Why Don't Catholics Feel Forgiven?

I hear Christians talk about being free, forgiven, Christ breaking their chains, and I see them on fire for God, propelled by the freedom provided by their sins being forgiven.

I don’t see that with Catholics.

The forgiveness of our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is a central part of our faith, and we have a sacrament instituted by Jesus where He personally forgives our sins, which other Christian denominations don’t have. Yet, we still act guilty, ashamed, in need of punishment, ineffective. Worse than that, we have church-sanctioned elements that tell us we need to make reparation for sins (ours and others) and encourage self-mortification as a way of gaining forgiveness.

Why is this, my brothers and sisters?

That’s a rather broad statement, one that I don’t relate to at all. So, in other words you cannot lump all Catholics and all Protestants into these categories. It simply isn’t so.

Also you misunderstand self-mortification. It is not “a way of gaining forgiveness” it is a method of instilling discipline, building virtue and sanctification, i.e. as St Paul says he trains like a runner training for a race.

Justification obviously does not prevent us from ever sinning again. Salavation is an ongoing transformation. We seek to follow Christ as our new torah and strive for perfection, not use Christ as a get-out-of-jail free card. We seek to be remade new in Christ from the inside out, not simply have our ‘filthiness’ covered by a blanket of snow. That’s a lifeling journey.

To quote Saint Paul in Colossians: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

And again in Romans: We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

And in James: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast (or perseveres) under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

We should be joyful and exuberant in the forgiveness of our sins, but we should still strive to be perfect, to put aside worldly things, and to break ourselves from attachment to sin and things of the flesh. We desire to be made clean in ourselves through Christ, not simply have our dirtiness hidden from God’s sight by Christ.

Not sure who you are referring but I feel perfectly forgiven of my sins and completely at peace about it!:shrug:

Peace be with you also!

I went to confession yesterday and I didn’t feel forgiven immediately because I still struggle with those very sins I went to confess. I do now, I just have to continue resisting those temptations. I don’t think that you can label an entire group of people based on your own subjective experiences. I think a lot of people miss the point just because Catholics don’t believe that they’re saved and that’s it doesn’t mean we don’t feel forgiven.

You don’t know what’s in people’s hearts. As a Protestant, I struggled with knowing whether or not I was forgiven. I would pray about the same sin over & over & also responded to multiple altar calls. I rarely felt forgiven.

My first confession as a Catholic was a tremendous relief. I felt really forgiven for the first time in my life. The priest said I was forgiven & I believed him.

I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people here at CA who struggle with scruples. They seem to be unable to believe they are forgiven when the priest declares them to be. If they are the ones you are referring to, they have a problem that is beyond simple confession.

The very first thing preached by John the Baptist and Christ Himself was “repent.” Salvation is not like getting an inoculation shot.

This is true that there are scrupulous people. I’m one of them, more recovered than some - my scruples bug me only occasionally now, after over 30 years of knowing what they were and how to deal with them. I still have a tender conscience - though sometimes I’ve also had times of going off the rails and falling into sin - but I don’t have the tormenting scruples that much.

I wonder if the OP is referring to the difference between the “Once Saved, Always Saved” and “Assurance of Salvation” ways in which many Protestants interpret salvation, vs. the Catholic belief that it is possible to sin and lose salvation - though certainly possible to have one’s sins forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be back in a state of grace once more.

Hadn’t thought of that - they do seem very self-assured - no worries when your salvation is guaranteed! I never believed that - I knew there was always that horrible possibility of being left behind! But found out after I became Catholic that the Baptist church we went to when I was a child (but not later in my teen years) taught OSAS. I guess I had selective hearing back then. :wink:

Speak for yourself! After going to Confession I feel the wait of my sins completely removed. Reconcilation is (in my opinion) the 2nd most awesome sacrament I have encountered in my life.:thumbsup:

The 10 Commandments are not suggestions.

Devout Catholics do their best to keep them, just as the Lord instructed us to do. And they didn’t expire when Jesus went to the cross as some seem to think.

And Jesus said most people are going to hell and that people would appear to be Christians, but in actuality would be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

So I’d be careful with judging by appearance, it is often misleading.

You’re hanging out with the wrong Catholics.

Judge not by appearances alone but judge with right judgment (your Bible may translate it a little differently)- John 7:24 :thumbsup:


I think perhaps your have talking with a limited selection…

Yes Catholics feel forgive -they know they are forgiven by Christ…washed with the blood of Christ in baptism, in confession…

and smaller sins are forgiven all the time in prayer…daily.

Yes Catholics talk about being free, forgiven, Christ breaking their chains…and yes they can be quite on fire for God, propelled by the freedom provided by their sins being forgiven…etc


^ This


…I think that it has to do with several factors… including personal guilt and lack of understanding (self-forgiveness is part of the equation), exaggerated understanding/behavior of devote Catholics, lack of understanding of the Sacrament of Confession… and (though many will hate me for this) the false interpretation of the Sacrament by non-Catholics.

Let’s take the worst… no not that… “self”

When a person is truly Contrite (feels and understands that he/she has hurt God and self through the act/s of unrighteousness–sin) he/she feels a deep ingrained shame and hurt (open wound). There’s a weight in that person’s spirit and body… when the Sacrament of Confession is sought, it is expected to be waaaaaaay painful… something akin to Jesus’ Passion (His personal ordeal and the physical torture that He was forced to endure for us).

What most people fail to understand is that God will never demand from us the actual price of our sins, which we can never cover… Jesus has already done this for us; the other thing people don’t get is that God does not hold a tab for us bringing it out every time we take a breath:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]18 And then come, and accuse me, saith the Lord: if your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow: and if they be red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.

