepting that positive love. And no self blame or denigration is involved! That only increases ‘sin’.
    All from with and by prayer & grace of course!

    Which, oddly enough, i find is a much harder work than bewailing my faults and failings!
    It still ‘highlights’ my ‘sinfulness’, but by bringing an awareness of and desire for the lack of good within me.(1. below)
    It is more painful than overcoming ‘sins’ too (2. below). Often leading me into ‘spiritual darkness’ and confusing angsts of a very different kind from ‘scruples’ . I find it’s that pain that is redemptive. And makes it a boon of love rather than a curse of sin.

    It’s nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with condemning self, or self ‘flagellation’.
    The healing is brought about (was/is for me at least) by accepting the love of God ( God Is Love. Period ) not fears & guilts of getting it wrong. ( Being wrong, just for being me even!).
    It’s not a sin to be a sinner!

    There seems to be a subtle difference in the two ‘angsts’ 1. a yearning to be better 2. a desire to force myself to be other than i am. 1 God yearning for me to be closer to love. rejecting who i am ( my faults and failings ) trying to change myself.
    I find 1. heals a positive change within me 2. recycles negative sense of ‘sin’. 1 metanoia, including the given penitence of redemptive suffering 2. is self destructive flagellation.

    Until i discern which is which in any given onset of angst, (twinges of conscience) i sit in silent prayer with it. If 1. i accept the journey, learn to accept the graces so generously and lovingly offered. If 2. love myself as best i can!
    And if i get it wrong …….. back to discerning!

    God seems to like loving me this way.
    (Hope the post isn’t too long!)

    • St.Joseph says:

      Thank you for your interesting post
      Your comments are very honest and we all ought to understand ourselves like you do.
      Some make the same mistakes over and over again.
      I believe we will all recognise in ourselves what you describe, we do need reminding now and again.
      Honesty my mother used to tell us is the best policy. We all can sometimes put our foot in it and feel dreadful afterwards. When people ask me my opinion on something like clothes I learned to say, ‘It looks better on you , but then anything would look nice on you- gets one out of a ‘hole’! It is probably true.
      If as it is said we are made in the image and likeness of God, we must love ourselves a little, because God loves us a lot- enough to be crucified for us .

  5. Vincent says:

    Scruples may be caused by a number of factors — temperament, for example. But, looked at in the abstract they suggest an over pre-occupation with legality. They are the mirror-image of the pharisee whose emphasis is on meticulous observance of the law rather than the spirit of the law.

    I remember Jesus’ story about the followers of David who were hungry, and took the bread which was reserved for the priests. He then said that the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2). We have an interesting example right now, where — in the Zika question — Pope Francis is suggesting that artificial contraception may be more for the good of man than risking the conception of a microcephalic baby. This will shock many people just as the pharisees were shocked.

    So, from this angle, scruples are a lack of trust in God. He only asks us to do what we see as the loving thing. That is what will save us, for the law cannot.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I agree with your definition of the Sabbath.
      But we can not associate what Pope Francis said with regards to artificial contraception.
      In fact I honestly believe that he misunderstood the meaning and meant to say Natural Family Planning, or Birth Control. his thinking was avoiding conception for serious reasons.
      I can not see that he would mean abortifacients .
      Condoms are not a l00% safe.! Perhaps it was in the translation.
      Also perhaps he ought to now say what he meant, That would be the proper thing to do.
      And clear up any confusion.

      • Vincent says:

        St Joseph, you ask for Pope Francis to say what he meant and clear up any confusion. He has answered your wish through his official spokesman. This is the link: You will see that he was not referring to natural family planning.
        You say that condoms are not 100% safe — that’s true. But if you look at NFP in typical usage you will see that it is around 75% safe. (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) It is an impractical method in the Americas where the population is somewhat disorderly and there are few teachers of NFP — and it has to get out and be used very speedily. You know better than most how long it takes to train people properly in NFP.

    • John Candido says:

      There is nothing wrong with your comment Vincent. Well said!

      • John Candido says:

        I mean the comment by Vincent at 9:44 am, February 27th.

