“Ask a Priest: Can I Reconcile With God After Being an Atheist?”

Q: I was an atheist for many years after being raised Catholic. After 12 years of not believing, the only thing that did was to make me believe that I need God and his grace to guide me in this world. How do I reconcile with God, after my blatant disregard for him and his principles for such a large portion of my life? -L.P.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is good to hear that you have discovered God’s place in your life and how much you need him.

He is your loving Father in heaven, and he only wants the best for you. It would give him great joy to see you back fully with the Church.

He is always ready to extend his mercy to anyone who is repentant. Anything you have done wrong can be forgiven, so long as you have a spirit of contrition and want to change your ways.

A good step would be to go the sacrament of confession and unload your sins. With absolution, you could return to the reception of Communion. Online guides can help you prepare for confession, such as the one here. We even have a free online Retreat Guide that you can watch in order to understand this sacrament more fully. It is called From Sorrow to Joy”.

In the meantime try to pray daily and read a bit of Scripture, especially the Gospels. Attend Mass, even if you can’t receive Communion yet; just hearing the readings and the homilies will be a way for Our Lord to speak to you. Stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary, too; she will intercede for you.

If you are willing to make some time each day to spend with God, you might find my colleague’s book of meditations on the four Gospels a useful resource (it also comes as an app): The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer.

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