Not yet Catholic but on my way!
Dear Fr Anthony,
When I was 14 or 15, I said I was drawn to prayer and you told me to be more involved and become a practising Christian first before I start going further to explore vocation, so that is what I did. This is an update, and I would like to invite your suggestions and comments. Thanks. I am now 17, going on 18 in December and have been "under instruction" if you like for about a year now. Due to my parents' opposition, in particular, my mother's, I have not been able to complete all the sacraments yet and things are taking a bit longer than expected, but nevertheless, I have been attending Mass as much as I can, including a lot of the daily masses and participating in activites in Church a lot. I also pray the Rosary very often and sometimes the Divine Office as well. I go to Adoration at Church when I can too. My family are very anti-Religious and hate anything to do with faith, but I am so drawn to prayer, and since I was 14, I have been increasingly drawn to prolonged prayer, sometimes I stay up all night just praying the Rosary and things like that. My family have conviscated many of my religious items, although I am very blessed to have benedictine nuns as good friends and I have known them for several years, especially since one of the girls in my parish entered with them about 12 years ago. I was able to get a number of things replaced through friends in the Church. What I am wondering is, why am I in such a situation that I must fight so hard for something my family seem to hate so much, but that is so important to me? I've wanted to be Catholic since I was three, and it has been a long time, yet I am still not in full communion with the Church. It really saddens me. I was just wondering what you thought of my situation, because I have this huge desire in my heart to give so much, and it's really frustrating because I have this emptiness in my heart and am struggling to find fulfilment.
I am very happy to hear from you again, and especially to hear how you have persevered and grown in your love for Christ despite all the obstacles you have had to face. Don't forget, Jesus sees our heart, and what is happening there is much more important to him than the things outside that we have no control over.
Anyone who suffers for trying to do what is right is closer to Jesus than we sometimes imagine. Remember, it was by dying on the Cross that he redeemed us, and the suffering he allows to go through has the purpose in his mind of making us greater sharers in his life, and of bearing much fruit for souls. The difficulties you are facing do not mean he has forgotten you or is not accepting your friendship, or that he doesn't want to draw you to himself-quite the opposite! Believe it or not, a bigger problem is when everything seems to be going right and that makes us feel happy, because it brings the danger that we are thinking more of ourselves than him and forgetting all that he did for us.
Frustration and sadness are natural reactions. Don't worry about them and don't let them stop you. It's a little like a person giving you a big package for your birthday; you're all excited until you open it and find only clump after clump of useless straw. You're disappointed, but you keep on digging and suddenly you find in the middle of all that straw another bag, and when you open this you find the most beautiful, delicate treasure! All the straw that disappointed and frustrated you and you through was useless was there precisely to protect this wonderful gift!
I think it is getting more and more important that you find a spiritual director who can guide you with prudence and help you keep a healthy balance between the various aspects of your life (family, friends, study, prayer, recreation. Perhaps the chaplain or one of the Benedictine nuns that you know would accept to guide you. You should always get his or her advice before taking on special things like all-night vigils, and their advice will also be helpful in beginning to structure your prayer-life.
Continue to read the Catechism and prepare for the time when it will be possible for you to receive the Sacraments.
God bless, and be very sure of my prayers.