Confused and feeling guilty

A little about me, im a college sophomore.

In my English coarce, a group went up to present their individual power points. After the group finished, they turned their desks so as to face the rest of the class and got prepared to answer any questions we (the rest of the class) may have.

One of the group members (we’ll call him Ron) offended a Shia Muslim student by saying that in the Shia religion, they inflect pain upon themselves. The student raised her hand and told him that it was based on the culture not the religion itself and he shouldn’t have said such a thing. She was clearly offended. He did apologize for it though.

Then some guy started speaking about useless stuff and that conversation led to Ron stating that although he has a Cross tattoo on his hand, he is really an atheist. When he said this, i remembered that on the first day of class he said that his career/future goal was to become a islamic/catholic psychologist, putting his personal beleifs aside to council them in their religion’s spirituality.

This bothered me a little and i couldn’t help but say something. I raised my hand, apologized to the teacher saying that this question wouldnt relate to the presentation. (She didn’t care) So I said, “I know ur goal is to council in spirituality catholics and muslims, but i dont understand why a person would go to u for spiritual coinciding when u have no faith in God. Wouldnt it be wiser for a catholic to go seek a Priest, or a muslim to seek an Imam who share and practice their faith for spiritual counciling?”

Ron replied that Priests dont have psychology degrees and i told him that priests could have any sort of degree, like medicine and even psychology. Besides there are many catholic spiritual councilors that can help those that seek such service.

The teacher, trying to make it seem like Ron and I are on even playing fields said " Im trying to think of something that u wouldnt see a priest for and would rather seek a sevice like Ron’s…hmmm… Oh, well, say an child is going through puberty and is having body changes, they wouldn’t want to go to a Priest because then the Priest would be like, ur a sinner, and this and that is bad…"

I responded to that with “A Priest is a man that shares in the priesthood of Christ. He shouldn’t tell a child such things right off the bat and degrade them. He should act with kindness and understanding. Jesus didnt let anyone stone that woman although she was a grave sinner, He instead looked at her with love and compassion, and that response should be reflected by a priest.”

Students started giggling and smiling because it was just an awkward silence since he couldn’t answer my question. The teacher then asked a question to a different student in that group and class went on.

After a while Ron stated that catholicism recently permitted masturbation and suicide and i opened up my mouth again (cause i clearly dont know when to stop talking) and said that that isn’t completely true because such things are only permitted under certain circumstances.

Overall, Im feeling guilty because not only did i in a way shatter his career plans but i did so in front of the entire class. I fealt especially bad when the students started giggling under his lack of response and i think i should have just stopped talking when the teacher made up that example. Ron was already a but humiliated by the Shia Muslim and now i had humiliated him even more. I feel so guilty. I hope he doesnt hate catholicism or anything because if me.

Should I be feeling guilty?? I said these things in the nicest and calmest ways i could but i dont know why I was so compelled to say anything in the first place.

What can i do this Friday to make it up to him? Should i apologize then pertend to understand his vision. Should I get more involved and actually see if his vision makes sense in some way?

I’m so lost. I wish i never said anything in the first place. I pray that i haven’t offended him.
Sorry for the length of this post.
Please respond before Friday morning because i will see him again by that time.

Basic and simple rule: If we want others to respect what we have faith in and what we do we need to respect what they believe in and how they practice their faith.

From the beginning of time there have been different religions. As we all know there are even many different ways to practice a Christian faith and spiritual life. That is a fact we can not deny. We must live with that fact, and respect it.

Hello and God bless you! Placing you in the enclosed garden of the most sacred Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In my opinion (take it or leave it!) a good answer. Thank you for your courage.

You could tell him about Father Groeshel.

In my opinion, another good answer.

I’d be edified by your explanation of the phrase you used --> “…even playing fields…” Also, how much does the teacher know about the Catholic faith? Would the teacher appreciate some basic information about the Catholic faith?

so, this teacher is an expert on how priests interact with young people? How did this teacher come about this conclusion?

Another good answer (in my opinion)!

Most priests do act with kindness and understanding. Perhaps you could invite a priest to come in as a special guest and answer some of these misconceptions.

In my opinion, it sounds like an educational moment, which is what education is for.

Thank you for defending the faith.

No, I think you were doing a good job defending the faith. And, masturbation and suicide are grave (mortal) sins. They are never permitted, but sometimes there are circumstances which lessen the seriousness of these sins.

