“Ask a Priest: What If I Still Feel Shame for Visiting a Bad Website?”

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Q: I visited a bad website some years ago and sent messages to some of its members. I was stupid enough to send my picture when the members asked me to. Later on, I realized that some of my work colleagues are on that website too. I figured it out only from their reaction toward me. They reported it to my line manager. The problem was that no one actually said anything, even when I asked. They said I was paranoid, so I don’t know who they are. I was out of that website and went to confession straight away, but stress and being ashamed isolated me and took me to the hospital. It challenged me for years; after all those years I am still ashamed of myself. I am being emotionally challenged sometimes even when I am at church, and if someone looks at me in a wrong way I imagine it might still spreading like leprosy. It eats away at me on the inside. I am praying lots and asking God for forgiveness but still can’t forgive myself. I don’t receive Communion even after being to confession as I don’t consider myself worthy. I would be grateful for your advice. – J.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: If you have been to confession and confessed your sin, then you should feel confident about receiving Communion again. Perhaps that is what you most need right now — the Eucharist will give you strength.

We all make mistakes. What gives us hope is the knowledge that we can receive God’s forgiveness and start over.

That is what you might try focusing on: God’s mercy. He is the one you will face at the end of life, not your co-workers. (It’s not even clear what your co-workers know or what they said, if anything, to your boss.)

God loves you and wants you to spend your energy on good things. So don’t worry about the past. Put it behind you. Get on with life. And avoid any misuse of Internet in the future.

You don’t want to stay stuck in the past. It isn’t what Jesus wants for you. Be confident of his mercy. And think about focusing on good things on Internet, such as the Retreat Guides you can find on this website.

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