These days, sadly, it is rare to find Catholics who don’t have a family member or a friend who has fallen away from the Catholic Church. People leave the Church for various reasons, and many have been away for a long time. We need to pray for the return of inactive Catholics to the Church, that they will receive the sacrament of reconciliation (sacrament of penance) to be reconciled with God and His Church.
And the Second Vatican Council tells us in Lumen Gentium: “Established by Christ as a communion of life, charity, and truth, [the Church] is also used by Him as an instrument for the redemption of all, and is sent forth into the whole world as the light of the world and the salt of the earth.”
Catholics Come Home, an organization dedicated to bringing people home to the Church, tells us: “G.K. Chesterton once wrote, ‘The difficulty in explaining “why I am a Catholic” is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.’
“Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ our Lord founded the Catholic Church to preserve the truth He gave us and hand it down through the centuries, helping people all around the world encounter the love of God in every age and in every corner of the earth.
“Over the years, there have been an untold number of questions and objections raised about the Catholic Church’s teachings and practices. The answers are there, and it’s worth your time to find them. As the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, ‘There are not even 100 people in this country who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they think the Catholic Church to be.’
“The Lord wants us all to know and understand His truth, so we can embrace it wholeheartedly and live by it. Christ reminds us, ‘The truth shall make you free’ (John 8:32).”
Making a Holy Hour (an hour spent in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament) daily, weekly, or whenever you can, is a powerful way to pray for fallen-away Catholics. The Rosary is also a powerful prayer for their return; many conversions have taken place through the praying of the Rosary.
O Holy Spirit, guide fallen-away Catholics back to the Church and the Holy Eucharist!
Let us beg the intercession of Mary, Mother of God and our mother, to help our loved ones return to the Catholic Church and fervently embrace their Catholic Faith.
Prayer for the Return of Lapsed Catholics to the Sacraments (Prayer for Fallen-Away Catholics)
Almighty Father, You desire not the death of the sinner, but that he may be converted and live. Pour out upon us Your mercy and hear the prayers of Your servants. Soften the hearts of Your children who have strayed from the true path which You established for their salvation.
They are now forgetful of their duties as Catholics and pursue the pleasures of the world. Grant that they may quickly return to the practice of every Christian virtue, so that their lives may shine with the integrity of faith, the fervor of piety, and the ardor of charity. Restore them all to Your sacraments and the life of Your grace, through the merits of the Most Precious Blood of Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
From Father John Hardon’s Catholic Prayer Book, 1999.