“Ask a Priest: What If I Can’t Feel God’s Love Now?”

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Q: Years ago I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I lost that love when I committed a mortal sin. For the last 10 years I have been begging God to fill me with his Spirit so I can be in love with God and enjoy being holy. Back then I couldn’t wait to attend Mass daily, and I felt such peace in my life no matter what was going on. I have been going through the motions, attending daily Mass when I’m able, reading only spiritual books, praying the rosary every day, and using my Pietá prayer book daily. I’ve heard priests say that God is waiting to give us his love if we ask. I have been begging! I’m starting to lose hope. I know God loves me because he helps me daily, but why can’t I feel that special love again? I’ve been a good Catholic since then, or so I’m beginning to wonder that maybe I’m not so good! Or that God would make me holy! I also pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet in front of the tabernacle when I can. Any suggestions for me? Thank you. – G.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: For now I’ll assume that you were able to get to confession after that mortal sin and that you have kept in a state of grace. If that is the case, you are on the right path.

That sense of being filled with the Holy Spirit might have been a spiritual consolation that God allowed to help you draw closer to him. Consolations and good feelings are OK, but they aren’t the most important thing in the spiritual life.

From what you describe, it sounds as though God has allowed the consolations and good feelings to fade. He hasn’t done this because he’s given up on you. He might simply be trying to wean you off the good feelings and help you to sink a deeper foundation in your spiritual life.

Growth in the spiritual life isn’t measured by feelings. It is measured (as far as it can be measured) by our depth in prayer, our frequenting of the sacraments, and our growth in the virtues, especially charity.

If you have been attending daily Mass, reading spiritual books, praying the Divine Mercy chaplet and being “a good Catholic,” then those are signs that you are growing in the spiritual life. Moreover, if you are doing all this without the consolations and good feelings of the past, that is even better. That shows that you are making a firmer act of the will to pray and to witness to your faith.

In short, it’s good to stay the course. Perhaps you might seek out a regular confessor and/or spiritual director who could guide you further.

And try to be attentive to those nudging of the Holy Spirit. He might be asking you to go further, such as by getting involved in a Church project of some type.

For more reading about what you might be facing in prayer, see When the Well Runs Dry, by Thomas Green, SJ.

To keep going deeper in your relationship with Jesus, The Better Part might help you.

Count on my prayers.

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