Hi, I wnated to know if a sacrament is still effective even if a person has doubts or there heart isnt ‘in it’. I have struggled with lots of doubt, anxiety and paranoia. This results in mixed feelings, which makes my intentions and what I really belive in, hard to discern. I would like to know if I can become a Catholic whilst I am still like this, and live as a catholic like this.
anyone :o ?
By James Akin
What Constitutes Valid Consecration?
By Michael E. Daniel
First I’d like to give a couple of Catholic definitions of a “sacrament”:
A sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.
Here’s a little longer version from the CCC glossary:
A sacrament is an efficacious sign of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Yes, most sacraments are still effective even if doubt exists. BUT, it’s a qualified “yes”. For those that are still effective, the nature and degree of ones intentions probably affects the amount of grace received. It may even delay reception of that grace. For example:
Baptism - If a person sought Baptism, for whatever ulterior reason, while denying the deity of Christ, Christian truth, no desire to be a Christian, etc., his Baptism would be a true one, however the grace would probably not be present in his soul because he rejects it’s existence and presence. Should he at some later date come to believe, then the Baptismal grace would be present in his soul. **He would not be rebaptized. ** (This assumes the Baptism was done properly.)
Marriage and Confession are sacraments where the intention can definitely invalidate the sacrament.
Marriage: if someone says the marriage vows with no intention of ever carrying them out (lies), the marriage would no doubt be judged as never having taken place - invalid.
Confession: if someone confesses their sin/s to a priest and is not at all sorry, intends to go right on doing it without even trying to stop, their sins are probably unforgiven even tho the priest says the words of absolution. (I say “probably” because only God sees the heart.)
Regarding your becoming a Catholic while still having doubts; it would be best to talk to a priest. To begin with, if you know someone who is a faithful Catholic, you might speak personally with them (if you’re comfortable doing it). They can probably help you and direct you to a priest.
God be with you,
Just an added thought:
Why don’t you consider starting threads on the areas where you have doubts? You might receive help from other people’s insights.
I would suggest only one topic per thread, and, perhaps, having only one thread going at a time. Sometimes it’s better to be looking into only one thing at a time - especially on a forum situation where the replies can come in hot and heavy depending on the topic.
Desire of belief in the face of sincere doubt is a sign that you are being called to greater perfection. The tension this doubt creates will drive you ever deeper to find out more about the faith. But ultimately it is “faith” and the spiritual calling not a complete intellectual proof that will bring you forward and lead to conversion.
If you find yourself thinking “God, I want to believe you - show me”. You already believe but just have either a trust issue or some old misconceptions (and probably anti-catholic teachings) that you need to work out of your system of belief. Work through these and ask your questions and explore your worst fears and anxieties and see if you can derive the extra little faith you need from other’s shared faith. I think the key is in recognizing that many many millions of early Christians who in utter poverty and persecution gave up everything to trust in the Catholic message - many going to their deaths for it. People do not do that sort of thing peacefully with nothing to be gained on earth unless they really believed in something.
Leverage the faith of the saints and the others here.