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Question
Hello Donald,
  I am a cradle Catholic who over the years got involved with RCIA and ministries within the church. I recently spoke with a woman I went to Catholic School with who is struggling to get back to church. She is a very good Catholic but growing up and since then her mother told her everything she does is evil. Some of the things she explained to me sounds as if her mother used faith to live a certain way. I have been talking to her regularly now about it but I need some help with letting her know our merciful God and not just the just God. We are talking about Venial sins but her mother really worked her over growing up and into young adulthood. Do you know of any scripture I can point her to in order to get her back to understand our loving God?

Best Regards,
Jason

Answer
I think the best story in the New Testament about God's mercy is the story of the Prodigal Son.  The father in the story is meant to represent God, and the son who goes astray is the average sinner.  The Father welcomes the son back with a feast! And in the story, the father sees the son from "afar off" meaning he watches the road every day hoping for the son to return.  The other scripture is the beginning of the book of Hosea in the old testament, where Hosea is ordered to act out what God intends to do with the people -- He is ordered to marry a prostitute who deserts him (that is Israel) and then he is ordered to take her back.  And there are many other passages in both testaments about God's mercy.  Finally, I would mention Saint Francis de Sales, who when he was a young lawyer, had a nervous breakdown over his "sinfulness".  When he recovered, he became a great saint.  What did he do?  He told God that whatever God did with him was fine with Francis, because he knew God was good.  And all Francis wanted was to do God's will, because he knew that was what he was put on the earth for.  And after that, he never worried again about a so-called "just" God.  God is mercy.  Jesus has satisfied any requirement for justice.  We don't need to worry about that part.  Hope this helps.  

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Donald Higby

Expertise

Most any question about Catholic teachings, the structure of the Church, issues related to Catholic teachings on sexuality and marriage; I also know a lot about biblical foundations for Catholic teaching, and apologetics. As a scientist and a deacon, I am conversant with the dialogue between science and religion.

Experience

Deacon, 13 years; Religion minor, Catholic University of America. Self study.

Publications
Deacon Digest

Education/Credentials
Diaconal Formation, four years (college level courses) Catholic University of America, religion minor, philosophy minor. (AB)

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