No one has so much power that they can actually shatter someone’s career plans, especially if the someone is truly dead set on them. You did your class a great favor by standing up for your faith. Perhaps you need to speak to a priest.

When people giggle when you share your faith I suspect that that’s an aspect of persecution. In the Beatitudes Jesus said 'blessed are you when they persecute you…" Their reaction is also a way of dealing with something that makes them uncomfortable. I dunno. Again, just my opinion…

Perhaps an opportunity for friendship? Kill him with kindness, be friendly to this person when you see him… give it time… show him what we’re supposed to be like when we really practice our faith… -->my opinion, yet again… please take or leave as you see fit…

perhaps a good Catholic counselor could help you in this? I don’t know, it’s only a thought and again, my opinion, which is a take it or leave it thing…

…dunno…but, in my opinion, I suspect not, but perhaps, again, a good Catholic counselor would help… I also suspect the Holy Spirit is working in you…

Maybe simply treat him to a cup of coffee before class? Just a thought. Maybe be a friend to him. Perhaps you need first to be clear with yourself on your vision of things … but, again, I’m not you, and this is conjecture on my part…

Another thought, before you make any response, is there a Newman Center on campus or a FOCUS group?

No you should not feel guilty. You were in a class dialoguing like everyone else.
Your points were well made.

Offer to buy him a beer and sit and have a talk at the bar for a couple of hours.

You did very well. You asked some good questions, corrected some misunderstandings, and spoke the truth. It is wonderful that you are willing to boldly bear witness to your Catholic faith, and that you can express yourself clearly.

The only problem I can see is that you were off-topic. You spoke up about something that was not part of the classroom activity at that time. It was about your classmate personally, and he was not mentally prepared to respond.

I suppose you could apologize for getting off topic, analyzing his career plans, and drawing attention to him personally rather than focusing on his presentation.

However, there is no need, at this point, for you to try to get more supportive of his vision to become a spiritual counselor to Catholics and Muslims when he does not share either of those faiths. Just between you and me, he has no future in spiritual counseling unless he has a strong and well-informed faith. Don’t try to deceive him by pretending to understand; that would surely make things worse. Nor should you get more involved in his career plans. He needs to work that out for himself. You could, however, when the time is more appropriate and the opportunity arises, continue to correct his misconceptions and tell him (and show him) what Catholicism is really about.

May the Holy Spirit give you strength, wisdom, and peace in this present difficulty and always.

"What can i do this Friday to make it up to him? Should i apologize then pertend to understand his vision. Should I get more involved and actually see if his vision makes sense in some way?"

Why would you want to pretend you agree with him when you don’t? No, his vision doesn’t make any sense. An atheist counseling a Catholic and also a Muslim? They are all coming from different perspectives.

When people go to find a therapist you want one to be as much in sync as you are with a similar background, etc. It sure helps to understand each other and who wants to pay a counselor for hours and hours to get them to understand your background? You want to talk about your problems, not to compare cultures. I think he should think of getting a different career.

IMO, you spoke your truth and it sounded like it was right to me. You didn’t put him down like the woman did when she said he shouldn’t have said that. You just answered him with the information you knew when he was wrong. He doesn’t know about the Catholic Church. You didn’t make the other people in class laugh, that was on them. Don’t feel bad about what other people decide to do. You don’t control their responses.

If you want to discuss this with him more than to so but I would not agree with him when you know his idea has so many problems. It would do him a kindness to clue him in, he probably wants to get other people’s honest feedback or should if he is smart.

I agree, if anything he should thank you for giving him a reality check.

Paying for spiritual guidance from an atheist? Sure, like getting swimming lessons on Mars from a non-swimmer :rotfl:

Lasting faith, thank u for ur response. I 100 percent agree with that rule! I didnt think i was being disrespectful to his beliefs. I always try to make sure im respecting other people’s beleifs. I’m worried about having in a way disrespected him by asking questions he couldn’t answer about his future career, which isnt any better since its so personal.

Crenfro, thank u for that detailed response! It was awsome! Let me answer some of ur questions.

The teacher is a Roman Catholic. She practices the faith by going to Church and following traditions but she doesn’t know it well enough to defend it. She is very creative! She can take one subject and create a thousand sub topics about it. But when I asked this question, that was ghe only thing she could think of and I’m pretty sure she said it because she didn’t want Ron to feel like he hadn’t thought things through.

