Full question: Is it possible to not feel God’s presence/grace even after confession? Is it possible to technically be in a state of grace but not feel it?
Response from: Fr. Jim
Thank you for your question it is very interesting and a challenging one to answer. I will try my best. In response to your first question: Is it possible to not feel God’s presence/grace even after confession? Yes and no. Yes, you can leave confession and not feel God’s presence; and no, God is always with us when we seek him and implore the Holy Mysteries of the Church in order to grow closer to Him. He does not abandon us.
The reason that I give this response is that many times we use the standards or measurements that we understand in order to evaluate whether or not something might have worked, as if it were a system of give and take. I went to confession therefore I should “feel” something. “Feel” is the unit of measurement that you are using, but what if the feeling that you are seeking is actually a movement, something dynamic and evolving, rather than something that is complete and finite. God’s grace in our lives is like the first definition, a continued presence that protects, guides, inspires, encourages, and loves us.
We are continually moving in our spiritual lives. We may be moving forward and growing in faith and love of God, or we may be stagnating and spiritually weakening by not nourishing our faith by participating in the Life of the Church and in the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). If we make a sincere examination of our conscience as we prepare for Holy Confession and resolve to do better once we have received penance and absolution, then God is closer to us than we can ever imagine. To be in a state of grace is to recognize and accept God’s incredible love for us and to journey through the Church to Him. If we leave the confessional, and do not “feel” God’s love and forgiveness towards us, then we should examine if we, first of all, properly prepared for the sacrament of Confession. Did we honestly confessed all of our sins, or did we rush in and rush out with allowing God to enlighten and enliven our souls.
I would recommend reading from The Catechism of the Ukrainian Catholic Church – Christ Our Pacha sections 449 to 461 in order to understand The Holy Mystery of Repentance and how to make the best confession that you can.
In response to your second question: Is it possible to technically be in a state of grace but not feel it? I think I may have partially responded to this question above, since being in the “state” of grace is more than just a “feeling.” When you strive for holiness or grace each and every day of your life it becomes part of who you are, and I guess you could say a “normal” part of your life; so much so that it just is, and you do not give it a lot of thought or “feel” it. It is still there and others see you and identify you as a good person, and even a holy person. If you are growing in your faith by living a life of prayer (in word and action), trying to be a good and honest person, and nourishing your spiritual life with the Holy Mysteries and Divine Services of the Church then you are most definitely in a state of grace. May God bless you and give us all the grace to live calm and peaceful lives in His Divine Presence!