We probably all have relatives who were raised Catholic but have since left the Church or simply stopped going to Church. This can be a cause of great sorrow, since we know the importance of the faith for eternal life and the joy that we have from living out the faith, and we want them to experience that joy and have hope for eternal life. It’s not up to us to judge anyone’s soul, because only God can read the intentions of hearts. However, the Lord did command us to “make disciples of all nations.” Where better to start than in our own families? Unfortunately, our own family members can be the hardest people to share our faith with.
We may be tempted to downplay our faith when we’re around these family members, so we don’t cause any uncomfortable situations. We don’t have to shove religion in their faces or beat them over the head with the Bible, but we shouldn’t hide our faith, either. Instead, we should just be ourselves. Don’t be afraid to talk about your faith, to pray before meals, or even to invite them to come to Mass with you, but don’t try to force it either. Simply show them that your faith is an important and natural part of your life.
Sometimes we encounter people who want to argue with us about religion, but we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be pulled into an argument. If someone wants to talk with you about religion and beliefs then don’t be afraid to share your faith. If they have questions you can’t answer, just tell them you’re not sure, but make sure to look up the answer and get back to them. When we argue about religion we start to feel like we need to win the argument. Instead, try to leave them with something to think about. Plant a seed in their mind.
Most importantly, remember to pray for them. When the Lord went to visit Martha and Mary, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him while Martha did all of the serving. Martha asked the Lord to tell Mary to help her with the serving, but Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the one thing necessary, and it shall not be taken away from her” (Lk 10:42). We need to do the work of sharing the faith and witnessing to the faith, but we also have to do the “one thing necessary,” which is to pray. As St. Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollo watered, but God provided the growth” (1 Cor 3:6). Only God can make the seed of faith grow in someone’s heart, so pray to him every day for your relatives and friends who are away from the Church.
Fr. Bryan became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes on July 3, 2017. Read his bio here.