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Candido.
        What exactly do you mean when you say that there is nothing wrong with Vincent’s comment?.
        If you are referring to the fact that Pope Francis’s suggestion that artificial contraception may be more for the good of man risking the conception of a Microephatic baby is worth the risk. Well I can’t agree more as all babies are children of God no matter how they are disabled.
        Years ago a friend of mine caught German Measles and was pregnant, in those days she was told she should have an abortion as he would or could be blind.
        She prayed in Church every evening on her way home from work, and thank God he was fine, he is now a headmaster in a Catholic school.
        My feelings are that it would be another cause for an abortion. That is not being scrupulous, just selfish, Also irresponsible, and no way does the situation compare with the Pharisees!
        So what artificial contraception would you say was safe and acceptable?
        What do you mean exactly.

      • John Candido says:


        As there is some confusion when posting a reply to others on SecondSight let me clarify this matter to you once again.

        My comment at 1:44 pm appeared under Vincent’s comment at 11:55 am. I am not replying to that comment but the one before that one at 9:44 am. That is why I immediately wrote the clarifying comment at 1:47 pm stating that my first comment applied to Vincent’s comment ‘at 9:44 am, February 27th.’

        I hope that clarifies the matter for you St.Joseph.

      • St.Joseph says:

        John Thank you for trying to clarify that.
        However there was no confusion as the reply to you was concerning Vincent’s comment at 9.44.Where he said- quote ‘We have an interesting example right now where in the Zika
        question-Pope Francis is suggesting that artificial conception may be more for the good of man than risking the conception of a microephalic baby. Un Quote.
        You will read again my post to you and see what I meant by asking you what you meant?
        You see John I see plenty wrong with that quote from Vincent.
        The Holy Father can not give approval for artificial contraception in the case of Zika disease.
        Every child is a gift from even with if born disabled, I feel that comment from the Pope will open up a can of worms for abortions.
        Maybe Vincent can make it clear what he meant.
        The Holy Father makes a comment people will take that as an ex-cathedra statement, but I am with St Thomas of Aquines on his statement , regarding ‘My Conscience’ when it come to the truth .I give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt that he was misinterpreted
        in translation.

  6. St.Joseph says:

    Yes Quentin pointed to that report.
    Their are still conflicting issue’s regarding his statement.
    I read the Two women Theologians take on Pope Francis’ in flight contraception remarks from Life Site News, also The Catholic World Report ‘Contraceptive, Congo, Nuns choosing the lesser evil, and conflicts of Commandments. I don’t know how to give the ‘link’

    Vincent let us put ourselves in the position of preventing pregnancies because of disease, would you put your self at risk by 75% for using a condom, I know I wouldn’t!
    Natural Family Planning- yes it does take a time to teach, It took me 18 months, in 1982 and I had the two best knowledgeable teachers in those days, Dr Anna Flynn R.I.P and John Kelly FRCOG. R.I.P who did so much work in Africa for the future of NFP. They both signed my certificate who in those days had to be passed by the Central Board of Mid-Wives. It was not easy for me as a school leaver at 14 half.
    In life every thing is possible with God, and where there is a will there is a way.
    It does not take 18 months to learn ones fertility, and when one knows it is 100% effective if used properly. 3 months maximum. I had to study everything to teach. Also research.
    One does not need to go the full hog in situations like disease, as I said before ,surely once a month is not too extreme to have sexual intercourse to make sure that one is fertile. We do have to take responsibility for our own lives in cases of emergency’s.
    As Jesus said, When as a child we think as a child, now we are a man we act like one, or something like that he said.!

    Tell me what the other alternative are, in your opinion? I would sincerely really like you or someone to convince me other ways, I am also for the good of conscience without harming anyone, the reason why I taught NFP, (unpaid) not for myself, I had to have a hysterectomy to save my life. I did not need to teach it only for The Lord and His Blessed Mother. And for those who needed the help!

  7. Martha says:

    I think scrupulosity can range from a slight over punctiliousness over details, to a full blown mental illness, where treatment is often resisted because the medical profession is not considered to be spiritual enough. ( Dr Jack Dominian’s work is relevant)

    Sadly and I am truly very ashamed to admit it, I have experience of scruples, and I am still not sure if this propensity escalates into neurosis, or is caused by a tendency to be neurotic, or by having a fearful or cowardly nature, let alone where the style of teaching in childhood fits in. Without going into too many details, at one stage it centred around the unforgivable sin, which leaves no room for the slightest glimmer of hope.

    I found it made me very determined not to inflict the possibility on to our own children, which added to the difficult balance to make, especially with the confusion which followed Vatican II, and lack of good teaching in some of their schools. I have many misgivings, but have to realise that only God can evaluate the results.

