Irreparable sins

To repent is to feel sorry for sin and to correct the harm one has done.

What if you can’t go back and correct the harm you have caused? Can you then not be forgiven?

Dear Danishguy:

Advent Blessings!

From the Cathechism of the Catholic Church

(1431) Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).

‘Correcting the harm you have done’ is not required for repentance. Justice may suggest that you do what you can to correct any harm, but that is a different matter than repentance. And we are never expected to do the impossible.

You have to repair the harm to the best of your ability. Sometime it simply isn’t possible to, and that’s something you have to live with. The knowledge that you can never repair what you did in this life is almost a form of purgatory, and can help heal your soul if you let it. Being unable to make amends doesn’t prevent you from receiving absolution though; the only thing that can do that is if you refuse to be forgiven.

Wow, thanks. That is powerful.

I am considering taking contact with a Catholic priest in Denmark.

I was an Evangelical, later on I a became a Calvinist. But I ended up giving up on Christianity all together due to struggle with sin and doubts.

For the last year or so I have lived a very ungodly life. Lately I have been suffering a lot and running towards sinful habits do not ease the pain - not because I feel guilty but because it simply isn’t satisfying.

I really gave up on God because I felt like He never really made Himself obvious to me, I never got to understand who He was.

Now that I have strayed so so far from Him and squandered the lights I had been giving, I feel like I have out sinned God.

I have been blasphemous towards God and I have mocked His words.

No worries, there are a bunch of us on these forums who were in the same position as you not long ago, myself included. Rest assured that it is impossible to sin so much that God would refuse to give you absolution. Recall the parable of the lost sheep, where Jesus tells us that there is more rejoicing in Heaven over the repentance of a single sinner, than for the throngs of souls who have no need of repentance. Jesus Christ is literally (physically) waiting for you in every Catholic Church across the world, hoping that you’ll stop by to talk to Him. No matter how numerous or severe your sins, seek out a priest and experience the joy of God’s forgiveness.

Now, depending on what you’ve done you may be asked to take some action before receiving absolution (for example, if you committed a murder you would be asked to turn yourself in first), but if you understand what this forgiveness means, which you seem to, no degree of penance will deter you. In all likelihood, assuming you haven’t committed murder or something like that, you’ll be asked to do some prayerful penance after your confession.

A question for you, have you ever been Catholic?

Great answer!

Many who have been instrumental in leading souls to perdition, have, by the immense power of God’s grace, been converted and saved. God sometimes uses the greatest sinners as instruments of His inscrutable mercy.

No sin can be conceived which the Church cannot absolve, as the Catechism of the Council of Trent says.

My personal favorite example of this is St. Augustine. During his youth he was an abject sinner. He rejected Christianity and indulged in worldly pleasures with the worst of them. Through the constant prayers of his mother, he was converted to Christ and became one of the Church’s greatest leaders, protectors and saints.

Another prime example, St. Paul counted himself among the worst of history’s sinners. He rounded up the earliest followers of Christ for execution, and engaged in the stonings personally. He did everything he could to destroy the Church until one day on the road to Damascus. Christ himself appeared to this man, who was a murderer in the truest sense of the word, and embraced him. He held out His hand and welcomed Paul, forgiving him for the immeasurable evils he had committed. Paul repeatedly comments on his sinfulness, and how much of a failure he has been, but despite all of that, we count him among our greatest Saints.

Do not be afraid friend, through Christ all things are possible; especially repentance and forgiveness!

I have never been a Catholic.
I am baptized into the Lutheran State Church of Denmark.

And no I thankfully haven’t murdered anyone - I am also only 18 of age.

But I have said and done things that may have resulted in others harm, for instances writing something online that I now cannot delete because I have forgotten the email and passwords I used (I have countless emails).

I have tried to remember these things. And it is basically torture the stress this brings you.

The fear of not being able to repair my misdeeds are dreadful.

And the fear that I might if only I try hard enough get access to these things… That makes it even worse. Do you understand what I am saying?

Glad to hear you’re not a murderer ^^

I understand what you are saying implicitly. I have also done harm to others which I cannot correct. That is a burden which I have become accustomed to, and which now informs my decisions. Likewise, you will have to accept that you cannot repair this harm right now, and ask God to repair it for you. Do not torture yourself over it, that’s what Satan wants, for you to be constantly lost in your past sins, unable to move forward into God’s embrace.

