When you don't feel forgiven despite confession?


#1

I’ll try to be brief, and thank you for reading and responding. I joined the Catholic Church at Easter 2015. Prior to that I had protestant Christian beliefs. So far as I know I was never baptized until my entrance into the Catholic Church- my mom said she wanted it to be my choice, not hers. I had done the typical “taking Christ as my personal savior” and “been saved” but that’s it.

About 30 years ago I did something horrible. Something I am utterly ashamed of. I was a teenager at the time. I knew it was wrong, although I don’t know whether I truly understood the gravity of the sin. But I knew it was a sin.

I know that when I was baptized, the Church teaches that all my sins from my former life were forgiven. Moreover, after feeling tormented about this particular sin, I confessed it also and received absolution. However, I am utterly haunted by it, and continue to feel unforgiven. And I have been unable to forgive myself.

I lived a life in my teens and 20’s that was rather sordid. But all my sins other than this one I feel forgiven of. Since becoming Catholic, the grave nature of this sin has become very apparent to me and the guilt is eating me alive.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t mean to offend our Lord by not believing in the forgiveness of sins through baptism and the sacrament of reconciliation. But I don’t know how to stop feeling torn apart by my past. How do I accept the forgiveness that I am assured by the Church that I have, when I don’t feel forgiven? Is there any possibility that for some reason God has not forgiven me? If this is strictly a matter of needing to forgive myself, how do I do that?


#2

A nun told St Faustina to ask Jesus that question,

Jesus told St Faustina, “Tell her, her lack of faith wounds Me more than the sin she has already been forgiven of in confession. I no longer even remember that sin.”


#3

The Bible calls satan “The Accuser” “who accuses humans of their sins night and day.”

Stop listening to satan.

It is pride to not accept, “I am a sinner, I slipped, I needed Jesus forgiveness, God has forgiven me and I accept that forgiveness that I am in need of.”

Focus on the forgiveness not on the past.

I heard a priest say:

If you gave someone a present, you would be hurt if they never ever opened it.

Jesus has forgiven you. He is hurt if you don’t accept that present that has already been given to you.

Forgive yourself and move on,

Don’t look to the past with regret, leave it in Jesus hands,

Jesus can bring good out of anything confessed to Him.

Focus on the fact that you are currently in a state of grace and that sin is forgiven, that you are on the narrow path to Heaven and that satan is powerless against you in Jesus Name.

Read the book “The Miracle Ship” by Brian O’ Hare (a Catholic book about the power of faith and of Holy positive thoughts.)


#4

Thank God for having forgiven you. Treat these feelings as you would any other temptation and pray each time you experience them.

Then watch out in the future for different temptations!


#5

Let me start by saying that I know how you feel.

I am a cradle Catholic, from a devoutly Catholic family on my mother’s side (My dad was a convert).

I lived a very sinful life from my late teens through many years, and when I first returned to my faith three years ago I found it very difficult to forgive myself.

The Bible calls satan “The Accuser” “who accuses humans of their sins night and day.”

Stop listening to satan.


MaryHelp777 is absolutely right. ****It is satan who is taunting you, tormenting you, with the idea that your sins have not been forgiven.

God’s mercy is unfathomable. It is totally beyond our comprehension.

Jesus said that the only sin which will never be forgiven is the sin against the Holy Spirit, that is refusing to accept God’s forgiveness and mercy right up to the the time when we die.


#6

I heard a priest say:

If you gave someone a present, you would be hurt if they never ever opened it.

Jesus has forgiven you. He is hurt if you don’t accept that present that has already been given to you.

Forgive yourself and move on.

Quite right. Guard against falling in to scruples.
Be at peace, secure in the knowledge that Jesus died for our redemption.


#7

A professional counselor will be able to help you change your mindset.


#8

I would say to God, “Thank you for forgiving me; help my emotions catch up to the reality of your forgiveness.” Then put it in God’s hands and wait. Remember God’s words: “Be still and know that I am God.”


#9

First off – all the answers above are very good answers. You are forgiven. There is no doubt of that. Whatever penance or reparation you were assigned, it’s done. Nothing more is needed.

So if you don’t have to do anything more about this, in God’s eyes, how are you going to convince yourself?

Well, obviously it will be good if you can do it by sheer force of will and faith. But you haven’t been able to do it yet.

Probably what you need is to do something constructive. If you can help people dealing with situations like your sin, that might do it. Or you could do something charitable, like helping with a food pantry, or a charity for single/unwed/widowed mothers, or St. Vincent de Paul Society, or whatever else your parish does that is charitable.

Enlist the help of the saints and of your dead friends and relatives in Heaven. They are cheering you on, and they will be happy to pray for you. So don’t forget to pray.