    Ultimately I think that the best remedy is to try and understand and trust in the infinite mercy and love of God, which leads to trying to love Him more, and to make amends for all our sins and faults and shortcomings in return for this stupendous reality, Our Lord’s life and sacrifice to ensure our redemption and salvation. The Year of Mercy, which we are experiencing now, is a real, literal godsend for us all, and I am deeply grateful to Pope Francis for arranging it.

    • St.Joseph says:

      Yes , however there has always been mercy shown through the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) . I believe this needs to be proclaimed more in our parishes .
      A comment made on the radio today by a catholic regarding confession, she was an adult, ‘I have not been to Confession since I was 12’.

      Great mercy is shown through this sacrament, also with the Grace that one receives.
      Whether it be venial sin or mortal, if a person speaks to a priest they will have a clear conscience, the best medicine for ones soul!
      Jesus told us that when he was on the Cross, to the good thief, ‘This day you will be with me in Paradise.
      If Pope Francis had mentioned Confession , that mercy has always been there people would take as much notice as when he spoke about artificial contraception!

      • Martha says:

        Yes of course, St. Joseph, you have a very well balanced view and you are quite right, but in the throes of a bad attack of scruples, the afflicted penitent usually thinks he/she has probably not fulfilled all the conditions for a good confession, forgotten to say something, not explained fully how bad a sin was, not been truly sorry, etc., etc., I can assure you the list can be endless, even, the priest has no power to forgive an unforgiveable sin.

  8. St.Joseph says:

    Yes I see what you say, That is why mercy ought be explained in the proper context by priests.
    This can all be explained by priests in their sermon. We say God is mercy perhaps it would be more appropriate for our priests to be in a closer contact with parishioners to explain what the Holy Father means by the year of Mercy! It is no good Pope Francis saying a ‘Year of Mercy’ unless it is carried down to the laity. They ought to benefit from this Year of Mercy or else it will be over in the blink of an eye.
    So people will use artificial contraceptive if they are in distress but that is not the mercy he ought to be promoting!!
    It is all very perturbing and so unnecessary when there is Confession! He has not made it Ex Cathedra.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I believe Jesus said. No sin is great enough that can not be forgiven, if one is truly sorrow. God knows what is in our hearts and does understand,
      I will say it again The Sacrament of Confession is the answer.! We all need it . and thank God for it. We all have sins to confess and as I said it is the Grace we receive to give us the strength to come closer to God.
      As Jesus said to the sick ‘Go show your selves to the priest. Only one went back to thank Him.

  9. St.Joseph says:

    John Candido
    So you can further understand why it worries me.
    Life-Site News 24th Wednesday. Says’ Filipino bishops ln the wake of the Popes remarks, calls for re-evaluation of contraception in some cases.

  10. Martin Kirkham says:

    Looking back as I approach the end of my life, we were brought up to wear our faith as a strait-jacket.

    With the benefit of today’s insights into human psychology, we are much more complex beings than was appreciated in the past.

    There is a tendency in some quarters of the Church to dismiss this as moral relativity; however, we are more nuanced creatures than traditional elements of the church are ready to admit.

    This fundamental is surely included in Poe Francis’s concept of mercy. May he be successful in releasing the church from its traditional rigidity and restoring it to its rightful conceept of service. This is surely what Jesus intended.

    • Martha says:

      I think great minds have always understood the complexity of the human mind, intuitively and by observation, without the detailed analysis of modern psychology, but frameworks of instruction were often stated in very black and white terms, needing to be qualified by the full context of particular situations, which was not always explained very well, especially to children who usually prefer things to be unambiguous and without the nuances which often apply. Very difficult to get the balance right.

  11. Horace says:

    In the first place I must admit that I am not personally particularly troubled by scruples.
    However I became a little concerned when I looked in the Free Dictionary for a definition of unscrupulous and found – “Having or showing no regard for what is right or honourable, ”.

    It all depends on the context and what you mean by “scruple”.
    Sometimes it is a compliment as in ’scrupulously clean’ – but most often it implies erroneous behaviour, i.e. ‘over punctiliousness about details’. This is very often in the context of the Catholic Church’s definition of ‘sin’ and in particular in the Sacrament of Confession (now, for a reason that I cannot understand, to be called ‘Reconciliation’).

    Perhaps – as many of the comments above imply, we should simply not be careless when we review our thoughts, actions, and their consequences – neither dismissing them nor overemphasising them.

