“To those who have faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
St. Thomas Aquinas
So what do you do, when your faith or, as it is often called now, your “belief system” is challenged? What if your faith is challenged by your children or other members of your family? That is very difficult to handle. Arguments take place daily, in families, because of this one issue. What do you do?
St. Francis of Assisi said, “Always preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” Sometimes, though, words can become bitter and descend into arguments that break up families. “Leave me alone,” they yell. We risk the fate of pushing them farther away from the faith.
St. Monica prayed her for son and husband to convert to Catholicism for 30 years. 30 years! She never gave up. He tricked her and left her behind in Rome. It was very dangerous for her to be there alone, and it was very dangerous for her to travel alone, but she kept up going. She followed her son. She never gave up hope, and she prayed.
Today, in Sister Emmanuel Millard’s newsletter, she spoke of this topic. I like her advice. Quoting Sister Emmanuel, she said,
“If someone blasphemes in the family, ignore him. Stay calm and pretend not to have heard anything. But in your heart bless God. Then your blessing will cancel the effect of the blaspheme. The one who blasphemes will tire before you get tired of blessing God! In this way you will keep your peace of heart and that peace will flow onto all the people around you. God has a plan of Holiness for every person in your family. If you pray, you are God’s instrument for those who do not know his love.
But “do not enter into a discussion” says Mother Mary. It is through example, not irritation that hearts open. Mary has come to beg us: “Renew prayer in your family!” Today the attack is too powerful, we need powerful weapons so as not to sin.
Let us pray a lot, a lot, for the Synod in Rome!”
(A sidebar here: Destructive posts are flying over the internet about the imminent collapse of the Catholic Church because there are reports of some bishops proposing this or that or the other. Sometimes, it is better to wait and see before we enter into a discussion. We need to know what is happening, truly happening before we get upset and angry. Trust God. He will not let untruth be taught in His Church. Sidebar over!”
Back to our families. What do we do? How do we handle the challenge of errant children who have left their faith?
1) Pray! Pray! Pray! If it takes 30 years of intense prayer, like St. Monica prayed, do it! Pray for your family every day. Do not let a day go by without prayers for their souls and their conversions.
2) Invoke saints such as St. Monica, St Rita of Cassia and St. Jude. Both are patrons of impossible cases. Pray to them and ask them to intercede for your loved ones.
3) Make a novena. Two incredibly powerful novenas are the 54 day Rosary Novena and the Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. I recommend them highly. Invoke the Blessed Mother and ask for her help. She won’t turn you down.
4) Preach the gospel through example. Let your loved ones crave the peace you find in your faith.
5) Set the example when it comes to prayer. Attend Mass weekly, or daily if you can. Pray the Rosary daily. Attend Eucharistic Adoration weekly, daily, if possible. Storm heaven with your prayers.
6) Bless God and thank Him for your loved ones and for this challenge. He will never be outdone in generosity, and He will give you the strength to persevere in your battle.
7) Be a vessel of love for your loved ones. They will exasperate you. They will challenge you. They will drive you insane, but pray. They need God, they just don’t know it, yet.
8) If your children are small, talk to them about your faith. Make sure they attend Religious Ed classes at Church. Get them involved in your youth groups. Set the stage at home for your faith. Invite them to say the Rosary with you. Read Sacred Scripture together. Mold them into the image of Jesus. Take your children with your when you go to receive the Sacrament of Reconcilliation. Let them know that you believe what the faith tells you.
9) Above all, don’t yell and scream at them about their faith. Be firm in getting them to Mass. Even, and this is tough, even if you have to skip sports activities. Of course, they won’t like it, but you are the parents and you have to set the example.
10) St. Paul tells us to “Pray with out ceasing.” Your loved ones need your prayers. Oh, and don’t forget to pray for yourself. You need them, too.
No one ever said it would be easy. I can promise you, it won’t be easy. Bringing loved ones back to the faith is challenging, but the rewards will never be better. Hang in there. Stay strong. It took St. Monica 30 years of prayer, but St. Augustine turned out fairly well. He’s a great saint and a Doctor of the Church. It wasn’t easy, but she did it!
Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow!