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Hello fisheaters,

It has been a long time since I was here last, but I really need to hear from anyone who might have had similar experiences with what I'm going through.

I have a very dear friend who was a strong Catholic. My conversion story is very much tied up with his, in fact he's even my Godfather.  In many ways he "mentored" me into the Faith. Last week he told me that he had left the Faith and hadn't been to Mass or confession in over three months. For the first few days I felt absolutely shattered, and I still do, but now I'm starting to realise that this might be a long term thing; that he's not just going to wake up and go to confession next week. He doesn't seem to know what he believes - in the last ten days he has gone from agnosticism to maybe seeing some value to "mere Christianity" - but he seems pretty set against the Catholic Church. I fear he's just going to settle into being content with saying "I don't know" about everything. From the sounds of it this started off as a "crisis of the will" (anxiety about living up to the moral demands of the Faith) and then developed into a crisis of faith. He says he no longer sees any compelling reasons to believe in Christianity, especially reasons compelling enough to justify the sacrifices and struggle that the Catholic Faith demands.

The thought of him being away from the Church for years or even (quite possibly) his entire life really scares me, but I feel so powerless to do anything. All I can do is pray and do my best to be apostolic in my words and example. I'm sure many people here have similar experiences with close friends or family falling away from the Faith. I'm really just looking for your stories, advice, and guidance. Even if you can just share your own experience about how you dealt with this emotionally, because this is heart-breaking.

Thanks.
You should love that person and you should pray for that person.
I know what you feel. I recently learnt that my friend from the high school is an apostate. I knew he wasn't going to church, but to burn bridges? I don't know what for. But he's my friend, I like him, and I'll pray for him a lot (as I will for my other friend who converted to the Orthodox Church - another sad news from recent days).
Maybe have a priest offer up prayers for his intentions at Mass.

Sometimes the Lord permits us to stumble to humble us and showers us with His mercy when we repent no matter how many times we fall.

Personally I have found scruples to be a killer of my faith. For me confessing according to genuine sin is a lot more nourishing and helpful in the fight of perseverance as compared to going through a list and confessing all and sundry (just in case) as though the Lord is simply waiting to snipe me out of Heaven. Scruples I have found to be a problem for many trads (not sure if so for your friend) and is a real harm to the soul. Going the other way is a problem too, a balance is needed as is ultimately an honest simple uncomplicated faith and trusting in God's mercy in the end. Personally a book I recommend to everyone is Slawomir Biela's God Alone Suffices.

I hope he experiences the longing for the sacraments most us get when we have turned away that helps us come back home.
I am so sorry to hear that your friend is away from the Church.  I am also a convert and there was a man I knew who was devoutly Catholic who mentored me during the conversion process.  When he left the faith, it was like losing a spiritual father.  Even though I didn't look to him the way I did when I was newly converting, he played a pivotal role in forming my faith.

I am happy to say that he came back... I think he was going through a difficult situation that shook his faith to the core and he was away for 2 years, but last time I talked to him he was going to Mass again.

Your friend sounds like their faith was also shaken but that they are noncommittal...  I wonder why he would consider "mere Christianity" but not want to be part of the Catholic church?  Do you think he would be open to meeting with a priest?
Aragon,

I think that you nailed it (first nail in this thread): a crisis of will has turned into a crisis of faith. I can relate to your friend: I have been the ostensibly "strong" Catholic who walked away from the Church (only for a few months, though). The reason? Jamey77 nailed it (another nail in this thread): I let scruples turn into frustration, which turned into apathy, for, after all, it is much easier not to care than it is to worry all one's waking moments about falling into sin.

Speaking only from personal experience: though my priest and a few parishioners sent me letters, I could not bring myself to read them. Thus, I am not sure that writing a heartfelt letter would work--at least at this point. (Not that anybody suggested this, but this may have crossed your mind.) Also, once again speaking from personal experience, I probably would have rejected offers to meet with my priest, or most priests, to discuss "my situation," so I do not know how fruitful that approach may be. I think that Jamey77's advice is worth considering: (if you find an opportunity) address the issue of scruples. I have not read Jamey77's suggestion, but I am interested. Also, in another thread, http://catholicforum.fisheaters.com/inde...009.0.html, Clare Brigid recommended a book that may help. (Another one, I must say, that I have not read.) I say address the issue of scruples, but this may require that your friend *first* come to see that his origin of doubt--if this is, indeed, the case--is one of scrupulosity. Then again, if your friend is away from the Church, books that touch on scrupulosity may not rank too highly on his reading list. 

Through it all, though, I know that folks at my church were praying for me (Poche's nail). I suppose that is the key, for I know what brought me back was grace. God bless.

 
Thanks, all. I've let him know that my spiritual director is willing to meet with him and hopefully he's open to that. I've also asked a priest friend of mine to offer Mass for him. I'm going to talk to him tonight and try to understand where he's coming from a bit better. Honestly I think he has a few issues with Church moral teaching because of personal reasons (it's hard to live up to) and also, from what he has said, because he can see it causing a lot of suffering for others (he mentioned homosexuals and divorcees). That seems to have undermined his faith in the entire magisterium, and now he doesn't know what he believes. It's odd that he has allowed these few issues that are relatively smalls aspects of the  Faith to destroy his entire belief system.
the woman I sponsored for Confirmation left the Church for protestantism.  It upset me so much.  I did what I could to try to reach her and talk to her, but I know she knows the truth.  With our priest and with all the resources I gave her, both before and after she left,  she was given a full and rich Traditional formation.  My spiritual director told me that I had done all I could, I should pray for her, but because it was causing me such anxiety to be in continuing contact with her that it was ok to back away from the friendship.
(11-14-2013, 08:12 PM)mamalove Wrote: [ -> ]the woman I sponsored for Confirmation left the Church for protestantism.  It upset me so much.  I did what I could to try to reach her and talk to her, but I know she knows the truth.  With our priest and with all the resources I gave her, both before and after she left,  she was given a full and rich Traditional formation.  My spiritual director told me that I had done all I could, I should pray for her, but because it was causing me such anxiety to be in continuing contact with her that it was ok to back away from the friendship.
There you have!    " ok to back away from the friendship" - - Has your friend become a bad person? a murderer? a thief? Probably not.  She probably is as good as always, only that she has changed beliefs for something that she, sincerely, thinks is better. Both she and you worship the same God.  Why shatter a good friendship?
Aragon,

In thinking about my response, I definitely did not mean to discourage any letters/emails of concern if you think he will read them, nor did I mean to discourage trying to arrange any meetings for this person with a willing and sound priest.

All this to say: I am horrible at giving advice, so here is an Ave for the both of you.
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