What happens if over a reasonable amount of time your friend doesn’t react; he just doesn’t “get it”? Perhaps he claims he doesn’t see it, or that his difficulties with Christ and the teachings of the Church still result in doubt. Or perhaps his family, parents, or spouse present what appear to be insuperable obstacles. Do you throw him overboard in order to sail off for other prizes? You wouldn’t think of it! The answer is prayer, persistence, and patience. The violence of your prayer (remember Who is in charge of this operation) will eventually bear him away. Your persistence and constancy in your true friendship will eventually win him over by showing that your love is unconditional. Remember: you may be the one person in his life who is interested only in his salvation, with no ulterior motives of any sort. By patience, we show our realization that conversion takes place at God’s pace, not a minute sooner or later. The conversion may not happen until he is on his death bed, and you may witness it from heaven.
Good. Thanks be to God, he finally made it; he is in! Now what? Naturally, it is on to the next person, or perhaps you are already dealing with several people at the same time.
But in the midst of this apostolic work, don’t forget your new-born Catholic friend. He is just a very young child, taking his first tottering steps into a bright new world that will have its storms and shadows. He will be surrounded by some who regard Catholicism and his conversion to it in the way described by Chesterton: "a nuisance and a new and a dangerous thing." He needs your nurturing, your encouragement, your friendship, your support. St. Josemaría Escrivá says, "Sanctification is the work of a lifetime," and as your friend’s godfather, sponsor, or guide, you have to be with him every step of the way. Perhaps you will introduce him to other institutions and spiritualities of the Church that can further his spiritual progress – Opus Dei, Communion & Liberation, a Benedictine monastery, to name a few – where he can make a retreat and may even find a spiritual director. He will be eternally grateful to you; and you, in turn, will echo the words of the famous French convert and poet, Paul Claudel, who said, "Tell him his only duty is to be joyful."
First appeared in Catholic World Report in the August/September 1997 issue.