“Ask a Priest: What If I Feel Drawn to Islam?”

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Q: I am the only Catholic in my family, and I have been in the Church for almost five years. I always sought to protect the Church and live out the faith as best as I can. However, lately I have been having an internal struggle. I identify as being a conservative both in my faith life and political life. This has had positive effects and negative effects on me. I started to become more closed-minded by listening to propaganda or one-sided media, and started to disregard those who did not agree with me. My family saw me becoming more brainwashed, and this has had an effect on how I viewed the world, particularly how I viewed Muslims. I saw them as being a sort of evil that I must protect myself and others from. However, I decided to take a step back and learn about the religion of Islam. The more I learn about it, the more I feel called to it and I feel an inner peace. I have been trying to pray about this by saying a daily rosary, going to confession more frequently, and other things, but nothing seems to be working. I know that it is a grave sin for me to leave the Church, but I do not know what I should do. Please help me, I feel lost, confused, frustrated and scared. God bless. – E.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: You mention feeling an inner peace, but then say that you feel lost, confused, frustrated and scared. All this could be a sign that the devil is around and up to his tricks. Particularly vulnerable to his tricks are people who are a bit isolated.

The fact that you are the only Catholic in your family might help to explain part of the problem. The Catholic faith, as with any system of religion, is easier to live when it is lived within a community of believers, including family. Conversely, being the lone Catholic at home can leave you feeling out of place.

And if you have been a bit isolated, it is understandable that you are given to certain extremes — at first embracing one-sided media, then exposing yourself to material that weakens your faith.

You mention that you are praying the rosary and frequenting the sacrament of confession. This is good. This is a start. It might be good to remind yourself of the power of the sacraments and of Marian devotion and ask whether you really want to give those up.

You mention “other things” that you are doing. Here I’ll have to speculate. One thing that might be missing is community-oriented activities. It might help you to get involved with volunteer projects or parish activities and to network with faithful Catholics.

You also might be in need of going deeper in what is known as mental prayer, or Christian meditation. You can learn more about that through my colleague Father John Bartunek’s book A Guide to Christian Meditation, or this short video on the “Four C’s’ of Christian Meditation.”

Catholicism lived well is a Catholicism that helps lift us a purely political outlook on life.

A bane of the Internet/social media age is the tendency for partisan websites and chat rooms, etc., to lure people into silos. They slip into an ideological cocoon and stop talking with people with whom they disagree. From there, positions harden. Reason suffers. And where reason wanes, faith can weaken, since the two should ideally complement each other.

Your e-mail address indicates that you at a college. If so, you might consider getting involved with the Catholic community on campus. It might sponsor Catholic speakers and even retreats that could be helpful for you.

In the meantime, recognize this pull to abandon the Catholic faith for what it is: a temptation. And one to be resisted.

Also, you might want to get a Catholic perspective on Islam. Two suggested books are Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics and 111 Questions on Islam.

It might be helpful to find a spiritual director, too. I hope some of this helps. Count on my prayers.

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