Making Choices to Alleviate Pain and Suffering — Convert the Sinner
by Deacon Thomas Frankenfield
Continuing our Journey
Throughout my wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts with you, I have had numerous opportunities to dialogue with those among the readership who are suffering. Many feel hopeless and wish they had a way to participate in the spiritual life of the Church. So, we will spend the next few months dialoguing about the individual Spiritual Works of Mercy and how they can add power to even those who think they are powerless.
What Sinners need Converting?
First off, we all need to avoid the temptation to judge others but most of us realize that this world is full of people in dire need of conversion to the peace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. We need not look much further than the daily newspaper and the television news to see how we are a broken world in need of conversion.
Next, no person can convert another without the co-operation and consent of that other person. Even God can not convert a sinner without a sinner's own consent. That comes from the gift of free will that God gives unreservedly to all. God works though all his creation to persuade sinners to turn from the error of their ways to become children of God. In that process, we all can be active workers in God's vineyard.
Each of us can use our gifts to assist in the conversion of sinners. Some are called to "one on one" evangelization such as apologetics; others are called to be listeners and to be there for the sinner when it comes time to pick up the pieces of their lives that sin shatters. Most others are called to be prayer partners.
The Call to Partnership via the Gift of Prayer
Of all the ways that we can make the spiritual works of mercy come alive in this broken world being people of prayer can have some of the most miraculous impacts. Let me suggest some ways for all of us, regardless of our infirmities, can be prayer partners in the conversion of sinners.
- Daily Mass - There is no higher form of prayer than to witness the mysteries of the Holy Mass. Many times throughout the liturgy, we pray for sinners. Receiving the actual Body and Blood of Jesus as an offering for our pain and then for the conversion of sinners is a wonderful way to partner with the worldwide Church.
- Individual prayer time - Taking time to be in conversation with God about others problems take the focus off of our problems and contributes to our own personal holiness. Using simple things like the newspaper as a guide to find things to pray about is a great start.
- Praying with family, parishes and friends - Most people have family members who are in need of our help and assistance but if we confronted them personally, they might refuse our help. Remembering hem in our prayers is a great way of lifting them up to God and participating in their eventual conversion. Another idea is to be part of your local parish's prayer line or even, if you are able, to join a local prayer group. When the members of the Body of Christ prays together, they are a powerful a force we are in today's world.
- Spiritual Reflection and Study - When we take the time to improve our intellectual understanding of our faith, we have more to give. I suggest joining a Scripture Study group as a source of learning God's Word. God's Word is so rich and deep that a lifetime can be spent reflecting and learning.
- Prayer Journals - Using a journal to keep our prayers close to our memory is often helpful and many find their prayer sensitivity increased by using journals.
The Ability to Use Our Gifts to Heal
Finally, we need to throw away our scorecards so that we are not tempted to avoid counting victories. Although conversions will happen from time to time, the best policy is to walk in the Light of Christ knowing that everything we do in Christ's name works towards good. If we get hung up on score-keeping, we run the risk of disappointment and that is a great temptation to stop praying. Regardless of our infirmities, we have the ability to be there for others. Let God lead you in praying for others. The conversion of sinners will soon be a regular part of your life.
For Your Reflection
From a Ministry Perspective:
- Are there particular persons in my ministry with whom I struggle with taking to God in prayer? Can I reach out to be an agent of love for them?
- Where do I fail when inviting my brothers and sisters who are different to join with God in prayer?
From a Family Perspective:
- In my Domestic Church, as parent, sibling, widow or single, how do I struggle to invite those close to me to join with God in prayer? Can I make that a reality?
- In what areas of our relationship do my family and I have trouble reaching out to join with God in prayer?
I would love your feedback, thoughts, stories and ideas. Please email me.
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