Father Kenneth Doyle

Q. I have done something terrible. I committed a mortal sin and then I received the Eucharist. Am I going to be condemned? I am very worried. I am 17 years old, and I was baptized just two months ago. If I go to confession, will I be forgiven?

(I was afraid that my parents would question me if I did not take Communion, so I went up to receive even though I knew it was wrong.) Please help me to know what to do at this point. (City and state withheld)

A. Please be at peace. You are not going to be condemned, and you will surely be forgiven in the sacrament of penance. It strikes me that some of our best-known saints made their way back from moral wrongs to find healing and joy in God’s forgiveness.

I’m thinking of St. Paul, who once persecuted those who believed in Jesus; of St. Peter, who during Christ’s Passion denied that he even knew Christ; of St. Augustine, who had fathered a child out of wedlock. God can forgive anything, and he wants to. His very purpose in creating us was so that we could share eternal happiness in his presence.

Just go to confession and tell the priest of your sin and the fact that you went to holy Communion despite recognizing its gravity. And congratulations on your recent baptism. Like most Catholics, I was baptized as an infant, but I often find that those who entered the church later on have a faith that is more reflective and stronger.

Q. Recently you answered a question on distraction in prayer, which I found to be helpful. (You mentioned that even some of the best-known saints struggled to remain focused while they were praying.) If you don’t mind, I have a further question on that topic.

For some months now, due to the COVID crisis, my family and I have been attending Mass virtually, as two of the four of us have high-risk health issues. We miss attending in person, but we have created certain rituals at home to make the Mass sacred — including dressing appropriately, responding to the prayers and standing and kneeling at the appropriate times.

However, I find it difficult to turn off my “Mom brain” and focus on the Mass when I look around my house at things that need to be done — cleaning, laundry, etc. (I have a shortened attention span due to a brain injury some years ago.) I have found that it helps me now to focus my attention on Jesus if I knit when I pray; I started doing that with the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the rosary, and lately I have been knitting while we view the Mass.

But my teenage daughter thinks that this is inappropriate; since the Mass is a sacrament, she feels that my knitting is disrespectful to God. I would be grateful for your advice. (Willow Grove, Pennsylvania)

A. I am impressed by your family’s efforts to keep the Mass sacred despite being forced to view it at home. And I am sure you are aware that, during the current pandemic, you are not under obligation to watch the Mass on television; you are doing it not because you are bound to, but because you want to.

And if knitting while you watch helps you to focus your thoughts on Jesus, then I would say: By all means, knit away!

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Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.