How Can I Come Back to the Church When I Have Such a Sinful Past?

The #1 prayer request we receive at Relevant Radio® is listeners asking us to pray that their loved ones return to the Catholic Church. While we share in their heartache and pray for all fallen-away Catholics, we also rejoice when someone shares their desire to return to the Catholic Church.

But something we don’t often think about is how intimidating it can be for the person who wants to return to the Church. Many think that their sins and their past are so big that mercy from the Church will be hard to come by. Others want to come back to the Church, but don’t even know where to begin, or who can show them how.

This was the case for a listener named Jay, who recently called in to Go Ask Your Father™ asking Monsignor Stuart Swetland for guidance on how to return to the Catholic Church.

Jay explained, “I was raised Catholic, I’m 29 years old now, and I’m returning to the Catholic faith. For the last six months I’ve been listening to Relevant Radio and it’s just opened my eyes so much. Every time I hear from Patrick [Madrid] or anybody else on Relevant Radio it just hits me so hard. … I feel so bad, but I want to get to know God again, and I need to know the way. I need a path.”

Msgr. Swetland asked Jay if he had been to Confession, had gone back to Mass, and had began living the sacramental life of the Church yet. Jay answered that he had not, saying, “I do not know how to do that. I’m trying to get out of my past life and get back in the faith.”

“And God wants to help you do that,” Msgr. Swetland encouraged. “We can’t do that on our own. What I really encourage you to do is, this weekend, go to Confession. Don’t worry that you might not remember how to do it. The priest will walk you through that, that is no problem. And all your past will be absolved. Whatever it is, don’t dwell on that, don’t worry about that, we commend that to God’s mercy.”

“Then receive the Eucharist this weekend,” Msgr. Swetland continued. “Go to Confession, be absolved, go to the Eucharist. Because the Lord wants you to participate in His sacramental life. And He wants you back in communion with Him. And then you just have to begin again. Through Confession and Eucharist you begin living that relationship with Him again. That’s all it is, it’s a friendship with Our Lord. And day in and day out you can grow in that friendship.”

Msgr. Swetland also reminded Jay that he is not alone as he walks this path back to the Lord. He reminded Jay, “Listening to Relevant Radio will help you – with our prayers, our guidance, and our teaching. You have a parish community where you will hear the Gospel proclaimed.”

“But your first step would be to receive the grace of Christ. He wants so much to absolve you. Through the action of the priest you will hear Christ say ‘I absolve you.’ That means all of that will be forgiven. Whatever it was, don’t worry about it, it will all be forgiven.”

Please join us in praying for Jay and all those who are on a journey back to the Catholic Church. May they all experience the love, mercy, and peace of the Lord in the sacraments!

Listen to the full conversation below:

Go Ask Your Father airs weekdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio and the Relevant Radio App.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.