    Quentin says “Nowadays, with a better knowledge of human psychology . . “ and indeed scrupulosity may simply be classed as an ‘obsessive compulsive disorder’. How to cure this I have no idea!

    • St.Joseph says:

      When I was 4 during the War, I had the habit of touching every railing or wall I passed and if I missed one I would have to go back and touch it or scream, also I had a habit of repeating everything my mother said under my breath,
      I remember it well, She took me to the doctor and he told her I would grow out of it ,it was normal!!!
      Have you heard of that before?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Another time I remember being on a train in Bray Ireland on holiday and a kind gentleman gave me some sweets. Mother said to him ‘She is having her lunch shortly she will eat them later,
        However when we got off the train my mother threw them in a rubbish bin, I was devastated.
        Not many sweets in those days. Her reply to me was ‘Never take sweets from strangers! They could be poisoned.
        Would that come under the heading of scruples?

  12. St.Joseph says:

    Thank you!
    Maybe it was the blackouts and the war!

  13. Vincenr says:

    Sr Joseph, you are admirably clear in your condemnation of abortion. And in that you support Pope Francis. What he is concerned to do is to distinguish between abortion and contraception. He is saying that abortion is always evil while contraception is in some circumstances not evil. He implies that, in the case of Zika,, it may be better to use all practical ways to avoid conception for the time being because the alternative is a high risk of abortions (in practice, mostly illegal). Of course you are free to disagree with him but any suggestion that he favours abortion is the opposite of the truth.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I do understand what you are saying.
      However I regret that ‘you don’t understand what I am saying’!
      First would you explain to me your understanding of contraception, what would you consider the contraceptive that Pope Francis is suggesting would be applicable to be used morally for the Zika disease, whilst taking into account it would be used for many more diseases also.
      When you answer that, I will explain more clearly why I don’t agree with the Pope!
      Thank !you

      • John Candido says:


        We all know that you were a dedicated teacher of NFP for a number of years. That is quite commendable & shows that you are a committed and dedicated Catholic. However dedicated anyone is it pays dividends to be flexible & accomodating to other people’s circumstances. It is about striking a balance between the teaching of NFP & the important details of people’s lives. This is also known as being pastoral towards individuals & families and any issues they may have in applying the teaching that comes from the church’s magisterium.

        Balance, moderation & flexibility towards those we are instructing, does not represent a false, heretical or a lackadaisical approach to the church’s teaching. There is Jesus’ attitude to the law of the Sabbath to appreciate a gentler and compassionate approach towards those we guide & instruct. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath to paraphrase the scriptural passage.

        There is the teaching in moral theology of striking a balance between a behavioural rule or guide and the circumstances that people find themselves. Also known more formally as objective morality (official teaching) & subjective morality or the specific features of people’s lives.

        A pinch of salt makes all the difference between blandness & tastiness.

        It is this tiny bit of salt that makes all the difference. A dry inflexible approach to other people is one important precursor of scrupulocity. Another one is a stern & inflexible God. A pastoral humane approach to those we meet in life goes a long way to combat the curse of scrupulocity and other foibles in people’s lives. This does not invalidate the teaching authority of the church but is genuinely complementary to it.

      • Vincent says:

        The Pope’s spokesman refers to condoms as an example. That, I assume, would include barrier contraceptive worn by the woman. The loop would be prohibited as it prevents the conceptus from establishing itself in the womb. The pill would be appropriate in Zika cases, but not useful in protecting against Aids.

      • St.Joseph says:

        You may be interested in a new book by Monsignor William B Smith. ‘Contraception the Lesser of two Evils’ For Modern Moral Problems’
        Msgr Smith wrote numerous articles for Theological Journals as well as a monthly column in the Homiletic Pastoral Review, As did a late parish priest of mine Fr Edwin Gordon.

      • St.Joseph says:

        The Pill would not be appropriate either as it is an abortifacient,

      • Quentin says:

        What Vincent says here raises an interesting point. The ‘pill’ does have abortifacient properties. That is, if it does not succeed in preventing an egg occurring, then it is likely to cause an abortion because it changes the lining of the womb in such a way that the conceptus cannot implant, and thus dies.

        A moral case can be made that the intention is contraceptive and that only the secondary, unintended, effect is that abortion may occur. The moral rule of ‘double effect’ can be invoked here if the intended effect and the unintended effect are proportionate. That is a difficult decision to make, and suggests that Fr Lombardi was wise not to mention the pill.

