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Once away from God, can I go back?
May 29, 2000

I'm a non-practicing Catholic, engaged to a wonderful woman, and possibly (recently) HIV positive through a thoughtless, drunken, moment of terrible infidelity. I'm not proud of many things in my life. I've made many thoughtless, terrible choices that I wish I hadn't, and have lived with them daily instead of taking them to the confessional and trying not to make them again. Now I've made one choice that has possibly put me at risk, and worse has possibly put my beautiful fiancee at risk. I've explained her risk to her, and horribly, she still loves me and wants to stay with me. I'm consumed not only with fear of having a fatal disease and the possibility that I've given it to her, but also with guilt that I've defiled a love so strong that it could even withstand my infidelity. I'm also feeling a dawning horror about the way I've neglected my relationship with Christ, and through him, with God. At every turn I've defied him, disrespected him, and generally ignored all that I've been taught and at one time held dear. I'm terrified. I cannot eat, I cannot sleep, I cannot work. I'm distancing myself from my fiancee, my friends, and my family, and it's only been weeks since my encounter. The many weeks between today and the time I can get accurately tested stretch before me like an endless desert, and when I pray, I feel as though God can sense insincerity in my desperation and will not help until I regain my true faith. Can God forgive adultery, lust, wanton selfish sexual gratification done repeatedly for years on end? Can He forgive me that I've known His love and turned away from it, that I've thought daily about my own sinfulness and yet refused to keep any resolution I've made to change? Tell me where to begin, how to start to repair the mess I've made of my life. HIV positive or not, I need God in my life, and I am so lost that I don't know where to begin.

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear Friend, I am grateful for your very honest letter and I want to assure you that prayers for your peace and healing go out to you. As I ponder your pain and struggle to believe that you are worthy of love and forgiveness, I am reminded of the Scripture from the first letter of St. John "In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us and sent his Son Jesus as expiation for our sins". God loves us no matter how much we struggle to love ourselves and God reminds us of this truth most profoundly when we recall that Jesus, a caring and good and righteous man and Son of God, died for our sins once for all. I believe that God does not want you to be isolated and alone in this struggle and besides his presence to you, I encourage you to be with people who can listen and care for you in your struggle. Don't shut out your girlfriend, your friends and family who are really expressing the truth of the Scripture -- just like God they want to be with you no matter what your mistakes or failings are. Also, I would encourage you to find a priest with whom you can go to confession -- I may be able to suggest someone depending on where you live. You are welcome to contact me for a referral directly at ncan@sonic.net. May God grant you peace, Fr. Rod



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