If you can’t remember the password, then you can’t; that’s all there is to it. Pray about it, ask God to intervene in the lives of those you’ve hurt and free them from any anger they may have towards you. This is not a selfish request, by holding onto their anger thy also cannot move forward.

I encourage you to seek out a priest and ask about RCIA. That is the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. It is the method through which adults enter into the Church. Unfortunately, Lutheranism lacks a valid priesthood, and so they cannot administer the sacrament of reconciliation (which, from your posts, is what you truly desire, whether you realize it or not.). I know it may seem daunting, but if you do seek this out, when you are finally able to go to reconciliation you will hear a few words at the end. These words are “I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, then Son, and the Holy Spirit. Go in peace.” These words are really the key to being freed from this guilt you feel, because it is with these words that the priest, through the offices of Jesus Christ, wipes your slate clean. The best part is, you can hear them whenever you want, every week for the rest of your life if you so desired. I personally deal with a habitual sin, so I hear them every week or every other week. No matter how great the sin is, no matter how long you’ve held onto it, no matter how much you think you’ve offended God; with those words your are healed. You repair the bridge and once again stand in the presence of God, a renewed creature.

I know this all sounds pretty corny, but it’s really hard to explain just exactly what reconciliation truly means to a person, especially someone like you who carries so much weight with them.

These things do eat at you.

However, God does not expect you to do the impossible; do you feel as if you could stand before the Father of Truth and tell Him that you truly had a way of getting back into your internet accounts? I will agree with the other poster and say that all that can be done is to pray for those affected by them.

This is a wonderful Novena and the Rosary is well known to be a tremendous help in the lives of the faithful. You do not have to be Catholic to pray it. I would highly recommend it to say the least; pray for yourself and for those who were hurt by your actions.

This will show you how to pray the Rosary, by the way.

That sounds amazing. I am only wondering:
If I need to repair my wrongdoings (if it is possible - and let’s say it might be if I try really hard) than every second of not doing anything would be a sin and therefor can I really get my slate clean?

I am suffering from OCD by the way. That of course plays a little role in all of this as well.

I love these examples, too! Also Bl. Bartolo Longo and another Blessed (a Dominican… I forget his name) who were former Satanic priests.

To Danishguy:
If it is any consolation, know that you are not alone; I have to live with the burden of knowingly leading others into sin (many of us do). I won’t go into specifics. The important thing is that God can draw good from evil. For me, I am often humbled by my past, and this leads me to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is an infinite abyss of mercy.

Just remember that it is God alone Who gives you the desire for Him; it is God alone Who is infinitely wise, loving and powerful, deserving of our complete trust. Hope is not in vain when we seek God.

“The past, O Lord, to Thy mercy; the present to Thy love; the future to Thy Providence.”

  • St. Augustine/St. Padre Pio

I was wondering if you were. Your posts had some of the signs, but I didn’t want to ask. What you are venturing into is something we call scrupulosity. Scrupulosity is an obsessive focus on your own sins to the exclusion of all else. Scrupulous people will go to confession and receive absolution, and then immediately begin questioning whither or not that absolution was actually valid or if it “took.” This is something you really need to watch out for. If you’d like more information, the main site for these forums has a number of articles on the subject, just do a keyword search.

The need to repair only goes so far as the ability to repair. If the ability to not repair does not exist, then there is no longer a need. If you are putting in a good-faith effort, even if you could probably do a little bit more, you’re fine. God only requires that we try, not that we succeed.

Please allow me to explain a bit about sin which may help you out here. A sin is a decision, it is a choice. In order to sin,m you have to engage the will. You cannot sin passively as in your example. If you spent every second thinking “I refuse to fix this,” then you would indeed be sinning every second; but in your case you’ve said “I want to fix this, but am unable to.” You desire what is best, but cannot do it. Rest assured, you are not sinning; quite the opposite, you are doing good. Your desire to make reparation is pleasing to God.

