Help For a Friend Leaving the Church
I had coffee with an old friend--whom I have always believed to be a strong and faithful Catholic--this morning, and he told me that he has left the Church.
As you can imagine, I felt as though my heart had been drop-kicked into a brick wall; though I have felt something wasn't quite right with him for the past few months, I never expected anything like this. He told me he felt Catholicism had "served its purpose" in his life, and that God, or "the deity" as he put it, is now calling him to become a pagan.
This man was raised a Christmas and Easter protestant, and became Catholic in middle school despite much anti-Catholic prejudice (several people told him he was going to hell for converting, etc.) and grew by leaps and bounds throughout high school, during which time he discerned God's call to the priesthood. I met him during our sophomore year of high school, and since then he has always been a big brother in faith for me.
I've been praying about this and, so far, I think God's response is that He is still with my friend, and is using/will use this poor choice for my friend's good and for the greater glory of the Lord. However, it is still extremely troubling to me, especially because my friend also confessed to me that he has begun smoking and occasionally doing drugs (which he don't believe harm him). Furthermore, he said he's begun participating in spells and rituals, intends to become a pagan priest. He said that it's no different than praying to the saints or celebrating Mass, and that it's just another way to express faith. He did, thankfully, say that he still respects the Catholic faith and won't become a "Christian hater".
While I certainly respect his free will, I am having trouble respecting this decision and am genuinely worried for his spiritual (not to mention physical!) well-being. I am beginning a novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Saint Therese of Liseux, and Saint Augustine, and am trying to let go and trust in God's Goodness.
Does anyone have any advice, encouragement, ideas, prayers, and/or experience in this area? Any comments (and additions to your prayer lists) are much appreciated.
Thank you all, and may God bless you abundantly and shower you with graces.
In Christ and Our Lady,