Struggling, please help!

I grew up in a type of Christian family (I will call it “Bible-believing” and influenced by a couple of “denominations”), though very dysfunctional. I had phases of belief and unbelief, but I guess I can say mostly indifference, in my family’s faith. I started secretly learning about Catholicism in my late teens, and at 21 I started RCIA, fully convinced by Catholicism. I prayed every day and went to daily Mass for months, and I even believed I had a vocation to be a nun!

Then it all turned around and some very disappointing things happened. The already-baptised must go to confession before the Easter Vigil, and so I tried twice, and both times I made bad confessions. I thought about going through RCIA another year, but in this state I received the Sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion at the Easter Vigil. I felt terrible. I received Holy Communion a few times after that but I felt so bad that I stopped. I never went back to confession, too afraid to mess up again.

It has been over seven months since being “received into the Church”, and my “spiritual life” has grown worse and worse and WORSE. At this point I don’t even know if I believe in God and I am silent – I cannot pray! And I know I prayed so much before. Everything is different now. I no longer participate at Sunday Mass (I just show up – it was NOT like this before), practically never make the Sign of the Cross, and more and more I think I should just stop going to Mass until I am sure I even believe any of this. On top of this I think I have completely lost all “sense of sin” – I am unsure about right or wrong.

I cannot honestly call myself a Catholic or a Christian anymore. I do read the Bible most days and say occasional random “Is anyone there?” desperate sort of prayers, and still “show up” at Sunday Mass. I am really exhausted and feel like giving up. Any advice?

What do you mean when you say “a bad confession?” Are you afraid you accidentally or intentionally omitted sins?

I agree. On what basis do you believe you made a bad confession? If you confessed your sins to your honest memory and good intention at the time, your Confessions were good. You may have suffered from some scrupulosity in some form. As your life hasn’t been easy you may be more anxious than you need to be.

I hope you find your answer here

ourladyswarriors.org/faith/bc3-19.htm

Firstly, I would like to assure you that the reason our Lord gave us the Sacraments was to bring us closer to Him, not further away, and certainly not to induce the kind of anxiety you are feeling! :slight_smile:

If you have not rejected any of the teachings of the Catholic Church since your RCIA (the Incarnation, the Trinity, the Resurrection, the Immaculate Conception, etc), then you are certainly still a Catholic, though you are in the state of mortal sin. Do you by chance have a 1962 Missal? If so, read the part on Confession. If you don’t have it, I can supply it for you. Confession, especially in what you are experiencing right now, is so essential. I understand that, for some absolutely unknown reason, some RCIA programs are not even teaching new Catholics one of the most important prayers in all of Catholicism, “The Act of Contrition.” Where you taught this prayer?

If no, tell me and I will post it. If so, close your eyes in silence, and say the Act of Contrition. Think about every single word. Study this prayer, and ask for aid from our Lady that you can see a fraction of the amazing mercy of Her Son, our Lord. God is infinitely merciful, and is capable of forgiving all sins, permenantly…except one. There is one sin that cannot be forgiven, because in doing so God would contradict Himself in giving us free will. That sin is the sin of despair, the sin of believing and declaring that the Holy Ghost “cannot” forgive your sins. This is not true! You must NEVER, NEVER, NEVER despair, and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER believe that God has limits. God has no limits, and He is infinitely merciful. If you simply acknowledge His overwhelming love for you and His desire to forgive your sins once you ask, you will see His mercy indeed.

I think you need to approach the confessional again. The confessional is not a torture chamber: it is a cleansing bath. You are very burdened with your past sins right now, and it is fear of the past that is keeping you for opening up your future to God. Do start praying, especially the Rosary. There is a prayer I have for the Moment of Benediction (when the priest raising the Blessed Sacrament), and it includes the following:

“God’s hands are lifted up to bless us, and He wait oh! so eagerly for us to ask some favour that He may win our hearts by His generosity. Let us ask, then, confidently and show our trust in God’s great goodness by the boldness of our requests.”

Have you heard of the Divine Mercy prayer, which you pray on the Rosary beads? Perhaps this would also be a very effective contemplation and mediation for you. Even just saying the words, “Jesus, I trust in You,” will bring you great relief!

