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Questions and Answers

Several years ago, I met a girl. We were both quite young. Around this time, I started developing a lot of the symptoms you list as being indicative of anger at my father. I procrastinated heavily; habitually and obstinately used pornography; retreated into fantasy worlds at length; etc.
   I was raised in a protestant background, and she is Catholic. I had already started reading and becoming interested in the Catholic Church when we met, and I thought it was great to have a good, new Catholic friend.
   However, we perverted our relationship quickly. There was a pathological need for acceptance from both of us, I think, but I can only say that authoritatively for myself. I had rage all the time--true wrathful, sinful anger—at her, at my parents, at a traffic light! I had intense fear of abandonment. I lost an appetite for work which previously I enjoyed. I used pornography and escaped into fantasy realms. I slept all the time as another mechanism of escape.
   We soon started to to have sexual relations. I engaged in incredibly evil, emotionally manipulative patterns of behavior. I used her dependence on me and tried to manipulate her by harming myself and lashing out in anger. She had manipulative behavior too. Our relationship ended disastrously. The end of our relationship led to my suicide attempt. Now, thankfully, that suicide attempt made me realize just how wretched and wrong I was and has led me to the Catholic Church.
   I now am seeing the full effects of my actions. I have entered into psychotherapy to confront all of the ugliness that has tainted my soul. I realize now that my mother was over-bearing and smothering, and my dad, though well-intentioned, did nothing to stop this. I realize that I’ve engaged in self-defeating behavior out of anger at them. But more importantly, I realize now that when we were having sex, it wasn’t that I loved this girl. I just wanted to her to soothe me. I wanted her to want me, and I wanted her to depend on me. I realize that while I was playing victim, I was really preying on the emotions of an emotionally vulnerable young woman. I realize that I’ve done incredible, lasting damage to her soul!
   The other day I sent her a text message. I told her how sorry I was. Then she sent a text back saying that although she wished me well, she wished she had never met me. Her response is the truth, and it forced me to confront it. It would have been better for her soul if she had never met me. She is right to wish that!
   I do not feel guilt about my behaviors. I did at the beginning, but I do not think that guilt is the right word to describe it now. I just wish I had never engaged in all this destructive behavior. I know I’ve done lasting damage to her soul, both because of the sexual perversion I consented to with her and because of the evil, angry, manipulative behavior I used against her.
   So now, I can finally ask my question. I know that I cannot “undo” what I did to her soul, but what should I do? All sin requires reparation. I pray for her soul. Is that all that I can do? I do not want her to go to hell because I invoked malice in her heart.
   Of course, her decisions are her decisions and only acts of her will can constitute a mortal sin for her, but I did influence her. She was at an emotionally sensitive time in life, and I took advantage of that because of my own unconscious desires. How can I make this better for her?
   I am coming into the Church and fully expect to live a life of denial and penance, as required by the Lord. I am in psychotherapy and am confronting all of the blocks I have encountered to this. But what is the profit if I manage to go to heaven or gain merit while this soul to which I have done so much damage still suffers? I no longer feel the desire to punish myself for these actions, but I do feel sorry. I just want them to be undone!

Outline of the Answer
• Love and Evil
• Redemptive Grace
• A Prayer
• The Mystical Effects of Good and Evil

I fundamental element of Christianity is that although love overcomes evil it doesn’t just wipe evil away as if it never existed. After humanity fell from grace, God did not just destroy everything with the intention of starting all over again. God knew very well that in order to allow us to be capable of love He had to give us free will, even though that very free will makes us vulnerable to rejecting God’s will and falling into sin. So even if God had started over again after the fall, the fall would have happened again. Hence God left creation in its place and redeemed us with His love through a plan that He had in place even before the fall. Through His Word incarnate in His own creation—that is, Jesus Christ—He demonstrated for us how divine love should be lived in daily human life to overpower evil.

Redemptive Grace

Consequently, even though you have committed grave sins and have caused great damage to another person, your wanting to change the past really disavows the redemptive grace of divine love. In other words, even though you contributed to this girl’s fall, you did not cause it, and she alone is responsible for whatever becomes of her life. We might hope that ultimately she turns to God, asking for forgiveness and grace to work out her salvation.

It’s imperative, then, that you focus on your salvation; turn to God asking for mercy for your sins and dedicate yourself to living a holy life from now on. Living a holy life—with all the chastity, prayers, sacrifices, and renunciations of temptations that such holiness entails—will, for the rest of your life, be your reparation for the sins you have committed, and it will be your protection from any desire to commit new sins.

A Prayer

O Lord, let me not look back to the past with disappointment because that results only in blame and hatred. Hatred belongs to hell, and in hell all hope is abandoned. Let me not look back to the past except with gratitude for how You have guided me through it. And let me always look forward to the future, a future filled with Your mercy and therefore filled with hope.

The Mystical Effects of Good and Evil

Keep in mind here that all of our thoughts and behaviors have a mystical effect on others; the sins we commit feed the powers of evil and extend the realm of darkness in the world, and the chaste, holy love we manifest in our lives radiates healing and serves to overpower evil. Therefore, your decision to live a chaste, holy life puts you on the side of God in the great spiritual battle against evil in your own life and in the lives of others.

In the context of that holy life, you can pray that this girl will repent her sins and, like you, turn to God for mercy. Hold her in your heart with all your prayers, but especially remember her by name as an addendum to the Collect of the Leonine prayers that you should be saying privately after every Mass.

The profit of your going to Heaven is in your own soul, but in the course of your spiritual struggles—with all the anger, lust, and social corruption that you renounce—the holiness that you bring into the world will profit the contrition not just of this girl but also of countless other souls as well.


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