“Ask a Priest: Could My Relationship With God Be Beyond Repair?”

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Q: I’d been struggling with a particular mortal sin for a very long time. I hadn’t been taking it seriously. However, I started to notice that my mental health was declining. I was doubting God and fearing that he doesn’t exist because I didn’t feel a closeness to him anymore. I went to confession after not going for a pretty long time. I felt better for a while, but I’m still so anxious that I’m wrong about my faith. I know that my sin broke down my relationship with God, and I’m starting to feel like it’s broken beyond repair. What should I do? – A.M.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s good that you returned to the sacrament of confession.

It sounds as though you already intuit what is wrong: You went through a long period of sinning, and that weakened your relationship with God.

The problem here isn’t that the relationship is irreversibly broken. God is always willing to forgive, and he wants you close to him.

But your sins have left wounds that will take time to heal.

You mention that your mental health was declining. Without knowing more details, I’d suggest you speak with your doctor or with a counselor for professional guidance.

In the meantime, it would be good to commit yourself to a regular life of prayer and the sacraments and works of charity. Get involved in volunteer work of some kind if possible. This can help you live your faith more fully.

And don’t despair. Discouragement doesn’t come from the Holy Spirit. It comes from pride or from the devil. Pride can be a factor because a person might think himself a special case who is too difficult even for God to handle.

Face it: you need God (just as we all do). If you can stay humble and persevere in prayer and the sacraments and charitable works, your relationship with God will improve. But it will take time.

At a practical level, think of committing to praying the rosary each day, and see if your parish could use your help with a project right now.

A few resources that might help are this interview and this article on discouragement.

Count on my prayers.


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