There is nothing sadder than seeing someone turn away from Christianity, especially from the Catholic Church.
It breaks my heart every time. Even more so when they are friends or family.
It’s a God given right to choose not to follow Jesus, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.
“If there were no God, there would be no Atheist.”
In His infinite Wisdom, God gave us complete freedom to choose to love Him or not. This is difficult. The hardest part is that Catholicism proposes the way to true fulfilment in life, but the cross doesn’t always appear like an attractive path towards happiness.
In our part of the world, we see so much material wealth. Most of us have homes to live in, food to eat regularly, access to medical care, and expect our public utilities. Even with all these riches, there is widespread spiritual poverty.
“I find it easy to give a plate of rice to a hungry person, to furnish a bed to a person who has no bed, but to console or to remove the bitterness, anger, and loneliness that comes from being spiritually deprived, that takes a long time.”
-Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Everyone is looking for love and looking for truth. Sadly, many people feel that they can’t find that in the Church. It’s even more tragic when they feel that way because one of us let them down, or hurt them. Sometimes we get in way of Jesus.
There is a quote that is often attributed to Gandhi, but the source is unconfirmed. “I love Christ, but I hate Christians.”
It is true, we Christians aren’t perfect. As the old adage goes, “The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.” Even though we believe this, sometimes emotional baggage and countless other reasons prevent some from feeling comfortable turning to the church.
Faith Cannot Be Forced
Like almost all of us, I have close friends and family that do not believe and some that do no believe enough to embrace the faith fully. As much as I would love to impose the Truth on them and turn them all into the faithful, practicing Catholics, we can only continue to offer and propose it with love.
God could have shown Himself long ago to the world so that everyone would believe, but then we would believe and love not so much because we choose to do so, but because we really had no other choice. He mysteriously choose to reveal the Truth to a small group in Israel, and from there, He trusted them to convert the world through their lives, love, and retelling of the story of our salvation.
We are all fallen people in need of the Savior, and there will be many times when we will fail. Whenever we fail at evangelization, we can be grateful that it’s not completely dependent upon us. God will restlessly call us all.
Ask For Forgiveness
If we are are the cause of hurt because we did not act in charity, then we must apologize and try to amend the situation if possible. It is important to remember that we will not apologize for what we believe, but sometimes our communication of the faith is obstructed by our approach.
Pray and Grow
Once we accept Jesus as Lord of our entire lives, we are compelled to share it with the world. We have to constantly empty ourselves before the Lord to let His grace and love fill us. If we are not being filled by Him, we will have nothing to give others.
“And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.”
1 Corinthians 13:2
Pray, Pray, Pray
Never underestimate the power of our prayers for those that do not believe, especially for our loved ones. I often think of St Monica, a mother that had to patiently wait and persistently pray for over 17 years for her son to turn to Jesus. He eventually became a great hero of the Church – St Augustine.
We could and should pray for a general conversion of the world, but our prayers are much more powerful when we pray for the specific intentions of those we know best. Our connection with them makes us pray with more fervor and devotion.
We know there are many people that will not accept the the fullness of Truth revealed through the Church, and even more that will not accept Jesus as Lord. Even knowing that, we must continually pray for the conversion of hearts.
We cannot stop, and we cannot give up.