Endless Confusion

Hi. I am Kaleb, from Georgia, US. I’m in RCIA currently and have been for several months now, and have been studying philosophy, then theology, then Catholicism for about the past 4-6 years almost daily and have gone through many different phases. Right now, I am in a place of transition, from not being Catholic to being Catholic, and it is just as difficult, if not moreso, than the incredibly strenuous task of personally searching for truth over the past few years.
I feel that I have two different minds, one of faith, and one of doubt. I go through a transition, usually multiple times a day, from favouring one mind over the other and back again, which is deeply painful. I will usually begin my day with faith, feeling at peace in myself and happy in my study and living of Catholic Christianity, though all the time feeling a sort of tug by my doubtful mind constantly. I will usually then later in the day slip into the doubt mind, feeling that I have questions that cannot be answered, insights that disprove the Church’s teachings, and a persistent feeling that, what if it is not actually true or real but just an illusion? I will often times then do a sin or two while in my doubt phase, which usually includes sexual sins, and then afterwards I will feel guilty and will feel a deeply spiritual tug by my faithful mind to return to it.
I cannot seem to dissolve this conflict, and the closer I get to being baptized, the stronger it seems to get. I don’t know what to do. It is so painful… I feel that it will never end. If anyone has any helpful insights, please give them. Thank you.

I understand what you are going thru, and the best advice anyone can give is don’t give into your doubt! God has called you home and you are so close to give up now. Prehaps you can use your doubt in a postive way, when you are unsure or have questions find the answers. Talk to your Priest, read books, ask questions here :wink: You are about to expierence something wonderful, don’t let it slip by.
God Bless

Make sure you say prayers everyday, this will help you to not lose your faith .

I will give you the same answer for a lot of the questions like this on here, PRAY, Develop a life of prayer and soon you will see that these sins get weaker and weaker in your life. I highly suggest the rosary. There is no better protection from sin than Our Lady.

In my early 20s I slipped into agnosticism. I felt so self-confident, so immersed in self sufficiency that the idea of God just seemed so old-fashioned. I followed Blaise Pascal’s advice and kept attending Mass, kept saying mechanically some prayers, etc. And then, gradually, my faith started flowing back, almost unnoticed. I must say the Sacraments (Eucharist, Marriage, Confession) were very, very powerful in bringing me back to communion. I got married when I was 25 and prayer with my wife was also instrumental in getting my faith back. I still get tempted by despair and doubt at times, but I just move on. At some point you have to make a choice and then stick to it forever; otherwise you’ll be a slave of your musings. Everything has been marvelous in my life since then (I’m 39), even if my family had to endure very, very sad situations. So my advice would be: get the Sacraments; pray. Meanwhile, learn the wonderful Catholic doctrine. It’ll take time (3, 10 or 20 years - be prepared for that) but in the end the rewards are immense, even in this world.

Meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary.

The Rosary: rosary-center.org/howto.htm

Kaleb, I just sponsored someone in RCIA and in the weeks leading up to the Sacraments of Initiation, she said she felt like she was under attack. I told her it’s likely she is - coming into the Catholic Church is a big way to get on Satan’s radar. He wants to discourage you and so he is doing everything he can to tempt you and cause you to doubt. He is doing all he can to persuade you to give up on becoming Catholic.

The best way to resist his attacks is through prayer. A Hail Mary said the moment you have doubts or are tempted to sin is very powerful.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Just like using resistance to build muscle, you will grow spiritually stronger every time you resist Satan’s attacks.

Hang in there - you are in my prayers.

Praise God you’re on your way home! :smiley:

I felt this same way many times. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. For some SOLID, blow your mind stuff, read Dr. Scott Hahn. He’s got many books, but I love his “Catholic For A Reason” books (I think there’s 3). Here’s his site: scotthahn.com/

But you can find him all over Catholic Answers. Another I really enjoyed was Tim Staples. He was raised Baptist, like I was, so I sort of gravitated to him b/c of that.

Karl Keating is another one (founder of Catholic Answers), but he wasn’t a convert, I don’t think. But honestly, just between him and Scott Hahn, that’s enough to keep your mind busy for a looong time. It’s exciting when you finally get the, “ohhhh” moments as everything starts to make sense. There’s nothing that’s disjointed - everything fits together -logically. It’s like the most amazing present you’ve ever been given - it’s God’s plan for us - it’s awesome! :smiley:

Kaleb, the Catholic Church makes sense. I know that sounds simplistic, but every single time I had (or have) a question, the Church had a logical, reasonable answer. Our God is a purposeful God.
EVERYthing He did, and does, has meaning. Nothing is random.

Our Catholic faith is such an amazing gift. Continue your journey, turn your doubts into an opportunity to learn…2,000 years of history - we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. :wink:

Hi Kaleb,

In reading your post, I was reminded of two things:

#1 - Myself
#2 - St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, where he says, “We are well aware that all of us have knowledge; but while knowledge puffs up, love is what builds up.” (8:1)

While everyone has so far given wonderful answers, I wonder if they really got at the heart of a typical problem for those of us who are of the rational, analytical mold. You see, you strike me as the type of person who sees a problem and then attempts to explain it by referencing St. Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, or even Jacques Maritain, maybe with some Wittgenstein thrown in for comparison. Am I wrong?

