Ask An Apostle: My atheist friends think I’m weird

Teresa Coda answers your questions this week.
Catholic Voices

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Q: I have friends who are atheists and I am a loyal believer. It seems that every time I bring up my faith I get met with doubtfulness and weird looks. How can I pray for them and help them one day become a believer?

—Faithful friend

A: A series of somewhat cliche, unattributable sayings comes to mind as I consider your question: You can’t want something more for someone than they want it for themselves. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. You can’t change others, you can only change yourself. I think that all of these proverbs-of-sorts are relevant to your situation in that they highlight the fact that you can’t help anyone become anything if they are set against the becoming. This is a hard reality for parents, spouses, teachers, friends, neighbors, and well, humans everywhere. 


But here’s another piece of wisdom, not so cliche and popularly attributed to our faith tradition’s own St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel daily. When necessary, use words.” If bringing up your faith causes nothing but skepticism, why not try refraining from talking about it, and instead demonstrating your faith through your actions? Show your friends God’s merciful forgiveness by letting go of grudges and past hurts. Imitate Jesus’ radical acceptance by listening with openness and curiosity to the stories your friends share. Be Christ’s hands and feet in your own little circle of the world, keep praying for your friends, and satisfy yourself to let God do the rest, whatever that might be. 

About the author

Teresa Coda

Teresa Coda works in parish faith formation. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young daughters.

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