Fearful and concerned


#1

Dear all,

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? :confused:) 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…:frowning:


#2

Welcome home! You thought the priest understood what you were saying, and so I would trust him. If it would make you feel better, you could say something like “committed impure acts by myself” or something like that. It sounds, tho, that you might be leaning toward scrupulosity, which can be a very difficult thing for people. If so, it’s not the end of the world, and your priest should be able to help you with that, too.


#3

Sounds like he was a very wise priest, and when he said he did not need to know any more of the particulars, he knew what was on your mind.
Your sins have been forgiven, all of them. At times it is harder for us to forgive ourselves, then to realize that God has forgiven us. How sad for Him if you he sees that you are not accepting His forgiveness.
I will pray for you.

God’s Blessings Always


#4

You have found a wonderful confessor from what you have said. Hang on to 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)?

You made a good and valid confession. No worries.

  • 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 (?)

True.

  • The Lord does not want to condemn a repentant and truly contrite heart, so am I passing unnecessary judgement on myself?

Sounds like you are being too hard on yourself. Trust your priest and your Lord.

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.

It is not uncommon for a new Catholic to have these reservations. Our Church is better for you being a part of it. Confessing will come easier to you over time and with frequent confession.

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…:frowning:

I doubt it. Sounds like a simple imperfection, not even a venial sin. Something you can work on. :slight_smile:

You are a good Catholic and concientious pentitent, but don’t beat yourself up. Im sure your priest will tell you the same.

You are in my prayers. Let us know how you are doing from time to time.


#5

It would depend on the situation (if a person procrastinated in going to work and so deprived his family of food and shelter, it might be mortal and would certainly be a serious sin) - in this one I would see it as probably a venial sin or even just an imperfection. So relax and get to studying - CAF will be here when you finish.:smiley:


#6

It seems that the only one left worrying about this is you. :slight_smile:

Guilt is a powerful and devastating thing. Contrition is a natural state of the spirit, but guilt beyond contrition is pathological in a spiritual sense. The only fear that you deserve to bear is the righteous Fear of God that brought you to the confessional in the first place. You’ve made your confession and all is well. You’re forgiven, and that’s that. There truly is little sense in continuing to worry about this. If you think it would make you feel better about this, then perhaps you should consider returning to the confessional and get this off your chest. Or perhaps making this post will have done the trick. That’s up to you.

I’d like to ask you a question, however do not feel compelled to answer it here. All I wish is for you to be honest with yourself. Are you still engaged in this behavior, contrary to what you’ve posted in this thread? And if this is the source of your guilt and fear, then what would it take for you to end it?

I shall make my prayers for the intercession of Our Lady of Sorrows on your behalf, and I invite you to make a similar devotion. The Blessed Virgin knows our fears and our pains, as the suffering of the world was given up to Jesus Christ. May you find empathy in Mary, and may God bless you.


#7

Welcome to the Church namesake!(or at least I am assuming Genevieve is your name)You validly participated in the sacrament with what sounds like a VERY contrite heart. Of course you were forgiven! Lets avoid sin and near occasions of sin so that we don’t have to see various genevieves posting about that type of sin! :blush: :slight_smile:

Procrastinating in your studies is probably not a mortal sin, but it can have serious earthly consequences. Are you paying for your own schooling? If so, for goodness sake get your money’s worth. If not, show your gratitude by working hard. Easier said than done, I know.


#8

Dear katy,

Thank you for your advice and prompt reply :slight_smile: I read your reply almost immediately after you posted it and you gave me the peace of mind to dispel my insomnia – I went to bed at 4am, but still :stuck_out_tongue: I appreciate your kind words very much! God bless you


#9

Dear Prague,

Yes, he is indeed a very wise priest. Better yet, he is most loving and “fatherly” to all his parishioners – truly a great blessing. I agree completely about how hard it is to forgive ourselves. Would you believe that I harbored regret and shame from sins I committed years and years ago? Not anymore! I took your comment – “How sad for Him if you he sees that you are not accepting His forgiveness.” – to heart and have since accepted His forgiveness.

Please continue to pray for me! Thank you, and God bless you :slight_smile:


#10

Dear DominicVobiscum,

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. When I read your post, I felt so reassured and heartened. You are right – my confessor is most precious and I will hang on to him! :smiley:

Please continue to pray for me :slight_smile: And I’d be glad to let y’all know how I’m doing from time to time – thanks for caring about me :o


#11

Dear brigid12,

Thank you for your kind words and comforting counsel! You gave me some much-needed perspective on my humanity :slight_smile: Yes, I will get to studying! The lovely sunshine outside my window isn’t helping, however :wink:

Please keep me in your prayers! And I look forward to interacting more here on CAF :smiley:

God bless you!


#12

Dear The Catechumen,

Yes, I do believe you’re right. Your explanation about the distinction between guilt and contrition really helped me, so thank you for that.

As for your question, I’m proud to say proclaim that I am not still engaged in this behavior :slight_smile: I use the words “proud” and “proclaim” because I joyfully “boast” in the name of our Lord – it is His strength, not mine, that helped me overcome this vice.

Please do continue to pray for me. I will indeed take up your invitation and make devotion to Our Lady. Thank you for your kind reply. May God bless you too.


#13

Dear Chiltepin,

Thank you for your kind welcome, namesake! (Yes, my name is Genevieve :D)
I was so encouraged by your response because it gave me great perspective: if you, my earthly sister in Christ can see my contrition, all the more will my Heavenly Father! God bless you my dear and thank you again for your warm reply. :slight_smile:


#14

Dear all,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who so kindly replied to my post.
I cannot express how thankful I am to have found such a loving, caring home in our Church.

This update on how I’ve been doing since my original post is but a small token of my appreciation:

I have FINALLY found peace in Him! As I mentioned in my reply to Prague, I have taken all of your replies to heart and have since accepted His forgiveness. I have also forgiven myself! :eek: <-- :wink:

My spirit is SO joyful because I am filled with thankfulness and love for God. My heart is truly light – it’s incredible! I can hardly believe it… but I do, don’t worry :stuck_out_tongue:

At my next confession, I might purge any remaining shame about this matter by using the phraseology katy suggested – “committed impure acts by myself”. However, these old sins aren’t weighing on my heart and conscience anymore so we’ll see how that goes.

Also, I realize that I was probably leaning towards scrupulosity (as katy said) and have been asking God to lead me to love Him more, not obsess about things that He has laid to rest!

Thank you all again for your patience, your prayers and your LOVE.
Please continue to pray for me, a fledgling Catholic! :smiley:
MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL.


#15

And you as well, sister. :slight_smile:

I’m truly glad to find you in better spirits, and I’m glad also for the intercession of our Lord and His Saints. Keep them, then they will keep you.

Enjoy your stay on the forums; there is a lot of wonderful wisdom here.


#16

We are here to be your friends.

God Bless You.


#17

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