Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More about my brother

My brother John fell away from the Faith sometime in his middle teens. I was shocked by that at the time. I've learned since that it happens to almost every kid raised in a religious environment: they "kick against the goad" in their teenage years, or they "outgrow" what they were raised with. It happened to me too, but that's another story.

When John went to college, his undergraduate major was philosophy, which I suppose pounded the nails in the coffin of his agnosticism or atheism. All I know for sure (because he hardly ever discussed personal matters with me) is that one of his favorite philosophers was Ludwig Wittgenstein. In fact, he named his cat Ludwig.

It would take a mind more educated and sharper than mine to explain what Wittgenstein believed. From looking at articles on the net, the most I can figure out is that his philosophy is incompatible with religion in general and Christianity in particular; because in his philosophy one has to be able to prove whether a statement is true or not. This of course isn't the case with our Faith because the core is Revelation, specifically the self-revelation of God in the person of Jesus.

Late in the evening of December 29, when John collapsed at home and had to go to the hospital, I prayed to Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas to "whack John upside the head and show him the light he's been missing." I'm certain John read these three greatest of Catholic philosophers; and even if he disagreed with them I suspect he respected them all the same.

Anyway, John died in the hospital early the next morning. Early the following week, I had a dream that John and I were in a confession line in a church together. I think that's a good sign. At least it comforts me.


  1. None of us know exactly how judgment works. My belief is that we enter the realm of "outside of time" immediately. This gives God time to have a "sit down" with us. A time to explain ourselves as it were (even though He knows already since He is merciful, He will still give us the opportunity.)

    The most important thing we are judged on is how we treated other people (do unto others), meaning the doubts of faith are not nearly as important - only part of the human condition.

    Perhaps your dream was a way for God to communicate to you that the "sit down" went well.

    I have not spoken to my brother in over a year. The reason is not important. He has been an apostate since his teenage years. His treatment of people has been egregious his entire life. I don't think his "sit down" will go well at all but I can hope.

  2. Thanks kindly, Adrienne. You comfort me, and I wish the same for you.

  3. Ran into my pastor at the grocery store last night and he is in agreement with me about your dream. Just thought you may want to know that...

  4. Yes, that is very comforting indeed. Thank you so much for passing that along!

  5. I'll pray for your brother John. My brother John had a stroke a year and a half ago and has been struggling with one thing after another ever since. But the stroke has been a blessing in many ways, although I'm not sure he would agree. Life is such a challenge. May God give you comfort and peace. I agree that such a dream seems a very positive sign.

  6. Bob: Please accept my condolences on the loss of your brother. I will pray intentions in my next Rosary - and for you too.

  7. Though I received a good sign, a good sign is not certainty, so I will keep praying for John, and I'm so happy that you will too. Thank you all so much!

  8. I have a question, maybe you can anwser this, your age brings wisdom.
    Why is it that kids raised in the faith go against it for a while? Why? Is this always the case? can this happen later on in life say in the 30s is that possible?

  9. There are two reasons that I can think of, and I may be wrong on one.

    The first is that the late teen and early adult years are the natural time for the half-child-half-adult to want to spread the wings and fly alone - but still partly wanting the nest. Anything from childhood is looked on as childish and to be discarded.
    This is the one I'm not sure about.

    The one I am sure about is what happened to me: as I grew up, I discovered that the world was far more complex (and nasty) than I had been taught in childhood and my early teenage years. I subsconsciously (repeat SUB-consciously!) wondered if the Faith was complex enough to fit all this; it didn't seem to be.

    But in between reading Lewis and Chesterton, having a long talk with my assistant pastor in the spring I was 23, and acting on the impulse that being half in and half out kind of stunk, I decided to do more than just show up at Mass every Sunday.

    Naturally, it has taken me decades to find the words to describe my experience.

    Anyway, I think this happens to most kids, some earlier, some later; I don't see what it can't happen in the 30s or even later. I may be stricken by severe doubts in my seventies, God forbid! You never know, so pray always.