How Do You Know if a Family Member is Really a Believer?


#1

Let me set the stage here a bit:

For myself, I only really came to faith a short while ago - while born and baptised a Catholic and believing in the Church, I didn’t have actual faith in God until quite recently. Oddly enough, it took an evangelical pastor to break the log jam…he merely pointed out that what was worrynig me - my unfitness for salvation - is the problem all humanity has. Once that finally got into the noggin, my heart was truly opened to faith.

Born a baptised a Catholic - and my father is the big, old Catholic. More Catholic than the Pope, as my Lutheran mother used to put it. My father attends church regularly (especially since he recently moved in with me and I can take him to church), is deeply instructed in Catholic doctrine (the man has the Catholic answer to any dillema at his fingertips), prays daily and to all appearances is exactly what a believer should be…but I doubt, often, that he is truly a believer.

Keeping in mind that he’s 79 years old and in poor health - and therefore has a greater concern about ‘the end’ than, say, his healthy 41 year old son - he seems to live in fear and despair. There is an underlying level of anger and resentment I can just feel in him now; seemingly since I gained faith.

My big question is: is there a question I should as my father? Is he in peril? He’s certainly not long for this world (he just turned 79 and I’ll be a bit surprised if he makes it to 80) - I worry often about the ultimate fate of my mother who died in 2003 and of whom I have no solid indication whether she believed or not…I’d hate to have to go through the same with my father. Can a man go through the motions for 79 years and yet not be a believer?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


#2

In spite of your father’s fears as he faces his daily sufferings and considers that death may be near, despite what it must cost him to rely on you for help, despite the fact that he grieves for your mother, despite the cause of the anger and resentment, which he is trying to deal with, despite whatever anguish he is feeling, despite any doubts and questions he might have, he is faithful, he worships God daily, even without feeling any consolation, he is faithful. that is real faith.


#3

[quote=puzzleannie]In spite of your father’s fears as he faces his daily sufferings and considers that death may be near, despite what it must cost him to rely on you for help, despite the fact that he grieves for your mother, despite the cause of the anger and resentment, which he is trying to deal with, despite whatever anguish he is feeling, despite any doubts and questions he might have, he is faithful, he worships God daily, even without feeling any consolation, he is faithful. that is real faith.
[/quote]

Very well said. AMEN!!!


#4

St Therese of Lisieux often felt despair in her final illness, when reading her ‘Final Conversations’ I was struck by how ‘normal’ she was in her fears of death, she even entertained thoughts of ‘What if there is nothing and I just step into black emptiness’…This was a NUN, a Doctor of the Church! Yet, she had real feelings, that even the most Holy of people will have at one time or another-in her final year she complained she suffered terribly religious aridity, she couldn’t pray! She only prayed out of duty and love for God, even in moments where she doubted He actually existed. Now, if someone like her can be a Saint, than who are we to doubt whether our parents are ‘true believers’ only because they are afraid of death or don’t seem to pray with great passion. I think you don’t need to worry, to me your father sounds like a man of real, hands-on, practical Faith!

Anna x


#5

[quote=puzzleannie]In spite of your father’s fears as he faces his daily sufferings and considers that death may be near, despite what it must cost him to rely on you for help, despite the fact that he grieves for your mother, despite the cause of the anger and resentment, which he is trying to deal with, despite whatever anguish he is feeling, despite any doubts and questions he might have, he is faithful, he worships God daily, even without feeling any consolation, he is faithful. that is real faith.
[/quote]

I could not say this any better. I would like to add though that you with your new found Faith are like the young bride who is so in love with her husband that she can see nothing else and can not understand why anyone would say “Marriage is hard, you must work at it” - for to her, right now, she doesn’t have to “work at it”, that time will come, when the Honeymoon period is over. This is probably what you are seeing in the difference in yourself and your dad :slight_smile: He knows the “working out our Salvation through Jesus Christ with fear and trembling”, you do not yet and that is not bad, just different and in a different area of his walk in the Faith.

Brenda V.


#6

People can appear to be pious, but who knows what’s going on inside. You can only know about yourself. Pray for him and keep offering to take him to Mass. I don’t see what more you can do. —KCT


#7

I think puzzleannie said it very well.

You might also make it a point to go to frequent confession and invite your dad. Staying in a state of grace and keeping his soul pristine might give him more peace, maybe. I wouldn’t suggest it other then to invite him when you go. It might be difficult for him to ask you.

I can think of so many times in my short life already (I’m in my mid-twenties) where practicing my faith has been so hard due to life situations or circumstances. Sometimes we love God but we do not understand His ways. Our humanity is full of emotions and sometimes we doubt or resent or simply are sad about things that God allows to happen in our life. But we still know He loves us and so we choose to love Him back with our faithfulness to sacraments and prayer, even if it’s tough. It sounds like your dad, with so much tough stuff in his life, is extremely faithful and most definitely a believer. He believes so much that it costs Him his happiness, maybe. Many of us go to mass and receive the sacraments but gain no emotional consolation from attending, whatsoever…but God perhaps wants to see what kind of friend we are to Him and if even when He removes His comfort, if we’ll stick around.


#8

[quote=MarkNoonan]Let me set the stage here a bit:

For myself, I only really came to faith a short while ago - while born and baptised a Catholic and believing in the Church, I didn’t have actual faith in God until quite recently. Oddly enough, it took an evangelical pastor to break the log jam…he merely pointed out that what was worrynig me - my unfitness for salvation - is the problem all humanity has. Once that finally got into the noggin, my heart was truly opened to faith.

Do you still attend the Catholic Church or do you attend an evangelical church?
[/quote]


#9

PuzzleAnnie said it best. We all face our daily cross in our own way, but it is our faith and the expression of our faith that helps us do that - and I will admit that sometimes I am much better than others at carrying my daily cross.

Instead of worrying too much about your Dad’s afterlife, I would encourage you to take advantage of his physical presence while you can…join him in his worship and sacrifice of the Mass, pray with him, and otherwise be Catholic with the man who raised and loved you.


#10

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