        (The example often used to illustrate double effect is that, in a just war, you may bomb a munitions factory although you may realise that some innocent civilians will be killed. This is acceptable providing you did not intend to kill the civilians, and that the number of killed civilians would be proportionate to the good done by destroying the factory. Proportion is a matter of judgment.)

      • St.Joseph says:

        As long as Catholic Teaching is Catholic Truth, I don’t believe that is acceptable .
        There are conscientious objectors who don’t believe in killing innocent people in War.
        We can not get away with that or it ought not to be considered as an option to opt out by our conscience being ignorant, of course if one believes that life begins at implantation or birth, that is their conscience.
        Abortion is going on all over the world, however Catholic Truth is for everyone ,but everyone is not obliged to live by it. But we Are.!

  14. St.Joseph says:

    Dear John.
    I know by your comment that you are being very kind by not trying to upset me, I can tell by the way you kindly choose your words.
    However my spirit is willing though my flesh may be weak. So I will tell you my reason for teaching NFP not because as you say! I am a catholic.
    When I married and became pregnant immediately, I knew noting about conception, I thought it was The Lord that that told us when, in fact when I was told I went to WH Smiths to buy a book on babies and where they came out of. Yes you can but smile but its true.
    When I was pregnant with my first daughter I had such horrible morning sickness even on the way to work, the doctor gave me some pills which I felt after taking one, they were not right, rightly so as it was the tiliamoyd (spelt wrong) but you will know what it is, thank God I only took one.
    After 3 miscarriages then 6 stone in weight (I have told this before) the doctor did not know the answer but have me hormone tablets (I did not know much about that). A few months later nearly died from thrombosis, rushed into hospital leaving a husband an two children and a husband sick with worry. This went on for years with me with haemorrhage’s. I even went on the Concord still bleeding ( it was one of our pubs outing) so I did not have much to enjoy health wise in those days.
    (Even now really)only my faith. I asked God many times Why me?
    Then I looked after pregnant girls who did not want to abort their babies, their parents wanted them too.
    Cutting a long story short, I was asked by my Bishop not personally but through the parish priest to study NFP No said I,’ cant spell those big words says I’ however after a great deal of soul searching as no one else in the parish ,doctors and nurses would,decided I would.
    It was very difficult having a Guest House and Pub, however having a non-Catholic husband who believed in it helped and driving me to Bristol and Birmingham for the Study Days.
    Through that study I learned why I was so ill, and I had my operation, thank God got better.
    If one could only hear the voices of the girls I taught one would not call it an inconvenience, I have plenty of letters to prove that. With a Clinic in my Guest House, fortunately having the finances to afford it.
    John I believed in it and that is the answer, not because I am a Catholic as you say, I taught more non Catholics than Catholics, I had no encouragement from the church, no posters up in the porch. leaflets thrown out, (why did I bother) again because I believed in it!!.
    I know you mean well for others when you say what you say, but I am looking at it from the other
    spectrum of life and soul saving help. I have experienced it.
    If The Lord gives us a Pearl of great price one does not bury it in a field and store it, He means us to go out to the whole world share the Good News with everyone not just Catholics, in fact they did not listen .
    When we ask for Bread the Lord does not offer us a stone, nor does He refuse us the Bread of Himself from the Altar the Priests take. That has helped me through all these years and is still helping me now

    • John Candido says:


      I am very sorry to hear of your sorrows St.Joseph. You have certainly been through an awful lot of pain & suffering and it is a tribute to your tenacity that you have overcome these terrible events and went on to raise a family as well as run a business with your late husband! Your Catholic faith would have been central in assisting you to shoulder such crosses and responsibilities St.Joseph. I am so grateful that you were fortunate enough to marry such a supportive husband.

      Most people would have heard about thalidomide in the media. The morning sickness drug called thalidomide was such a tragic medical error which led to about 10,000 global cases of babies severely affected by a condition called phocomelia, which is the malformation of the limbs. 50% of which did not survive according to a Wikipedia article I have partly read.

      Thalidomide also became a notorious and long-running case of medical fraud which led to a more stringent culture of pharmacological research requirements for drug development.
      ‘The negative effects of thalidomide led to the development of more structured drug regulations and control over drug use and development.’

      (Wikipedia article, ‘Thalidomide’)

      Thalidomide is still prescribed today for the ‘treatment of certain cancers (multiple myeloma) and of a complication of leprosy.’

