Friday, 25 May 2007


A friend of mine, who lives many miles from Blogbury, is in a quandary. For thirty years or so she has belonged to a local Evangelical congregation and has been something of a leader there. Prayer groups, Bible study groups… she leads them all. Her dearest friends, whom she feels she cannot do without, are members of this congregation.
The problem is that Ruth (not her real name) has come to love the Catholic Church, and the rest of her congregation believe that Catholics all go to hell. Not the minister, as it happens, who is a gentle and good man. Ruth has spent many years battling with this and finally she has come to the point where she sees the truth and knows what she must do. But she is a warm and loving individual; her friends have threatened her with cutting her off entirely should she become a Catholic.
Now you or I might think that these friends are not really very friendly, but Ruth is a generous person and hates to give them the hurt, and herself the pain, that the severance will cause.
Do not underestimate this, please. This is the most horrible hurdle, and I'm not convinced that she has the strength for it.
Please would you, now, pray for her?
And if any of you have words of advice, I'll see that she gets them. Especially if you have been in this situation yourself. Ruth says that she knows nobody who has been in this position before, though she knows several Catholics who have become members of the Evangelical congregation (!)
Please mention if you would rather I didn't publish your words on this blog: I can easily avoid doing so if you wish.


Jay said...

The situation is difficult, but Ruth should consider the most important point. Being brought by God's grace to the point of conversion and not doing this for the sake of her erring friends is like wasting the grace given to her freely and for reason of mere human respect. She will have to respond for her action and choices to God at the Judgment day. Is that worth?

Sue Sims said...

I was an evangelical for 28 years, and have now been a Catholic for 9. Jay: it's not human respect, in the normal sense of that phrase. Ruth isn't worried about what her friends will think of her, but of their pain: I spent five months in agony about how my husband would react to my effectively destroying our spiritual partnership. And I'm willing to be, too, that Ruth is going along a ghastly sort of switchback where one day she'll go secretly to Mass or Exposition and be lifted almost to ecstacy, and the next day, will find a verse in the Bible or hear a chance remark which will suddenly make her wonder whether her attraction for the Church is simply demonic temptation, disguised (as so frequently) as an angel of light.

My advice to Ruth is to do what I did: make a retreat. Not necessarily a formal one - just withdraw from everything and everyone, preferably away from home, for a weekend, three or four days. Don't spend any time agonising or worrying: just be on your own with God. He sorts it out.

Jay said...

Sue sims,
I am a'cradle catholic' so I have no experience of conversion and problems it could cause in families, friends etc. I suppose that you are probably right. I can imagine the pressure Ruth can experience, for some Portestants do not even consider Catholic Church Christian. It is amazing, but sad reality, the enormous grace of God is needed for Protestant to convert. I have had some contact in the past with fundamentalists in UK and I know a bit of their attitude. I think your advice is good, but maybe she should do this for a longer period than a mere weekend. God bless and let us pray for Ruth!

Anonymous said...

I was a convert in the early 1980s, and although I wasn't an Evangelical by conviction myself, I did have a lot of hostile, scathing Evangelical friends. For many years I felt very isolated in the Church, and I do think it falls down on the 'fellowship' aspect, but never, ever have I regretted my decision - the abundance of grace, richness of truth and sense of homecoming all confirmed that it was the right one. Who knows how Ruth's conversion may affect her friends in the long term? Oremus!
It's a bit American, but she might find Scott and Kimberly Hahn's 'Rome, Sweet Home' helpful - the story of their conversion from a strong Protestant background and the ruptures in their marriage and friendships along the way.

Anonymous said...

I have been in this position. The only thing for Ruth to do is what she knows to be right. She will need to take this step, knowing that God will uphold her no matter what - and then wait for him to do so. In my experience, with this as with everything else, you have to trust and take the right step first, then experience the help and support, not the other way round. My thoughts are with her - I commend her to our Blessed Lady who helped me. God bless you, Ruth.

Fr Justin said...

Thank you so much for these comments; they have meant a lot to Ruth. Please keep them coming!

Fr Tim Finigan said...

I agree with the recommendation of "Rome Sweet Home". I know that some people are cross with Scott Hahn over some recent comments but this book has been very helpful to several converts in my parish. His presbyterian background is particularly relevant.