Ask a Franciscan

Avoiding Public Prayer

Q: My 49-year-old daughter left the Catholic Church several years ago. She loves praying by herself to God the Father but avoids public prayer. She recently wrote to me: “God is in all churches, working and loving imperfect people and imperfect churches. His church is the bride and not a building. I am closer to God than I have ever been. We need not focus on details, simply on the perfect Father. . . . I thank you for bringing me up to know God and for so many prayers.” How can she not recognize Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament? 

A: Jesus reveals God as a community of three divine persons. Your daughter’s limit seems to be one divine person. That probably accounts for her love of private prayer to God the Father and her unwillingness to engage in communal, public prayer. She may not be rejecting Jesus’ presence in the Blessed Sacrament as much as she is rejecting everything that does not reinforce her mental image of God the Father—a very comfortable mental image at this point. After all, Jesus told us to pray, “Our Father.” We are all members of the human family.

She has some sense of God’s revelation (otherwise, how would she know that God loves imperfect people?), but she appears unwilling to follow revelation’s lead back to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to Jesus as God’s unique self-revelation.

It sounds as though you have done all that you can. Fear not: God is still working with her. Please entrust your daughter to God’s loving care and continue to maintain the best relations with her that you can.

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