Also, about confession: the next time you confess, after you have accused yourself of all the sins you can remember, remember then to say, “For these and all other sins that have escaped my memory, for which I am heartily sorry, I humbly ask pardon of God and penance and absolution of you, Father.” God knows what is in our past that even we sometimes forget. What this prayer demonstrates is that you are submitting to God’s knowledge of you and your sins even over your own knowledge of self, and you are asking for forgiveness of all the times you have offended Him.

He will forgive: God forgives, by His perfect Nature. He really, really, really forgives.

If you intentionally withheld the full disclosure of your sins, then yes, you made a bad confession. If you recalled sins that you failed to confess, but did not intentionally withhold, then no you did not make a bad confession.

We struggle against “…powers and principalities…” and it sounds very much like you are being attacked by those evil powers and principalities in an attempt to convince you that you are a “bad christian” that you cannot possibly pursue goodness and holiness and that you should just “give up”.

Remember in your study what JESUS did for you personally? The pain and suffering HE endured so that you might have life and have it more abundantly?

St. John Henry Newman said, as Christians we are required to do two things, to have faith and to have obedience.

Many times our faith is attacked by satan to make us give up. When those times come, as they will for all of us, do not give up, just focus on obedience. Return to prayer even though you do not feel it, Return to confession and be absolutely honest - yes it is embarassing because confession requires humility which is the opposite of sin - which requires pride.

Just act “as if” you were a nun today, and behave with obedience toward GOD with the Sacraments and rest in your obedience to HIM. It does not require “feeling”, it does not require full understanding, obedience to the sacraments when all else fails will bring you the light - eventually that has dimmend for reasons you cannot now explain.

Do not worry and despair. God loves you like a Father. He does. Go back to confession with a contrite heart and sincerity. Make a strong confession and ask the priest to help you. After you’ve finished. Give the priest a short run down on your last few years and current doubts. And ask for help.

Begin again with Him. Jesus collapsed three times. Get up again, today. Make an appointment with a good priest and give the receptionist a heads up that you need a bit of time.

Do all your work this week in Thanksgiving for the love God. Bring smiles to others, and focus on some other people.

Beware of lukewarmness.

Prayers for you.

Thanks to everyone! To answer your questions and suggestions…

Both of my confessions were very bad in the sense that I was really afraid and unwilling to say everything, and I didn’t. :frowning:

**If you have not rejected any of the teachings of the Catholic Church since your RCIA (the Incarnation, the Trinity, the Resurrection, the Immaculate Conception, etc), then you are certainly still a Catholic, though you are in the state of mortal sin. **

The thing is, I have had many doubts and what I still remember about the faith is only “what I know about Catholicism” not “what I believe to be true”. I do suspect that there might be something to Catholicism, but I don’t think it’s acceptable to receive Sacraments in this state of mind? (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

As for prayer, is it enough to just start by saying the words and concentrating, even if I don’t think I believe every word?

You must confess only your mortal sins. If you failed to do that, then you made a bad confession, if you did not mention venial sins however, you still made a good confession. Do you have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? A review of the Church’s teachings might show that you believe more than you think and help you sort out any misconceptions. Right now you need the Mass, the sacraments and prayer more than ever, don’t stop attending Mass, no matter how you feel. Remember, it did not end at Easter Vigil, you are on a faith journey that will last for the rest of your life, questions and discernment are a healthy part of the growing process.

First thing is first, I will pray that you have a change in mood. This is known as spiritual dryness. Where everything you do in church seems like repetitive exercises instead of a feeling of being close to God. God knows your intent to make a good confession, you need not make it perfect in order for God’s forgiveness. No one other than the saints and even some of them weren’t perfect!], is perfect. Knowing something is wrong and doing that wrong thing is a sin. Losing the sense of sin is not a sin. Feeling like you are just showing up at mass is an emotional disturbance to you, many have felt this way. Do NOT give up though, all hope is not lost!
THE PRAYER OF
SAINT ANSELM
IN TIME OF SPIRITUAL DRYNESS.
O supreme and inaccessible Light,
O complete and blessed Truth,
how far You are from me,
even though I am so near to You!
How remote You are from my sight,
even though I am present to Yours!
You are everywhere in your entirety,
and yet I do not see You;
in You I move and have my being,
and yet I cannot approach You.
O God, let me know You
and love You so that I may find my joy in You;
and if I cannot do so fully in this life,
let me at least make some progress every day,
until at last that knowledge, love,
and joy come to me in all their plentitude.

