What convinced YOU to come back?

My sister, 25, was raised a Massgoing Catholic, but for the past two years has been dating an evangelical Protestant. Recently, she’s stopped going to Mass much in favor of attending his denimination’s Sunday service (more to be with him, I think, than for the service itself). I’m concerned that she is slowly drifting from her Catholic faith and am not sure how to convince her that it’s important for her to attend Mass, other than inviting her to come with my wife and I. She isn’t really the intellectual type, so I’m not sure reason-based arguments will work well. I don’t think it’s that she’s actively seeking to distance herself from the Church, but rather a combination of life factors (relationship, work schedule, etc.) making her feel like it’s not a priority for her.

I’m considering having a heart-to-heart with her and telling her of my concerns, but I don’t want to come across as the pushy older brother. But, as her confirmation sponsor, I do feel a sense of obligation to say something. To make matters more complicated, our mother – who IS the pushy type – has said things to her about it in the past, which I know has only made her angry.

I’m just wondering if any of you have been in a similar situation, and if so, what eventually persuaded you to return to your Catholic faith and to Mass. I’m all ears to ideas.

I think you have the luckiest sister in the world, she has a brother like you concerned for her eternal soul!

I came back. Even though I had been going to church (protestant) all my adult life and receiving communion, it was an Orthodox priest that told me the last valid Eucharist I had was when I was nine, shortly after my FHC, in the Catholic Church.

That killed me spiritually. I found my way back through an Eastern Catholic church.

Don’t be afraid to share the truth with your sister. Pray for her. Invite her friend and her to mass. The young man made need his eyes opened, too.

It has to be the Holy Spirit. All you can do is pray and be a spiritual companion. Don’t push. Ask her where she is at spiritually. Share her journey without judgement. Ask questions about what nourishes her, gives her life, makes sense to her.

I have wonderer this of many people who have left the church. Someone once told me “it all boils down to the real presence in the Eucharist and for someone to leave the real presence for a sympolic or non-existance presence must have either never believed the doctrine or never understood it to begin with”. I think there is some truth to this statement so every chance I get i ask the x-Catholics. So far I have had only one, here on CAF, that said they believed and understood it but left for other reasons but wonder how truthful he was being.

Peace!!!

Totally truthful. There are many other reasons, valid ones.

Malachi 1:11 and 1 Corinthians 11:27.

ICXC NIKA

I did the same thing your sister did. I had some slightly different reasons for leaving, but they dovetailed with hers. I’m now Catholic again, and for good.

I came back for several reasons. I was tired of the hyper-emotionalism of the Protestant church I was attending with my husband, and of the lack of distinction between God and feelings. Another thing that deeply disturbed me was the absolute autonomy of the individual, and the resulting chaos. I found that when a person said, “The Holy Spirit told me…” it was taken as irrefutable proof of God’s hand in any decision, even decisions that directly flew in the face of God. There were more minor reasons like these.

I came back primarily because of the Eucharist. I don’t remember a time when I had a problem accepting the Catholic teaching on the identity of the consecrated hosts, though clearly I didn’t completely “get it,” because I was willing to walk away. But Protestant Communion made my stomach turn (with an actual, physical sensation) – it felt like such a mockery. It always hurt my heart. I never received. Years of Masses had done their job.

The last straw came when two separate people at my husband’s church, the pastor and my ministry leader, approached me at different times asking why I didn’t take communion, even though I was saved. They each expressed concern that the Catholic Church had brainwashed me. I thanked them for their concern and told them why I didn’t want to receive. After the second time I started thinking, “So… why am I messing around here?”

I’ve read in a few places that the Eucharist is the reason why most reverts come back.

