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Q. I have many intrusive thoughts, some of which are blasphemous. I do everything I can to get rid of these thoughts, but they seem to persist. Some days the thoughts are so strong it seems that they are the only thoughts I have in my head.

A. Some people with OCD experience a manifestation of their illness with this kind of suffering. You aren’t generating the thoughts and are in no way responsible for them. Regardless, they are still unpleasant and even frightening, and I understand your desire to try and get rid of them. However, and this is the cruel part of your suffering, the more effort you expend trying to get rid of them, the more intensely you will feel them. Try to think of them as part of what is going on in your life but not the central experience of your life. In other words, try not to give them any attention or effort. This often helps people who suffer in the manner you’re suffering. It’s not a cure, but it is one effective way to manage this part of your illness.

Q. Divine Mercy Sunday is the Sunday after Easter. My friends tell me the Church requires me to go to confession on this day in order to receive the fullness of the special graces that are part of this feast. This doesnít sound right to me, but I thought it wouldnít hurt to ask.

A. There’s no requirement for you or anyone to go to confession on Divine Mercy Sunday. Celebrating reconciliation sacramentally is one of the pious practices associated with this special day, but it’s not required and it most certainly isn’t an obligation. God will bless you with an abundance of grace, all that you need. This is why we understand grace to be a gift of God. Grace is not a reward.

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