I read this morning a startling statistic announced by the Pew Research Center, that for every convert to the Catholic faith, six people abandon her.
I'm a convert to the faith, so apparently I am correlated to six people who have left.
So I decide I need to be praying for my six.
Certainly the Holy Spirit will give all of them occasions to return to the faith; marriage, the birth of a child, the need to bury a loved one, serious illness, etc. I should be there for them with my prayer when these occasions come.
How many of them left because of my bad example? How many because of the sins and crimes of religious and priests? If, having left because they were scandalized by one of us priests, they then commit any sin in malformed conscience, surely God will make us priests accountable for the guilt of such sin. Have we taken seriously the Lord's warning that scandalizing the innocent can result in our damnation? Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. (Mark 9:42) Do we believe in hell?
As a priest, I must pray the Holy Spirit to teach me not only how to begin to do penance for my own sins, but also for the sins any of my six commit because they have abandoned the truth.
How many of my six will one day return as strong and joyful reverts? For this I entrust them to the prayers of Blessed Anthony Neyrot.
May I pray as though God has entrusted to me the spiritual care of my six. Amen.