Trying to bring my sister back to the Catholic Faith


#1

I am not sure if this is the right place to post this but here it goes. I have a sister who is 50 y/o and left the Catholic Church about 25 years ago. She belongs to a non-denominational church which is very fancy, has an auditorium better than most high schools, food cort, youth rect center w/refreshment bar and band stand. I talked to her about our differences a few years ago and got nowhere but it was a civil discussion. I just started a dialogue again and she says the reason she left the church initially was because she went to a protestant church and it was alive while the Catholic church she used to attend seemed dead and people just going through the motions. She said that at the present time she doesnt believe the Eucharist is the body,blood soul & divinity of Christ, she also doesnt believe on confession to a priest and also does not believe in purgatory.

Here is her latest reply to me:

Dan,

If I was witty enough I would have ranted on as if I was highly offended by your first message and given you a heart attack and written just kidding at the end, but I didn't think of it...darn! :)

I will say that over the last year or so I've come to believe that God is much bigger than any one religion that is out there today. I think He is much more concerned about where our hearts are and the process we go through becoming more like Christ than any particular ritual we perform. That said, can you become more like Christ living in sin and not examining your heart and harboring bitterness, no, but do I think you need to go to a priest to receive forgiveness if you are truly sorry and if you've offended someone and asked them for forgiveness, no, but if that helps you examine yourself and confess to God, good for you, but I also think you can go straight to God. I know as a kid I found myself coming up with a laundry list of things to tell the priest just so I had something to say. It really wasn't connected to a repentant heart. I do think there are certain things he commands us to do which are found in the Bible, so much about loving others as well as our enemies, caring for the poor, forgiving others that I tend to find myself getting caught up in those things that seem to affect my life every day.

I'm sorry I'm not being cohesive at all in this. Anyway what I started out saying was that I've learned to appreciate that some people enjoy a more liturgical service and I, at one time, could never understand that because I so much like to praise God with singing.

There's one song I'd like you to listen to that kinda describes that talking about when the singer gets to heaven. It's called I Can Only Imagine and the chorus says this "I can only imagine what my eyes will see when you are before me surrounded by your glory what will my heart feels? Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still? Will stand in your presents or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine."

The point I'm trying to make is that I think they are all appropriate and you see all of them in the Bible. Isaiah said Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips. David disrobed and danced before the Lord. I think our God is far greater than our own individual understandings of him. It is kinda cool thinking that others of like faith are reading the same passage all around the world but I also think it's cool to think that there are others all around the world worshiping God focusing in on all the other parts of the Bible as well. I wish I could express to you what it's been like for me when we were in India before to be singing songs of worship in a language I didn't even know but knowing that these people I was singing with were my brothers and sisters in Christ and we were worshiping the same Jesus!

Then another time when we were working at a soup kitchen in Philly for men, they had to attend a church service first before they could eat. It was humbling to come from our high tech church to this room full of bums off the street and a call and response chant broke out as a man from the front began and the congregation would respond with nothing but clapping for instruments but I felt God's Spirit so powerfully there.

God will work where He chooses to work be it a Catholic Church or a Protestant Church or an underground gathering in some closed country.

Yes, the alter is similar to the Jewish tradition with the animal sacrifices. All of that was pointing to Jesus as you said who was the perfect sacrifice. The only one who could pay the price for our sins and I'm so grateful!

Look up the song if you get a change on You Tube. I gotta get something done her today too!

Love ya!
Deb

Can someone help me with what I could say to convince her that God wants her in the Catholic church. She thinks that any Christian religion is the same as the next and God doesn't care. I would appreciate your input. Thanks!

Dan


#2

I don't know if I could give you much advice, but what I thought of when reading your sister's email was that you should explain that all religions have some truth in them. Many of the christian denominations have a great deal of truth in them. God will work within them because He loves everyone and they are worshipping him.

However, the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth. There are many apologetics websites (look up John Martignoni's one for some free talks on various topics) that will explain the various reasons why Catholics believe what they do, including the need to confess to a Priest, the Mary worship fallacy, the communion of saints etc.

No disrespect intended, but I wonder if what she is feeling when she says that she felt God's spirit powerfully was somewhat like the feeling one gets at a great music performance, that uplifting of the spirit. I think a person can get too attached to the mood and the feeling of a particular service, and forget to look objectively at the 'rightness' of it. I believe many wonderful graces have been given to people without them feeling any different (I really hope this one is true because I rarely feel much at Mass:o)


#3

We have a few catholic christian/s attending our church..One man had a powerful experience during prayer/ministry time that radically transformed his life.His faith is fired up..His whole catholic family(parents/brothers) have visited twice to see what he has been experiencing...If you see her growing deeper in Christ be encouraged..


#4

Hi Dan,

In all honesty, the only thing you can do for your sister is to pray for her. We all have a right to religion and you need to respect your sister’s wishes to attend a non-denominational church. At one point in her life, she may have not felt comfortable with the Catholic Church and it’s teachings, and you may be hurt and upset that she left the church, but you have to admire that she still has strong belief in God.


#5

try introducing her to a pentecostal catholic meeting. she appears to be feelings based, not truth centered.


#6

I want to thank everyone for their advise on bringing my sister back to the Catholic faith. One thing I was thinking of was using the church fathers to make a convincing arguement. It seems to be the best way to show her that the Catholic church today is most closely following what the early chuch believed. However listening to various debates which talk about the church fathers it appears that protestants have their own set of church father quotes to refute the Catholic churches claim as being the one true church. So it sounds like I am back at square one as in using the Bible that Catholics have there scripture passages and protestants have theirs. Before I started looking into reading the church fathers can anyone shed some light on this for me. Also if this is a good approach is there a good source online of the church fathers that I can read. Thanks

Dan V


#7

Consider reading some books by Scott Hahn (and gently nudging her to read them too). He was a protestant who converted to Catholicism and his thoughts may hit more at home for her since she has a different starting point from you now. Really the most important thing is to pray constantly for your sister.


