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Q. I returned to the Church after an absence a few years ago. During my time away, I lived a life of sin, and I am pretty sure I committed heresy, schism, and apostate-like behaviors. I am not sure if I was aware that these sins carried the penalty of excommunication. Should I confess all of my sins again in order to return to a state of grace?

A. I am not going to directly respond to your fear about excommunication and try to explain the conditions of this penalty. It sounds like you did all the necessary research, or at least enough to convince yourself that you incurred the penalty. Despite what you may have read and understood, I assure you that you have not been excommunicated. What you have accomplished with all of your research is to confirm your worst fear and anxiety, and have chosen to describe it with the harshest penalty. Sadly, you are acting out of the ìcrooked thinkingî of the disorder and have confirmed that you are suffering from it. This kind of thinking is a trap and will only make you feel even more anxious, more unworthy, and more despicable.

Spend your time reading about compassion, generosity, thankfulness, mercy, and forgiveness. Those are the experiences that you both crave and need. Resist the temptation to automatically label yourself as guilty of the worst possible sin or the assignment of the strictest penalty.

Published inSA Mailbox