Hi Father, this might be an odd question, but it's been on my mind for a while. A few years ago I went to Confession for the first time since I was Confirmed (so it had been about 8 or 9 years). In college I led a less than Christian lifestyle, and Confessed and did my Penance but I still feel guilty sometimes. I'm doing my best to pray and reflect on it but I'm kind of at a loss. I've been to Confession a few times since and I still have this feeling of regret. Any tips? - Anonymous

Don’t worry; it’s not an odd question. I hear similar things a lot.

First off, congratulations on taking the step towards Confession. It’s one of those things that we never regret. But sure, it’s not something magical that suddenly turns us into totally different people. But it is in fact a step down the road by which God transforms us… How good he has been to you!

The key is to understand that you’re not forgiven on your terms. It’s not up to you to “forgive yourself” or to “feel satisfied.” It’s God who has set the terms and who is choosing when you’ll be forgiven, and he told you through the priest’s words what he thinks about your situation: “By the ministry of the Church, may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you…”

It’s natural that our sins afflict us, even after their burden is removed by sacramental forgiveness and we have nothing more than memories of them. But if they don’t bother God anymore, why should they bother you? Don’t forget, though, that the game the devil is playing is to try to get you to focus so much on your past failings that you lose heart and fail to perceive God’s burning love and his desire to transform you.

So when that feeling comes back, go to God! Say a little prayer in which you thank him for his forgiveness even though you’ll never be worthy of it, and then ask him for his strength to keep walking down that road, whether it’s through light or through shadows. Then go read something awesome about God’s love — any book that has helped you in the past, or Luke 15 if you don’t have anything else handy — and try to rediscover the person who has loved you “out of darkness into his own wonderful light.”

Be inspired by Luke 7:36-50, too…

God bless you in your journey!

- Father Shane

Notes

  1. jessicacr said: A good advice sincerely is to volunteer your time instead of expecting pay. You will find that God finds a way to show you are receiving His Mercy. God Bless!!
  2. fathershane posted this
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