Help with a searching young man

If this is in the wrong forum, please feel free to move it. About 3 years ago a young man, about my son’s age came to work in my unit (I’m an RN). He was having some trouble with some staff members (who usually give every new person trouble) and began to talk to me about it and I and others supported him through this period. I would bring him food and we’d eat lunch,etc. and talk about his worries, etc.
One day he asked me if I was a Christian and did I read the Bible. I said yes, I’m Catholic, but he didn’t understand that Catholics are Christians, etc. I asked him what church he goes to, and he said "I don’t go to church, I don’t want to go to church."
He told me he was baptized in the Orthodox church, but his family did not go to church, he had no religious upbringing. Then he began, over time, to tell me abaout a really horrible childhood, etc. Now, I never asked him about any of these things. Now, as of late, he is continually bringing up the subject of religion to me. He asks a million questions, but then backs off as if he is afraid of something and we drop the subject.
Recently he told me he had been baptized again in a Baptist church once because of a girl he was dating, but he didn’t like the Baptist church. He says he doesn’t want to go to church. Then he asked me if he could borrow some Christian Music cd’s that I have, which I loaned to him, and he started to talk about religion again and ask me questions. Then he backs off the subject. Never once have I initiated a religious conversation with him, he is the one who brings it up. These conversations are becoming more and more frequent.
My problem is that I am baffled by his behavior and don’t know what to do. So far I have just let him talk and ask questions and have not initiated any religious conversations with him. He goes so far, then abruptly changes the subject . Yesterday my friend told him he was an adult and had choices to make (he was questioning both of us), and he needed to think about these choices, and he really should start going to church. He wasn’t offended, but stated he wasn’t going to church. Does anyone have any advice? I have prayed for the Holy Spirit to touch him and convert him, and to give me wisdom. He has never once mentioned Catholicism, I don’t think he has ever considered it, and at this point I’m afraid he will just withdraw again if I do. I really could use some help here. Thanks.

sounds like he needs to talk to more people who are in the same situation as he is. He is searching - which means he is looking for answers - a direction, and an idenity. for a young person, (or any person), that is extremely healthy and worthwhile place to be because he is trying to find his heart. until he does, the journey will continue on go down many different paths. I suggest continue to talk to him, and try to connect him with others who are traveling at the same place as him. you can discuss what catholics believe, but do so he can understand - for example, don’t just talk about sacraments, but rather talk about why we have sacraments, ie: a person who is searching - does not want to hear a reason like “because the church says so”. He wants to hear arguments and make a decison himself. this is a perfect opportunity to share your faith. God has sown a seed, that needs watering and tending now, the analogy with a plant stops there, because the kind of plant he grows into will depend on the kind of feeding he gets. is that your responsibility - no. is it your opportunity - yes. an opportunity to share what you believe with someone else. we catholics aren’t used to doing that. and I believe that is a fault on our part - When I was searching I craved someone to talk about faith with me. I was thirsty looking for water, and the only people I found willing to quench it were evangelical protestants. If a few catholics were willing to discuss thier faith openly with me, it would have saved me alot of false turns. I’d encourage you to share - not push- engage in a dialogue- don’t preach. just share and most importantly listen.

He may be embarrassed. I grew up in a non religious home and none of my friends went to Church. They all used to laugh at religious people and call them Bible bashers or Jesus Freaks. I’ve always been religious but there was a time in my life when I was afraid to admit this to anyone. I would talk about it briefly and then change the subject because I didn’t want anyone to think that I was a ‘religious nut’. This person is probably the same; he is probably interested in religion but is embarrassed to show it.

I would advise you to answer all of his questions when he asks. Debate with him but don’t get too heavy. Lend him a book or something and tell him about your journey of faith. Plant little seeds. It may take him many years before he goes to Church but you can help him along the way.

It seems to me that you are doing precisely the right thing, just being there for him and answering his questions, but not forcing things in any way. Does he actually give you a chance to answer his questions, or does he change the subject too quickly?

It seems like he is dealing with some terrible scars from his past, which are causing him to be uncomfortable. Based on what you have written, I would say the best thing is to continue being there for him, listening and supporting. That is such a powerful witness, in and of itself.

When the time is right, if you sense he might be comfortable, perhaps you might consider inviting him to church, or suggesting sites such as this one to anwer his questions.

I can’t say enough about personal invitations to mass. Someone invited me about a year and a half ago, and I was just received into the Church this past Easter.

Maybe he is intimidated by organized religion, or has seen some really poor examples of those who claim Christianity. I know from working with teens that are in states custody and come from horrible home lives, that rough childhoods made them have “attitude” about any kind of religion that had ANY type of rules. However theyall seemed to feel that there is some kind of higher power. That’s a start I guess. They were raised to look out for number one, and didn’t want to feel like they were being told what to do by anyone.

I agree with everything the previous posters have said about being there to answer questions, and support his interest. A casual invite to Mass might be a good thing, no pressure, just a standing invitation. It is obvious that God is working in his heart in some way, at a pace that he can handle.

Yes, I think he has some terrible scars, and I think he really liked the Baptist girl he was dating, but her parents insisted he get rebaptized in their church and were very overbearing and protective of their daughter. He apparently couldn’t take it any more and broke up with the girl. An example of why forced conversions are a very bad idea.

I think he is testing me, and also two other nurses, to see whom he can trust. The funny thing is that we are all Catholics, but he never mentions that, and he does not talk about religion with the non-Catholics, as far as I know. But mostly he talks to me about this. I don’t think he is ready for Mass–I think he is struggling to just believe.

Thank you to all who have replied so far. Your responses confirm that I seem to be doing the right thing so far in just letting him take the lead. I will just answer his questions and continue to feed him–he seems to be more comfortable when we are eating together, and is very appreciative of the food. :smiley:

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