First things first: I’m a brand new Catholic and I feel SO blessed to finally be in full union with the Church. I had been a Protestant all my life and was called to the Catholic faith through my late father’s conversion and spiritual journey. I underwent conversion just this Saturday and… that’s why I’m concerned about the following. Please excuse any ignorance or awkward phraseology – I’m definitely emotional about all this. This is weighing so heavily on my heart…
Here goes… I used to watch pornography and masturbate. There, I said it. I have never admitted this to anyone in my life, and as you can imagine, that is the source of my huge fears and concerns. I’m a 20-year old girl (young woman? ) and I sinned in this way for approximately a year, but only on and off (for what it’s worth :(). I am truly sorry and am fully contrite for sinning so horribly against God. I know there’s no excuse for my actions, although I must say that the last 3 years of my life have been extremely difficult: my father was stricken with a painful illness (and passed away from it), I was extremely undone by the stresses of university, I was at an all time low regarding my non-existent “lovelife”, etc. There is simply too much convoluted “stuff” to get into, and as I acknowledged already, I know none of these circumstances are excuses for my actions. Now, prior to my conversion, I went to confession at my home parish. I admit that I was very intimidated because I am very familiar with my priest, I respect him very much and I was petrified when I learned that my Catechist had informed him of my identity. I, for some reason, thought that confession was to be anonymous? Anyway, my confession went smoothly as my priest kindly guided me along. However, after the fact, I’m more than a little concerned that maybe he was a bit too generous to me because I was confessing for the first time.
Here’s what I did: I started by naming the general “category” of sin (e.g. wrath) and elaborated a bit more (e.g. that I still harboured hatred for my high school bullies, that I have a bad temper). However, I am very sorry to say that when it came to the category of lust, I hesitated. I told my priest that I committed adultery in my heart and deeds, to which he prompted, “through lusting after men, through watching sinful movies/videos, etc.?”, to which I replied “yes”. I asked him if he needed details and he replied “no, that is sufficient.” I do believe he fully understood all the “trappings” of what I was insinuating…but should I have blurted out that I used to masturbate and watch pornography EVEN THOUGH he said details were unnecessary? He’s an experienced, wise priest and so I readily (perhaps too readily?) accepted that he didn’t need further detail. After confession was finished, and I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I told him that I about my chronic “guilty conscience” (I’ve had it since I was a very young child). I told him that even after confession, I still felt unclean. He replied that I need to let all my “hangups” go, and to trust in the Christ-ordained power of the Church to forgive sins. He reminded me of what our Lord said to St. Peter about the keys to the kingdom of heaven (“Whatever you prohibit on earth will have been prohibited in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will have been permitted in heaven.”) and told me to remember how we are all sinners, all falling short of the glory of God. I was encouraged and accepted that because I knew that forgiveness is given to us all because of His grace and mercy, not because we earned it. I gratefully and earnestly did my penance, putting all this to rest…that is, until my fears and concerns resurfaced tonight.
I still have too many thoughts swarming around in my head:
- Why do I still doubt when my priest and my Lord have forgiven my sins? How can I doubt either of them? Am I doubting my priest by being so fearful and concerned? (That is a terrible thing to do because in addition to being my Christ-ordained earthly shepherd, my priest has never given me cause to doubt him).
- Have I indeed been forgiven, or has my whole confession been annulled because I did not explicitly voice my sins (of masturbation and watching pornography)?
- The Lord knows all my sins, He knows how sincerely sorry I am and He knows that I have since stopped this sin, for quite a period before confession; even if my priest is “too trusting” or “too generous”, the Lord knows all and has forgiven me (?)
- The Lord does not want to condemn a repentant and truly contrite heart, so am I passing unnecessary judgement on myself?
I have other thoughts that closely echo these mentioned, so I’ll omit them. I’m not even sure these make sense or are valid…so please pardon me for that.
I have been earnestly trying to become for faithful to God. Although I am, unfortunately, a person that avoids steady commitment, I have been committing myself to praying my rosary daily. I sincerely (and joyfully!) attend Mass and have been making many amends to my life in His name. That is why I am so heartbroken and torn apart by all these fears and concerns. (I know, I’ve been saying those words a lot, I apologize!)
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please help me by offering your thoughts, suggestions, and of course, prayers. I am extremely fearful and concerned because I do not want any mortal sins hanging over my head… I love our Lord very much and am desperate be fully right with Him.
Thank you all in advance and please reply soon.
P.S. A smaller, quick question: Does procrastination constitute sloth (a mortal sin!)? I am procrastinating right now instead of getting some studying done so if it is indeed a mortal sin, that’s even more cause for concern…