      (Both of the above quotes are from the Wikipedia article entitled, ‘Thalidomide’ accessed on the 1st March 2016)

      • St.Joseph says:

        John thank you for that information.
        Computers are wonderful, I only started to know how they worked from being on SS blog. I am still an amateur.
        Although my husband had one and always wanted me to learn.

  15. Peter D. Wilson says:

    Here’s a curious one. Owing to some computer glitch at the DVLA that I failed to notice at the time, my last MOT is recorded as valid for 13 months. Should I, against objections at the friendly local test centre, insist on a new one before expiry of the 12th? (I haven’t.)

  16. St.Joseph says:

    Peter D.Wilson.
    Is there a moral to that story?

    • Peter D. Wilson says:

      St.Joseph – I don’t know. If an already detectable mechanical fault on my car should cause injury to someone else in the next 26 days, would I be morally culpable for exploiting an administrative error? I think to some slight extent, and since the possibility, however remote and inherently unverifiable, cannot altogether be excluded, does not that culpability already exist?

      In my opinion it does, but is too trivial to warrant any fuss.

  17. Nektarios says:

    I would like to know where all this is taking us? From a Christian standpoint, I ask where is the authority for all views here?
    Perhaps some may say, the Pope is the final authority? Others might say, the Church’s teaching on the matter is the final word. Again others would think that the moralist, philosophers and psychologists, or indeed medical science with a presently ropey ethics is the key to all this?
    Perhaps others may hold to their own opinions. Is their an easy answer to the whole question on the Pope allowing contraception in such cases or other cases?

    If we are a Christian Church, then what is a Christian Church, what does it consist of, what does it believe?
    The world is what it is in its fallen state, with all its sorrows, sadness, problems, sin, pride, arrogance, blindness, fear, illnesses and at the end death and judgement of our soul before a righteous holy God.
    If the RCC claims to be a truly Apostolic Church, then the answers to these and many other associated questions are to be found in the Apostolic Teaching as far as the Church is concerned.
    But many from within the Church and hierarchy have turned their backs on that, they don’t want to know about doctrine and Apostolic doctrine and Apostolic teaching, leaning to their own understanding and in so doing are making shipwreck of their faith and Salvation and propagating their liberal views that are against Christ and the His teaching and that of the Apostles are causing confusion and making shipwreck of the faith of those babes as well as their own.
    We are so advanced from those days of the Apostles, they would have us believe things concerning man has changed, and we can deal with it all. Obviously this is utter nonsense.

    As Christians we are not of this world but been saved and placed in Christ, not by any dogma of the Church institution, but by the Holy Spirit.
    It is easy to throw up seemingly difficult cases such as this but the answers to these and other dilemmas can be deduced from the Apostolic teaching. However, one needs to be living a life that follows the Apostolic teaching before that Apostolic teaching will yield up its wisdom on this or any other issue.

    As Christians we will all die from something or other because we are not made perfect yet in the body. So we die. However the final destiny of a true Christian, is very different from those who follow after the course and spirit of this world.

    So in conclusion, what the Pope said about contraception in this difficult case, is first, loving to the Christian who may be affected since the RCC imposed the ban on contraception in the first place on its members, Nb.It is not a teaching of Christ or the Apostles nor can be deduced from it. The worldly world on the other hand does not care what he says anyway.

    • St.Joseph says:

      I believe that the Holy Father got it wrong in his choice of words
      He ought to have said,’ It would be wise not to conceive a child in the light of the Zika disease.
      Then there would be no controversial issues.

      • St.Joseph says:

        I understand that the Orthodox Church have a ban on contraception too- what I have read. Am I correct.?

      • Nektarios says:

        St Joseph

        The Orthodox Church leaves the issue of using condoms to the conscience of the individual believer’s as that is just preventing a pregnancy or too large a family and so on.

        However, the the Orthodox Church rules and is against the use of abortifacients for that is not simply preventing a pregnancy from occurring, but is Abortion.

  18. St.Joseph says:

    Thank you, so therefore they would not recommend condoms as a fight against the disease.
    Are there any NFP teachers in the Orthodox Church?

    • Alan says:

      St Joseph – ” … therefore they would not recommend condoms as a fight against the disease.”

      I can’t see the reason why they would not. Can you explain?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Look up ‘How safe are condoms’.

