Inviting people back to the church begins with listening

Do whatever He tells you
Rick Cheek is the associate consultant for the office of evangelization and Catholic formation of youth.

by Rick Cheek

“What if there’s more?”

We all know of or have family members or friends who have, for whatever reason, left the church or have become lax Catholics. 

The words “what if there’s more” have been weighing on my heart ever since I heard them spoken by Lisa Brenninkmeyer at the “Enflame Our Hearts” convocation last month. 

I, like everyone else, want to jump right in and fix the problem, telling them what they’re doing wrong and why they should come home. But what we really need to do is more listening.

I like what Bishop [Robert] Barron says: “We need to do less talking and more listening.” When we take the time to listen and then take what we’ve heard to prayer, it gives our family and friends the idea that we really do care. 

I’ve asked several people who attended the convocation for their most important take-away. All responses were: “I need to be a better listener.” 

It doesn’t get any clearer than that, and there’s not a better place to do that for them and for your own spirituality than in front of the Blessed Sacrament. 

More and more, I hear from young people who have gone to camp, on a retreat or a pilgrimage, about what their favorite part was. Time and again, it’s that quiet time spent just sitting in front of Jesus in adoration. 

One of my favorite stories about St. John Vianney is when a visitor found him sitting at the back of church and before the Blessed Sacrament, Our Lord fully present among us. 

When this person asked, “What are you doing all day with this?,” he answered, “Nothing. I just look at him and he looks at me.” 

St. John Vianney knew the beauty of true friendship; just to be with the beloved was all he asked. This enabled him to see everything in a different light and so he writes for us: “In prayer well made, troubles vanish like snow in the rays of the sun.”

The next time you have that opportunity with a family or a friend who has left the church, leave them with this question: “What if there’s more?” 

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