Amen

God Bless!

Faith is your response to God. If you give hesitantly, insincerely (e.g., in confession), you won’t sense the full presence of the Holy Spirit. Give generously instead.

Prayer…converse with God…chatter with Him; write your conversation if that helps…to get you going…destroy the paper you write on. Talk to Him about your joys, fears, worries, sufferings, successes, upcoming events, talk to Him like a confident child.

Faith comes through prayer. You are certianly making the first step by even submitting, and not outright rejecting the idea. There is more than a grain of faith in you—there is much more than a grain. What you’re lacking right now is confidence. You don’t really believe that what Catholicism says is true, so your “conscience” is troubling you, because you’re thinking that your being unathentic by “acting” like you believe something when you really don’t. What you need to do, therefore, to investigate!

Everyone is different. I am a very technical person who really enjoys research (its one of the things that brought be back to the Church, in fact). If you need solid explanations and sources, with direct reference to the words of Jesus (the Gospels), and an excellent compendium of Church teaching, then maybe you should try to get a copy of “Sources of Catholic Dogma” by Heinrich Denzinger. Any (I mean, any!) questions you have about Catholicism are not just answered in this compendium, but are SOURCED. Again, Catholicism is true, so its not just something you have “believe” because someone else told you, like your RCIA teacher or whoever. We believe what we believe because GOD told us! That’s about as “original” of a source as you can get.

I think you have a strong mustard tree growing within you, though its just a seedling now. If you study your faith, you really will fall in love with it. I’ve never met a Catholic who really knew the Faith, who wasn’t just in love with it, and in love with our Lord, and so greatful to His for having established the Church for us. Plus, you’ll learn about all the craziness that has happened with the people in the Church (anti-popes, three popes, exiled popes, heresies, all of these things), and how every time these troubles have occurred, the core Faith has not changed. Reading Denzinger, I think, will really give you a solid foundation of truth on which that little seedling will grow. You have to know the Faith in order for your faith to grow.

And don’t forget Our Lady: she’s the “undoer of knots,” and is our great ally. Pray that Rosary, and meditate on the mysteries of the life of Jesus. While you’re doing it, remember to say, “This really did happen.” Wow.

My Dear Friend,

As a Priest, I would love to sit and talk with you and help you make a good confession and calm your storm. As you said: You are afraid and afraid to say everything. You don’t want to blow it again…Jesus knows that and why you are afraid, better than you do. All He needs is your desire to say everything and an act of perfect contrition and He will lead you to the right Priest. So much has been told you and you need reassurance, as we all do. You have reached a grave blocage in your spiritual life. This awareness is the work of the Holy Spirit in you, prompting gently your spirit to ask for help in my opinion. God is with you, more than you are with you.

By speaking with a good Priest, he will help you see how your past, your family, esp. your relationship with your Father, and Mother or Authority figure makes you tremble with fear of rejection or something similar. There is something there that needs to be looked at, that very thing you could not bring yourself to say and why-God knows what and why, that is how He is so good. Yet, He needs you to trust Him and say it and talk about it. It’s keeping a secret we think is a terrible dirty shameful, disgraceful poison that tortures us, and yes, the Devil wants us to suffer alone with our pain and lead us to isolation and despair. Yet, that bitterness can ferment, the sour grapes of life can become the sweetest wine with God’s grace if you trust Him. The Lord wants to help you see something before you can go any further.

Please be docile and courageous. I will tell you this to encourage you. You do believe in God, since you believe in telling the truth, being in truth, making things right-you love the Truth, Jesus. You are very close to God, closer than you think. He is closest to those who need Him the most-the Physician is closest to the sickest patient, He goes out to find the lost lamb who wants to be found. You are seeking God Will which is a sign of doing His will in His Presence already. Seeking the right path is already going in the right direction. There is a toxic emotional blocage from what you say, a guilt and a gripping, oppressive fear, which you interpret as not having the right or permission to ask for understanding, compassion and mercy. You say you don’t want to blow it again…You won’t if you are just honest and tell the Priest: I may not be able to say everything this time, but with time, I will…is that o.k.? I have been asked this. It is beautiful and a sign of great love for God and a struggle to overcome all odds. It takes time, layers and layers of fears fall off before it just comes out naturally, like taking out a sliver that is deeply buried, a thorn in the heart. Priests know this. Soul Medics know this. Don’t let fear hold you back. It hurts Jesus more to see you like this, to see you hurt yourself, than it hurts you. You have faith in God, but trust a little more in His Goodness and reach out and touch Him like the woman suffering from internal bleeding for many years…you have an internal wound that you need to discuss, that, of course affects your relationship and attitude towards God. Until you address it, it will cripple you and make you limp. Just because you limp does not mean you do not believe in walking-you need to stop and take the pebbles out of your shoe. Go for it! I am praying for you. You can and you will do it, I’m sure, with the grace of God. Let me know if I can help.

