Six Simple Ways to Nudge Conversions | Carrie Gress | CWR Blog
Some practical, foundational practices for putting the Pope's message of evangelization into action
Recently after Mass, I started chatting with two elderly women who were comparing notes on how many children they have collectively who have left the Church. Ninety-two-year-old Mary lamented that she has five daughters without faith. It got me thinking about what can be done to help bring those we love back into the fold, especially with the holidays upon us.
Evangelization is hard, especially in a culture that places a premium on niceness and not ruffling feathers. Going out of our comfort zone to win converts can be overwhelming. While grace and the providence of God are mysterious, here are six things that can be done to help nudge people in the right direction.
This one seems like a no-brainer. Masses offered, rosaries, novenas, adoration, and the intercession of the saints are essentials. However, the Holy Spirit can also prompt us to pray for the specific needs of an individual. In my own family, when it was clear that my own efforts to guide my sister to the faith weren't working, I prayed that someone else would come into her life to "seal the deal." Shortly thereafter, on a business trip, my sister restlessly went to three restaurants to find dinner. At the third place—though she hates smoke and rarely sits at bars—she sat down at the bar next to an older woman who was smoking.
She and the smoker, Dorothy—a devout Catholic—started chatting and before the meal was over, were fast friends. Dorothy and her husband were instrumental in bring my sister back to the Church and eventually to Rome for a private audience with Pope John Paul II. My sister is now a homeschooling mother of seven.
In the words of Pope Francis, “Spirit-filled evangelizers are evangelizers who pray and work” (Evangelii Guadium, 262), and, “The great men and women of God were great intercessors” (EG, 283).
2. Unite Your Pain
The 92-year-old I met after Mass last week, who lamented her faithless five daughters, also bemoaned her two artificial hips that are wearing out. "Do you offer up the pain for your daughters?" I asked. "Oh, no," she said, "I usually just complain about them." What Mary and most of us forget too readily is the pure spiritual gold we have in our pains.
We have all heard the line "offer it up," perhaps so many times that is seems trite, but why do we dismiss it? Perhaps one reason is that it is difficult to actually see what happens with those aches and pains we give back to God. There is no visible evidence or material connection between what we offer and what happens with our offering. The saints, however, repeatedly emphasize the hard spiritual currency that suffering is for winning souls when united to Christ.
Who among us doesn't have some pains or daily inconveniences to offer Our Lord for others? This is also the heart of fasting. Taking a regular day of the week to fast for a loved one can prove effective.
3. Love People Where They Are