I can’t tell you what to do in your sister’s case, but it seems like casually persistent invitations to Mass might not be out of place. However, and not to be trite, but the best possible attraction you have is your own life. Are you excited about going to Mass? Is God part of your vernacular? Is your marriage clearly a sacrament, and can she see the fruits of those graces? My agnostic brother will engage with my husband and me when we talk about God because we are so evidently sincere and so obviously allow truth to change us. Most people he tunes out or does the, “well that’s nice for you…” thing. To me he says, “your Faith” with respect and – perhaps I’m imagining it but maybe it’s really there – a little bit of desire.

Invite your sister, witness to her with your life, pray for her, and be patient. I’ve also prayed for her, that Jesus will draw her to himself in the Blessed Sacrament and bring her closer to him than she’s ever been.

**

In your shoes, I might come at the matter from the side. I would mention that she goes to his church a lot, but he doesn’t come to hers, and ask her what she thinks their marriage will be like (if they are that far along in their relationship). Maybe wonder how supportive a person he of her interests…

ETA: you want to do this in a way that does not run the bf down at all!!!

As for me, the parent I had who was Catholic left the Church when I was young, as did most of my other Catholic relatives. As an adult, I turned very gradually to God, then to Christ, and then, finding “mere” (Protestant) Christianity to be lacking in spiritual depth, went to a Catholic bookstore to get a Rosary, saw Scott Hahn’s Home Sweet Rome, and never looked back.

That is a book I often recommend, btw. It shows the differences between Protestantism and Cathooicism in a *very *easily read way. It is also like a story, so not at all dry. It might be a good book for your sister to read… to explain her religion to her boyfriend, for example.

It was my time. i was 59 and realized someday was finally here!

I your case, keep an open heart for your sisters return , pray for her, and don’t stop caring for her, not just her soul.

I’ll add a decade for you both as well…

I left because I was lazy, too busy with my career, I never stopped believing, just stopped attending church to reinforce it! I was wrong. I’m eternally grateful (literally) that I came back, and brought my episcopalian wife with me!

We are now the two old smiling catholics over on the right side of the altar!

I left for a number of reasons but probably most of all because of the sin in my life. I never went to another church, though, because I always knew that the Catholic Church was the One True Church.

After about 10 years or so the Holy Spirit, with the help of the BVM, lured me back. Called me home. Nagged me out of my stupor. Call it whatever you will - I’ve returned and my faith is stronger than ever.

I stopped going to church after I was confirmed, only going to Easter and Christmas services afterwards because my mom made me. She gave me the choice of whether I wanted to be confirmed or not, and I only agreed to it because I knew it was what she wanted. Despite the fact that I kept receiving the desire to read the Bible and learn as much as I could about the Catholic faith I was being raised in, I was being drawn towards Buddhism and Hinduism. I never learned anything about them; I honestly just wanted to be something “exotic”. I “knew” they were wrong, but had the idea that “God will understand if I do this”. Like I said, I never acted on these desires, but I was a theological liberal and more protestant-minded. I agreed with the phrase, “man has no authority to forgive sins” simply because I heard it a lot, for example. Adding to my already conflicted beliefs, I was being taken in by atheism. I “knew” there is a God, and I “knew” it is the Christian God, so I have no idea where all of this came from. Conflict and contradiction was a huge part of my adolescence.

I finally started coming back to the Church in December of 2015, during the end of my first semester in college. I got an email from campus ministry saying that it was a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, so I decided that I would finally honor the promise I made to myself that I would “find myself” spiritually. It was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th. I went to Mass, and I felt great about it. I think I started reading from a King James Bible that I had, and I got through a chapter or two of Genesis. Despite how tired I was, I decided to go to a spiritual event that night. I can’t remember what it was called, but I think it was sponsored by some Brothers (this was a Catholic college). I won’t go into detail about it. I loved it, though.

By that time, I had been politically conservative for about a year, so I was more open to religion by that point then I had been (I had “been” a communist, despite not knowing what it really was). I believe being “politically orthodox” (conservative) also helped me to become theologically orthodox. For example, I once would have denied the Real Presence (and did, at first, as I had never heard of it before), but now avidly defend it. As I said earlier, I also rejected the idea that “man can forgive sins”, but have since made frequent use of the sacrament of reconciliation.

If I had to summarize it all, I would put it this way: I had something coming from inside of me since childhood that told me, “Learn more”, but something from outside of me (my mother’s Catholic faith, the email I received in college) had to urge me to act on it.

Perhaps that’s what your sister needs. Your mother seems to have done so the wrong way. She may have been too aggressive. What your sister needs from you is gentle persuasion. Rather than start by asking her about her beliefs or why she hasn’t made any time for church, I might offer her a book to read. I wouldn’t suggest Scott Hahn’s conversion story (yet) because, if I remember it correctly, there’s a big focus on the theological hurdles he faces. Your sister is (hopefully still) already on this side of the Tiber, and she can read this another time. I recommend Time for God by Jacques Philippe. You said that your sister hasn’t been making God her priority, so this short book attempts to teach someone who is “too busy to pray” how to make the most out of their time with God (and hopefully get your sister to start praying). I would read it yourself, first, if you choose to get it, just so you know what’s in it.

I left the practice of the faith for so many reasons. But at the heart of anyone leaving, I believe, when you get right down to it, is the loss of faith in Catholic teaching authority which can then result in the loss of faith in Catholic interpretation of Scripture and the ECFs. If one accepts by faith the Catholic claims of authority, then one won’t leave in the end. But for me a faith journey became not a set of rules to obey with human authority lording over me. But instead a lifelong journey of a finite human attempting to seek and to understand an infinite God. What later became Catholic emphasis on a couple of issues at the expense of the social justice gospel did not help. I still see such emphasis today among Catholics despite the current Pope expressing to the faithful…

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."

“We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow."

americamagazine.org/faith/2013/09/30/big-heart-open-god-interview-pope-francis

But I’ve yet to see in my world such a new balance, or not enough of a balance, come to fruitation in too many Catholic circles. And I’ve yet been convinced to come back.

My family is all over the map. Love her. Accept where he is on her journey and allow the Holy Spirit to move her. If and when the time is right for her to return to the faith, she will know. My advice would be not to push or else risk your sister being driven further away.

And remember even the Catholic Church sees good in other places.

CCC 838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety… Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.”

CCC 843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.”

Peace be with you, your sister and your family.

I was away from the Catholic Church for years and then wanted God back in my life. I experimented with Methodist, went just one time and decided it wasn’t for me. The speaker there didn’t talk about God, just stuff totally unrelated, and I didn’t want that.

I tried Unitarian Fellowship, and there was good fellowship there, but they didn’t have a set thing, like a mass. They would just have people come in and talk about any topic. Once, my teacher and I went there and did T’ai Chi. The children would read books, but again it had nothing to do with God.

I went to some other service, that one of my students invited me to. I was basically tricked into it. I was told it would just be a dinner and NOT a service. Then, it did turn out to be a service. In a way, it was good I went, because I saw by contrast what I didn’t want. I also didn’t appreciate being lied to in order to get me there.

At that service, there was nothing there. There was, I think just a large cross. I don’t think there were any kneelers, incense, flowers, artwork, statues, just nothing. People I knew got up to speak, and I didn’t feel they were qualified to speak in the way a priest is.

One time, I went with my sister to Church of God, and their minister would get up and talk for like 2 hours. There was no eucharist, nothing outside of his talk.

Once, I went to Baptist, and again, there was nothing I was used to there, just a talk, as I remember.

I went to some New Age Church, and we sort of seemed to pray to ourselves. Fellowship was wonderful, but there was nothing there. It seemed heavily bent on making money. There would be spiritual counselors there, for a fee. I didn’t think it’d be cheap.

I began to miss everything about the Catholic Church. I missed the way we pray our predetermined prayers, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the rosary. I missed the Eucharist. I missed the beautiful artwork, the statues and the rest. I missed praying to the angels and saints, the sacraments.