As for Ron, he used to be a Catholic but he has left the faith and now believes there is moral truth in every religion but no deity. And he isn’t a jerk or anything so i dont want him to feel sad.

Also, there is a Newman center on campus! But y r u mentioning it???

Thank you also Mary! Thats what my friends and family have been telling me. I just dont want him to hate catholicism because i put him out in the spot like that without him knowing how to respond.

Haha Jon! Unfortunately, I’m not twenty one so i cant really go to bars and i dont like beer lol

Thank u berylliosis for ur comment! I dont know how to quote on here so…
Quote from Beryllos:
"The only problem I can see is that you were off-topic. You spoke up about something that was not part of the classroom activity at that time. It was about your classmate personally, and he was not mentally prepared to respond.

I suppose you could apologize for getting off topic, analyzing his career plans, and drawing attention to him personally rather than focusing on his presentation."

I believe that is why im feeling guilty. I do feel the need to apologize to him for the reasons u stated in the second paragraph in the quote. It was just so random for me to say anything in the first place, especially since this is about his personal life.

I will not pretend to understand his vision because it goes against my beleifs. Thank u for that prayer!

Thank you oneofmany! Let me quote u also:

“Why would you want to pretend you agree with him when you don’t? No, his vision doesn’t make any sense. An atheist counseling a Catholic and also a Muslim? They are all coming from different perspectives.”

Ur pretty much right on the money here. I cant understand his thinking either and I’m not going to pretend that i do.

Ur also right about the part where u said i dont control their responses. But if i hadn’t said anything in the first place, they wouldn’t have responded that way.

Also, he didn’t seem bothered by it in the end, at least not externally but if it were me in his shoes, i would’ve fealt a little sad and disappointed in myself. I wouldn’t go beyond those feelings but i dont know how his brain works. What if those feelings translate into anger. One of the first things i stated was that im catholic and im afraid he would develop a hatred towards the Church because of me. I want him to love Jesus and the slightest possibility of me contributing to him growing apart from our Lord is bothering me so much.

Phalanx, that was a hilarious comparison! Rotfl!

Thank u all for ur comments and prayers!

That’s one law America needs to change…

But at least consider the principle of the matter. When I was in college I absolutely came out swinging in defense of the Church and it made me unpopular with some. But with others whom I spent time with socialising, I like to hope I left a positive impression with them on the Catholic Church and our doctrine.

I think there’s an opportunity for you here.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel is a excellent example of a Catholic priest who is also a psychologist.

This is not true.

This is also not true. Intrinsically evil acts are not “permitted” under “certain circumstances”. These items are both instrinsic evils. They are sins against the sixth and fifth commandments.

I don’t know why you would.

I am unsure why you believe you need to “make it up” to him. It’s not personal. So you need to toughen up a bit, I think.

No and no.

Take a look at this to know what i mean about certain circumstances:

“Mortal sin requires three conditions: grave matter, full knowledge of the gravity of the action, and full and free consent to the action.” So a person that is not catholic who commits any form of evil without having full knowledge of the act as being evil is not committing a mortal sin.

When Ron said what he said, it was because the class some how got into the topic of masturbation and suicide, and claimed that the catholic church permitted such things, i said that’s not true, its only under certain circumstances such things are permitted. i gave an example that if i were to jump out of the class room’s window and i knew that its wrong to kill myself then i probably wont end up going to Heaven. whereas if a person with psychological issues took their own life, God wouldn’t be so tough on them because He knows that they were not in the right state of mind." It was pretty clear, or at least to me it was, that i was talking about salvation when I said permitted.

Under no circumstances are they “permitted”. Under some circumstances, people lack culpaibility for their actions.

Clear to you. Maybe not clear to others.

It is not accurate to say that any intrinsic evil is “permitted under certain circumstances”. It is accurate to say that while said act is intrinsically evil, and objectively grave matter, subjectively the person may not be culpable for mortal sin if they lack full knowledge or free will (i.e. have diminished capacity).

I see what ur saying, and putting it that way is much better than the way i put it. I get why what I said wouldnt have been very clear. I said permitted because thats the word he used and so i guess i just repeated it. But ur right, it would’ve been better to say things a bit differently.

After class finished, I decided to apologize to Ron for getting off topic and that i should’ve asked such a question in a one on one conversation, instead of in front if the whole class. He said not to worry, he didn’t get offended by it. So i think its all good and atleast i dont feel guilty anymore! Thanks everyone for your help!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit