i was raised with no firm religious identity. my father was a jehova’s witness so Christmas and my birthday didn’t occur until i was 3. My mom sent me to Lutheran church for a while but i stopped attending because i was so embarassed to not know my “baptismal date” (i didn’t have one due to the religion in which i was born)…
I then worked in a convent for several years and was so moved by what i was taught by the sisters that i converted to catholasism. I was finally baptised-my Godmother is an SSND that i love dearly.
I hope i don’t go to hell for this, but i can’t believe in the extremes that are taught to us. If i don’t confess my sins to a preist i will go to hell…
my biggest question is…and i hope i don’t go to hell for this, but i just wonder…WHAT IF WE’RE WRONG??? How do we know who has rhe right answer? don’t we all just follow what our family tells us is right?
i now have a husband and two beautiful girls that have been baptised Catholic, but i have such a hard time getting us all to church because when we go the readings do not at all relate to us and neither do the sermons. I literally sit on the edge of my seat and try to relate to the sermon but all i get is “mankind has sinned, mankind is judgemental, mankind will go to hell…”
i want to be devout and i want to be a believer but i feel that i am being scolded more than i am being encouraged. I am so lost that i don’t bring our family to church as much anymore-and that mekes me feel awful
I’m so sorry you are having difficult time. I think speaking with your priest about these things can help. As well as praying and Adoration is very beneficial. I hope you don’t stop going to Mass with your family. I will pray for you.
The previous response you got was great, I thought … I’ll offer a couple of suggestions of my own, too.
First, is it possible to go back to that convent, the one that had such a strong effect on you? It might help a bit to be able to recapture that feeling again, maybe.
Secondly, I don’t know if you enjoy reading much, but I find it a lot easier to read about my religion than I do to hear about it … I seem to process the words better, somehow, and get the good out if it rather than just being baffled. There are a ton of great books out there that might help answer some of your questions, and renew that conviction that Catholicism is right for you. My personal favourite is Catholic Q&A, and probably anything by Pope Benedict XVI (although I can’t claim to have read a lot of what he’s written yet, everything I have always leaves me feeling wonderful).
Hang in there, dear … we all have these ‘dry’ times! :hug3:
“i have such a hard time getting us all to church because when we go the readings do not at all relate to us and neither do the sermons. I literally sit on the edge of my seat and try to relate to the sermon but all i get is “mankind has sinned, mankind is judgemental, mankind will go to hell…””
I have felt like this many times as well. What has helped me is to recite the rosary aloud (even when I’m alone) meditating on either the Joyful or the Luminous mysteries exclusively for as many days in a row as it takes to remind me of the GOOD NEWS that Jesus brings to us. Things always look brighter afterwards–
I hope this can help you, too.
I’ve grappled with your biggest question many times myself and I think that it poses great difficulties for many Christians. Honestly, I don’t know what happens if we’re wrong, but I am confident that I will never have to find out. I only wish I could keep my sources straight so I could present something really worthwhile here.
Please realize that the mere fact that you are questioning your faith does not mean that you are committing a mortal sin. God gave us the capacity for reason and that sometimes means that we have to ask questions. But please, do not give up. Do not distance yourself from the sacraments. Rather, embrace God where you can, serve Him as best you know how, and strive to learn how you can better your relationship with God. Ask your questions.
And pray. Ask God for wisdom, for courage, for whatever you may need and thank Him for all that you have. And take heart because God does not merely show us his justice, but in His great love for us He has shown mercy as well. The scriptures tell us not only that Jesus is our advocate, but also that He sent the Holy Spirit to help us if we only will do the will of God (See 1st John).
In closing, I’d like you to know that I will pray for you.
You’ve been given some great feedback!
How do we know if we’re right? Well, we can do some research into the history of our Church. We can read the early Church Fathers or many of the wonderful books available on how Christ established the Catholic Church and why we have all these “rules”. But after that, it really comes down to faith. We, as humans with free will, have the unique opportunity to either believe what Our Lord told us, or not. It’s a matter of faith.
If you are feeling bereft of encouragement or fellowship at your parish, I would strongly suggest you try another. I moved in January of last year and it took me 6 months of attending many different parishes before I found one that reached me in spirit, mind, and soul.
Have you checked out the Catholic Answers home page? You might find it helpful.
I’m so sorry for you, OP, as I can feel your anguish.
I’m shocked and saddened that you were told that you would go to Hell if you did not confess your sins to a priest!
Please be reassured that this is not what the Church teaches!
In the first place, we are only bound to confess (to a priest) the mortal sins of which we are aware, and which we committed deliberately.
Obviously, at the start of Mass, we confess our sinfulness to God in the Kyrie/Confiteor, and God knows our hearts, I’m not saying we should not be aware of the wrong things we do, and admit them to God, But we don’t have to confess every sin in the confessional to get forgiven. God comes running to embrace us, for Jesus’ sake, like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son.
