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Managing Scrupulosity

This monthly newsletter—created in 1964 by Fr. Thomas Tobin, CSsR, to address a critical need—has always used the most up-to-date communications resources available. Fr. Tobin took on the tasks of creating a newsletter, scheduling its publishing dates, and deciding to deliver it at no charge to anyone who asked for it. He organized and led the essential support team within Liguori Publications, secured the necessary permissions to spend the required resources, and succeeded in establishing Scrupulous Anonymous as a worthy service that has been provided free for the asking ever since. The edition you are reading stands as a sample testament to his work.

Over the years, Liguori Publications has made the necessary adjustments that technology enabled. The newsletter is mailed upon request, is available in an electronic format, is occasionally printed in color, and it is archived so it can be accessed easily by anyone with a computer and who visits the website scrupulousanonymous.org. Scrupulous Anonymous has become an essential pastoral resource for people who suffer with the disorder and those who minister to them.

Of course, there are limits to what a newsletter can accomplish. For example, it is impossible to answer the volume of mail we receive. Reader questions provide the topics for columns like this one and our “Mailbox” content. While I strive to be thorough, it is almost impossible to answer all the questions readers mail and email.

One glaring unmet need I am asked about often is a request for a list of priests in a reader’s community who know about the disorder and can help. There has been no database or other resource that could provide that much-needed information. Mostly I have referred questioners to their local Catholic Charities, a retreat center, or another pastoral entity that might have useful resources. This often helped people in large communities, but it was woefully inadequate for those in rural areas or whose local diocese was small.

In the spirit of Fr. Tobin’s vision and the efforts of people who have served in this ministry, the Redemptorists have launched a new pastoral tool. While it will not provide all the answers or pastoral direction that is needed, it is a good step. As a result of the generosity of donors, the new pastoral response and aid for the scrupulous is available in the form of a website. It is intended to complement the efforts of the Scrupulous Anonymous newsletter. The new site will enable Redemptorists and people affiliated with us to provide pastoral responses that are more helpful than ever.

I encourage you to visit this new pastoral effort at ManagingScrupulosity.com.

The new site has been in development for the last year. I envision it as a gathering place for the community of people who suffer with scrupulosity. In addition to resources that are familiar to this community, the site provides more resources, primarily the opportunity for interaction with the extended community. This interaction is intended to remove the experience of isolation that is so often part of the experience of the disorder.

People with scrupulosity often speak of the burden of the disorder and the pain of suffering alone. They feel isolated, that no one understands what is going on. They are frustrated with trying to connect with someone who can help and support their effort to heal. A disconnected voice in the confessional’s darkness often worsens their feelings of isolation, anxiety, and hopelessness.

ManagingScrupulosity.com provides regular opportunities for the discussion of the details, questions, and feelings associated with the disorder. A moderated “chat room” is one part of the pastoral effort. Sessions for group spiritual direction and individual spiritual direction may be scheduled. So far, five experienced people have committed to being spiritual directors. More will join. Opportunities for peer groupings, mentor experiences, specific training, and resources for the clergy and other tools are being developed. The new site is separate from Liguori Publications, which will continue to produce this newsletter monthly.

We held successful trials of numerous group spiritual-direction gatherings and individual spiritual-direction meetings. The participation was encouraging and the feedback overwhelmingly positive. I anticipate the new site will widen the pastoral reach of the Redemptorists to those with scrupulosity and offer services to people in need.

This month, Christians will celebrate the great feast of Easter. It is the day when Jesus conquered the darkness of death and restored light and life to the people of God. With the new hope that the Easter feast generates, it is appropriate that this new pastoral tool is now online. I pray the site will help those with scrupulosity claim the Easter joy and hope that God wants for all humanity. I pray that those with the disorder can roll back the stone of isolation and enter into the light of a community of men and women who understand, are connected, and are committed to new life in the Spirit of God.

Fr. Thomas M. Santa, CSsR

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