There are many reasons why Catholics leave the Church. More than 90 percent leave because of the human element of the Church. The other 10 percent probably never believed in the divine element in the first place

FAITH IS A gift. If you try to bring back lapsed Catholics, be careful. As a rule, they don’t like any kind of pressure.

For instance, if you say jokingly, “When are you coming back to the Church?” you might hear, “Back to what, the same old stuff?”

Many of them have been hurt, offended or scandalised by priests and bishops; some may have had a scrupulous parent who smothered them.

Better to “speak more to God about them, than to them about God”. This was the advice St. Ambrose gave to St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, when he lapsed into heresy as a young man. She persevered in her prayers, and he eventually became a saint.

Many estranged Catholics are totally indifferent to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Jesuit theologian Father Karl Rahner once said, “For too many people, Christianity has become another ‘ism’, an ideology, an abstraction, and abstractions have no need of a mother.”

Those who do return after years of estrangement often tell us that they did not come back because of prodding or intellectual arguments. Rather, they found themselves looking for something that was missing in their lives; namely, a spiritual home.

This is where Mary comes in to play; a home needs a mother in it.

When people experience hard times they often say a Hail Mary, and when their prayers are answered the seeds of faith begin to bloom again. The contempt they once felt for the institutional Church seems to become inconsequential. They soon realise that the Catholic Church
is the only organisation in the world that truly honours the mother of Jesus as He wants her honoured.

Mary is the mother of the mystical body of Christ and therefore our spiritual mother.

“Honour thy mother” is a divine commandment, and Mary had a two-fold vocation; namely, to receive Jesus into her body, and then to give Him away to the world for our salvation.

This is essentially our vocation too.

After the Second Vatican Council, many priests began preaching that the council eliminated our so-called “exaggerated devotion” to Mary, but what they failed to explain was all that Mary really means to us.

To the objection of our Protestant brothers – namely that Christians do not need Mary because Jesus alone is Lord – we have this answer from the pen of Cardinal Leo Jozef Suenens: “It is true, Mary plays no role in the transmission of sacramental grace, i.e., she never interferes in the priest’s absolution; however, in Lourdes and elsewhere, she gently urges the pilgrims to go to confession and receive holy Communion.”

In Scripture, Mary says, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5).

Far from getting in the way, she points us to Jesus.

The cynicism of disbelievers does not affect the truth.

I have been broadcasting 30-second radio spots on over 1,000 radio stations carried on the Westwood One radio network for about 20 years. My sole purpose in creating this ministry called St. Jude Media is to tell my listeners that God loves them and that they can trust Him, especially when He says, “Be not afraid.” This is the good news of the Gospel.

Jesus said, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people” who never strayed (Lk 15:7).

I take Him at His word. -  By Father John Catoir, cns

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