Saying “Jesus, I trust in You” whenever you’re tormented by feeling unforgiven might help.

Talk to your parish priest, or a wise friend or counselor who won’t pump you about the sin that was forgiven. Getting over guilt can take a while. You might need help and support from support groups, too. There are groups that deal with people who are getting over addictions, for instance, or there’s Rachel’s Vineyard for repentant people who had abortions. You can search for these kinds of things on the Internet without giving anything away, and your priest may know about such groups too.

I also strongly suggest that you get some holy water and use it. If the devil is tormenting you, or even if you are just a little vulnerable because of your sadness, you have every right to protect and bless yourself with holy water. It may also help you to have blessed salt, blessed palms, a blessed rosary or scapular or medal, or other blessed sacramentals, somewhere close at hand. (You probably have at least one of these things already. Just put it somewhere convenient for bad moments.)

The other option I would suggest, seeing as we’re still in summertime, is going on a short pilgrimage to some local shrine or outdoor Stations of the Cross or even a Catholic cemetery, or doing indoor Stations of the Cross in some parish you don’t normally visit, or even in your own parish. Going to one of the Doors of Mercy before the Year of Mercy ends – that might be a helpful pilgrimage, too. Even going in your car would help, but physically walking some distance (like in a cemetery) might also help. Walking barefoot is a good sign of penitence, too, if you don’t have anything wrong with your feet. You can pray for relief from your guilt, or for help knowing God’s will, or healing for your soul, or whatever you need to do. You can also sing hymns or do other pious activities. Not only will a pilgrimage give you time to pray and get help, but it may convince your body and brain that you can move along. (Don’t hurt yourself doing this; and make sure people know where you’re going, if you do it alone. Some people do pilgrimage bike trails, too.)

If you feel like you need to do a grander gesture, consult your priest/family etc. first, and be prudent about it. But hey, there are plenty of Catholics who’ve walked the Camino or gone to Our Lady of Guadalupe or even gone to the Holy Land, to help deal with guilt and shame. Can’t argue with the tried and true.

These are all suggestions. Don’t try to do all of them, but pick out some of them. (And definitely talk to your priest.) I don’t know whether you will get over this in a day, or whether it will take longer. But if you start to do something about it, at least it won’t be festering away inside you.


#10

They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are ill.

Matthew 9:12

Think of the saints who went before you…St Augustine, St. Paul, St Margaret of Cortona, Bl. Charles de Foucald, St. Mary Magdelene, St. Matthew, St Peter, St Francis, St Ignatius Loyola, St Francis Xavier, and the litany continues and goes on…

As long as you confessed according to the requirements, you’re absolved


#11

Despite what our society tells us, our feelings really don’t matter all that much. Objectively you are forgiven. You can know and believe that without feeling it. And that’s all that matters. We can’t control our feelings. As long as you are not in doubt about actually being forgiven, I’d recommend not being overly concerned with “feeling forgiven.” All that matters is that you are actually forgiven.


#12

This. I was baptized as an adult as well, and struggled with the idea that my past would just be wiped out in one night and I’d get a fresh start. When I raised it with the priest leading my RCIA class (and later with my pastor), both gave answers similar to this. It is an objective truth that we are forgiven - we don’t need to feel it for it to be true. Believing in that truth, accepting it as truth - that’s a choice we can make. We don’t need to feel anything to just decide to believe it.

Our pastor has given some great homilies on how the emotional and intellectual sides of ourselves both have roles to play in our faith. On the emotional side, there will be lots of times when you feel completely connected to the faith, to your prayer, to everything. But there will be lots of times when you don’t, and in those times, our intellectual side is what supports us, by letting us know that even if we aren’t feeling that connection to God, or aren’t feeling His mercy, or His forgiveness, it is still there, because that is what we know and believe to be true.

Remember to lean on your intellect in times when you aren’t “feeling it”.


#13

To me, this indicates your conscience is still in good working order. That’s good news! Part of repentance is being mindful to avoid that particular sin (and the occasion of it) as much as possible.

If your confessor says you’ve been forgiven, you’ve been forgiven. Leave it there and try like crazy to avoid that sin going forward. :thumbsup:


#14

I wanted to thank each of you who took the time to answer my post. Your answers have helped me a lot. Thank you.


#15

I had to check to see if I wrote that post!! WOW! I’ve had a similar experience.

For me, when I don’t feel ‘forgiven’, or better after confession:
I get that feeling when I haven’t really forgiven myself.
I check myself: is my forgiveness more powerful or bigger than God’s? Papa, please forgive my pride.


closed #16

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