I encourage you to do your best not to dwell on what you’ve done. Instead, turn your focus towards God. If you spend all your time thinking about what you’ve done wrong, you’ll spend none of it doing what’s right. If you have a Bible, whenever you start focusing on what you’ve done wrong, instead open it up and read a few passages. The Psalms are particularly good for this sort of this, my personal favorite being Psalm 51. I think this one would be particularly useful for you as well. In Psalm 51, we see David asking for God’s forgiveness for him and all of Israel. His is prostrating himself before God, recognizing that through God his heart may be made clean, and his wrongs be corrected. It is a truly beautiful prayer for the repentant sinner (like you, or me ^^)

Psalm 51

Pretty much everyone on these forums have sins which they cannot make amends for; that is a sad reality of our broken world. Please, do not be discouraged. God actively wants to forgiven you. He’s not sitting up there keeping tally of your sins, quite the contrary, he is there waiting on baited breath for you to ask Him to wash you clean. All you have to do is take his outstretched hand, and He will do the rest.

You would NEVER have to turn yourself in in order to receive absolution.:eek: Not even for murder. You just need to seek repentance.

Erm, sorry, but I think this is wrong. The priest can require action of you prior to absolution. He may chose not to, but he is within his right to do so. I don’t think this is important to the discussion though, since the OP has stated that he is not a murderer.

He can never ask under a condition of absolution or as a penance for you to do anything which would make your sin known. If you are repentant and promise to not sin again, you are forgiven. Really. If you are living “in sin” and confess but say you are going to continue to “live in sin” then he can withhold absolution. In the case of murder, you just have to state you will not murder again. I agree it is a mute point in this discussion, but I would hate someone else to read it and think it was true (that the priest could require you to turn yourself in).

I think there was a movie about this where the priest did require it but Hollywood isn’t real life.

There are lots of threads about this. I don’t know how to link them. Can anyone help?

Maybe we should start another topic, because I think historically priests have held the right to require action prior to absolution.

OP, none of this has anything to do with your circumstances, so feel free to ignore it. In your case, you’d receive absolution and be asked to do some form of penance, probably a series of prayers ^^ Do not be afraid!

Regarding penance.

Coming from a Protestant background that concept is new to me.
Am I right in saying that it is not that the penance saves us but it is a way of showing our gratitude and repentance.

You see as a Protestant I was told only to pray and ask God for forgiveness.

But I find the means of Sacraments more helpful. The idea of going to physical place for guidance sounds right to me.

If I am going to be Catholic, will I need to be confirmed become receiving absolution?
Also, I was confirmed as a 16 year old into the State Church of Denmark, I assume that is not an issue.

It would be best to talk to a priest about these sorts of things. Children go to reconciliation before they are confirmed, however, so you do not have to be confirmed to receive the Sacrament.

Here is an article from the Catechism about Reconciliation; it should answer any questions you have. You’re right that you are absolved before you perform your penance. It usually consists of a few prayers, though some priests will tell you simply to do something nice for somebody or something similar.

Let’s see if I do this topic justice.

Penance serves two purposes for the penitent (the person making the confession). First, it is how we show our remorse to God. Second, if it is done properly, the penance is intended to strength us against the sins we have just confessed.

I hope that you will not find any offense at this, but I’m going to give a brief outline of the Protestant understanding of forgiveness. In Protestantism, generally all that is required to be forgiven is to ask God to forgive you. While this is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and Catholics are certainly encouraged to do so, it lacks any type of certitude. There’s no objective indicator that you have, in fact, been forgiven. With confession, it’s different. The moment you hear those words I mentioned before, you are forgiven. Period. The only caveat is if you willfully withhold confession of a mortal sin. With confession, you have assurances that you have been forgiven which simply do not exist in Protestant faith groups.

What’s even more important to consider is that sacramental confession in the Catholic Church is the way Jesus wanted it to be done. In John 20: 19-23 we see the institution of the priesthood, culminating in the delcaration:

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

John 20

Confession as Catholics understand it has been the norm throughout the history of Christianity, and it really is the most amazing experiences you can have.

In order to receive the sacraments, you do have to become a Catholic, which is what RCIA is for. RCIA is a series of classes offered at each parish which basically teach you what Which Church you were confirmed in previously doesn’t matter, we’ll still welcome you with open arms :stuck_out_tongue:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit