Drawing Our Loved Ones Back to the Church
Here we are, 13 days into our new year, and hopefully striving (as we are encouraged to do in the Matthew
Kelly book that every family received at Christmas)… striving to become holy. Our Lord, by providing us
with His teachings and the Commandments, has given us the formula for achieving both holiness and
happiness. I hope you have had time to read the Kelly book titled, “The Biggest Lie in the History of
Christianity”. It is indeed highly encouraging. One of the expectations Our Lord has conveyed to us…is to
“Evangelize”…to do our best to spread, and draw others into an embrace of, the Catholic Faith.
I know that for most of us, that sounds like “something above our pay grade”. But please consider this
fact: We all have family members, loved ones and friends who have left the Church. And the ache of the
broken heart is all too real for so many of us, when we contemplate their absence. But what can we possibly
do? I would like to provide a listing of several things recommended by Chris Stewart of Casting Net
Ministries. These are things that we can (and must) do, to help bring them back to the Church.
Discern – prayerfully ask for the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit to know what we can and should do. It may be
that we need to speak up…or the Spirit may need us to be silent. Either one of those options can prove
difficult, depending upon the situation or person, so we should also ask for the gifts of Fortitude and
Perseverance from the Spirit. Think about it, Moses wanted to end the oppression of God’s people, but his
first attempt at it did not go very well, as we hear in Ex 2:11-15. St. Peter knew that one of his duties was to
protect Christ and the Church, but his first “swing” at it, was not a good one either, as he cut off the ear of the
slave Malchus (Jn 18:10). While we know full well that the Lord desires all of our loved ones to make it to
Heaven, we need to be certain that we are correctly working with, and in accord with, His plans.
Invite – have we actually invited them back…told them that we want them back? And, what are we trying to
invite them back to? Some might not be ready for Mass or Confession…but would they join you for prayer in
a Blessed Sacrament chapel? Even that could be too much for some… maybe invite them to read a book,
listen to a podcast, or watch a video…(there are a multitude of these kinds of Evangelizing assets available to
you through your free “Formed” membership.) Perhaps it could consist of simply inviting them to a parish
event, such as a Mission talk, our carnival, a movie night or social event. Keep in mind that Discernment is a
major component of invitation, because if the Lord wants you to be silent, then you may need to wait on the
Saints – get the Saints involved. Are they named after a saint? Or…do you know their Confirmation Saint?
Maybe there is a saint whose story is similar to their life or is the Patron of their profession. Pray and maybe a
saint will come to your mind. Just pick one! And begin to develop a relationship. Asking this Saint to partner
with you to bring your loved one back into the Church.
Fast – fasting is one of the most powerful forms of prayer. Jesus instructed us that sometimes only prayer and
fasting, can overcome certain problems (Mk 9:29). Now I am not implying that anyone’s loved ones are
possessed (which, unfortunately, does still happen), but if it works for getting rid of demons… it will work on
sin. This could include fasting on bread and water, or fasting from a meal, or fasting from coffee, or chocolate,
or alcohol, or giving up something, until they come back to the Church. Be like Ezra, who fasted for himself
and his children to find the “straight way”, and the Lord granted it to him (Ezra 8:21-23).
Walk – so many times we find ourselves in an “us” vs “them” situation, or they at least feel like that is the
case. To avoid this we need to “walk” with them. “Walking” with someone is a form of accompaniment …
which hopefully turns into Discipleship. By our simply being present, listening, and developing empathy…
they will come to know that we truly do love them. Of course, this never means loving any sinful behavior or
lifestyle. We can and should always love them, but must never condone nor participate in any gravely sinful
actions. The goal of walking with them is that… hopefully…they will begin to walk with us once again…
aimed in the right direction…towards our eternal Home (see Lk 24:13-35).
I will continue next week with several more suggestions for drawing our loved ones back to the
church instituted by Christ. And certainly, let us unceasingly pray.
Yours in Christ our Savior,