Morality, Confession and Feelings of Inadequacy


#1

Okay, so as I’ve explained in one or two other threads I’m an Anglican considering converting to Catholicism. I’ve been using this board to try to answer questions I have and explore the faith, so please bear with me. This week, I started attending Mass at a local Catholic Church. Today, there was an hour of Eucharistic Adoration afterwards. I came away with a wonderful feeling of peace.

So I started to reflect on what was holding me back from “swimming the Tiber” so to speak. I came up with a list of things. Having friends at my current CofE church and being quite involved in things there is a consideration, my mother disliking Catholicism quite strongly is another, but then I figured out what the biggie is. I like to think I’m a reasonably moral person. No worse than anyone else anyway. But by Catholic standards, I’m a terrible person. There are certain teaching of the Church I tell myself I’m unsure about (mainly porn, impure thoughts, masturbating, that sort of thing). I tell myself that because I can’t intellectually see how those things are wrong. The other half of the time, I know that the Church knows best and that I’m a terrible sinner. And then I get a feeling that I’m not good enough to be a Catholic anyway and I should just stop kidding myself.

This then leads me to wonder how I’d ever be able to confess 24 years of sins. I know it would probably be a relief to get it all out. But I don’t know how I’d manage it. And I know know how I’d stay away from these things (possibly by fear of having to confess them). And if I convert knowing I wouldn’t be able to keep some of the Church’s teachings, is that hypocrisy or does that just make me like any other sinful, fallen human being?


#2

You have the same questions many others have recently expressed right here. I can only tell you that right now I am praying for you, asking God to help you come to a place where you are lead by the Holy Spirit in peace. God bless you.


#3

[quote="peter26, post:1, topic:297593"]
Okay, so as I've explained in one or two other threads I'm an Anglican considering converting to Catholicism. I've been using this board to try to answer questions I have and explore the faith, so please bear with me. This week, I started attending Mass at a local Catholic Church. Today, there was an hour of Eucharistic Adoration afterwards. I came away with a wonderful feeling of peace.

So I started to reflect on what was holding me back from "swimming the Tiber" so to speak. I came up with a list of things. Having friends at my current CofE church and being quite involved in things there is a consideration, my mother disliking Catholicism quite strongly is another, but then I figured out what the biggie is. I like to think I'm a reasonably moral person. No worse than anyone else anyway. But by Catholic standards, I'm a terrible person.** There are certain teaching of the Church I tell myself I'm unsure about (mainly porn, impure thoughts, masturbating, that sort of thing). I tell myself that because I can't intellectually see how those things are wrong.The other half of the time, I know that the Church knows best and that I'm a terrible sinner. And then I get a feeling that I'm not good enough to be a Catholic anyway and I should just stop kidding myself.**

This then leads me to wonder how I'd ever be able to confess 24 years of sins. I know it would probably be a relief to get it all out. But I don't know how I'd manage it. And I know know how I'd stay away from these things (possibly by fear of having to confess them). And if I convert knowing I wouldn't be able to keep some of the Church's teachings, is that hypocrisy or does that just make me like any other sinful, fallen human being?

[/quote]

For the parts I bolded: I notice that you seem to be trying to figure these thoughts out by yourself. When you have these thoughts, I recommend you say, "Jesus, I trust in you. Lead me", or something similar.

For the parts in underlines: You should call a Catholic parish and ask for a priest. Then explain that you are thinking about converting to the Catholic Church. He'll take over from there.

From my understanding, you may have to go through RCIA, but I'm not sure.


#4

[quote="peter26, post:1, topic:297593"]
Okay, so as I've explained in one or two other threads I'm an Anglican considering converting to Catholicism. I've been using this board to try to answer questions I have and explore the faith, so please bear with me. This week, I started attending Mass at a local Catholic Church. Today, there was an hour of Eucharistic Adoration afterwards. I came away with a wonderful feeling of peace.

So I started to reflect on what was holding me back from "swimming the Tiber" so to speak. I came up with a list of things. Having friends at my current CofE church and being quite involved in things there is a consideration, my mother disliking Catholicism quite strongly is another, but then I figured out what the biggie is. I like to think I'm a reasonably moral person. No worse than anyone else anyway. But by Catholic standards, I'm a terrible person. There are certain teaching of the Church I tell myself I'm unsure about (mainly porn, impure thoughts, masturbating, that sort of thing). I tell myself that because I can't intellectually see how those things are wrong. The other half of the time, I know that the Church knows best and that I'm a terrible sinner. And then I get a feeling that I'm not good enough to be a Catholic anyway and I should just stop kidding myself.

