We all know someone close to us that isn’t living their life the way that they should. They may be on a destructive path, or they just don’t know what to believe in. In cases like this, we are always worried and want to help in any way that we can, but what is the best way to help them?
My older brother and I are very into our faith; our main friend groups are people from the Newman Center, we help out with the Leadership Team, Music Ministry, Altar Serving during Mass, and I’m sitting here writing this Catholic blog, so I would say that we are “into” the whole Catholic thing. Both sides of my family are Catholic and even my uncle is a priest, so even my extended family is “into” the whole Catholic thing as well.
And then there is my younger brother. His personality is not the same as mine or my older brother’s. To put it succinctly, he isn’t “into” the whole Catholic thing. This really has my parents (and myself) quite worried, because we want him to go to Heaven, but he doesn’t want to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church. Maybe he doesn’t see a need for them in his life, or maybe he’s just become numb to the truth that has surrounded him for so long. I don’t know his reasons, and I can’t judge him (even though I am his brother). All I know is that he is made for Heaven, and I want to make sure that he gets there.
Helping Him Along the Way
I’ve tried different tactics of helping him out along the way, but our relationship hasn’t been the greatest, so it’s been very difficult.
I’ve tried to straight up talk to him about his faith, but that has not helped at all (if anything it might have made it worse). I got him a book as a gift for his Confirmation gift (Emotional Virtue by Sarah Swafford, it completely changed the way that I approach dating), hoping it would start to change his life, but he hasn’t touched it since. Every time someone even mentions religion at family gatherings, he gets out of the conversation like it’s the plague. I didn’t even know what to do when everything that I tried just blew up in my face. Luckily, that all changed.
Hope: the New Definition
After a phone call from my parents about how they were worried about Nate, I went to Mass & Meal at the Newman Center. During Father Mike’s homily, he explained what hope was.
Most people think hope is just wishful thinking, like “I hope it doesn’t rain today”. It’s just wishing for something to happen, but that’s not hope, that doesn’t even have the substance to be the virtue it’s supposed to be. “Hope is faith extended into the future,” said Father, “it’s not a wish, but a conviction that our future is in God’s hands, and that we can trust anything and everything to Him.” It was exactly what I needed to hear.
I immediately contacted my parents and told them what Father said. It makes perfect sense. I realized that none of us had to worry about my younger brother, because no matter what happens to him, I know through my faith that he’s going to be okay. God is always going to be calling him, and I know that it will only take one answer from my brother to completely change his life, no matter when in his life that is. God turns people that are furthest from the Faith into Saints every day, and it’s their conversions that inspire others. I have hope that God will lead my brother home one day, and that when he does, it’ll be a conversion that will inspire me to a new holiness.
For Those Who Worry
Don’t fret! Have faith! Extend that faith into the future! Know that the God that came down to die on a cross in order to save all of us. He is attending to all of His sheep, especially the ones who are lost.
Take my different tactics as an example; most of the time you can’t do anything to bring them closer to God. The only sure way to help is to pray for the lost, because the Father hears all of our prayers. We have to have faith – have hope – that our prayers change the world, even though we can’t see it.
Pray a Hail Mary for an increase in the virtue of Hope, and know that the people that you love may be lost, but sometimes the best way to find your way home is to get lost.
I’m praying for you always,