Lessons from the Prodigal You Love

When a BOOK is a Blessing

Prodigal You Love Book Cover

 

My son does not know if he wants to be Catholic, in fact he is not even sure if he even believes in God. When the subject comes up between us, my response, quite frankly is usually terse and accompanied with a tone much louder and more frustration filled than I intend it to be.  The result from the pain in my heart hearing his words which cut much deeper than he intends them to. I blame myself for his faith struggle, wondering what I could have done better or differently, and if it is now too late to make a difference.  Yet the truth remains despite my greatest efforts, or at least my best attempt that my greatest efforts, my son is not sure where he stands with the faith that I love so very much.

Under the heading of  “God’s perfect timing”, comes the book The Prodigal You Love by Sr. Theresa Aletheia, FSP published through Pauline Books and Media.   My choice based on an assumption that the book would help me minister to future attendees of my Seeking Faith retreats.  However, as soon as I began to read, it was clear the book was primarily meant to counsel and console me. It reminded me to entrust my son to God.  Entering my life at that moment in parenting when we realize our children have their own journey. Even if their choices are not the ones we may have chosen for them; to trust in the fact, they are first and foremost God’s children. He cares infinitely more than we could ever do; and wills their good infinitely more than we could ever as well.

​As I read, I could not help but recall St. Paul’s teaching about the trials and suffering.  In 2 Corinthians, Paul explains that which God has comforted us in through His son, at some point, will be called to comfort others.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with St. Theresa Aletheia during an interview on my radio show, A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras.   Sr. Theresa, an atheist turn Daughter of St. Paul, lays out a guide to inviting our loved ones back to the Church. “It is not a script”, she clarifies, “People want a script but we are all too complex for one answer fits all.”  She went on to explain, “Like no two snowflakes are alike neither are the reasons to people leave or reject the Catholic Church.”  Since I was in the middle of Snowmageddon 2015, at the time; her snowflake analogy was not lost on me.


Snow on birdfeeder

Picture Courtesy of Mother Nature, 2014

​Here are 10 lessons I learned from the insightful writings of Sr. Theresa Aletheia in The Prodigal You Love:

  1. Pray for humility.  No matter how much it hurts or how uncomfortable I become.  As Sr. Theresa Aletheia shares, humility has to be at the core of our invitation to the Church or it will not be met with the love in which it is intended.
  2. Learn to recognize when “silence is best”; my strategy for this?  See answer to #1 and #3.
  3. Be attentive to the Holy Spirit.  I will pray for and pay attention to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my heart; allowing it to direct my words and action.
  4. Learn from Mary!  Consider the answer to Jesus’ question, “Who is my mother?” (Mt 12:48). Mary is the     model of faith, holiness, and corporation with grace.
  5. Love, love, love, and then love some more!
  6. Don’t judge! Only God knows a man’s heart, so why waste time trying to decipher why he has left or doubting?
  7. Stay close to the Sacraments. For me this means first bringing my behavior in dealing with my son to Reconciliation (see #8); and spending more time in adoration.  The Sacraments abound with God’s loving grace, and I personally like to take as much of it as I can get!  What I took away from the chapter, Why Faith Matters – to call upon the grace of baptism to first and foremost be an example authentic and joyful witness of what God has done in my life.  As Pope Francis warned, avoid being a sour-puss Christian, share my answer for why I was drawn back the Catholic faith after drifting for so many years.
  8. Put down the sword of righteousness, oh I wait that one is acceptable but I had the saber of self-righteousness! Learn to respond to my son with gentleness and love, opening of the line of communication, providing a safe place for questions, discussion and yes, even disagreement.
  9. Remember my son has free will.   My path to the Catholic Church was not a straight path, quite frankly it still isn’t.  I continue to take detours, find dead ends, and even take the long scenic way around (analogy reference pg. 81-82). We invite our loved ones to consider a relationship with God; we don’t coerce or manipulate.  Authentic love is what God desires, hence our gift of free will.
  10. Pray, pray, pray, and then pray some more.  The most important work in evangelization (and in parenting – if you ask me) begins with, remains and ends with prayer.



Copyright 2015, Allison Gingras


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