Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Unbidden thoughts that we don't dwell on and want to dismiss are not blasphemous sins

Thread: Should I confess intrusive thoughts?
  1. #1

    Should I confess intrusive thoughts?

    I've only told one or two people this in my entire life, but I've dealt "intrusive thoughts" since I was 14 or 15. It's not always the same thoughts. There's typically a few themes, but it's usually something disturbing. I'm almost certain it's some kind of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I've never been diagnosed, but a few years ago, I read a file regarding a psychological evaluation done on me when I was 7 for unrelated reasons, and it noted "OCD-like tendencies".

    I feel like it's been hindering my spiritual life, probably for years. One of the reasons I put off going to confession is because I'm not sure how to deal with it. I know that they're supposedly involuntary, but every once in a while, I'll get something out of the blue that I'm not sure is real or not. It can seem like it. Sometimes there's a feeling with it.

    I know people always say "Don't accept it, reject it" and so on. But sometimes it seems like a feeling or thought could be totally logical coming from me, even if it bothers me. Sometimes I think that the analyzing I do is just my way of trying to rationalize away a negative feeling that I don't want to acknowledge.

    I'm not afraid of confessing actual, physical (or mental) sins that I've committed. What gets me is not knowing if something is real or not. If it isn't, then I'm fine. If it is, then I'd have to confess it - but there goes the question, was it really for real? I've never told anyone the content of my thoughts.

    Should I just not bother with confessing them at all?
    Last edited by recessive redundancy; May 25th, 2014 at 10:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Vancouver, Canada
    Confess these and any other things that get in the way of your spiritual development. You can even tell the priest, "I know that these aren't sins, but I want to ask the Lord to take them from my mind, or to give the grace to deal with them better than I am."

    There is nothing wrong with bringing things that are not sinful to the confessional, and asking the Lord for the grace to deal with them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    You are not alone RR, I sometimes get thoughts I really can't control. I usually don't confess them because I know I can't stop them, and they are really not that bad, but I understand you very well. I have this "thumb rule" if mine, if it feels bad don't do it, and if you need to ask yourself is it a sin, it most likely is. We don't have complete list of sins, thus we sometimes must use our own judgement and try to figure out what is a sin and what is not. So I don't think you need to confess them, unless you feel you want to. If these thoughts feel bad, maybe you could talk with your pastor about them? And keep in mind that you can confess also things that are not sin, in fact, God most likely want you to do so. (IMHO)

    A spiritual life is a ongoing dialog with God, but God do understand that sometimes you just don't want to talk, and what you then can do is to find a silent and peaceful place, sit down and think, soon you will feel much better, God talk to us even when we don't have strength to respond, and He talk to us all in a very different manner, in "signs" only we know.

    I hope you will find a way to deal with your problems, and never forget that you are not alone, you may feel so, but you are not, God is with you, your Guardian Angel is, and Mother Mary pray for us all, all the time. Take care.

    "Auf Der Reise Ins Licht"
    ("A journey in to light")

  4. #4
    Unbidden thoughts that we don't dwell on and want to dismiss are not sins. Often, we get such thoughts and, despite our desire, cannot "shake them loose". But Bruce's suggestion is spot on: Tell the priest that you desire the grace to overcome them.

    I note you referred to "intrusive" thoughts -- as in "distraction". I get them often, RR -- most noticeable in the middle of prayers or at Mass. They can be about anything, and I sometimes find that I have to make a concerted effort to focus on something, even saying a prayer or speaking out loud, in order to quiet them.

    Even more troubling are "impure" thoughts that cannot easily be vanquished. They're nothing "new", even the Desert Fathers wrote about them. Here's a sample:

    Abba Anoub asked Abba Poemen about the impure thoughts which the heart of man brings forth and about vain desires. Abba Poemen said to him, “Is the axe any use without someone to cut with it? (Isaiah 10:15) If you do not make use of these thoughts, they will be ineffectual too.” (#15, p. 169)

    Abba Isaiah questioned Abba Poemen on the subject of impure thoughts. Abba Poemen said to him, “It is like having a chest full of clothes, if one leaves them in disorder they are spoiled in the course of time. It is the same with thoughts. If we do not do anything about them, in time they are spoiled, that is to say, they disintegrate.” (#20, pp. 169-70)
    God's peace!

    The wisdom from above is first of all pure,
    then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits,
    without inconstancy or insincerity.
    And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.

    James 3:17-18 


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