      • Alan says:

        I don’t find much from a search of that St Joseph. The NHS suggests that, used correctly, they are 98% effective at preventing a pregnancy. Other sources gave a similar figure. What would be unsafe or problematic about using them in this instance where there is otherwise no specific objection by the Orthodox Church?

      • St.Joseph says:

        Condoms have not prevented Aids from spreading.or will they prevent the Zika disease from spreading.
        I posted earlier that if we have disabled children we will love them and take care of them.
        With 2% of a few million babies born with the disease, when it is so simple to abstain when NFP is 100% accurate, and if sexual intercourse took place even once a month. is that commom sense.
        NFP is not a contraceptive, it is the way God made us since Adam and Eve, its a pity it is taking man so long to find out!
        Every one is not a Catholic, so we would then expect more abortions, and even with Zika they are still entitled to liive.
        Also with Pope Francis’ statement, it opens up a can of worms for all sorts of reasons .
        As far as the Orthodox faith is concerned, that is not the only thing that seperates us.

      • Alan says:

        St Joseph – “With 2% of a few million babies born with the disease, when it is so simple to abstain when NFP is 100% accurate”

        While NFP is more effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies if used properly (99.6% from what I read of a large study done in 2007) that does not suggest that condoms are ineffective, just that they are less effective. With the Orthodox Church having no other specific objection to their use – and considering the willingness of individual couples to employ a given method – I don’t see why they would not recommend both.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Did the Holy Father mention condoms?
        The Pope said contraception may be used in the case of the Zika virus,
        I still maintain that it is his wrong choice of the word ‘contraception’ he ought to have said, and made it Clear that no contraception will stop the spread of the virus
        The catholic church teaches that we have to be open to life when having intercourse,
        which is the infertile time of a female cycle.
        Although this has not to be USED INDISCRIMATELY, I believe he was giving permission for NFP to be used in those cases. That is avoiding becoming pregnant. Condoms WONT do that, only when used in the infertile time, where one wont become pregnant only if not used properly. Causing controversy, which you are doing now
        HE ought to explain what he meant!!.
        That is what I challenge him about.

      • Quentin says:

        Measuring the reliability of contraceptive methods is not as simple as it may seem. It is based on the number of women at risk out of 100 who get pregnant in one year. On this basis male condoms show 2 failures, NFP shows 0.45 failures. But this assumes ‘perfect’ use. Real, or typical, use shows condoms 18 failures, NFP 24 failures.

        But even this is not the whole story. Virtually everyone can be taught how to use condoms in about 10 minutes — even if they are careless afterwards, NFP needs trainers (who need training) and quite lengthy preparation; it is a great deal more complex.

        Given that only 2% of US Catholic women (including churchgoers) use NFP, it is clearly not a method which women experience as trouble free and attractive. (All figures from Guttmacher Institute)

        Now apply these facts to the Americas, which contain some very unsettled societies, and the officially expressed need that women should avoid pregnancy, starting immediately, which method do you think is the more likely to achieve this in practice?

      • St.Joseph says:

        You are right so therefore either abstinence or once a month, is surely not impossible.
        Sticking to the truth is the only way that the world will ever become the way God created it in the beginning
        Of course if that is what Jesus didn’t wish to achieve with His Coming as man- so be it!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Also Quentin.
        Where does it say that God gave Pope Francis permission to allow anyone 2%risk to do harm to their unborn child. Or to anyone for that matter.
        I know Jesus said to St Peter. Feed my Lambs Feed my Sheep. that does not mean to do them harm!
        Sin is the disease that needs Confessing.

    • Nektarios says:

      St. Joseph

      Your, ‘so therefore’ argument does not follow what I said in my earlier posting.

      While I see the benefits of NFP, it has to be on the Apostolic teaching on the matter, and that is essentially, by agreement they should abstain from sexual activity for a season.
      But this is not an argument against the use of condoms, but for spiritual reasons – but it is by agreement between husband and wife.

      If there is an issue of serious sexual transmitted diseases, then NFP is not the issue but
      total abstinence or failing that, the use of a condom until the disease is fully treated and cured.

      You would know more about it than I if there were NFP teachers in the Orthodox Church. I dare say there are, but it is not seen as a Church or spiritual issue and never heard it discussed but I will chase this up and let you know.

  19. Quentin says:

    I have just posted a link on ‘A snake in the grass’ which you might want to visit. If you want to comment please do so in that item. I have to say that it’s not pleasant reading.

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