Before I came back, I started to read, “The Divine Comedy” by Dante. I had a nightmare the day I returned to Church that I was being persued by a demon. He was under the floor. I began to hear him making noise, and I began praying, “Hail Mary…”. He screamed. I said, “Our Father…”, and again he screamed. I woke up and went back to Church that very day. The day I went back I went to an ordination of 4 priests. I felt very much comforted by the presence of so many priests. Later, I went to confession, and now I’m back.

I’ve had times when I had a boyfriend I would get off the track, stop going to church, because I was in a state of sin. However, I have realized this is a pattern of mine.

I had a boyfriend, stopped going to Church, again, and my birthday is May 13. Last year on May 13, I was remembering the Virgin of Fatima and just like that made a decision to return to Church again. I did. Now, I have told myself I seem to be one of these people who NEEDS daily mass. I try to pray the rosary daily, visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently, and include my boyfriend in my prayers. We also pray together. I hope not to fall away ever again.

Oh yes, one more thing, I missed Mary. Yes, I admit I missed the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Greetings Rosebud, I will mark you as #2 if you like but as far as #1 goes, I dont think you can speak for him nor do i think you want me to. :wink:

And please note I never said there were no “valid reasons”. Im pretty sure every single person who left the church had their own valid reasons. But for the sake of this thread im sure the OP might would like to hear these you speak about.

Peace!!!

I am a pushy older brother, so keep that in mind. But the first thing I’d do is ask her why. Find out her reasons. I’m sure she has some. Then you can address her specific reasons. This is of course predicated on her being open and honest with you.

I know you said she may not be persuaded so much by argument, but understanding her perspective will help, even if it just confirms your guesses. Not to mention people want to be understood. Taking the time to do so increases the chance you’ll have influence.

I like this idea.

I think the OP is interested on what made us come back. I didn’t share what made me leave, as I didn’t leave, my parents did.

I lapsed after graduation, I didn’t feel comfortable as the only 21 year old at my local parish and really missed attending mass on campus with friends. I think it was a kind of subtle knowledge that I needed to focus on the Eucharist. This is definitely what’s kept me there.

Hi Kepha15,

I can’t speak for myself, but I can share with you my experiences with a family member that has left the Catholic Church for an evangelical Protestant church. The key for this family member leaving was that they didn’t feel spiritually nourished by the Catholic Church. They had a bad experience at a bible study where everyone stated that they’re going to heaven as long as they were “good people”. And my family member didn’t believe in the Eucharist, despised confession, and didn’t get anything out of Mass beyond the scripture readings and the sermon. I say this because many people who have responded to you seem to say that they are drawn back to the Eucharist or Mary and this isn’t going to be the case for my family member (and maybe your sister) because they really never believed in the first place.

The evangelical church my family member now attends provides a very lively environment. It’s basically a Christian concert every Sunday with a very knowledgeable pastor who gives entertaining and relevant sermons (I’ve attended several services at this church myself). My family member’s Christian faith has blossomed since attending this Protestant church. The truth about the Catholic Church doesn’t matter to this family member as they are more focused on where they are in their faith journey. It is incredibly frustrating for me and after a few testy discussions I have decided to let the Holy Spirit do His work and stop badgering.

I have planted the seeds of truth, but I now realize that I can’t force even the truth on someone. My recommendation would be to present the truth of the Catholic faith to your sister in a very loving manner, but do not judge and don’t be overbearing (unlike me!!). Plant the seeds, pray, be a strong Catholic yourself and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. Be there for your sister if/when she’s ready for further discussion, but be prepared for the possibility that she will become an evangelical Protestant herself. If the truth isn’t the focus of worship that kind of environment can be quite compelling.

Sorry, I can’t be of more help, but I just wanted to share my experience. Thanks.

-Ernie-

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.