Many feel the false comfort and illusion that clarity can seem to promise. Certainly those with scrupulosity are familiar with this trap. The dictionary says clarity is understood as “the quality of being coherent and intelligible” and “the quality of being certain or definite.” Both descriptions are appealing, but a closer look reveals that clarity is a mixed bag.
Being coherent and intelligible are worthy qualities to strive for. Both can improve conversation and understanding. On the other hand, being “certain, definitive” is not necessarily a value that delivers all that it potentially suggests is achievable. In conversation, for example, a certain and decisive person can come across as dismissive and closed to opposing ideas. Therein lies the trap.
When a person is certain and definite to the point of being dismissive and unpersuadable, trouble begins to brew. More often than not, disappointment will be a much more frequent guest in such a situation rather than satisfaction. The situation might be worse: extremely unpleasant or obnoxious.
Unfortunately, I have occasionally encountered people who are struggling with scrupulosity whom I might gently identify as both obnoxious and unpleasant. Not because they are obnoxious and unpleasant people but rather that the intensity of their single-minded pursuit for clarity makes them seem so. Caught up in the emotion and energy of the manifestation of their scrupulous condition, they’re not the least bit open to any kind of persuasion, discussion, or even the manifestation of sacramental grace. Everything is blinded and colored by their obsessive and compulsive pursuit of the false promise of clarity and their profound disappointment when they don’t experience the peace they think they’ll achieve.
Fr. Thomas M. Santa, CSsR