Thursday, July 23, 2009

Your Family's Reaction


When you announce to your family that you're returning to (or converting to) Catholicism, how do they respond?

With smiles and hugs?
A blank stare?
A sneer?
The silent treatment?
Maniacal laughter?

Maybe you're still scared to tell them.

Consider how the families of the apostles reacted. One day Jesus walked by Matthew and said, "Follow me" and he did. When he told friends and family, were they shocked? Angry? Maybe they were glad. I don't know.

Even if your family is nice about it, if they aren't coming home to the Church with you, you may be saddened. The advice I got from a priest, from whom I received spiritual counseling, told me that the best way to "preach" to my husband was through actions, not words. By being cheerful, loving, and patient, my husband could see that my return to the Church wasn't threatening our relationship and it was in fact, a positive move. That's probably a wise attitude even if your husband (or other family) is hostile. My mom always says you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

I'm reading The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur. I highly recommend it. The forward is written by her husband who wasn't converted until after his wife's death. He regrets that he wasn't kind to her about her faith while she lived. After she died, not only did be become Catholic, but also a priest. And he had been an atheist!

An article in this month's Faith and Family (a fabulous Catholic magazine) talks about the actor Gary Sinise, (Forest Gump, Apollo 13, et al. *He's super cute, by the way. ). His wife, Moira converted to Catholicism, but he did not. (She's pretty cute as well.) He says that it's been positive for himself and for his family. It's too bad he hasn't converted. ***Err... I don't have any other comment. It was just coincidentally on topic, so I thought I'd mention it.

Maybe you've had a completely different experience. Maybe you have a husband, wife, mother, parakeet, or whatever who has been Catholic all along and is indignant that you have sudden fervor for the Faith- like the brother of the Prodigal Son. I think this is more likely to happen with a lukewarm Catholic than another fired up with faith Catholic. That person would be happy for you. If you have Catholic grandparents- you bet that they're happy for you. If they've passed on, they're probably the ones who've been praying hardest for you and now they're having a party in Heaven right now. :)

However people react, some of them may believe that your excitement won't last- that your fervor will fade over time. No doubt it will have peaks and valleys and often the peak after an especially low valley will be very high and vice versa. C.S. Lewis talks about this in his clever satire The Screwtape Letters. This is a book I highly recommend if you have a love of subtle humor. It's written as a series of letters from a higher demon to a lesser demon about how to collect souls for He Who Must Not Be Named. (no, not Voldemort) But you must remember that it's satire, therefore not for the faint of humor. (to alter an idiom)

C.S. Lewis points out that prayer during a spiritually dry spell is very powerful. I can attest to that. That's what we mean by faith, isn't it? Putting hope in something even when you don't feeeeel it? Don't get me wrong. It's great to feel the faith. Get that electric rush when you're praying by the tabernacle or that chill when you read about the lives of saints or feel like your hearts swelling with love as you pray the Rosary. But just like marriage and parenthood, you have to attend to that other person even when you don't have that lovin' feelin'. So go ahead and pray through the dry spells. God's listening.

Oh, sorry about getting off topic. I hope it won't effect my grade. ;-)

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