Fr. Dominic La Fleur

So much to take in… I thank you all, you have been very encouraging.

:hug1:

If I could give you any advice, it would be this…
you said that in your first two Confessions, you withheld some sins. Yes, this makes the Confessions invalid, and it makes sense that you felt bad after the other Sacraments. **However… **this is definitely fixable, don’t feel it is the end, and above all don’t give up!! Here’s all that you have to do :slight_smile: just go and make a good Confession, and say everything this time. Say how you went to Confession twice before, but withheld sins, and received Communion and other Sacraments in a state of sin. (this is a sin in itself but it’s not unforgiveable, everything you say in Confession is forgiveable). Then, say all your sins, including the ones you wanted to say in your first Confession. I know it’s really hard, I was so scared and shaking when I made my first Confession, - but it’s so worth it, - not just for how you feel afterwards, but for your salvation! (that is SO important). If you feel uncomfortable saying everything to the priest, make an anonymous Confession behind the screen… but even if he knows who you are - I’ve never had a priest judge me in Confession, and I said some pretty bad things. They’ve literally heard it ALL. Then once you’ve said all your sins, be sorry for them - in your will, if not in feelings - just will to be sorry - and TRUST in God’s mercy. Then the priest will give you absolution, and your sins will be GONE forever and forgotten :slight_smile: I know it’s really scary making a full Confession like that, but the priest will not be judgemental, and it will be wonderful afterwards, promise :slight_smile: You’ll then be able to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist worthily, and it won’t be painful anymore, just trust Him after you make your Confession. It will also be easier to love God and to pray and repent of sin… I still notice this after every Confession. I go through times when I’ve sinned in a major way and then feel apathetic about the faith and like I’ve even lost my conscience, but after going to Confession and saying everything, this always reverses. It’s Christ Himself who is hidden in the priest in the confessional… it is He who works in your soul. Just say everything, to Him, no matter how horrible it sounds. In my first Confession, I had to say many things that I haven’t told a soul, previously, - but afterwards I felt so clean inside, it was wonderful.

Don’t be afraid! and don’t let the enemy of your soul keep you from Confession. The way the devil works, is he first tempts us to sin, and then tries tempting us to despair, and to give up. There’s ALWAYS hope with God, so don’t give up, and don’t allow yourself to lose faith. Remember it’s always a choice. If you’re finding it difficult to choose God, ask Him for the strength and the grace, and then trust Him. The more we trust, the more graces we will receive.

God bless you :slight_smile:

Jesus said to St Faustina…

Tell them that no soul that has called upon My mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul which has placed its trust in My goodness. (1541)

Know, My daughter, that between Me and you there is a bottomless abyss, an abyss which separates the Creator from the creature. But this abyss is filled with My mercy. (1576)

Today I heard the words: In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people. Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy. (1588)

My daughter, speak to priests about this inconceivable mercy of Mine. The flames of mercy are burning Me - clamouring to be spent; I want to keep pouring them out upon souls; souls just don’t want to believe in My goodness.

And even if the sins of soul are as dark as night, when the sinner turns to My mercy he gives Me the greatest praise and is the glory of My Passion. (378)

My daughter, do you think you have written enough about My mercy? What you have written is but a drop compared to the ocean. I am Love and Mercy itself. There is no misery that could be a match for My mercy, neither will misery exhaust it, because as it is being granted - it increases. The soul that trusts in My mercy is most fortunate, because I myself take care of it. (1273)

Write, speak of My mercy. Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy Confession ]. There the greatest miracles take place [and] are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no [hope of ] restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late. (1448)

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