My parents have been lured away from the Catholic Church by a local megachurch that is very popular in the area and I’m not entirely sure what to do. I asked them to come to Mass with me last time they were in town for a visit but all they did was complain about how cold and unfeeling the experience was, comparing it to how wonderful and welcoming their new church is.
My sister thinks I should leave them alone because they seem happy and they are more involved in the new church than they ever were when they went to Mass. My mom goes to a weekly prayer meeting, they host a home church group at their house a few times a month, and my dad goes to their men’s group breakfast. I have to admit it’s nice to see them active and making new friends since my mom retired last year. It’s also nice to see them more dedicated to their faith. Growing up, Church was never a priority for them, more like a chore. They got me and my siblings through confirmation out of duty more than love for the Church.
I just worry about them away from the sacraments especially with my dad’s health issues. He had a stroke about 3 years ago. I’ve tried to tell them everything they have at their new church the Catholic Church has as well. It all falls on deaf ears. What can I do to convince them to leave their new church?
Dear Come Home,
I think your concerns are shared by many Catholics who’ve watched loved ones walk away from the Church. There is no simple answer that will immediately rectify the situation you’re in. All you can do is pray and love them.
Keep inviting them to Mass when they visit, and listen politely and respectfully when they tell you about their new church community. This is just where your parents are in their journey right now, but it doesn’t mean it’s where they need to stay. Let that be of some comfort and offer you hope. My own mom left the Catholic Church for 30 years, but she came back when her grandson was baptized.
If your parents were disengaged Catholics in the past, then this new experience might be exactly where they need to be to have their faith reinvigorated and learn to grow in love for Christ.
The sacraments are essential, not just for your parents but for you as well. Keep receiving them for your family while you wait for them to receive them one day for themselves. Offer the graces you receive from the Eucharist for their reversion back to the Catholic Church.
What your parents need from you right now, in addition to ceaseless prayer and sacrifice, is for you to be a living example of a joyful Catholic. If they associate the Church with emotionless, loveless, unfeeling worship they need to see in you an example that challenges their perception!
What does a joyful Catholic look like? A joyful Catholic is someone in love with her faith, who sacrifices without complaint, and practices acts of love through corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
The thing to remember about conversion is that it isn’t up to you. You have to step back and let God work in their lives. You’re just going to have trust. Perhaps your journeys coincide and your sacrifice and prayers for them will work to strengthen your own trust and faith. No prayer is worthless or lost. Prayer benefits the pray-er as much as the person she is praying for.
A perfect example of trust is the Divine Mercy Prayer for Conversion.
The Conversion Prayer
Jesus said: Call upon My mercy on behalf of sinners; I desire their salvation. When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion. This is the prayer:
“O Blood and Water which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a Fount of Mercy for us, I trust in you.” (Diary 186, 187)
I wish you and your parents the best as you all continue to grow in Christ through this trial.