Terce (After a conversion of heart, any attempt to maintain cordial relationship with erstwhile friends, who remain in darkness, comes at the expense of your state of grace).
After we have experienced a conversion of heart, it is very important that we keep from near occasions of sin and these include NOT associating with friends (and even family) who remain in the darkness of hard-heartedness. Any attempt to maintain a cordial relationship with them, as obtained prior to your metanoia, will be at the expense of your state of grace. Pray for them but keep them warily at arms’ length. Here, God lends a helping hand for He permits that such friends and family become hostile toward you and seek to isolate you with the aim to hurt. But this is actually the work of God, for in their leaving you alone, the solitude affords you the opportunity to draw closer to God. Utilize this time alone to meditate on Christ Jesus, read spiritual works and grow in your faith. In your new state of grace, it is imperative that you seek out people who are also on the same journey as you are. God will eventually bring other children of God into your life.As it happens, just after Christmas, I had some very odd and uncomfortable e-mails with one of my brothers. Uncomfortable, as he was filled with rage, manifesting that rage in arrogance and condescension. His notes were filled with false assertions about me. Odd, because when I replied, his response was immediately more of the same, but even more intense, though in light of his initial e-mail, I did not read the response for several days.
After a few days of inner turmoil, during which I reviewed my side of things, trying to comprehend what I might have done to provoke this, I read his response. Madness. And yet, I was thrown again into turmoil.
Slowly, it occurred to me that in the midst of the specious accusations, there was one kernel of truth: He declared that he must protect his family from my influence.
Finally, it occurred to me that this was about faith. I have three brothers, all younger than I. The one of whom I am now writing is the middle brother of the three, and is about 12 years my junior. He long ago fell away from the Church, and is a member of a local evangelical mega-church, as is the brother between us. Both live rather oddly, given their profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Of course, there was the risk that to avoid any personal guilt, I might be ready to accept this explanation, as an easy out. So I met with Fr. Okeke, and we had a long conversation about it. He tells me that it was that chat which inspired the writing I have quoted above--I am thankful and humbled. And he told me not to worry over my role; I was not the cause of the problem. It is always good to have a view confirmed by a dispassionate third party.
I sincerely hope that what Fr. Okeke wrote may help others to recognize with less pain what had finally occurred to me. God bless all priests for their service!