Dear brothers and sisters,
Yesterday, I went to Holy Mass and as I was sitting in the pew I was struck with fear and doubt about whether I was worthy to receive the holy of holies. I was worried that I might have committed a mortal sin.
As I examined my conscience, I was able to discern that the main action that caused me such worry wasn’t, logically, as much as a threat as I thought it was.
I was able to discern that I wasn’t sure that it was even grave matter, and that I certainly wasn’t sure that I had actually committed a mortal sin at all. As I delved deeper into using my reason, I was struck with how “silly” it was that I was so worried about it…and yet I could not shake the feelings of fear and doubt about my unworthiness to receive Holy Communion.
And so, I did what I have been taught to do in these situations by my priest and my spiritual mentor:
I decided that since I wasn’t sure that I had committed a mortal sin, then I could not have committed a mortal sin. Therefore, I took Holy Communion.
Even still, I am bothered by the feeling of doubt and fear. Now it is a fear that I may have caused a grave rupture with God by taking Holy Communion unworthily.
However even this is odd on a rational level. I know I could not go to my priest during confession and honestly tell him that I know that I have taken Communion unworthily. The best I could do was say: “I think that I might have taken Communion unworthily.”
I also know what his response would be…namely simply assuring me that I could not have committed grave sin without knowing for sure that I was doing so.
Again, I am confronted by the fact that, on a rational level, this fear and doubt makes no sense.
But the feelings of uncertainty, and the fear that it engenders, are very difficult for me to shake. I feel as though there is a weight on my conscience that I cannot put off.
Over the years since partaking of the sacrament of confession, and the year since I have begun to take the Holy Eucharist, it has become clear to myself and my fathers in the faith that I am scrupulous and prone to feelings of doubt.
However, I have come to cherish the feeling of certainty that the sacraments give to me…a certainty that I did not have as an Evangelical Baptist.
Right now, however, I feel as if I am clouded and unable to deal with my doubts.
I was wondering if my fellow Catholics here could give me any advice or counsel to deal with what I am feeling. At the very least, I hope I can get some help to sort this out and find some level of the certainty that brings peace to my mind and heart.
Thanks in advance!