Today is St Agnes' Day. Saint Agnes was an early virgin martyr. It brings to mind a very different Agnes in my life. I was teaching at a Catholic university in Europe, and she was a student there. She was sent to the campus by her bishop because she was a rising Catholic star in her formerly communist country. She went to morning prayer, Mass, and evening prayer every day. She always had a rosary in her pocket and prayed it frequently.
So I was surprised when she turned up a bit tipsy at a university dinner. Agnes cornered me and started telling me that God was dead to her. I was shocked and I'm afraid I didn't do much good. All I remember saying is "I love you, Agnes, and so does Jesus." This is probably the last thing she needed to hear while in a spiritual crisis or a depression.
She then said, "Take this. I don't need it." And she handed me the small icon of Jesus that I keep on my bureau now seventeen years later.
We haven't kept in touch, but I heard that she became a sister and is working somewhere in Africa. So she was able to find her faith again without my help.
I was checking my comment boxes today and found this one on the last post:
Really considering not believing in God or the Catholic Church anymore.
Made a blog to talk to others about it, if you're interested stop by:
So this blog is a reverse 'conversion diary.' She became an atheist before this past Christmas and is opening up her life to others. I didn't know what to write. I don't know what to say. Sometimes Catholics and other Christians are the worst possible 'advertisement' for Jesus. I hate to sound like a bumper sticker, but we aren't perfect, just redeemed.
Faith is a gift. We cannot force our faith on others. We cannot convince others that God is real when they don't want Him to be. I could give suggestions like 'just listen to pray-as-you-go.org'- but would that help or hinder? I just pray that God reveals Himself to her in a meaningful way and she can find her faith again, like Agnes.