#8

[quote="Dan_V, post:6, topic:240720"]
I want to thank everyone for their advise on bringing my sister back to the Catholic faith. One thing I was thinking of was using the church fathers to make a convincing arguement. It seems to be the best way to show her that the Catholic church today is most closely following what the early chuch believed. However listening to various debates which talk about the church fathers it appears that protestants have their own set of church father quotes to refute the Catholic churches claim as being the one true church. So it sounds like I am back at square one as in using the Bible that Catholics have there scripture passages and protestants have theirs. Before I started looking into reading the church fathers can anyone shed some light on this for me. Also if this is a good approach is there a good source online of the church fathers that I can read. Thanks

Dan V

[/quote]

Dear Dan, I applaud you for your concern about your sister but I feel I must warn you about the possible consequences of continuing to push this issue with her. You may end up cut off from her if she feels you are not listening to what she is saying about her faith and yours. Please try not to keep pushing her, but pray for her unceasingly.

To me, the key of conversion always comes back to the Real Presence. If a person does not truly believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist, then our sacrifice of the Mass not only makes no sense, but will always be lacking when put up against the non-denominational and Protestant churches' entertainment services. They can also see our Mass as being a heresy, because they believe we are crucifying Christ every Sunday. So unless she is willing to even consider what Jesus told us to do as literal truth, you will never convince her that the Mass really is where Jesus becomes tangible and we do as he commanded, "Unless you eat of My Body, you shall not have life within you."

The Holy Spirit is responsible for conversions/reversions. It is not your job. You can pray, and be as charitable as possible toward your sister. Cultivate compassion for her.


#9

Pray that she will be led back in God's time, but in the meantime that she have a fulfilling and personal relationship with Jesus.

My brother is Baptist. We like to debate theology - and it doesn't get heated. He's learning and I'm learning. Would I love him to be Catholic? Of course, Do I question that he truly loves Jesus and seeks to do His Will? Of course not.

It's not my job to convert him. I can live as a witness, I can answer his questions honestly. I can even pass along Catholic books and CDs if it seems appropriate. One thing I don't want to do, though, is harden his heart to the Church in the meantime.


#10

I agree that you can push a person away from the Church easily. Kind of like an over bearing parent, and a rebellious child.

Keep in mind your sister has a beautiful faith in Christ. It's not that she does not believe, she thinks she's right. God is quite forgiving of ignorance. It's us as humans who are not.

I do very much understand your sister is a "feeler". So am I. This is the way I was created.

I like very much a Mass with a choir, and quality singers. The appearance of the church will have a huge impact on me. I grew up in a very elaborate full of detail church. Simple is not the issue. I see the beauty in a very simple church, or absolute silence. I feel all of that, to the core of my being. Some church buildings just take away so much. And sometimes the people within take it away.

There are certain songs that will render me to tears.

In case you haven't looked up the song she asked you to: There is nothing but love for our Lord in this song. You can see it!
youtu.be/8Klrc0YuikM

Hear I am Lord, is one I can't get through without crying. And an all time favorite. Takes me all the way back to Mass as a child: youtu.be/jOvQLMfppN8

If she'll attend Mass with you, it's worth finding one that a person could feel a bit more. Excellent choir, perhaps a bit more ornate, or very humble. But not ugly. Not a church where the building was a complete afterthought.

When I was struggling with not my faith in God, but the Church reading about Padre Pio really spoke to me. A saint of modern times with confirmed miracles around him.


#11

The only one who can bring a person to God is God. Just be there for your sister, don't judge her, let her know you'll support any questions she has, and then let it go. My brother was a "born-again" for about 10 years and he drove my family CRAZY with all his pushing. I was determined not to push anyone when I went back to the Catholic church and I hope I've been true to that. Remember, Catholics value self-will and a person has to come to the faith because they want to, not because they feel pressured to do so. Hang in there, your sister might surprise you one day.


#12

Be subtle. Leave books like Surprised by Truth in the bathroom when she visits. Then she can peek at it without getting caught. You know she'll want to see what sort of nonsense you read and where you get these strange ideas.

Go do something Catholic. Be on the lookout for retreats, pilgrimages, processions, all-night Adoration, Something. Go do it. Then when she asks, "Whatcha been up to lately?" You can launch into a travelogue.

Pray for her conversion.


#13

If she wants to talk about it, fine. Otherwise, pray and sacrifice.


#14

Lord, hear our prayers


#15

I found your sister’s letter impressive. Like her, I believe that there are different paths to God. Some find it in a hierarchy-led, ritualistic, doctrinal. and rich tradition like Catholicism. Others focus more upon an emotional experience, amplified by vigorous singing and shouts of ‘Praise the Lord’. And there are still other alternatives. We choose based on our personal needs.

Our emphasis should be upon mutual respect for all who seek the Lord. He is able to reach us through countless connections, which includes churches with different names and liturgies. 

 It seems to my simple mind that love of one another includes respecting their choices when it comes to their spiritual lives. I'm quite sure that our all-merciful, all-loving God has no problem with that, even if many devout tribalistic Christians do. To say that no one faith can claim a full understanding of God is to confess our human limitations and express our faith in a Lord whose majesty should cause us to kneel in awe before him.

#16

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