Answer From: Fr. Jim
Ten years ago when I was in college I cheated more than being academically honest. I finished my Bachelor’s degree and I got my diploma. I got employed after that. While I was employed I cheated on my certification exams and I passed them. This improved my career. Now looking back, I felt guilty about all the cheating that I did, I felt that I did not deserve the college diploma and the career advancement that I had. I also felt that I violated the passage in the Bible that “…sexual immorality and swindlers do not inherit the Kingdom of God”. I felt that I will continue being a swindler if I still use my diploma and the work history I got on my resume. I am now unemployed. I am asking these questions so that I will be totally honest in the future and not be a swindler. I cannot return my diploma because it will result in an investigation and many people will be affected.
Your question reminds me of the parable of the Prodigal Son, in that no matter what we have done, our Lord is always waiting for us to come home and receive his forgiveness. As Catholics, we are blessed to have the beautiful Mystery (Sacrament) of Confession where we come and confess our sins to a priest, offer an act of contrition, receive our penance, and be forgiven of our sins and offenses. What you did is a sin, since you did not do it honestly, but, as you point out, you cannot undo the past. If you go to confession and resolve not to continue these errant ways – both in your work career and personal life – God will know that you are making an honest effort to remedy the mistakes of your past. God loves us so much that He wants nothing more than for us to return to Him and to choose to do all that is good from now on. May God bless you for a good examination of your life and may He guide your path with His Divine Light.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Jim Nakonechny