As Catholic mothers, we want the very best for our children. We want them to be happy and healthy. We want them to thrive in school, friendship, interests, and talents. More than anything, we want them to know, love, and serve God in this life, so they can dwell with Him for all eternity.
We provide for our children so they will be successful, contributing adults to society. And we do everything we can to teach them the Faith, so that one day they will claim it as their own.
But even if we check off all the “right” boxes in the “raising them in the Faith” category, some of our children may, in fact, exercise their free will to leave the Church one day.
For those of us still raising our children, the mere thought of this is frightening. And for those of us with older children, this may already be our devastating and heartbreaking reality.
Sadly, most, if not all, of us know someone who has fallen away from the Faith. Even if she is not our child, she is our sister, niece, cousin, or friend.
Praying for Children Who Have Left the Church
When faced with this situation, what can we—as mothers (sisters, aunts, godmothers, or friends)—do? How do we remain hopeful, even when our heart breaks for our child who has left the Church?
Below is a collection of ways to pray for children (or loved ones) to return to the Church.
Pray With Scripture
When praying for a child who has left her Faith behind, what we need most is trust, hope, and perseverance. We do not want to lose our own faith in the midst of this heartbreak.
Thankfully, there are many Scripture passages that encourage us to trust God, remain hopeful, and persevere in prayer. Pray them over your child. Cling to the truth that God’s Word proclaims. Immerse yourself in His promises.
Psalm 34:18 // “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 40:1 // “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.”
Mark 11:24 // “So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Luke 18:7 // “Will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?”
Romans 12:12 // “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”
Philippians 4:6-7 // “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Turn to the Saints
In the Catholic tradition, Saints Augustine, Monica, and Ambrose are the trifecta of Saints to turn to when a child leaves the Church.
Patron Saint of wives, difficult marriages, mothers, and wayward children, Saint Monica prayed for 17 years for her son Augustine’s conversion. She knows the pain of watching a child abandon the Faith. But even in the midst of her heartbreak, she modeled patience and perseverance in prayer. She exemplified just how powerful our intercessory prayers can be for our fallen-away children.
If any Saint understands what it is like to be wayward, it is Saint Augustine. He was raised Christian but abandoned his Faith for an impure and sinful life. His conversion is attributed to his mother Monica’s persevering prayers and his friendship with Bishop Ambrose. After his conversion, Augustine became a priest, bishop, writer, and Doctor of the Church. Be assured of his intercession for your child through the Saint Augustine Novena.
While Monica prayed for Augustine, Bishop Ambrose befriended Augustine and was instrumental in his conversion. Monica said Ambrose was “an angel of God who uprooted my son from his former ways and led him to his convictions of Christ.” While praying for your child to return to the Catholic Faith, ask for a friend, an “Ambrose,” to come into her life, someone who can speak to her in a way that she will listen and be captivated. Find the Saint Ambrose Novena here.
Lean into these Prayers
Our Catholic Faith gives us some powerful prayers with great promises attached to them. Pray these prayers (or any favorite prayer) frequently with faith, hope, and confidence, entrusting your loved one into God’s care and protection.
- Memorare, including St. Mother Teresa’s Flying Novena (nine Memorares in a row)
- Divine Mercy Chaplet
- Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (a favorite of Saint Pio’s, who prayed it daily for those who asked him to pray for them)
Light a Candle
There are many other faith-filled actions we can take on behalf of a wayward child.
- Light a votive candle as a tangible expression of your prayer.
- Have Mass said for her.
- Invite her to Mass, a talk, or a faith-based event.
- Pray for the wisdom to know when to say something and when to be silent.
- Praise God for what has yet to happen in your child’s life.
- Stay invested in her life.
- Let her know you are praying for her.
Having a child leave the Faith is probably one of the most painful experiences of motherhood. But we cannot lose hope! Rather, we need to entrust our children (over and over again) to Our Heavenly Father. Our children belong to Him more than they belong to us, and as hard as it is to believe, He loves them infinitely more than we do. Our Father has a plan of sheer goodness for their lives, and Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Our Lord calls them back to Him, and He will never abandon them.
So take advice from Saint Pio:
Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.
How have you prayed for a child or loved one who has fallen away from the Faith? What has brought you comfort and hope? Which prayers have made an impact on their life?
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