I’m new here, as I am new to being a practicing Catholic. I am 20 and am living with my mom for a little while. My sister Valerie, 12, lives with my dad. I’m pretty sure he is an atheist. She is really scared by the whole idea of the possibility of apocalypse and hell, so scared that she isn’t really looking at paradise and heaven. My dad is not teaching her any religion, as he did with me. He dosen’t like me talking religion with her. What should I do? I feel like it’s my responsibility to help her learn about Catholicism.
I voted to leave her and your father alone only because if they are not ready, everything you say could hurt your relationship. When one of my sister’s left the Catholic Church, she would get so angry at me mentioning anything to do with religion and God. There was a time I had her alone on the phone and she had many questions. I told her that I would write to her the answers for I had to go to work. I sat one Sunday from morning until night answering her questions, being careful not to mention anything to Catholic and only using Scripture. Well, about a week later, I get a call from her husband and he was angry. He was cussing at me and yelling at me for writing that letter. I tried to explain it was in response to my sister’s question and he would not let me talk. I was so angry that my sister did not call me herself if she was offended at the letter I sent her. I meant well and did not mean for this whole mess to happen. My sister’s husband told me not to call my sister or write to her and if I wrote to her that he would know for he opened all mail. She was not allowed to open any mail and even now 15 years married, she is not allowed to still. He is very controlling but she doesn’t see that. That letter and call from her husband ruined my relationship with my baby sister for 5 to 6 years. I did not speak to her in all that time, but not because I was angry at her, but because I thought I was not allowed to. If it was not for my mother calling me one day when my sister was at her house and making us talk, we would not have a relationship now. I did have resentment and unforgiveness for some time and a broken hurt, but that was healed in a healing Mass.
Becareful with your dad and your sister. I would advice you to witness to her and him your love for Christ in how you talk and dress and behave. Action speaks louder than words. If your sister should talk to you about something in particular about God and the Church, take it as God’s will for you to talk to her. I would talk than, but only than and now just bring up God in your conversation for the sake of converting her or him. I learned that doesn’t work. I do have two sisters who left the Church and thank God are not atheist, but we can’t mention to much about God for we believe in different things. But when an occassion presents itself, like when one of them was going to get a tubal ligation, I spoke to her the true. She didn’t like it and never mentioned it in front of me again and did it anyway, but she was informed.
The best thing you can do for your sister and dad is pray for their conversion and offer up sacrifices. I have a best friend who was an atheist for many years, but she had a good Catholic friend who prayed for her conversion and it happened. That friend prayed for her for 30 years, but my friend is a very devote Catholic and has been for more than 10 years. She is so grateful to her friend who never talked religion to her, but did tell her that she was praying for her.
I didn’t vote, but I would say if your sister is interested, then talking to her would be a good idea. What do you mean when you say that your dad doesn’t like you talking to her about religion? Has he said that he specifically doesn’t want you discussing it with your sister, or is it just a subject that he doesn’t like coming up in his presence?
Permit me to add this. I strongly encourage you to read Matthew 7:7 and perhaps a little further.
He said that I need to keep my religion to myself and not shove it in people’s faces.
Maybe sometime when the two of you are alone you can ask your sister if it is something that she is interested in. If so, then you would not be shoving it in her face and would not be dishonoring your dad. Perhaps his concern is just that she make up her own mind and not be coerced. Clearly though it is not something that he is comfortable having discussed in his presence, so I would honor that.
I agree that it’s probably something better discussed with your father not in the room. I think I’d approach it more in the form of offering knowledge when she’s ready for it. Something along the lines of “Sister, if you ever have any questions about Catholicism or you’d just like to talk about religion, you know you can always bring it up and I’ll do my best to help.”
I voted that it is your responsibility, but I probably should clarify that. It is your responsibility in that you need to be available when she has questions. It is not your responsibility in the same way as if she was your child…that responsibility is your mother and father’s.