By Kristine Bruce, founder of “Praying for Our Prodigals“
When thinking about my kids who are away from the church, my “prodigals”, I so want to wake them up to the urgency of getting back into the fold of faith. I know many parents feel this pressing desire.
I often feel so burdened not only by my own children’s loss of faith, but also by the significant number of people who are turning their backs on our Good Shepherd. It’s so painful to witness.
Looking To A Small Saint Who Made A Huge Difference
These words of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, (Mother Teresa as she is affectionately known) give us hope:
God has His own ways and means to work in the hearts of men and we do not know how close they are to Him.
Recently in reading 33 Days to Morning Glory, I learned more about Mother Teresa. In my additional research, I found she had more words of comfort regarding the faith of those entrusted to us.
A woman came to Mother Teresa and was lamenting about how no matter what she did, no matter how hard she worked, there were still countless poor people. It seemed as if she wasn’t making a difference.
You and I may often feel the same way. We pray, we sacrifice and fast, yet we see few or no results from our own efforts.
Here is what Mother Teresa’s responses is to all of us who see little fruits of our efforts:
We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But if that drop was not in the ocean, I think the ocean would be less because of the missing drop.
Some way, somehow, all that we do for our loved ones is not wasted. If we offer it to Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, she will present it to Jesus effectively, magnifying our prayers and efforts. Our fasting, sacrifices, and prayers do matter in God’s economy.
The Magnificat is Our Lady’s Prayer of thanks. She can help us to love Jesus best; she is the one who can show us the shortest way to Jesus. Mary was the one whose intercession led Jesus to work the first miracle. ‘They have no wine,’ she said to Jesus. ‘Do whatever he tells you,’ she said to the servants. We take the part of the servants. Let us go to her with great love and trust…
–Saint Teresa of Calcutta from her book Total Surrender
Kicking Our (Parental) Selves
As faith-filled parents, we may beat ourselves up over the past with thoughts like “I should have done more”, “taught the kids more” and “prayed more” and other thoughts that send us into spiraling away from trusting in the Lord.
We continue to painstakingly try to manage things with ideas for the future, “For the next child, I’m going to make sure they know EVERYTHING about Jesus and his church.” We may additionally plot to manage the adult future of our prodigal’s faith and what we can do to bring them back into the church.
Mother Teresa was known to frequently say this:
Yesterday is past, tomorrow may never come, we only have today to work for Jesus.
We cannot change what we did, nor what we didn’t do. It’s the past, and we must let go of it. As for the future, we have no guarantees. We only have today to love Jesus and His children.
Let us do what we can today.
If you’re like me, you feel like you have to do something; therefore, here is some practical, yet simple, advice from Mother Teresa:
Smile at each other. Smile at your husband, smile at your wife, smile at your children, be happy with your children. It doesn’t matter who it is, smile at them.
Certainly this is something each of us can do, right?
Perhaps she was a tiny woman, but her big smile and big heart made a deep impact on a lot of people. She didn’t know the fruit of her work but certainly millions of people have been affected by her during her life on earth and after.
What we can learn from this beautiful saint is to turn to our Blessed Mother, have faith that our tiny efforts count, and smile with love at those entrusted to us, confident that what we do will also one day bear fruit.
Kristine Bruce is the co-founder of www.PrayingForOurProdigals.com, an apostolate of encouragement, support, and prayer for Christians who have loved ones who have left the faith.