We all hunger in our hearts for some form of fulfillment. Not all hearts are able to identify the Source of that hunger, but every heart longs for something. We are all hungry. Each one of us yearns to be satisfied. Sadly, many souls are starving! In our current culture of relativism, where nothing is definitive and there are no solid answers to anything, how can individuals be guided to the Truth to discover the One, True Love that their hearts seek?
As a cradle Catholic who returned to the Church after a 15 year absence, I can tell you that words had little influence on my heart. What drew me back to the Church was the breathtaking beauty of the Catholic faith. I missed the intimacy of Communion – which guaranteed a personal, loving relationship with my Lord and Savior. I craved the Eucharist and the sacraments of the Church. I also greatly missed my relationship with Mother Mary and long-held Catholic family traditions.
I missed the smell of the incense, the sweet sound of the solo soprano singing “Ave Maria,” the candles that lit up the darkness, the red glowing light over the tabernacle, the holy water fonts, the statues and paintings of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints.
There is a superabundance of beauty that exists in our Church that cannot be found anywhere else in society. Individuals who are floundering, as I once was, need to be reminded of it. Beauty has a healing effect on wounded hearts.
We are deeply reminded of that beauty when someone loves us in an authentic Christian way. We are reminded of it when someone establishes a relationship with us, not because they want us to return to the faith, but because they care and want to be Christ to us. Beauty is evidenced in the soul of the believer and shines forth upon the non-believer through small actions of love – smiling, listening, sending a card, and making chicken noodle soup when we are sick.
In speaking with a group of artists, Pope Benedict XVI said:
“Authentic beauty…unlocks the yearning of the human heart, the profound desire to know, to love, to go towards the Other, to reach for the Beyond. If we acknowledge that beauty touches us intimately, that it wounds us, that it opens our eyes, then we rediscover the joy of seeing, of being able to grasp the profound meaning of our existence, the Mystery of which we are part; from this Mystery we can draw fullness, happiness, the passion to engage with it every day.”
How can we implement this in our interactions with fallen away Catholics?
- Write personal notes or letters on postcards that are decisively Catholic. For example, use postcards containing artwork of the Vatican, saint stationery, etc.
- Decorate your home with Catholic artwork.
- Share DVDs that convey biographies of the saints.
- Share beautiful pictures of the saints with inspiring quotes on social media sites.
- Suggest or lend to friends who are interested in architecture beautiful books on Church architecture.
- Post short prayers or Scripture verses with beautiful pictures or photos on social media sites or email to friends.
- Visit an art museum which contains sacred art with your fallen away friend or relative.
- At Christmas and Easter, send the most beautiful, religious cards possible.
- Share or recommend a CD with beautiful chant music or another music genre that interests them which contains a Catholic message.
- Give a Catholic gift – a crucifix, a rosary, a painting.
- Wear scapulars, rosary bracelets, miraculous medals, and crucifixes.
- Establish a relationship with the other person.
- Listen attentively to whatever the fallen away Catholic has to say. Be non-judgmental.
- Perform corporal works of mercy. Determine their needs and respond to them.
- Invite them to join you for Mass or for a short visit to Eucharistic Adoration or the Blessed Sacrament. There is no beauty that is as powerful as the real thing!
Copyright © 2013, Jean Heimann