This then leads me to wonder how I'd ever be able to confess 24 years of sins. I know it would probably be a relief to get it all out. But I don't know how I'd manage it. And I know know how I'd stay away from these things (possibly by fear of having to confess them). And if I convert knowing I wouldn't be able to keep some of the Church's teachings, is that hypocrisy or does that just make me like any other sinful, fallen human being?

[/quote]

Read Edward Feser's The Last Superstition to familiarize yourself with the philosophy behind the Catholic Church's moral teachings. Once you read it, your doubts and confusion will disappear.

Schedule an appointment with a parish priest to do confession. It may take a while but he will help you through it. Don't worry about whether you'll be able to handle living up to the Church's teachings later. Just pray for the grace to get to the bridge before you try to cross it.


#5

[quote="peter26, post:1, topic:297593"]
There are certain teaching of the Church I tell myself I'm unsure about (mainly porn, impure thoughts, masturbating, that sort of thing). I tell myself that because I can't intellectually see how those things are wrong. The other half of the time, I know that the Church knows best and that I'm a terrible sinner. And then I get a feeling that I'm not good enough to be a Catholic anyway and I should just stop kidding myself.

[/quote]

You do know that the Anglican church separated itself from the Catholic church at a certain point, thus there really aren't two separate standards...it's only one Tradition, which the Anglican church may have not fully preserved, from what you say.

It's really not a matter of being a good or a bad Catholic...it's a matter of how we relate to Christ, the immaculate Lamb. I understand your statement, honestly, and for a while I thought the same way. However, didn't Christ - not the Church - say that even to look a woman with lust was adultery? I mean, adultery is a heavy accusation...back in the days, they would stone people for that! Jesus wasn't just saying that it was not proper, that it was a sad thing...he said it was gravely against God's will.

Why is that so? That's where the Magisterium of the Church steps in and instructs us. Mainly because the sexual union between man and woman is sacred. It reflects in a mystical way the union of the Church Bride and Christ the Bridegroom (which is why many a saint have referred to the Eucharist as their sponsa mystica, their mystical spouse). The union between man and woman makes them in a mysterious way no longer two, but one - as Christ Himself said - and the very act that is proper only for the spouses further binds them in mutual love and is oriented towards procreation - thus, Matrimony is seen as a reflection of the Holy Trinity!

You then see that any act that is lustful - that is, simply geared towards feeling sexual gratification as an end - removes all that is good. Now I'll be drastic: it becomes a sacrilege. Why? It becomes more clear when we accept that "our body is not our own, but a temple of the Spirit".

[quote="peter26, post:1, topic:297593"]
And then I get a feeling that I'm not good enough to be a Catholic anyway and I should just stop kidding myself.

[/quote]

I get a similar feeling, honestly, every single time I sin. It happens to all of us. Often I associate the teaching of Christ on "taking up our cross and following Him" with the description of the Way of the Cross. How many times did Jesus Himself fall? At a point, didn't Jesus Himself need help to carry the Cross? And didn't Jesus Himself ask the Father: "if possible, take this cup of suffering away"? But God has high esteem of us. "Be perfect - said Christ - as your heavenly Father is perfect." Now that is a lot to ask from us poor sinners! Yet, such a grand demand is described by Christ as "a yoke that is easy to bear, a burden that is light"... perhaps it is true that we can do everything through Christ who gives us strength....

[quote="peter26, post:1, topic:297593"]
This then leads me to wonder how I'd ever be able to confess 24 years of sins. I know it would probably be a relief to get it all out. But I don't know how I'd manage it.

[/quote]

How many years of sin did St. Mary Magdalene have on her soul? Yet the Lord looked into her heart and said: "your sins are forgiven, for you have loved much! Go and sin no more." Because God knows everything even before you speak! Do not think that your first Confession will be a matter of detailing all your sins since the age of reason...that's not the spirit of this Sacrament...you are learning from the Catechism the offenses that Sacred Tradition teaches on each Commandment, and you are repenting of them, firmly acknowledging that those things are wrong. That does not mean you will become a saint and never sin again - only Christ (and, by a special gift, the Blessed Virgin) were holy, all others have sinned throughout their lives.

[quote="peter26, post:1, topic:297593"]
And if I convert knowing I wouldn't be able to keep some of the Church's teachings, is that hypocrisy or does that just make me like any other sinful, fallen human being?

[/quote]

Trust me...you will sin. Again and again. We all do. I suggest you read some diaries and biographies of the saints...they sinned too. The point is to acknowledge that it is because of our weakness....as St. Paul said on the battle between the spirit and the flesh, "I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing". St. Paul realizes that there is a spiritual war between God's law and our inclinations. Is it hypocrisy to realize that on your own there is no way you can keep even the least of the Commandments? Through the Seven Sacraments - and, as you will see and experience, especially through Confession and the Holy Eucharist - you gain supernatural strength to become stronger against sin, but are you willing to accept by virtue of obedience the teachings of the Magisterium? If so, then you may as well know that by yourself you cannot keep God's teachings - neither those He personally reveled, nor those He revealed through His Church - but know that you will be able to learn how to keep them better and better through Christ.