Nothing wrong with that, per se, but if you fail to internalize these philosophies, if you fail to stop treating them as conceptual realities and begin living them as automatic, absolute truth, or, in short, you fail to make the jump from the intellect to the will (for this is the meaning of the verse quoted above), then it’s likely that someday you’ll discover some theological conundrum so complex that your brittle faith will crumble and you’ll be standing outside the Church walls with a head full of accusations and a heart full of longing. I know because I’ve been there…and so has Umberto Eco.

It’s in these moments of doubt, when you don’t have the answers, that your faith will be tested and proven - for faith does not have all the answers, it doesn’t know where it’s headed, or how it’s going to get there, but it trusts with an unprecedented, divine assistance.

If I’m wrong and have made some gross assumptions, I ask your forgiveness, but hopefully this proved of some worth to somebody.

this experience is common, even typical of RCIA in the later stages. the key here, and congratulations on your perception and self-knowledge is that the period of doubt leads to sin. This is almost certainly evidence that you are under attack and the attack is satanic. That is why their should be a spiritual, pastoral member of the RCIA team, preferably the priest. He is the proper person to take this to and he will know the weapons to help you. That is also why RCIA is done in community, precisely so that you know you are not alone. No that does not mean you have to share details of your struggles with sin with your sponsor, catechist, director etc. but it does mean they understand, at least somewhat, what is happening and can support you.

There is another kind of affliction, more intellectual, usually with someone who has done a lot of academic study and has approached his RCIA journey in an academic way, needing proof, evidence for every single thing he accepts, needing citations, sources, the history of the doctrine etc. That is rooted more in intellectual pride and there are good ways to address it, from the apologetics standpoint.

But OPs struggle is more basic and is in fact inherent in the very nature of conversion. Many RCIA “folks” are well versed in doctrine and excel in explaining it, but it is rare for us especially laity involved in “doing RCIA” to understand fully the conversion process. Even those of use who have gone through it ourselves understand only from our own point of view. Please make an appointment with the priest “to discuss my spiritual struggles in RCIA.” Be as open and clear as you can be about what you have been experiencing. He has the training and experience to help you.

You may share with your sponsor and director that you are struggling and ask for prayer and support. If a specific issue arises you can ask for more explanation or teaching. But in your case the doubts tend to be vaguer, not tied to a specific doctrine, or doubt in the very people who are supposed to be helping you, in the parish, the Church etc.

Experience such as yours is also the reason why historically RCIA especially in the latter stage coinciding with Lent, usually, purification and enlightenment is penitential in nature, and why the prayers and rites and preparation in this period are focused on deepening conversion, spiritual struggle, looking deeper within (scrutinies) and even include exorcisms. The Church in her wisdom and experience knows of your struggles and has remedies for them. Please see your priest. We of course as always will be praying for you. And you do know the entire Church prays for her catechumens at all times.

Wow. Thank you so much to everyone who replied to my post. It means so much to me to have people that care, who don’t even know me, and yet have such penetratingly accurate insights into my specific situation even with little information from me about it. Thanks again.

I actually have been praying alot. I pray a Hail Mary, then my own prayers, then an Our Father every night. And, if I do a mortal sin during the day, I will often pray the rosary and do the Sorrowful Mysteries, or perhaps one Sorrowful and one more pleasant Luminous or Joyous to return my focus to the good (as Philippians 4 says to do), as a form of penance, to help the bad guilt I always feel after doing a mortal sin. I also pray alot during the day, including the sign of the cross often, a Hail Mary when I cuss or take God’s name in vain, which I did alot before beginning my conversion so it’s a bit of a habit, or ask God’s forgiveness if I act a way I shouldn’t have. But, I must admit that my faith in the practicality (it pains me just to phrase it in such a utilitarian way) of prayer, i.e. what I pray for to actually happen. If anyone has any advice on a good way to pray, please offer it.

I am looking very forward to taking the Sacraments. Everytime I go to Mass I feel hungry in a sense for the Eucharist, as if I’m starving. :stuck_out_tongue: I am also trying to decide if I want to get married or be celibate once I’m Catholic. I am unsure. I have been praying about it though, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out with God’s aid. :slight_smile:

It does indeed feel like I am being attacked by Satan, literally. In fact, for some reason, I feel as if I almost have a sort of filter in my mind that I can “feel”, intuitively, if a feeling or thought I get is good or bad, and everytime I begin to give into doubt I feel confused, sad and often angry, all feelings Satan inspires. But, my RCIA leader, who is a third order Franciscan and a great person in general, has talked to me about it and I have told him some of my problems. I am definitely considering talking about it more in-depth with my parish priest though sometime.

Catholicism most definitely does make sense, with infallible logic and precision, despite being the oldest organization in history, and the “filter” I mentioned above always gives me good, true feelings when I study the Church, read the Bible, etc. And, people like Pope Benedict XVI, Scott Hahn and James Woods Jr. has helped me alot with questions I’ve had, and insights in general.

Epistemes, you are certainly accurate in your assessment. I came to the Church in a very “academic”, intellectual way, through philosophy. I studied philosophy and science, then religions, and then my own personal philosophical contemplations, then the Church and back and forth between faith and doubt. And your specific insight is also true. I am afraid that the situation you described will happen to me. That is why I’m trying to build my “faith muscles,” as beckycmerie said, but it is difficult. It’s like a war. :stuck_out_tongue:
Thanks again to everyone for replying, caring and praying for me. It really means alot to me. And excuse and excessiveness of length of my post. :smiley:

Hi Scameter,
Just keep it simple, and pray from your Heart for Inner Peace.

Thanks again. :slight_smile:

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