Many families have experienced and witnessed their extended family members no longer participating in the life of the church. It is common today in modern families that cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and other have left the Catholic Church for their own reasons. With that said, as practicing and active Catholics, how do we best evangelize extended family?
Our culture has a way of sweeping people away from faith, especially those who are no longer practicing or who have gotten caught up in sin. Sin affects all of us, not just those who do not care at all about religion, church, or God. Saying no to sin is something we do every day as those who practice and love the faith. Of course, the Catholic Church provides the sacraments of the church such as Confession, the Eucharist and all the others as the antidote. But the effects of sin are everywhere. When communicating with those away from their faith, remember first to listen intently to them when there are opportunities. There will not always be opportunities but keeping our ears and eyes open and ready for dialogue is a way to evangelize.
Help when able
Our lives may have little to no value to those who do not see the relevance of the faith we follow, but we can offer our help in little ways when the time arises. This may be one of the only ways to make an impact, especially if one’s extended family is prideful, uncaring toward others, or self-sufficient without any strand of faith in their lives. When we can lend a hand and be of value to them in some small way, the door could open for deeper conversation. They may begin to see the difference in your life as a committed Catholic and more importantly have respect for you. When there is little or no respect for the other almost nothing can be accomplished in terms of opening the doors. Once your extended family sees your redeeming value as someone who not only cares but is willing to help in times of need, this could be the key.
The most important piece of it all is prayer. Prayer daily for your extended family, but not in an obsessive way. Pray for them to have a desire to know Jesus and to love him. This must be step one. After step one, the next step of course is to continue to pray but do not pray obsessively. There are people who pray for decades for family members to no avail, but we must trust God in all things. He knows best. Pray most of all for you to trust the Lord’s plan with your family members who do not care at all about the Catholic Church or about coming back.
Continue the journey with trust
Aside from prayer the aspect of continuing in trust is principal. Again, some have waited decades and a lifetime for other’s conversions. Don’t watch the clock tick. Live in the present and enjoy your daily life in full trust that God loves your family members even more than you do. That is hard to imagine, but it is true. Always keep your trust in God throughout it all.
Many a priest in Confession for sure has heard of the pain and struggles others experience because some of their family members are away from the faith. Remember this, your family members are the ones who suffer most because they do not know what they are missing. If you have your faith, you are blessed beyond measure, so give the worries related to your relatives to God. Also, remember to never lose your confidence because this can happen when one is surrounded by those who disrespect the Catholic Church, have given into sin of some sort, or those who let pride rule their lives daily. We can lose confidence when family conversations are centered on gossip and judgement instead of kindness and charity. Don’t let yourself be affected by the negativity. Keep the faith, keep praying, and never ever doubt that God’s plan is so much greater than we will ever imagine. We must love, trust, and not lose hope because our God is all good and loving. Be blessed.