First, let me apologize for the length of this post. For anyone who makes it to the end, despite their own busy lives, I am grateful. This post concerns a friend of mine whom I have known for 9 years – we met at college orientation back in 2000 – and, at various stages, have been each other’s best friend. (I even wrote a story about our friendship several years ago.) We know one another rather intimately, though I’m beginning to realize that we don’t know each other at all.
Religion and philosophy are among the primary topics which he and I have discussed among the years, especially as I have progressed through experimenting with Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and finally landing at Catholicism, which is how he was raised by his regular Mass-attending parents. I shouldn’t judge his beliefs too harshly, since I will never fully know how he relates to the Creator, but I know that he engages in pre-marital sex and supports gay marriage in addition to other things – and I really doubt that he has been to confession in a long while since, as he explained to me last year, “I don’t really feel sorry for any of it.” He doesn’t know the faith very well at all, not even knowing that masturbation was a mortal sin; nor has he ever read the Gospels.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been the best example of a Catholic to him, either. As I always try to point to those here on CAF who may not know my history, I walked away from the Church for about 9 months so soon after being confirmed, and during that time I engaged in some seriously disoriented behavior. My friend witnessed alot of that behavior.
He’s been away these past few months attending graduate school at West Virginia University. Needless to say, our contact over these past few months has been infrequent and brief. Not only does he not know how seriously I am *trying *to take the faith now, but I sort of think that, given my rather fickle history with commitment to religion, he would regard my current “commitment” as no better than all those past experiences which I’ve related so intimately to him.
Ashamedly, I find myself relieved that he’s away at university. Prior to his going away, I’ll admit that I was reluctant to sing the hymns or to act too piously during Mass with him sitting right beside me, frequently talking or pointing out observations during Mass, such as, “That guy behind us has a mohawk!” or “Vanessa looks really pregnant today” – and sit beside him I must (but more on this later). I was self-conscious, prideful, and disrespectful to Our Lord in order to maintain some “image.” Now that he has been away, my spirit has been able to be set free, to sing the hymns, to pray the prayers, to act and react with great bodily attention to what is happening. In short: I’ve changed, and praise be to God for that! So, when my friend came home for Christmas, he, of course, attended Mass, and I knew he would be attending Mass, and I felt conflicted. I tried to sit in a location where he wouldn’t notice me, so that I wouldn’t be invited to sit with him, but like clockwork, the moment I finished my prayers, he rallied right up beside me and invited me to sit with his family – and I, not wanting to seem uncharitable or unfriendly, took up his offer. I was fearful because I didn’t want his presence to hamper my worshipping the Lord, *and so I didn’t *-- I sang the hymns, I prayed the prayers, and I acted and reacted bodily to what was happening – but this didn’t stop him from talking during Mass: “Eveline’s husband’s hair is really stupid looking.” I just smiled and/or nodded. :shrug:
The point of all of this is: I don’t know what to do or if what I’m doing is right. I don’t know if by sitting with him, allowing him to talk to me, is being disrespectful to the Lord, or if maybe I’m doing the true charitable thing by sitting next to him and worshipping, showing him what is appropriate during Mass. In some respects, I cannot help but see him like a leper in my life, but it’s hard to administer to this particular leper when I’m well-aware that my own leprous past has proven scandalous enough times for his and my own good.
I *try *praying for him – but it’s so difficult to pray for him. I, sometimes, don’t feel like praying for him; rather, I’ve sort of consigned him as among the hopeless and the reprobate, which reflects my own sinful nature, I know, but it’s just so difficult to pray for him. And, in all honesty, I think it’s difficult to pray for him because, should he experience the much-needed conversion in his life, it’s very likely that he would excel beyond me in holiness, become the charismatic individual everyone looks to in the parish, etc. In short: I’m fearful, I’m resentful, and I’m jealous. I’m fearful, resentful and jealous because, in the past, it’s always been *him *who has gotten all the attention, *him *who everybody loves, *him *who has always pointed to me as *his *sidekick, and there’s a whole host of examples I could cite. I know I need to forgive him, and I thought that I had, especially now that he’s gone, now that he’s at university and residually out of my life, but I see that now that he’s returned, and due to this conflictedness which I’m experiencing, I haven’t forgiven him for anything.
If nothing else, I’m asking for your prayers. Pray for me that my heart of stone will be made into a heart of flesh, and that I will be satisfied with what the Lord makes of me. And pray for him. Pray for his conversion and his growth in holiness.