Year of Youth 2018
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A Xt3 Member asked at 10:03pm on December 25th 2017
Hi, Fr. Brendan! First of all, Merry Christmas!

I need some advice. This year, due to a childhood trauma from many years ago, I'm facing some psychological problems. I'm under therapy, and I show some symptoms related to PTSD, depression and anxiety, among scrupulosity. In fact, there are chances that I'll have to treat these symptoms with medication. Due to these high levels of anxiety, unfortunately I sometimes have those intrusive thoughts which make me question my faith, my beliefs. Sometimes even makes me wonder about the reality of things, of life, if things and people are real, like an existential crisis and so on. The problem is: I don't want to believe in these thoughts, they bother me and make me feel sad and lonely. I feel like sinning because of them and they scare me because I'm afraid I believe in them, even though deep down I like to think that I don't. I just want to be one of those people with an unshaken faith. Don't want to have doubts or question the nature of things, I just want to be a happy and faithful catholic person as I guess I was before all of this started. Am I sinning? Will I be held accountable for that? Some days are easier than others, should I stay calm in the tough days and wait for the brighter ones? I really don't want to offend God or sin but I'm still in the beginning to learn how to manage those thoughts so I can't avoid them. Thanks in advance!

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Hi Maria, many thanks for your Christmas good wishes! Could you have a look at what I said in answer to the previous question, which while quite different, has something in common with yours. I used to wonder just why did Jesus allow himself to be tempted by Satan in person for all of forty days. But I think one of the reasons was that people tempted severely would know for sure that Jesus was never closer to them than at those moments, encouraging them to do as he did, and decisively reject the devil and his temptations. Later, Jesus is struggling in the Garden of Gethsemane, again under such ferocious pressure, yet prays, 'Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless, not my will but yours be done' (Lk 22:42). And on the Cross, you remember he cried out, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Mt 27:46). Again, he wanted you to know that the moment you feel you've been abandoned by God is the moment when you're closest to Jess as the moment of his greatest act of love, when, despite feeling that abandonment, he still can say 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit' (Lk 23:46).

You're certainly not sinning, any more than Jesus wasn't sinning during those toughest moments of darkness. Just ask Jesus to help you rise from that darkness as he did. Even before Christianity, the most mature expressions of Greek and other cultures included an awareness that real human maturity included crossing the darkness of that inner desert you're crossing in the company of the loving Heart of Jesus - the word that sums up Greek tragedy is the phrase 'wisdom through suffering' but for Christians, we're never suffering heroically alone, but always supported by Jesus Crucified, and by Mary, standing by your Cross just as she stood beside her Son's. Very best, Fr Brendan
Xt3's Ask a Priest answered at 11:19pm on January 7th 2018 reply

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