Sunday, January 13, 2013

Turmoil or not...

When a friend or relative attacks you for your faith, and declares (as did my brother) that he'll have nothing more to do with you, it is deeply disturbing. Actually, those words are woefully inadequate to describe what I felt, but I haven't found any which convey my true feelings.

My initial reaction to his communication was anger. He made false claims, and ad hominem attacks which had nothing to do with the real issue, and were of themselves trivial, compared to the real issue. Being angry, and making a response in anger (though one more reasoned than that which provoked me) I then added guilt to my spiritual burden.

I suffered inner turmoil for days, reviewing, again and again, what had passed between us, and trying to determine what may have been my own sins, whether of commission or omission, which contributed to the separation. But--and this is essential to understand--I had not yet recognized the real issue.

My e-mail response to my brother had brought another note from him, which I did not read, as I was determined not to allow this to become a firefight. After five days, I finally opened his e-mail, only to find more unhinged attacks. However, in the midst of this was a single pearl: the real issue which had him raving at me. He could no longer allow me "to influence his family." Influence. Influence? Aha! Our discussions had increasingly touched on matters of faith, and on our respective churches. Most recently I had inquired his views on a morally questionable decision rendered by his pastor. (As it happens, this issue had made the guy more visible nationally, as many preachers had seen fit to speak or write about the case.)

So, he's in a cultish mega-church, has for years complained of his unhappy experience in Catholic schools, and now determines I am a bad influence? OK, got it.

As Fr. Okeke has advised, there is little I can do for him but pray. But friends, I offer this warning, in deepest concern for your souls: As soon as you recognize the nature of such a situation, discuss it with a priest. Do this to clear your conscience with regard to your own sins, and to further understand that this is not a spat, not a minor argument, but something which separates you. Do this because that inner turmoil you suffer is offering an opportunity to the devil.

You did not start the fight, and you did not choose the separation. But you must be prepared to do what is needful, which is to leave him alone, and continue your prayers for him.
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. -- 1 John 4:20
Your love will fuel your prayer, and will keep you always ready for that day when he calls to talk, or to ask your help. You must respond in love, holding no grudge, and demanding nothing, if you love God.

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