October 1, 2010

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

How can we help ‘call back’ lapsed Catholics?

Shirley Vogler MeisterThe moment that I learned about the Liguori Publication book about Catholics who left the faith then returned to the Church, I knew I wanted to read it and review it for “Faithful Lines” readers.

My father joined the Church as an adult so both of my parents are Catholic.

When’s God Gonna Call Me Back?: Reconnecting with your Creator was written by Marge Fenelon, a columnist for the Catholic Herald in Milwaukee and the author of When’s God Gonna Show Up?

The back cover of the book reads: “Too many people who claim to be Catholic are simply going through the motions. They brush up against the Church only in episodic ways—at Christmas and Easter, weddings and funerals. What can be done to encourage these ‘part-timers’ to come home without adding to the guilt they may already feel?”

Fenelon’s book offers answers.

As I read it, I discovered that another paragraph on the back cover describes the book well: “Through more than 30 real-life stories, reflections, Scripture passages and discussion questions, author Marge Fenelon lets people whose Catholicism has cooled realize they are not alone—and that it is possible to reignite the embers of their faith and their love for the Catholic Church.”

Who among us hasn’t questioned our faith at some point in time?

I certainly did many times through the years, especially when discouraged by negative news that taints our remarkable legacy, which comes from Jesus Christ himself!

Through faith, hope and love, I weathered my doubts.

Fenelon’s book was inspired by a conversation at a nephew’s wedding. She was approached by a relative that had been critical of her Catholic faith, a woman that she had unsuccessfully debated religion with in the past.

“As long as we talked about inconsequential things like the weather, we were OK,” Fenelon wrote. “But if the Church came up, it could escalate into full-blown war. I was on guard.”

She was stunned to hear praise instead. The woman said her husband thinks that Marge is “a good writer.”

Marge thanked her then the woman added, “You know, you should write a book like that for people like me … you know, lapsed Catholics. … If you wrote a book like that for people like me, I’d come back to the Church.”

So Marge did, and her book is a winner!

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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