(Isaiah 1:18–read 16-17 to find out what God expects from the Confessant–which the Church calls: Reparation, Contrition and Reconciliation)
Note how God is concerned with Repentance and Reconciliation and not with “I have this list from…?”

God is not man to hold grudges and to seek to break one down with guilt trips and accusations.

We must allow God’s Absolution to filter into our hearts and minds and view our Confession (Repentance, Contrition, Reconciliation) in God’s Light–we must forgive ourselves, and others, as God forgives us.

…the life of the Saints and other devote Catholics…
Each of us must answer to God’s Call within our own limits and understanding… some choose to give themselves to God fully, some partially, some begrudgingly… some have gone to extreme… when I was a child it was some sort of demonstration of Faith to relive the Passion and Crucifixion… in some places in the world a very few people would take that literally as they would volunteer to be crucified (some including the nailing on a cross)… did God Command/Required that? Did the Catholic Church?

We must understand that not everything that a devote Believer does is in response to God’s Command or the Church’s Instruction!

…the Sacrament of Confession (layman’s terms)…
This is God’s Sacrament of Reconciliation… when we are Baptized all of our sins receive Absolution… Wow! Some (including Catholics) have used that as means to sin for decades (the ole sowing the wild oats) so that they can be forgiven “once they are ready to live for God.” The problem with that premise is that “no one Knows the day or the hour…”

Baptism is not the Sacrament of Reconciliation… Confession is the Sacrament of Reconciliation–that is why the Apostles Taught about “Confessing our sins,” and that is why Jesus Delegated the Sacrament to the Church… so that Believers may be Reconciled to God past the Sacrament of Baptism, as they succumb to temptations.

But the Sacrament is not a means to trick God into Granting Absolution… here’s where the guilt may come… when a person deceives him/herself or the Priest by not Confessing all sins and by not having a Contrite heart or by knowingly pretending to Confess a sin/s that will be constantly engaged as soon as the opportunity presents itself… well, no Contrition of heart means no real Repentance… which means no real Absolution–the guilt continues because the act is repeated or relished…

…false interpretation of the Sacrament…
Where in Scriptures do we find mass confession or public confession or joyful celebration of confession or reliving acts as confession? Nowhere.

This interpretation is quite similar to the one about “repetition of words in prayer” and “go into your room to pray to the Father.”

…ever noticed human interaction?.. people who are normally quiet/shy/meek when in a group scenario can become vociferous, boastful, and even right out abusive… is that the Holy Spirit working in them?

Fervor/energy found in groups/multitudes do not always mean that God’s Grace is at work… just check out the news (past, present and future) where people gather for “peace,” “human rights,” and “justice.” It takes a few to bring the masses into a boil… some may be innocently pushing limits; yet, others have shown up with an agenda… nothing to do with justice, peace, and human dignity/rights.

We are creatures of emotions… “good feelings” do not always translate to Absolution of guilt since emotions can be manufactured through “good intentions” or through deception.

Maran atha!



First of all, self-mortification is not a way of gaining forgiveness. That’s absolutely ridiculous and any Catholic who tells you that is a fool.

Mortifications are a way to gain control over our bodies. They’re a way to help us to STOP BEING LAZY and being utterly terrified of any kind of suffering. It has nothing to do with sin. It has everything to do with VICES and NATURAL DISPOSITIONS to weaknesses.

Forgive me for capitalizing words here and there, I just want to be clear.

In terms of acting guilty, look it.

There’s a lot of people out there, Catholic and not, who are completely presumptuous. They think that God is so merciful that they can basically do whatever it is they want to do, and He will forgive them. They treat the cross, maybe unconsciously, like it was a license to sin.


There’s a lot of other people out there who refuse to accept that drawing closer to God, and leaving the world behind, is an essential element of repairing some of the spiritual damage that their sin has caused.

That’s also demonic.

What is Christian is accepting, in love, that God’s will sometimes includes things like a little bit of suffering, and of accepting the fact that Christ made it possible for that little bit of suffering to have a redemptive value.

In terms of not “feeling” certain things. I’m sorry, but people have got to let go of this idea that their EMOTIONS are the source of their spiritual life.

How does one feel an objective reality like forgiveness? Yes, it can come with peace and joy, but one can be forgiven and not feel a thing.

When we make our spiritual life ALL ABOUT OUR EMOTIONS, all we’re doing is feeding our appetites, and it’s our appetites that become God for us.

That, too is demonic. And it’s called idolatry.

Hi, Adam!

…actually is not that we don’t believe that in Christ Jesus we are Saved; it is that we don’t claim Salvation outside of Christ… non-Catholics make a whole to do about Crucifixes… ‘why can’t they understand that He is Risen?’ *They *fail to comprehend that it is not the Resurrection that has taken away our sin but Christ’s Crucifixion (which St. Paul Taught: ‘I preach Christ, and He Crucified…’ in the same manner they hold Scriptures as their “proof” that they are “saved” while we Catholics hold Jesus as our Resurrection and Life!

Maran atha!


I think you are misunderstanding what I was saying my point was that Catholics don’t believe once saved always saved it’s not that we don’t believe we are not forgiven. I think you might want to read what I said again especially since I know what Church teaching is on this issue. I’m not trying to be offensive or anything but sometimes I read too fast and don’t get the context of what someone is saying I think you may have done the same thing with what I said

Hi, Bonnie!

Excellent post!

…the problem with scruples does seem to affect how a person feels during and after the Sacrament of Confession (and even with self-forgiveness and their ability to forgive others…as well as that pesky judgmental attitude where we project on others our weakness and/or guilt).

Maran atha!


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