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Question

I am a Catholic but I don't feel like the Lord has a purpose for my life. I am lonely yet I don't feel his comfort.

Answer

Thank you for your honest and deep spiritual enquiry. As you are committed to the Christian message and to the life of your Church, this answer will not explain the basics of the good news, such as our need of a Saviour, the sacrificial death of Jesus for our sins, etc. What you ask concerns being able to know and hear from God in a personal way, so that will be the focus here.

It is firstly important to understand that there are two basic ways in which we meet with God - through the corporate life and worship of the Church, and through the personal relationship into which Christ calls His followers. They are not alternatives, but complementary.

On the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter told people they needed not only to be baptised but also to repent...for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38). We are baptised into the Church but without repentance and faith we cannot personally enter into fellowship with Jesus himself. Yet Jesus promised, "come to me, all who are burdened in life, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). How then can that happen? Of course, we cannot go individually to him physically now that he is in heaven, but he can come spiritually to us. This can happen to some degree as we worship within the Church, but there is a more profound experience necessary and thankfully possible, whereby we can possess salvation with assurance.

Jesus promised before he died, "I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, so that He may remain with you forever, the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive because it cannot see him or know him, but you know him; for he lives with you and shall be in you" (John 14:16-17). This promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. The Spirit came upon the first followers of Jesus that day with wonderful displays of God's reality and power (read Acts 2). That was when the Apostle Peter declared, "repent and be baptised, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". (Acts 2:38). We then hear this good news accepted by the people: those who gladly received his message were baptised (Acts 2:41)

So we see that in the days of Peter, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit involved a complete Christian commitment - one that first took place within people in repentance and faith, and then led them to the outward display of that by baptism into the Church.

In both Catholic and some Protestant churches, the ancient Christian tradition of infant baptism is maintained, so that people can easily enter the life of the Church and experience in worship God's presence, yet neglect the other part of Peter's challenge - to repent and accept the message personally. We can grow close to Jesus and yet something vital remains missing.

Imagine this for a moment, and it may help. You have known a girl since you were babies in the same community. As you both grow up, you become inseparable friends, knowing more about each other than anyone else. You fall in love with this girl and she with you, and you both want to spend the rest of life together. So you go round together, visit each other's homes, tell each other your secrets and become wonderfully close. You have in mind the idea of proposing marriage but the moment never seems to arrive. Then the years go by and you grow older, and you have shared so much together that the idea of adding to that becomes more of a threat to what you have than a promise of something better. Yet there is a deeper oneness in marriage that you will never know unless you come to the point of trusting your whole being to her by asking her to become your wife.

That's how it can be spiritually when we develop a certain kind of closeness with God through Church life without pursuing the oneness with Christ in our hearts that he has promised to us. Jesus, if you like, waits for people to propose to him before he comes to them in a conscious spiritual oneness. The step of final commitment is full surrender to Christ - what Peter meant by repenting and accepting the gospel message.

To repent doesn't just mean listing all the sins we can think of to say sorry for them. It means to turn from a life that is not fundamentally surrendered Jesus as Lord. To trust him means to take that step of surrender and let God decide the outcome in our circumstances. It may lead us to poverty or wealth, to hardship or ease, to insignificance or fame: but it will always lead to Jesus walking through life within us and alongside us by His Holy Spirit. This is what you are looking for in your question.

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question

*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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