A little while ago, I was asked to speak at a parish mission...
A little while ago, I was asked to speak at a parish mission. The audience there was mostly retired-age people who have likely been Catholic their entire lives.
I preached the Kerygma. I said that God is the one chasing them, not the other way around. I said that God desperately desires them, as they are right now, no matter what shame they are carrying around. I said that prayer isn’t a to-do list, but vulnerable conversation with their Father. And they were completely keyed in, like they were hearing something for the first time.
Later during the event we had small teams available for anyone who wanted personal prayer. Of the four or five people that came to me that evening, two of them said the exact same thing: they wanted prayers for their adult children who were no longer Catholic. This prayer request comes up a lot when I’m on prayer teams at retreats and events like this.
So we prayed for their children and the particular circumstances they were in. While we prayed, I also gently asked them to try and articulate their love for their child, and I said that God loves and longs for their child even more than they do and is chasing after them right now.
I also asked if they felt shame, like they failed as a parent because their kid left the Church. The answer to this question is always yes. My response was to tell them that God wants to take that shame from them and to invite them to renounce it. As we prayed, I saw people experience physical relief, like a literal weight was taken off their shoulders.
I believe that many people in this demographic of Catholics—who look like they love everything about being Catholic—are suffering because of the distorted image of God they have been given. They have been presented with a god who needed them to meet him halfway with obedience and devotions. A god who wants them to feel shame for their failures. A god who puts conditions on his love.
As a Church, when we talk about evangelization, we can’t forget the weekly Mass goers and daily Rosary prayers who maybe haven’t been introduced to Jesus yet.