No matter what your background, evangelizing friends and family is not an easy task. When engaging with loved ones who have fallen away from the Church, it is easy for us to focus on what they’re doing wrong or on what we’re doing wrong when we try to witness to them. But the more important thing is to concentrate on God’s desire for all of us to become saints. When we allow God to purify our inconsistencies that keep us from clearly communicating Jesus to our loved ones, then we will be able to witness to them more effectively.
People outside of the Church are thirsting for Jesus. To attract others to the Church we need to allow Jesus to change us first. When we surrender to God’s transforming power in our own lives, we authentically invite others into the mystery of redemption and sanctification made available to us through Jesus present in his Church.
Five Quick Tips
1. Call for Backup – Pray to the Holy Spirit for courage and peace in interactions with loved ones.
2. Be Humble – Focus more on your faults than others’ faults.
3. Take Risks – Pray and then invite others to Bible studies, Mass, and Eucharistic Adoration.
4. Live in Jesus – Ask Jesus to love others through you when loving becomes hard.
5. Become a Saint – Saints attract others to Jesus, so ask God for the grace and desire to be holy!
Excerpt from Sr. Theresa Aletheia's new book just released this week: The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church:
My grandma, Elinor Brandi Shea, was a woman who enjoyed life. My grandfather, Charles Shea, died young, leaving her to care for five children on her meager salary as secretary at the local Catholic school. Despite the tough circumstances of her life, or perhaps because of them, my grandmother was a strong and holy woman. I got to know her because every time one of my four younger siblings was born, Grandma Shea would get on a plane and spend a couple of weeks helping my mom around the house. When she would visit, we would play endless card games. She never tired of me asking to play, but I do not remember ever winning one game against her. When I would complain, she would say to me, “Theresa, life won’t give you a break, so I don’t give you a break. You have to win fair and square.”
I don’t remember discussing God with my grandma, but her life spoke to me of God. Sometimes the holiest people are not those who flaunt their faith or talk about pious things, but rather those who live their lives to the fullest, loving everyone around them. Elinor Shea was this kind of holy—she loved me, she loved my family, she loved everyone, and her love spoke of God. It was not hard for her to love because she lived life to the fullest. She suffered. She lived through tough times. But in her Catholic faith she found the strength to persevere. She was one of those rare persons who grow and mature to the fullest capacity of their humanness. Like a bonfire amid candles, her wisdom and strength shone brightly on those around her.
Sometimes when loved ones leave the faith, we think we need to do something. But effective evangelization is really less about doing and more about being. My Grandma Shea preached her faith by being herself, by exuding warmth, strength, maturity, and joy. God calls us to holiness more than he calls us to the work of evangelization. Holiness is primary. Why? Because more than anything else, holiness attracts others to the Church. Pope Francis affirmed this when, echoing the words of Benedict XVI, he wrote: “It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but ‘by attraction.’” Evangelization is more about attraction than it is about anything else. When we have loved ones who are away from the Church, God asks us to become holy so that we may give glory to God and attract others to him in the Church. In short, God asks of us the same thing he asks regardless of our situation—to become saints....
Watch VIDEO MESSAGE from Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP:
Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP is a former atheist who, thanks to the grace of God, has returned to the faith she was raised in and now tries to help others bring their loved ones back to the faith. A few years after returning to the Church, she heard God calling her, so she left her job in Silicon Valley to join the Daughters of St. Paul. She now lives in Miami, where she prays, evangelizes, bakes bread, and blogs atPursued by Truth.
Read The Prodigal You Love and surrender to God's power in your life.