Are Your Children Away From the Church? Keep Knocking on the Door

My children are wandering far from Our Lord, and I want them back.

‘Prayer’ (photo: Encierro / Shutterstock)

My favorite story in the whole Bible is Jesus’ instruction, “Ask and you shall receive.”

I know it to be true, and I've had the gift on many an occasion of praying and knowing when a prayer has been answered. It is a great comfort to me that God never tires of our prayers or our asking, even as I know he knows that I am a selfish creature of near-infinite needs and conflicting and constant wants. I knock often.

In my own life, I long for the faith of the woman who compared herself to the dogs and asked Jesus to let her eat the scraps from the floor, or the woman who hemorrhaged for years, and knew if she could just touch the tassel of his cloak, she would be healed. I want the absolute trust the soldier had at Christ’s death, or that of the thief who stole heaven, or of Martha, who professed the resurrection of the dead before Christ raised her brother.

I want to be like the centurion who told Jesus he need not come to his home, but to only say the word so that all would be healed. I loved that phrase before Holy Communion. I took it into my heart, knowing it was true then and remains true now.

Each of these saints, named and otherwise, revealed a total trust in the person of Jesus and in his divinity. They petitioned in total humility for their needs, be it for a child, or for their health, or to relieve a longtime suffering or a recent affliction to a servant.

I wish my faith were the size of half a mustard seed. I don’t need a mountain to move — just lots of molehills. Yet I know that mountains have moved in my life — whole mountain ranges of miracles to keep me alive for more than 50 years. Still, I come every day, hungry for more, asking for more, and wondering whether I’m coming only to be satisfied, or whether I’m dissatisfied because I’ve tasted the infinite and thus cannot want less. I’d like to think it is a lifetime of knowing that God exists, that God is love, and that God hears and answers all our prayers always to our good.

I know sometimes it’s that I need, I need more, and I want, whether or not it is ordered to my good. But I knock anyway because I’m stubborn, and if the answer is No, I want to know I asked.

I have children wandering, and I want them back. My heart aches each day, as I know they willingly seek to be elsewhere. And I wonder: What did we do? How could we have shown them more?

Such ruminations can lead either to despair or to deeper prayer. I’m not sure if I’m tilling the earth of my soul, or just digging a grave, because I don’t know how to take all this hurt and make a gift of it. I only know it hurts.

There isn’t a formula for offering suffering or a ritual. It’s an act of the will, and it’s hard, because I can’t see how my will (that they return to the Church) is not God’s will too. As such, the impatient part of my soul says, “Well, Lord, if we’re in agreement, why isn’t their conversion happening already?”

Free will. God blessed us with free will. Part of me wishes otherwise.

I want God to take the pieces of my heart, which has broken each time one of them has broken from the faith, and give a portion to them so they could have some of my mine.

You told us to knock. I am banging on the door. I also know that prayer, fasting and time will be required. In the meantime, I’m asking God to give them my scraps. Let them feast on it daily. Let them be filled and secure in that fullness, knowing it is always there for them. Let them feast until they begin to consider whether they’d like to try the food before it is dropped from the table.

Please, God. Give them something to eat.