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I am currently working on a project devoted to the thoughts of the Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney) on various topics. One of the topics is scruples.

St. Alphonsus Liguori, for instance, has this to say about scruples itself:

A conscience is scrupulous when, for a frivolous reason and without rational basis, there is a frequent fear of sin even though in reality there is no sin at all. A scruple is a defective understanding of something.

St. Philip Neri seemed to have a fair amount to say on the subject, including

The scrupulous should remit themselves always and in everything to the judgment of their confessor, and accustom themselves to have a contempt for their own scruples.

And he offered the following advice to those pestered by scruples:

If those who are molested by scruples wish to know whether they have consented to a suggestion or not, especially in thoughts, they should see whether, during the temptation, they have always had a lively love to the virtue opposed to the vice in respect of which they were tempted, and hatred to that same vice, and this is mostly a good proof that they have not consented.

and

When a scrupulous person has once made up his mind that he has not consented to a temptation, he must not reason the matter over again to see whether he has really consented or not, for the same temptations often return by making this sort of reflection.

However, when I searched, for example, the various sermons and catechetical instructions of the Curé of Ars, I could find nothing along these lines. In fact, I could find nothing at all in which anything directly regarding scruples in the above sense is even mentioned.

St. John Vianney, has, however, used the word in a slightly different sense on several occasions; when, for example, he says:

My children, you make a scruple of missing holy Mass, because you commit a great sin in missing it by your own fault ; but you have no scruple in missing an instruction.

and also,

He [lukewarm Christian] has few scruples in cutting out, on the least pretext, the Asperges and the prayers before Mass.

But, alas, I can find nothing regarding his having addressed scruples specifically as a spiritual disease.

I have consulted his definitive biography by Trochu, and all I could find in there regarding scruples as a disease, is a reference that Trochu makes in regards to St. Benedict Labre en route to receiving the hospitality of the Vianney household when St. John Vianney was a little boy:

Tortured by scruples, Benoit Labre had just left the Trappist monastery of Sept-Fonds, where he had been a novice under the name of Brother Urban. He had now acquired a certainty that his vocation was to be a wayfarer for the remainder of his life, so he set out for Rome. His first halt was at Paray-le-Monial, where he paid long visits to the chapel of the Apparitions. From Paray he journeyed to Lyons, but rather than enter the city at nightfall he chose to spend the night at Dardilly. On observing a number of poor persons going to the house of Pierre Vianney, he went along with them.

QUESTION: Does anyone know if the Curé of Ars had had anything to say about the disease of scruples directly, perhaps along the lines of the Liguori and Neri quotes provided above; and if so, what are they or where I may find them?

(The sources I have used, for the most part, are in English. Perhaps there is something in the French in which the subject is directly addressed?)

Thank you.

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  • Which sermons were checked?
    – DDS
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 1:05
  • @I.Chekhov The Sermons of the Curé of Ars, trans. Una Morrissy, publ. by Regnery in 1960.
    – DDS
    Commented Jun 26, 2023 at 1:32
  • What are some synonyms for scruples you'd think are appropriate?
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Feb 15 at 17:37

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If you check the Sermons of the "Cure of Ars for the Sundays and Feast Days of the Year" published by Jos. Wagner in 1901 (seems not to be available online), you should find (1) in the chapter on Temptations:

The first temptation, my brethren, which the devil prepares for those who have begun to be more zealous in the service of God, is the fear of man. They are afraid to show themselves. They shun those persons whose society they formerly frequented. If they are told that they have changed very much, they are ashamed! The question, “What will be said of me?” haunts them so, that they have no more courage to do good before the world. If the devil is unable to win them over through the fear of man, he excites in them extraordinary scruples. They are afraid that their confessions were not good; that their confessor does not understand them; that they are working in vain; that they will be lost anyhow; that they would gain just as much if they did not take any trouble.

and, (2) in the chapter On Perseverance

How often do we not torment ourselves thinking whether we shall be lost or saved? Useless scruples! Listen to Moses, who, when he was dying, had the twelve tribes of Israel assembled, and said to them: "You know that I have loved you tenderly---that I have sought nothing but your happiness and salvation. Now that I am going to give God an account of all my actions, I must tell you the following, and you must not forget it: `Serve God faithfully; remember the many benefits which He has lavished upon you; never separate yourselves from Him, no matter what it may cost you. You will have enemies who will persecute you, and strive all in their power to make you forsake God. Take courage, therefore; you are sure of the Kingdom if you remain faithful to God.'"

I have added the bold in the above excerpts.

There seem to be no other references to scruples in the chapters of the Wagner book.

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