Converting Family and Friends

I always emphasize a light touch. I saw this piece by Annabelle Hazard in Catholic Stand and was so enamored of it, I decided to reprint it in its entirety here:

The Secret to Converting Your Friends and Family

There’s someone out there you want to see safely home in the Catholic Church, right? Someone you know would be the next St. Augustine, if he found truth and decided to work for truth for the rest of his life.  You’ve been evangelizing to him by buying books and videos, posting articles on social media, even speaking directly on the stuff he’s missed. Still, he’s unmoved, probably  accused you of judging. So, you’re about ready to give up.

Please don’t!

Instead, work harder and change tactics. The thing about conversion is that it isn’t entirely up to you. The timing and the manner is purely an act of God’s grace. However, there are things you can do to cooperate and further God’s Will of performing miracles in changing hearts behind the scenes. Here are five secrets to converting your family and friends:

1. The Rosary. Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Supremi Apostolatus Officio declared the Rosary as an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society. St. John Paul II in Rosarium Virginis Mariae emphasized the importance of a family Rosary for the spiritual safety of its members when he said “the family, the primary cell of society, increasingly menaced by forces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes, so as to make us fear for the future of this fundamental and indispensable institution and, with it, for the future of society as a whole. The revival of the Rosary in Christian families… will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age.” Catholic speaker and author Kathleen Beckman attributes her son’s conversion with the daily Rosary during Eucharistic Adoration, as a deliverance prayer.

2. The Divine Mercy conversion prayer: “O blood and water, which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus.” Jesus made a promise to St. Faustina in her Diary: “When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion.” Our parish has been saying this prayer at every Mass and our priest can verify the return of fallen away Catholics to Church.

3. Fasting: Jesus taught in scripture Mark 9: 29, that there are certain demons in our lives that can “only be driven out by prayer and fasting.” The USCCB’s Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence stress that “the need for conversion and salvation is unchanging, as is the necessity that, confessing our sinfulness, we perform, personally and in community, acts of penance in pledge of our inward penitence and conversion.” The same statement places first priority to abstinence from meat every Friday, but also, fasting includes self-denial like giving up tasty deserts, a favorite beverage, TV, internet, shopping. If you want proof of the effectiveness of fasting, look no further. The recent Supreme Court decision affirming religious freedom was a direct result of the USCCB’s campaign on penance and fasting.

4. Redemptive Suffering. Redemptive suffering is the teaching that human suffering, when accepted and offered up in union with the Passion of Jesus, can remit the just punishment for one’s sins or for the sins of another. St. John Paul II wrote in Salvifici Doloris “In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his sufferings, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ. Pope Pius XII’s Encyclical on the Mystical Body revealed that the salvation (and conversion) of many souls depends on the prayers and voluntary penances offered by the Mystical Body for that intention. If you offer up your suffering, inconveniences and frustrations for the conversion of sinners and unite it with the Eucharist (the commemoration of the suffering of Christ), you can atone for the sins of others and give souls the opportunity to be opened up for grace to set in. “Suffering,” said St. Therese, “converts more souls than sermons.”

5. Marian Pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is a personal act of devotion and sacrifice. Pilgrimage sites abound in graces. If your future, St. Augustine likes travel, bring him along on a Marian pilgrimage. There is a plethora of conversion stories through Mary’s intercession in pilgrimage places: models and nobility turned nuns, new agers turned Catholics, Atheist turned believers, drug addicts turned sober, actor turned revert (that would be Jim Caviezel). If however, only you get the chance to go, pray for the graces from Mary’s intercession to live a life that will be an evangelization tool in and of itself. St. Louis de Montfort wrote: “[Mary] attained an immense and inconceivable degree of grace. So much so, that the Almighty made her the sole custodian of his treasures and the sole dispenser of his graces. She can now ennoble, exalt and enrich all she chooses. She can lead them along the narrow path to heaven and guide them through the narrow gate to life.”

Conversion can occur immediately or gradually, during one’s life or the moment before his death. Your prayers and sacrifices for conversion of souls are always in God’s Will and will bear fruit at the appropriate time. So, don’t give up on your friends and family. Convert them in secret.