10 Things to do in 2019 to Bring a Loved One Back to the Church [PART 2]

We all have family members, loved ones and friends who have left the Church. The ache of the broken heart is all too real for so many of us when we think of their absence. But what can we do?
Here are the 2nd 5 of my top 10 things we can (and must) do to help bring them back to the Church:
Give – offer up your time, talent and treasure for your loved ones, in other words live as a steward for them. As the Archangel Raphael declared, “Almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin” (Tob 12:9) or using the analogy of water putting out fire so does giving do for sins (cf. Sir 3:30). Let me be clear before I say anything here, no one can buy their way into heaven; the Church has clearly spoken on that issue. We fall into these extremes because we do not understand that almsgiving is not simply a “donation” or “tax write-off” but instead it is a prayer. Almsgiving is an act of worship, “an excellent offering in the presence of the Most High” (Tob 4:11). Next time you are writing your tithe check put someone’s name in the memo or envelope, offer them up with your “prayer”, your “worship”, your “sacrificial gift.”
Pray – obviously you have been doing this, but this year I want you to pray with a new energy characterized by confidence. When God’s Chosen People betrayed Him by worshiping a cow made of a precious medal Moses prayed to the Lord. The Lord listened to Moses’ prayer of intercession, His anger was abated and mercy was granted (cf. Deut 9:18-20). Have confidence that what you desire (salvation for the lost) is exactly what our Heavenly Father desires (cf. 1 Tim 2:4). Since that is true “this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him” (1 Jn 5:14,15).

Mass – offer up every Holy Mass that you can for your loved ones. Mass is the greatest prayer we have because it a re-presentation of the very act that granted every grace and mercy to humanity. When you are at Mass imagine placing your loved ones on the altar with the bread and wine. Just as the Holy Spirit turns bread and wine into something completely new, ask the Spirit to transform your loved ones. In our Catholic Faith we have a tradition of having priests offer Masses for the deceased. This is a highly encouraged devotion, but we can also have Masses said for the living. In fact, the saints have told us that Masses said for us while we are alive are worth even more.

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10 Things to do in 2019 to Bring a Loved One Back to the Church [PART 1]

We all have family members, loved ones and friends who have left the Church. The ache of the broken heart is all too real for so many of us when we think of their absence. But what can we do?
Here are my top 10 things we can (and must) do to help bring them back to the Church:
Discern – 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. To be honest, both of those options can be difficult depending upon the situation or person (so also ask for Fortitude from the Spirit as well). Moses wanted to end the oppression of God’s people, but his first attempt at it did not go very well (cf. Ex 2:11-15). Peter knew one of his duties was to protect Christ and the Church, but his first “swing” at it was not the right move (cf. Jn 18:10). While we know the Lord desires our loved ones to make it to Heaven, we need to be sure we are correctly working with and in His plans.
Invite – have we actually invited them back, told them that we want them back? Or 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…maybe it is just inviting them to a parish fish fry. 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 inviting.

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 like their life or is patron of their profession. Pray and maybe a saint will come to your mind…just pick one! Begin to develop a relationship with this Saint asking them to partner with you to bring you loved one back into the Church.

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5 Things Catholics Hear when they are Told to “Go Evangelize”

By Chris Stewart

For eleven years now I have been traveling the country encouraging and equipping Catholics to share their Faith. Over time I have become convinced that when a speaker says the words “Go Evangelize” or “Preach the Gospel” the Catholic audience hears something completely different. It is as if the words traveling through the air transform into something causing fear and terror, something that the Great Commission should not do. What is it that Catholics are hearing???

When Catholics are told “Go Evangelize” they hear…

1. Go Door to Door

Many Catholics envision evangelization as putting on a white shirt, tie and name tag, knocking on doors with a great smile and some literature. Now I am not saying that door to door evangelization does not work. In fact, I have seen some great parish initiatives that did just that and produced some great fruit. However, the overwhelming majority of Catholics will not be called to the door to door mission field. Instead we are called to bring the Gospel to the doors our shadows already darken, our own homes, family, friends and work.

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Did Saul actually fall off his horse on the road to Damascus?

By Hector Molina

Did Saul actually fall off his horse on the road to Damascus?

He more than likely did not. It is commonly assumed that Rabbi Saul was thrown from his horse on the road to Damascus. This assumption has been reinforced by several artistic depictions, including Caravaggio’s “Conversion on the Way to Damascus” and "Conversion of St. Paul" (1601).  However, nowhere does the New Testament make mention of Saul being thrown from his horse. In fact, it doesn’t even make mention of Saul traveling by horse!

Each of the three accounts of Saul’s miraculous conversion (Acts 9:3-4, 22:6-7, 26:12-14) asserts that Saul, upon seeing the light from heaven, fell to the ground. Most people assume that because Saul was en route to Damascus, he must have been traveling by horse at the very moment when the heavenly light appeared. This blinding light caused him and those accompanying him to fall from their horses to the ground. This is highly improbable. The reason being that St. Luke, the author of Acts, in two of his three accounts of the conversion of Saul, furnishes us with a clue that sheds light on what Saul was more than likely doing when he fell to the ground. See if you can pick it out.

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Oh If Only We Could All Become Dodoes for the Lord!

A Reflection on the Life of Mother Angelica

God’s timing is something else, or as Mother Angelica would often say, “God’s timing is always perfect.” Her passing on Easter Sunday, the Feast of Feasts, is somewhat perfect. For a woman who did so much to bring the Good News to the world, to die on the day that marks that supreme Good News…well…that is pretty great timing.

If you are like me, I was never fortunate enough to meet Mother Angelica and yet she lives one with a feeling like I personally knew her. Her personality was so tangible even through a television set. Her impact on our personal lives, for many of us, perhaps cannot be measured. 

Here I just want to share a few of my memories of Mother and the profound impact she had on me. 

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