Apostolate of Friendship

Neighbors

Today was one of those days.  It started out okay, but it didn’t last.  There are always those people who don’t like you and actively try to make your day worse.  Sometimes I don’t realize that I act like them at times.  I may do the same to them or even something worse.  I can deal with those kinds of people like I have always.  The real killer is my friends who disagree with me on tough moral issues.  Some of them are even Catholic, almost all are Christian.  It’s the way they talk about religion though that really annoys me.  They pull up an issue and say something wrong, and don’t want me to say anything.  It’s like a drive-by shooting.  I have discovered in my short years of life that my personality has three main aspects:  Catholic, brother, and jokester.  When I am in Catholic mode, I relentlessly defend the faith and try my best to be kind.  Brother mode is like protection mode.  Being the oldest brother of a family of 8 kids, I know how to defend others.  Jokester mode speaks for itself.  When I am talking to these kinds of people, most often I find myself in brother mode.  Their my friends, and I know they are holding on to beliefs that are contrary to the truth, and often teach others the same.  I lose some of the qualities the Catholic mode has, like compassion.  The most important thing is to save their soul, not to win the argument.  It’s really hard for me to do this, especially when I am concerned about what they will spread to others.

This all ties into the theme of this post: The Apostolate of Friendship.  St. Josemaria Escriva has an entire chapter dedicated to this in one of his three books.  The apostolate of friendship is basically winning should to Christ by just being a good friend.  This doesn’t mean being quiet when a touchy issue comes up.  Defend the faith with kindness, like a shepherd would compassionately lift his sheep up before it falls.  Most importantly, just be a good friend.  If you are a general, and want another country to help you in a battle, it is much easier to be allied with that country than to force it do help.  No one is gonna listen to you unless they think there is a good reason to do so.  I struggle with this tremendously.  They see me as “the Catholic” that wants to force his religion on others, all because I was more focused on winning the argument than winning a soul.  Be Christ to others, so that through you, they may come to know the truth.  After all, we all need someone to lean on.

God Bless!

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5 thoughts on “Apostolate of Friendship

  1. To me, this gets tricky. Certainly no one should feel afraid to say how they feel: this includes you AND your friends.

    It’s hard to gauge, not having been there, how these conversations go for you. I know Catholics with whom I must avoid discussions of moral issues at all costs, for example, because they become so defensive and dogmatic at the suggestion that their favorite spiritual teacher may not be 100% correct that it leaves everyone else feeling as though they’re being told that they’re a bad person if they disagree.

    I must admit I have had to essentially stop discussing theology with Christians since ceasing to be one. The reaction of my Church friends and family to me leaving the Church has varied from expressing “concern” that my beliefs and practices are “bad for me” to outright accusing me of betraying God. Needless to say, all of these reactions essentially lead to a weakening of the friendship as I feel I cannot be honest about my beliefs and feelings with these people.

    The key, I suppose, is the difference between a discussion and a lecture. Comparing notes while retaining the ability to agree to disagree is one thing. Somebody repeatedly telling you that you’re simply wrong is quite another matter.

    But I suppose I’m the one who’s lecturing here.

    My latest post is about the feelings of non-Christians (and non-mainstream Christians, on occasion) in the face of an overwhelming majority of Christians in the United States. It’s written from the perspective I just described – as someone who was formerly Christian and has now belonged to several different religious groups, and has seen the kinds of interactions that Christians and non-Christians (or other Christians who disagree with them) have in this country.

    Feel free to stop by if you’d like to get a glimpse of what life is like on the other side of the fence.

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    • First off, Thank you kagmi for reading my post. And yes, the point I was trying to drive home was that it should be a friendly discussion of thoughts, not a lecture or heated debate. I never tried to say that you should not defend what you believe in. I will clarify that if it was vague. I am sorry to hear that your Catholic friends are not acting kindly towards you. It’s hard, but it still shouldn’t happen. I also agree that no one should be forced to believe anything, even if it’s the truth. I think that someone should show them the facts, void of all distortions, so that the truth will show itself. That is why I ended up Catholic. I encourage you not to shut down conversations with your Christian friends. Maybe you can teach them something that they should have already learned from Christianity. I’ll look at your blog, and maybe you can look at mine. I wouldn’t call it the other side of the fence, but rather, a different part of the yard seeking the truth. Hopefully both of us can find it in the end. Thank You again.

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      • I appreciate your sincerity.

        Religion is definitely a sensitive subject – I’ve known people who have been ostracized for being Christian in non-Christian environments, and people who have been ostracized for being non-Christian in Christian environments. I myself have managed to be both at various times in my life. 😛

        So I always like to stand with anybody who might feel ostracized for their beliefs – but also remind them that the folks on the other side of the fence might feel the same way.

        That’s basically what my last post is about – things that make Christians and other folks in the U.S. feel as though they are not welcome here.

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      • Thank You very much for taking the time to make a reply. I am very happy to see you follow me on my blog, I’ll get around to returning the favor. I will definitely read your post. I would be very curious to see why you left Christianity. If you would like to bring that up, I would be interested to learn how that happened. I feel bad that Christians are making other religions feel oppressed. That is definitely not what the Christian faith is all about. I agree, Religion is a sensitive subject. If some people are right, cough Jehovah’s Witnesses cough, we are all in for it. I hope both of us get a better understanding on what you called life on the “other side of the fence” is like. Thanks again for following.

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