Secondly, we can put ourselves in DANGER of going to hell, but who can say what happens at the moment of death? The God of the Prodigal Son would accept a contrite soul, even at that late stage. We cannot say definitely that a soul will go to hell - that’s arrogantly saying that we know the mind of God. Remember, we are told that with Him there is mercy and plentiful redemption.
Think of it this way. when we are conceived and born we are born into a dark room. We have a flashlight and at our Baptism God gives us batteries for it and shows us how to turn it on. As we sin the batteries get weaker and weaker until they are dead. reconciliation recharges the batteries. Now we can choose to continue to stumble around the room, trip over things, insist that we now how to get around in the dark and refuse to get the batteries recharged if we want.
Can you clarify that a bit? if you are saying that knowledge of what God wants, and motivation to do it, are tied to the Sacrament of Penance, and happen automatically and exclusively, I can’t agree with that. God’s grace is available to us in uncountable ways. We don’t need to ‘stumble round the room in the dark’, as we have Mass, preaching, Bible-reading - to name just a few.
Or are you referring to any advice that might be given in the Confessional? All I can say is, you must be very lucky.
And you do realise, don’t you, that individual confession as we know it today only came in the 11th or 12th century (or thereabouts) with the growth of monastic orders?
If you read the Gospels, the power Jesus gave to the Apostles was indeed for absolution - but there is no mention of private auricular confesson as we know it today. There was no monthly/weekly going into a box or whatever for centuries.
To continue your analogy, God must have provided, in His goodness, other means of re-charging batteries, which still must exist today.
How do we know we are right?
Draw inspiration from the early church fathers and saints. These men and women were profoundly devout and many gave their lives for what they believed in during the early church years. Put yourselves in the shoes of these early brothers and sisters - they are all part of YOUR family. Why would these people throw away their lives for nothing to gain materially in this world if they did not believe 100% in our Christian teachings? The answer is they lived and died fully in that belief because they knew that no suffering or persecution in this world could compare to the joy and the eternal rewards that God would give them when reunited with the heavenly family in heaven.
Understand also the liturgy of the mass. It is not made to be “entertainment” like so many non Catholic services are. It is principally WORSHIP of God and bringing you into the communion with your Christian family to bring together your needs and worship to offer up in pray to God. The Gospel readings and homily are there to teach principals and histories. At times the homily can even become administrative and deal with dry but important matters. But the key thing to remember is that the mass is really to get us the grace of God through the combined community prayers, the graces from the perfect worship of God in the Eucharist and to give to God our thoughts, concerns, and love in a spirit of worship as He in turn gives us His spiritual gifts.
It sounds like you want more fellowship. This is why most every Catholic community has many different social and service organizations as well as spiritual study and guest speakers. In our parish we have “small groups”, prayer groups, adoration, service groups, choirs, social groups and many guest speakers and retreats all through the year as well as church social outings (picnics, church fairs, dinners etc.). Consider getting into one of these to be around fellow Catholics.
Also, spend private time in prayer or reading of Catholic materials. Especially learn about the Church saints and read some of their works. They are amazingly inspirational and it will change your life to see how these men and women loved God and were so committed to him. Develop a special interest in a few special saints that you really can relate to. Let it become a hobby and become an expert in that saint. Read all their writings and do some of the special devotional prayers.
If you have anxieties about being assured you are in a state of grace sufficient to be acceptable to God I strongly urge you to perform the First Friday and First Saturday devotionals to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. These all give God’s promise of final grace and contrition. Also, consider joining a rosary co-fraternity to join your daily prayers with millions of other Catholics the world over to promote God’s peace on the planet and the conversion of souls. There are ENORMOUS graces God grants to those that pray the rosary. Check out this web site for info about this: Dominican Fathers HEADQUARTERS OF THE ROSARY CONFRATERNITY
A devout prayer life will change your life and your outlook and instill spiritual peace in a profound way.
I understand your anxiety about this. I think every believer has doubts once in a while - even doubts about the existence of God (look at the recent revelations about Mother Theresa and her long dry spells). However, if you first pray to God to give you the grace and understanding to discern and then take the time to do some honest research about this stuff, you’ll come to the unmistakable conclusion that the Catholic church is the true church that Christ founded. There are many good books that will help lead you to this conclusion including two by Peter Kreeft: Handbook of Christian Apologetics and Catholic Christianity. Another book that responds to the anti-Catholic attacks and beliefs of jehovah witnesses is entitled Answering JehovahWitnesses by Catholic apologist Jason Evert. Keep praying, do some research, and don’t despair - God will show you the way. I’ll pray for you as well.
