My brother won’t come to my daughter’s first Communion

My brother is no longer Catholic, and he’s refusing to come to my daughter’s first Communion because he doesn’t believe in it. I’m pretty angry with him, and my mother is furious. How do we deal with this without turning it into a family feud?

Your disappointment is understandable, because you anticipated your daughter’s first Communion as an occasion for the whole family to rejoice. When discussing family life issues, I always encourage the motto, “united we stand, divided we fall,” which is essential when dealing with family disagreements such as culture, race, religion or politics.

You won't get anywhere by antagonizing your brother, expressing your resentment or by emotionally distancing yourself by not talking to him. I suggest you take this opportunity to be a peacemaker by opening yourself in a spirit of humility, making the initial phone call and looking for an opportunity to visit him or invite him to visit you for a siblings get-together. In an effort to keep peace, then and later, give him the respect you wish he would give you, and avoid making your religious differences the central topic of your visit.

When the topic of your daughter’s religion celebration comes up, focus on the opportunity this religious celebration presents to bring all the members of your extended families together. Look always for common ground between the two of you to facilitate connection. Even if he refuses to attend this family gathering, keep the door open for future meetings, remembering that Pope Francis encourages us, as Christians, not to build walls, but to build bridges.