coaching again on brother’s comments

Hi Brooke and coaches. I’m coming back for more coaching on a circumstance. I also had a tutoring session on it, but it keeps coming up. I was raised Catholic and have an older brother who is a Catholic priest. I stopped participating in the religion in my mid-20s, actually more than a decade before he became a priest.

Occasionally he sends me letters or calls me to say that he is concerned about me, would like me to go to church, etc. Recently he send me a letter telling me that he is praying for me to return to the Catholic faith. The reasons he gave were about how it makes him feel that I reject something that is so important to him, and that he would like our family to be able to connect with me on a common religion.

The circumstance, I think, is that I haven’t responded. I don’t want to respond. I love him, but I didn’t ask him to write the letter and I don’t want to spend the energy figuring out how to respond. I think my spiritual life is a private matter. I am almost 50.

C: I didn’t respond to brother’s letter.
T: I should respond. It took a lot for him to write that letter and he’ll think I don’t care about him.
F: Resentful
A: Mentally prepare a variety of responses, from loving to defensive to scholarly! Don’t send any of them.
R: I continue to be worried that he will think I don’t care about him.

C: I didn’t respond to brother’s letter.
T: I love him and I don’t have to respond to his letters.
F: Free
A. Go about my life, continue to love him and send him occasional friendly communications and baked goods.

Here is the problem. My result is that I love him. But I also fear that another result is that he thinks I’m ignoring his concerns/disrespecting him.

How do I resolve this? The letter was a gift, as it really helped clarify that I don’t care if my family approves of my spiritual path. But it seems like I still feel responsible for their feelings.

It’s funny, because my focus area has absolutely nothing to do with this issue (my goal is creating and sharing beauty), but this is the issue that I keep needing coaching on.