How to Share Your Faith with Friends and Family Who Lost Theirs

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” - John 4:13-15

creation-of-adamPerhaps you have them in your life just as I do: loved ones who are good people, but who either by choice or by life circumstances don’t share your Catholic faith.

And perhaps like me, you’ve encountered interesting moments with these family members or friends since the commencement of Pope Francis’ pontificate.

Whether because of mainstream media coverage, or simply to make conversation with me, many of my friends who have been away from the Church (or who never knew Her to begin with) are suddenly asking questions. Over the past several months, I’ve had my spiritual antenna raised for such encounters where the movements of the Holy Spirit create a moment of opportunity to minister with love.

I sense in these fleeting conversations the opening of a window through which great grace can pass. But I also often fear that something I wrongly say or do in these interactions will again slam shut that window and further distance my loved one from the power of Christ’s embrace.

Look For Those “Well Moments”

There is not an easy “one size fits all” approach to these encounters. (Tweet this).

You probably know the pain of having someone you love reject the Creed with which they were raised. The accompanying pain tears at our hearts and causes us to second-guess ourselves, and to wonder what we might have done differently.

We often wrongly judge – both our fallen away brothers and sisters, and ourselves.

Lately, I’ve been trying to train myself to recognize what I’ve started calling these “well moments”. We know from reading John’s fourth chapter that Jesus himself had occasion to meet a Samaritan woman who was not only popularly considered a sinner, but who also was clearly seeking some greater truth in her own life.

Jesus didn’t choose to begin this encounter from a position of judgment or condemnation, but rather in a dialogue. He gently and lovingly led the woman to the truth she was so desperately seeking. John 4:5-42, gives us a model, an object lesson of sorts, for our own “well moments”.

We Need to Walk

Pope Francis, in his March 23rd Sunday Angelus, broke open the key component of Christ’s encounter with the Samaritan Woman:

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’

In this way, the Pope explained, Jesus cut across the barriers of hostility that existed between Jews and Samaritans, crushing the prejudice that existed in relating to women.

The Pope said that Jesus’ simple request signals the beginning of an open dialogue, through which, with great delicacy, He entered the interior world of a person to whom, according to social convention, He should not even have spoken to.

“But this is exactly what Jesus does! Jesus is not afraid. When Jesus sees a person He goes towards that person because He is filled with love. He loves all of us. He does not stop before anyone because of prejudice,” Pope Francis said.

He went on to explain that Jesus does not judge, but acknowledges each person making him or her feel considered and recognized, and stimulating in that person the wish to go beyond their daily “routine”.

As we prepare for such encounters in our own lives – those times when we have the opportunity to simply and lovingly journey alongside someone as they move towards Jesus Christ – we need to remember to attend to our own spiritual “thirst” as well. A life lived immersed in scripture and the sacraments helps prepare our hearts and minds for “well moments.”

Together let’s meet these opportunities fully prepared to let God work through us. Let’s open a dialogue, set judgment aside and “be not afraid” the next time we find ourselves at the well.

Lisa Hendey

Lisa M. Hendey is the Founder of CatholicMom.com and the author of The Grace of Yes and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. Lisa writes in multiple Catholic venues and maintains an active speaking calendar, presenting on faith, family, technology and evangelization topics. Visit her at www.LisaHendey.com.

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  • Elizabeth Robinson

    “Speak the Truth in love”……a tall order but that is what we are tasked with doing…..passionately loving the sinner without compromising for a minute on hating the sin. Notice how the Lord puts the love first, but does not hesitate to draw to her attention that she has been married and divorced 5 times and presently is living with a man who is not her husband. Yet He does not condemn, but rather commends her on what she has right. Relationship is key to these encounters. So is knowledge of the faith….we can’t pass on what we don’t have!……and courage to speak in the face of a hostile culture. Pray for the Lord of the Harvest to give these “well encounters” to us, and for the graces needed to make the most of the opportunity, especially with our children!

  • Marianne

    We all know people who don’t have faith in Jesus. We must pray daily for the Holy Spirit to grant us wisdom to recognize the opportunities that abound, if we only pay attention. I love Saint Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=81 and the Prayer for the Seven Gifts http://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=774

    These moments increase when we ourselves live a life of faith. We show others by our own example. When our family members, friends, coworkers, and so on, see the joy that radiates from within us; when they hear us speak loving praise and thanksgiving to God; they will naturally gravitate toward us. When the questions begin, be ready! When my coworkers come to me with questions, I notice that everyone else around us seem to stop and quietly listen. So we may even be unaware of the far-reaching effects of our powerful witness… I was off of work on Good Friday and two of my coworkers called me with a question. I answered the question and this began a dialogue at my kitchen table with a non-believer!

    “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom… But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of
    mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.” (James 3:13, 17-18)

    Would love to write more but I’m heading out to the National Catholic Bible Conference this afternoon!

  • Jeanne

    I have found that in my parish the clergy don’t want to bring up controversial and unfamiliar topics with their congregation. It has been my experience that all that I may know of the Catholic faith came from my Catholic school education and personal study certainly not what I hear from the pulpit. And that is a shame.

  • Jose Samilin

    Let me thank Ms. Lisa M. Hendey for bringing out the topic
    where most Catholics, especially clergy who rarely venture on unfamiliar and
    very controversial topic to non Catholics, the topic of sharing your faith to
    others. In fact, it need only
    willingness and courage to start with, even had not yet read the entire bible,
    but just be yourself and not to be ashamed on question about your faith that
    you do not know how to answer. Just be
    frank to tell that you do not know the answer and if you will give me ample
    time, I will get the answer for you, say, on next week at same time here. Then pray to be enlightened and do the work
    to find the answer, gather from your resources, or not ask a priest or friend
    who could help you, but never give up.
    To me, that is how to deal with
    difficulties of our catholic faith. To
    doubt your own faith is not an option, but just like difficulties of answering
    mathematics problems, you just need to work it out, because the answer is just
    somewhere there. The same manner in in
    our catholic faith, any difficulties you may encounter, either in faith sharing
    or in personal understanding, surely, the answer is not to abandon it but to
    overcome those difficulties in further studies, prayers and consultation to
    Catholic persons but never consult non Catholics, for they will further mislead
    you or sell you the wrong one. Because
    we believed the Catholic faith claim to have link in Christ and possessed the fullness of means of
    salvation through the Sacraments and the Eucharist, where Christ itself is the
    Eucharist.So we have Christ the center of our faith and not the Bible alone as claimed by many non Catholics. quasi-Christians and non Christians.

  • Gig Rose

    I facilitate the Great Adventure Bible Study in my parish so I am always looking for opportunities to invite people to hear the story of Salvation History. It seems that every session we have one or more people who have either fallen away from their Catholic faith or those who are curious about what a Catholic Bible study would be like. My real joy would be to have my children who have rejected their faith have an opportunity to hear the “Word” of the Lord and embrace it!!