When we have un-forgiven sins on our souls we are in Spiritual darkness, we do stumble around in our Spiritual life when we are in a state of sin. When we have un-forgiven Mortal sin on our soul , God’s grace is NOT available to us. It does not matter how many Masses you go to, how much you read the Bible, or pray, you receive little or no benefit, except Actual Grace which should move you towards the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Yes, he did provide a means, it’s called the Sacrament of Reconciliation and yes it did take different forms like public penance and a long life of penitential acts. Confession to a Bishop was not unheard of before the 11 century. So the idea that the Sacrament of Reconciliation didn’t exist before the 11th century does not hold water.
It sounds as if you may have some left over fears from your childhood formation. God is a God of love, and you have done what you can to please Him. No doubt He is very happy with you. These doubts are temptations of the evil one to discourage you. He’s mad he lost one to conversion and will attack you where you are your weakest.
The only wrong thing you could do would be to doubt the mercy and love of God.
My recommendation is to contact your diocesan headquarters and find out when the charismatic community has its meetings. They tend to focus on God’s love and mercy. It sounds as though you’ve had your share of the judgement and wrath of God. You need a good dose of joy in the Holy Spirit. Balance is the key.
Also, ask the Blessed Mother for what you need. She always sees to it we get what we ask for when asked in sincerety. God bless you.
In addition to knowing that this is the Church Jesus started, and that He promised to remain with us until the end of the age, trust also this experience that you had. All these are testimony that you are in the right place. Have you shared your angst with your Godmother? The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person has great power in it’s effects.
You were already given some excellent feedback on this point above, so I am just going to add my two cents here. Scripture teaches us that Jesus gave the Apostles authority on earth to forgive sins, and that we should confess our sins. I know confession to a priest is hard for a lot of us, but it is one of the channels through which God designed that His grace should flow. If you don’t get under the spout, you will not be in the right place when the glory runs down! Confession is extremely liberating. When the priest says aloud that your sins are forgiven in the name of Jesus and on behalf of the Church, there is a great liberation that occurs. This is a powerful tool against the devil.
I would also like to add to something Bro. said, because I am a cradle Catholic who left the Church because I was not getting “fed” at mass. The analogy of the batteries is very applicable. If you try to go to Mass while you have unconfessed sins, you will not be open to the graces that are there. It is like you have closed the blinds to your soul, and the light can’t get in. On the other hand, if you are in a state of grace, EVERYTHING read at Mass will apply to you, from the opening antiphon to the communion antiphon. The Mass is full of scripture, and God can speak to us through all of it. If you are not in a state of grace, however, it will not connect in your heart.
If it is hard to confess to a priest, imagine how hard it would be to confess to Jesus HImself?! When I go to confession I close my eyes and try to imagine Jesus standing there. Anyway, it gets better with practice, and the graces flow more smoothly after you get into a routine. There are many good examinations of conscience online to help.
The scolding is coming from inside yourself, and not the Mass. You are being convicted by the Holy Spirit to address shortcomings. This is a good thing, because it leads to holiness. (We all hope!).
About the readings, I think it would be good to get them a week in advance. I like to read them daily, but you might start with your kids reading those for the next sunday every day of the week. I bet, by the time you get to Mass, you will find that they have had a chance to steep like a good tea.
It was difficult for me to transition to the catholic mass, even though I knew the teachigns of the church were true and correct when I converted and that sensationlism was not to be found in the mass as it was in the other religions I experienced. I was almost addicted to the sensationalism and the frothy emotional appeal I received from other churches I attended and that was very addictive.
There was a reason I left those religions and that reason was Truth.
I knew that the Catholic Church held all Truth on faith and morals that were available from God to mankind and was willing to endure the failures of particular priests until the time came when my prayers were answered and we received a priest that was alive and on fire and full of the Holy Spirit! He is a true evangelist and is filld with the Joy of God!
Before this time, I told the priest that I was glad he had come, because I had felt like I was living underwater with a straw spiritually at that parish.
Our prayers were answered.
In the interim, we prayed and also listened to priests and theologians on Catholic radio, internet, and went to Catholic conferences where the faith was visibly and audibly alive.
The Eucharist nourshed us, along with confession, but we needed something else from the Church which we were missing, and that was encouragement and hope, and less talk about money.
www.thereasonforourhope.org is an amazing site with sermons that are about 15 minutes long for every day of the year. Amazing and encouraging sermons(homilies).
I hope this feeds and comforts you some. I would rather be bored and have the Truth than be entertained and sensationalized with half Truths.
After all, I can’t imagine the apostles “felt” very good or encouraged as they were persecuted and martyred.
Don’t be afraid to discuss anything here - you’ll never find resolution to your questions if you don’t. Yes, some people may criticise you for it, ignore them and listen to the ones who will provide you with useful information and answers.
So many issues have been discussed on here in the past - try clicking on ‘search’ and typing in things like condoms that are an issue for you, if you don’t feel like posing such questions directly.