I apologize for so much writing, but I went through a similar process. I can tell you this much: what God has begun in you, through your willful consent He shall bring to completion.


#6

[quote="peter26, post:1, topic:297593"]
This then leads me to wonder how I'd ever be able to confess 24 years of sins. I know it would probably be a relief to get it all out. But I don't know how I'd manage it. And I know know how I'd stay away from these things (possibly by fear of having to confess them). And if I convert knowing I wouldn't be able to keep some of the Church's teachings, is that hypocrisy or does that just make me like any other sinful, fallen human being?

[/quote]

Don't doubt the power of the Confessional! I am a cradle Catholic, but fell away. I went to Confession after 20 yrs! I've been a changed man ever since.


#7

Like you I am Church of England-Anglican but not considering going to Catholicism

But to your question how can you confess 24 years worth of sin....? I think you will find once you have found what Roman Catholic Confession means to you - you will find you will be able to do so quite easily once you start the process. God will be your Guide and if you focus on him as you prepare your Confession then when you are in the Confessional it will feel perfectly natural and right what you are doing.

However, as a point of reflection. Have you ever used the Church of England Confessional - yes it is available certianly if you're Anglican. But it is available. It is different to Roman Catholics in that they have venile and mortal sins and I for one have never prepared my confession as such. But if you do use the Church of England Sacrament of Confession it will be easier for you than you think when going to the Roman Catholic Confessional because you are already in the habit of confessing ones sins although worded different. Which I would personally want to question that if you have been accessing the Church of England Sacrament of Confession would you then have to repent again for the 24 years worth considering God has already forgiven them? Something to ask the Roman Catholic Priest because you will definately get mixed answers here but what is important is what you say to the Roman Catholic Priest. If you are already a regular confessional within Church of England then why redo 24 years because God has actually already forgiven them? Its a fair question or its meant as a fair question. I would approach the Roman Catholc Priest and ask him about what to say at Confessional.:thumbsup: This question is strictly for the opening post alone to consider and does not have to reply.
*** NB I would appreciate it if no one tries to tell me am wrong xyz because its for them and their priest to consider and not ourselves.Its not open for general to have a go at me but simply a point that the opening poster can choose to reject if they so want but I'd know I would be asking the Roman Catholic Priest this if I was going to go over because God has already forgiven them once no offence please folks***


#8

I am a cradle Catholic but have not always been the best at practicing. I came back to the Sacraments after over 20 years away. So, I do understand your trepidation. If you search the threads here, you will find that there have been many who have gone down that same path.

Most priests are very good at dealing with this kind of situation. In my case, Father led me through the 10 Commandments and precepts. (not the commandments themselves but sins associated with each Commandment) I just answered “yes” or “now” and then approximately how many times or frequency. He asked a couple of clarifying questions such as “recently?”. It was a little nerve inducing but relatively painless.

As for staying away from sin, that challenge is part of the human condition. If we could all be perfect, we wouldn’t need to go to Confession more than once in our lives. :wink: Fortunately, the graces from the Sacrament of Confession (and the other Sacraments) help us to resist temptation and preparation for Confession helps us to hone our sense of sin. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

(PS Welcome back!)


#9

Thank you all for your kind replies. I think I'm starting to understand. I'll just take it one day at a time, try to stay away from sin, but try to avoid worrying and fretting too much about it :o

I think confession will probably do me a lot of good in terms of staying out of sin, its probably just a hard thing to get used to. It is news to me incidentally that this practice is used at all in the CofE and I have never made confession to a priest, we just all say a general confession together during the service.

I've decided to take a step forward and sign up for a course a local church is offering called Anchor Your Faith. Hopefully, I'll then be in a better position to make a decision.

May God bless all of you

Peter


#10

Hello Peter,

As a young woman I would just like to say that I will be praying that God leads you away from lust.


#11

Hello.

Have you a Catholic Catechism? Great to have. Also, I keep hearing on Catholic Radio Marcus Grodi’s “Coming Home” network - which is also a website - which may be of great help to you.

Maybe it’d help you to look at the Catholic Church as a hospital for sinners.

Also, the Catholic Church has 7 sacraments - most others have at the most is two.

And don’t be scared of confession. It is a sacrament of healing. It helps me enormously and has, through little or no help on my part, lifted some of the sins of lust from me that you were talking about. I have to go every week. I’m not okay if I miss a week. I’m one of the non-strong ones.

Will keep you in my prayers. And please pray for me. I need prayers. Many blessings to you.


#12

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